University of Minnesota Director of Athletics Mark Coyle checked the right boxes with the hire of Dawn Plitzuweit as the Gophers new head women’s basketball coach. Plitzuweit (pronounced PLITTS-zoo-white) is an experienced coach with a winning record who has recruiting relationships and cultural ties to this region.
Brian Cosgriff, the girls’ basketball coaching legend who won seven state titles at Hopkins and is now at Minnetonka, told Sports Headliners “it’s an incredible hire.” Plitzuweit and Cosgriff have known each other for years and the new Gopher coach called her friend Saturday morning. “She is really a bright, forward-thinking lady,” Cosgriff said.
In regard to experience, she is in contrast to Lindsay Whalen who as a first-time coach couldn’t make the transition from great player to building a winning program at her alma mater during a five-year trial. Coyle took a chance on Whalen and most everybody else in the state would have done the same with the former Gopher and Lynx legend.
Plitzuweit has 28 years of coaching experience, with 16 as a head coach. She has been the head coach of winning teams at (most recently) West Virginia, South Dakota, Northern Kentucky and Grand Valley State.
As a head coach she has 15 winning seasons including nine 20-win seasons and two 30-win years. Plitzuweit’s teams have participated in the postseason 15 of 16 seasons and been in the last four NCAA Tournaments. Her career coaching record is 356-141 (.721) and she is 201-66 (.752) in league play.
Her resume includes the Big Ten where she was associate head coach at Michigan. The Michigan Tech graduate and West Bend, Wisconsin native has recruited Minnesota over the years.”…I am…looking forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work,” Plitzuweit said in a statement released by the Gophers.
Plitzuweit, 50, could be the right age to make Minnesota her last career stop and turn the Gophers into a special program. “I honestly think it’s her dream job,” said Cosgriff.
She reportedly earned $550,000 last season at West Virginia. Whalen, who stepped down as Gopher coach in early March, was to be paid $574,761 starting next month. Most recently she earned $547,391. Specific compensation hasn’t been announced for Plitzuweit but she will receive a six-year contract pending approval by the Board of Regents.
Plitzuweit is the 13th head women’s basketball coach at Minnesota, all females. The Gophers will hold a news conference Monday at 12:30 p.m. to introduce their coach. It will be carried live on the Big Ten Network and the Gophers’ YouTube channel.
Minnesota lost the Big Ten Tournament hockey championship game last night to Michigan, 4-3 , playing in an electric atmosphere at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The game sold out in less than 36 hours and was the team’s ninth home sellout of the season as fans clamored to see a game between the No. 1 nationally ranked Gophers and No. 4 Wolverines and featuring 26 NHL draft choices.
In a home two-game series against Michigan January 20-21, the Gophers had a total attendance of 20,755, the most fans for a weekend series in arena history. Minnesota has been a draw on the road, too, mostly playing in front of sellout crowds.
Saturday morning StubHub, the Gophers’ secondary ticket partner, was listing tickets ranging from $135 each to $666. The public is starved for a Minnesota winner and this Gopher team has a chance to win the school’s first national championship since 2002.
The foundation is built on both defense and goal scoring. Defenseman Brock Faber and goalie Justen Close are names that surface quickly when talking about shutting down opponents, while the nationally publicized line of Logan Cooley, Matthew Knies and Jimmy Snuggerud is talked about as among the best in school history. Cooley and Knies are among 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, and one of them could win the honor of being named the nation’s best college hockey player, and the first Gopher to do that since Jordan Leopold in 2002.
Coach Bob Motzko has been true to program tradition in assembling a 26-man roster dominated by Minnesotans with 20 players from the state. But he’s kept up with the times bringing key personnel from beyond the border. Cooley is from Pittsburgh, Knies from Phoenix and Close from Saskatchewan.
If the Gophers qualify, Stillwater-based Creative Charters is offering a fan trip, April 6 to 9, to the Frozen Four in Tampa. The trip is part of a creative list of 2023 travel experiences planned by Steve and Dorothy Erban including what they’re billing as “the trip of a lifetime” to North Carolina in September.
The football Gophers play in Chapel Hill Saturday, September 16 against North Carolina and Heisman Trophy quarterback candidate Drake Maye. In addition to football entertainment, the goal of the September 13-17 trip is to “provide a true North Carolina experience.”
Travelers will visit the Charlotte Speedway and get an inside look at NASCAR racing. Not only that, but some Minnesotans will be able to ride in a high-speed Ford Mustang performance car driven by a professional driver. There will also be a visit to learn about the famous North Carolina furniture industry, opportunity to play golf and tour the historic North Carolina and Duke campuses.
Among the many prospects working out in front of professional scouts at Minnesota Pro Day last week were decorated players like Gophers All-Americans Mo Ibrahim and John Michael Schmitz. But there were also many players much more uncertain about their professional football futures including former St. Thomas center Matt Weimann.
The former Hill-Murray player told Sports Headliners his hope is to be signed as a free agent and gain an NFL tryout but he “would love to play anywhere.” In his mind the USFL or Canadian Football League could be options.
Weimann, about 6-3 and 300 plus-pounds, was All-Pioneer League last season. He has lost some weight and was pleased with his 28-inch vertical jump at the U Pro Day. He said his strength is as a run blocker and he is training to play guard and center at the next level, knowing versatility in skills is valuable.
Weimann raves about the coaching he received at St. Thomas including from head coach Glenn Caruso who he refers to as “phenomenal.” He said Caruso treats his players like family and that his leadership is unlike any he’s seen in coaching.
An All-District player in high school, Weimann didn’t receive attention from the Gophers. “The U didn’t recruit me at all. I tried to reach out. Definitely would have been interested in walking on, or at least looking and seeing what the program was about. But I never got any responses from any sort of recruiting from the U of M.”
Schmitz, one of college football’s premier centers last season, is expected to be drafted in the early rounds. Ibrahim, cornerback Terell Smith, safety Jordan Howden and quarterback Tanner Morgan are candidates for later rounds.
Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf paid tribute to the late Bud Grant and spoke on other subjects Friday as the guest speaker at the Minnesota Breakfast gathering in Naples, Florida. Wilf also referenced a survey of NFL players that ranked the Vikings No. 1 among 32 teams in off the field satisfaction with the organization. He said the team will seek offensive linemen in the NFL Draft and through free agency to provide better pass protection and promised an improved defense in 2023.
Wilf also told breakfast attendees ownership rarely gets involved with decision making for the NFL Draft, except for concerns about player character. He added that “60 to 70” draft prospects are disqualified each year by the Vikings because of character issues.
Archives quote from Bud Grant about dancing: “Not only am I not good, I’ve never danced in my life. I always was very shy (as a youth) and I never learned to dance. I was too self-conscious and I was taller than most of the girls so I never learned how to dance—much to the chagrin of my wife.”
A former NFL executive talking anonymously about departed Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen: “…I think Adam Thielen will find a good opportunity, perhaps with the Jets if Aaron Rodgers ends up there. Because they have a tight relationship.”