If USD women’s coach Amy Williams is looking for inspiration for motivating her team in Tuesday’s Summit League championship, Herb Brooks might be a good source.
The legendary hockey coach guided Team USA to arguably the single-greatest win in American sports history in 1980, when his team of college all-stars upset the Soviet National team 4-3 at Lake Placid.
But until that win was immortalized in film a few years ago, few people remembered that the win over Russia was not actually for the Gold medal, it came in the first game of the medal round.
They still had to beat Finland to clinch the Gold Medal the next day. Needless to say, the win over the Soviets would have lost much of its luster had the Yanks not completed the task.
Brooks certainly knew that, and while his players probably did, too, he still emphasized it pretty pointedly in the locker room during the second intermission of the Gold medal game.
According to 1980 team captain Mike Eruzione, Brooks’s speech before the third and final period was short and to the point.
Brooks entered the dressing room, looked at his players and said, ‘If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your (redacted) graves.’ He took a few steps towards the door, turned back and repeated, ‘Your (redacted) graves’, and walked out.
Now, that hockey game had a little more riding on it than the Summit League championship, although USD’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament would be no minor accomplishment. And while ending SDSU’s remarkable run of 5 straight tournament titles and 15 straight tourney wins marks the biggest win of USD’s D1 era, it isn’t that big of an upset.
Still. This is a game the Coyotes really need to win. I’m not suggesting the USD women will take it to their graves if they lose to a 9-22 Denver team, but, well, the win over SDSU isn’t going to be quite as great of a memory if the Coyotes don’t finish the job.
(No Live Chat this week. Sorry)
I cleaned my basement for the first time in, well, OK, ever, on Sunday. I spent about two hours throwing away crap, much of which belonged to my ex-wife, and moving baseball cards, VHS tapes and Christmas decorations into storage.
And I also found a bunch of cool stuff.
I found a copy of the Star Tribune from the first game in Minnesota Wild history, a copy of Baseball Weekly commemorating Mark McGwire’s 62nd home run in 1998. A full-sized ‘Aeon Flux’ movie poster.
An old football playbook (the ol’ ball coach over at Roosevelt has evolved quite a bit since 1997), and this Washington football handbook.
I also made two significant discoveries.
About eight years ago, I had a flood in the house when a part in the freezer in the kitchen froze and exploded in the middle of the night, with gallons of water falling through the kitchen floor and onto a bunch of my stuff in the unfinished basement. Homeowner’s insurance reimbursed me for all the stuff, but there were certain collectibles that couldn’t really be replaced, and the biggest loss — I thought — was an original vinyl copy of ‘Let It Be’, the classic 1984 album by the Replacements, my all-time favorite band.
I collected all of the Replacements albums on vinyl about 10 years ago, but shortly after the kitchen flood, I couldn’t find ‘Let It Be’, which is commonly regarded as their best album. I still had the jacket, but the record itself (and the inner sleeve) was missing.
This past Christmas I looked into buying another copy on ebay, but the four or five copies for sale on there were all going for $200 or more.
So I’m digging through baseball cards, cassette tapes and old newspapers yesterday when I see a record on the cement floor that had been hiding under a bunch of old Argus sports sections. It was wrapped in a partially torn paper sleeve with the ‘Twin-Tone’ logo on it. When I saw that, I literally gasped out loud. Could it be?
It felt like when Beavis & Butt-head are reunited with their TV at the end of ‘Beavis & Butt-head Do America’, and if you don’t get that reference we can’t be friends.
It looked like it had a couple scratches on it, but when I put it on and played it from front-to-back it never skipped.
I also found a baseball. It had a bunch of signatures on it, and I at first figured it was from one of my amateur seasons, as I’ve tried to get a ball signed by all my teammates each year (but only remembered to do so about half the time).
A closer look at this one revealed a bunch of unfamiliar names. Then I saw the ‘label’.
1991 Brookings Cubs? Exactly how did I come into possession of this ball? After all, I was 11 in 1991.
I think I know the answer. I’m pretty sure some guy who played on that team got drunk at my uncle’s house and left it there. When my uncle died, all of the stuff in his house that was even remotely sports related was shipped to me.
You can only make out the first couple letters in the photo, but that name just to the right? That’s Billy McMacken, who would’ve been in his early 20s in 1991. I didn’t recognize any other names on the ball.
So I’ll hang on to it for you, Billy. When the Monarchs make our trip up to Brookings I’ll be sure to bring it along.
Year two of the NSIC era had high highs and low lows for the USF men.
The Cougars looked like they’d be a pretty explosive offensive team in their non-conference games, then opened NSIC play with wins over Wayne State and Southwest Minnesota State.
But the Cougar men would quickly show that they could be really bad if they wanted to be, particularly on defense, and their struggled on that end of the court led to an early season stretch that looked like it would basically ruin their season.
