Friday, Jul. 20, 2018


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U Basketball Ticket Sales Jump

 

A Sunday notes column including Gopher news and Timberwolves analysis.

The University of Minnesota Athletic Department reported via email to Sports Headliners that as of last Wednesday morning 400 new public season tickets for women’s basketball have been sold since Lindsay Whalen was named head coach on April 12.

As part of a request for information from the University about season ticket sales, it was learned just 13 new tickets had been sold prior to the announcement about Whalen, the former Gopher player and legendary figure in the state. Her presence as the new leader of the program has generated more interest than in a long time.

For the 2017-18 season, 1,338 public season tickets were sold. The Athletic Department is in a renewal period now with existing season ticket holders. With combined renewals and new sales, it seems certain that with the enthusiasm for Whalen the 2018-19 public season ticket totals will exceed the 1,338 total.

Last season, according to figures provided by the Big Ten Conference as of March 27, the Gophers ranked 35th in attendance nationally with a per game average of 3,130 fans at Williams Arena (capacity 14,625.) Purdue, averaging 6,036, led the Big Ten and ranked eighth in the country.

Interest in Whalen and support for the Gophers could fade quickly next season if the team isn’t winning. Flip that scenario and Minnesota may have one of its best seasons ever at the box office.

Another opportunity for the Athletic Department to ride the Whalen momentum during the immediate months ahead is with donors. None of the women’s sports at Minnesota, including basketball, are profitable. The department also has a large debt remaining on the new $166 million Athletes Village.

John Anderson

John Anderson, coach of the No. 25 nationally ranked Gophers baseball team, speaks to the CORES lunch group May 10 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington, 1114 American Blvd. Reservations need to be made by May 7. More information is available by contacting Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net.

The Timberwolves earned their first playoff win against the Rockets last night because of several factors including being better at three-point shooting than the NBA’s most famous team for that skill. The Wolves made 15 of 27 attempts, 55.6 percent in their 121-105 victory. The Rockets were 15 of 41, 36.6 percent.

The Timberwolves, not known as a fast break team, outscored the Rockets 13 to 2 in that category to narrow Houston’s 2-1 lead in the best of-seven-game series.

Derrick Rose was a super sub last night, scoring 17 points in 21 minutes off the bench—more than any reserve on the Rockets. The Wolves were plus-17 when he was on the floor, best on the team after Jimmy Butler’s plus-19. Butler led Minnesota in scoring with 28 points.

Popular former Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who management here decided to move on from, had a triple double performance in Salt Lake City last night with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as his Jazz went up 2-1 in its opening playoff series against the Thunder. Fans roared “Rubio!” during perhaps the greatest game of his career.

The 1976 Division III Saint John’s national champions will be honored with the Murray Warmath Legendary Team Award at the 11th annual Minnesota Football Honors Awards Event April 29 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Among the many other award winners will be St. Thomas alum and former Gopher athletic director Mark Dienhart who will receive the Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award. Minnesota Vikings award winners haven’t been announced.

Generation gap: Grant, who turns 91 next month, joined Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, 98, for lunch last week with new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, 29.

Grant will hold another annual garage sale at his Bloomington home May 16-18.

New Gopher men’s basketball assistant coach Rob Jeter’s dad, the late Bob Jeter, was a great halfback at Iowa and was MVP in the 1959 Rose Bowl. Jeter played defensive back for the Green Bay Packers and coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s.

The Vikings will select Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams with the 30th pick in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL Draft, according to the April 23 issue of Sports Illustrated. In its mock draft the magazine predicts the Browns, with the No. 1 overall choice, will choose Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.

Wonder what Wild owner Craig Leipold is thinking after his team’s dismal first round playoff elimination in five games to the Jets? Injuries in 2017-18, including in the playoffs, were a problem, but before the season Leipold said anything short of winning the Stanley Cup would be a disappointment.

The Wild struggled offensively for much of the series and were shut out in the last two games. Wing Zach Parise led the club in goals with three even though he missed the last two games with a fractured sternum.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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