USF was beaten 96-77 on their home floor by Augustana in a highly deflating rivalry performance, which was the first ouf four straight losses heading into the Christmas break.
But they whipped MSU-Moorhead 92-70 in the first game of the New Year, a team that would go on to tie for the North title and could still get into the NCAA tournament.
But three losses followed, at which point USF had lost seven of eight and fallen to 3-8 in conference play.
I pretty much left them for dead at that point. They won six of their next seven, including a big wins at home over Winona State and Bemidji State, but the one loss in that seven game stretch was a 94-53 defeat at Augustana that is probably the worst game I’ve ever seen USF play, including the NAIA era.
There was another embarrassing loss, 109-64 to MSU-Mankato, but again USF rebounded, going 2-0 on the Mary/Minot road trip, and nearly pulling off a miraculous home upset of Mankato.
They finished the regular season with a 12-10 conference record. Had they completed the comeback against the Mavericks, they would’ve finished fourth in the South — ahead of Augustana — and hosted their first round NSIC tournament game.
Instead, they had to go to St. Cloud State, where they lost 86-75, ending their season. It was a tough loss, too, because Charles Ward missed the entire second half with a concussion. He had 17 points before going down and USF may have been able to hang on to their halftime lead if he’d not gotten hurt.
Of the four Sioux Falls teams, the Cougars were the only one not to go to the Pentagon, and regardless of the succecss they had this year, that hurts.
Still, it was a pretty encouraging (if weird) season. Nobody could really figure out how a team can look so bad on some nights and then beat some of the best teams in the region on others.
The answer, I think, is that they were streaky on offense and often bad on defense. By the end of the year, they brought both of those issues a little bit more under control.
When they shot well, they were good. I didn’t see a better pure shooter in the league than Derek Brown, who used a quick release and hard-to-believe catch-and-shoot ability to shoot 47 percent from 3-point range and average 13.3 points per game. He also led the nation in free throw shooting at 96 percent (76 for 79).
Charles Ward averaged 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds, while Mahlon Jones, Rob Goffney and Mack Johnson also had their moments. If you’d said last year that Jordan Stotts would average 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds this year, everyone would’ve been thrilled, but after a hot start, he actually faded down the stretch and will be looking to bounce back next year. Bryan Kielpinski averaged 8.3 points and led the league in blocked shots.
I’m not sure how optimistic to be about this team going forward. Unlike Augie, they don’t have any obvious All-Conference players coming back, and most of their best players this year were upperclassmen. I think they’re going to miss Brown quite a bit. Ward should be a good player next year, but he’s just got the one year left.
Johnson looks like a guy with a real bright future, but Cutler Finneman was slightly disappointing as a freshman. Jones might be the fastest player in the league, but he’ll also have just one more year.
And Mankato, Winona and Augie should all be loaded next year. Being in the South is tough on the middle of the pack teams.
Still, for them to finish 12-10 in the league, after a 3-8 start, is definitely a positive. I didn’t think this team was going to be all that good, and when they started 3-8 I thought it had a chance to get ugly. It didn’t, and that’s a credit to Coach Chris Johnson.
As for the women, they also had a weird year. They lost seven of eight, won six of seven, then lost six in a row.
Then they beat St. Cloud State to get to the Pentagon, and then they beat top seeded, regular season NSIC champion Wayne State in front of their biggest crowd of the season at the Pentagon. I covered 9 of the 14 games at the Pentagon, and the Cougars’ win over Wayne was easily the most entertaining. It gave them a signature win not just for their season, but for the Travis Traphagen era.
The Cougars probably aren’t as bad as their 14-15 record, as evidenced not just by the two tournament wins but also the fact that most of their losses were winnable games. They probably dropped more than their fair share that could’ve gone either way.
There’s reason to be optimistic going forward, as Taylor Varsho was excellent as a sophomore. Sam Knecht won freshman of the year, Marie Malloy made huge strides from her freshman year, and players like Alicia Boe, Amber Paden and Teagan Molden were also impressive at times. Jaicee Ulmer is a strong third wheel.
"I’m excited about our team going forward," Traphagen said. "We have young players that have a lot of room to grow, and I’m excited about our incoming recruiting class. I’m happy with the way we finished the year, and I think winning these two games in the tournament gives our girls a lot of confidence."
Of course, the Cougars will have to replace Laura Johnson, who is one of the best players they’ve ever had.
The all-time leading 3-point shooter in USF history, Johnson finishes fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,402 points, and her 770 rebounds and 123 career blocks also rank high on the USF all-time lists.
She averaged 15 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks in her senior year.
Johnson had one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen, and her numbers probably would’ve been even better if there hadn’t been so many games where the Cougars couldn’t find another scoring option to take pressure off her.
I’m not going to put her ahead of Courtney Farrell (even though Johnson obviously played against much tougher competition than Courtney did), but she’s easily No. 2 on my list of USF’s best women’s players. She was also one of my favorites. She’s really funny. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a college athlete who took her/himself less seriously, and that’s refreshing.
* Speaking of USF hoops, the Gayville-Volin Raider girls, coached by former Cougar Matt Malloy, defeated Freeman 44-40 last night in overtime.
One year after going 4-14, the Raiders are going to the Class B state tournament for the first time ever.
Both Augustana basketball teams saw their season come to an end Saturday at the Pentagon, and for both teams, it was one of their worst seasons in recent years.
The Viking men finished 16-14. They’d reached the NCAA tournament in five of the last six seasons, and probably should’ve got in the one year over that stretch that they didn’t. This was the first time since the 2006-07 season that the Vikings were not in the tourney hunt.
But coach Tom Billeter wouldn’t call the season a disappointment and I won’t, either. Yes, the Vikings are a program that expects to be — at minimum — an NCAA tournament team every year, but that was probably an unrealistic expectation after the personnel hits this team took.
Brennan Olson would’ve been a senior this year, but injuries led him to retire. Olson would not have been a game-changing player, but he definitely would’ve helped.
The bigger losses were a season-ending injury to would-be junior guard Al Richter, and would-be sophomore center Zach Huisken quitting the team. Those two are major pieces, and losing them dealt the Vikings a big blow.
Richter is a scorer with size who likely would’ve been an improved wing defender this year, too, while Huisken gave the Vikings a terrific 1-2 punch in the paint alongside Dan Jansen.
Even losing walkon sophomore guard Tanner Odegaard cost the Vikings a shooter and another body, and then freshman point guard Matt Brazendale missed eight games in the middle of the season with head and wrist injuries. When he came back, he wasn’t quite the same player.
So with all that said, I think a .500 season is about what should’ve been expected. The Vikings lost some games they probably should’ve won, blowing some big leads and playing horrible defense in others, but overall I’d say they neither disappointed or overachieved.
They got to the Pentagon with a win at Northern State. That’s a decent accomplishment for a team that’s better days are obviously ahead of it.
"This might have been one of our better years ever, to take the hits we did and play so many young kids," Billeter said, giving his team a tad more credit than I would. "We just kept coming back and fighting. I’m very pleased, really proud of our guys."
Dan Jansen backed up his freshman of the year campaign with a strong sophomore season, and Casey Schilling surprised everyone by becoming the most productive all-around player in the league.
Yuriy Malashenko had a strong senior year, and freshman point guard Adam Beyer quietly had a very strong year, getting noticably better all year long. By year’s end, Beyer averaged 6.6 points and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 51 percent from the floor. At 6-6, he’s a nightmare matchup for the rest of the league.
Ethan Guske, also a freshman, averaged 7.3 points and shot 39 percent from downtown. Devin Gilligan was a great energy guy off the bench, averaging 5.4 points in just 13 minutes per game.
Richter will be back from injury, and, if you haven’t heard, Huisken is returning to play next year. I imagine he’ll have to prove his dedication to his teammates, and who knows how a year off will affect him, but at the very least he’s a 6-9 kid with the skills to play Division I basketball.
All of which is a long way of saying this season was a stepping stone to the future. It might have been that to some degree even if Richter and Huisken had played. The Vikings will have no seniors next year.
But expectations will, of course, be very high next season, and the Vikings haven’t always responded well to that kind of pressure. I’ll try my hardest not to use the words ‘all-in’ at any point next year.
"It was great to learn this year," said Beyer. "Yuriy and Isaac (Jorgensen) were great senior leaders that really mentored us. We’ll use this season as a motivator for next season. The expectations will be higher and that will make us work harder."
As for the Vikings women, they found themselves in a similar scenario.
For starters they graduated an outstanding senior class that took them to the Final Four, in Alex Feeney, Faith Tinklenberg, Lydia Nelson and Cami Koehn.
Andrea Whitney, a 6-2 sophomore who was outstanding in the postseason, was supposed to step in to replace Feeney in the middle, but she decided to quit basketball. So did Emily Bose, who would’ve been Whitney’s backup.
That left the Vikings without much depth or size in the post. They spent much of the season playing four guards at a time, which meant on most nights whether or not they won or lost usually depended on how they shot the ball from outside. If the shots were falling, they were good enough to beat anyone. If the shots were not falling, they could look pretty rough.
The Vikings finished 16-12, but they got to the Pentagon, where they came close to beating a Northern State team that ended up reaching the finals.
But ultimately, their lack of size forced them to rely way too much on the 3, and they didn’t shoot it well. The Vikings attempted 699 3s, the second most in the league, but hit just 32.2 percent of them, 13th in the league.
Rhianna Gullickson had a very nice season as the de facto center, averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the floor, but she was often overmatched defensively. Riley Nordgaard had a terrific year in the hustle stats but struggled shooting. Emily Schulte was very streaky as a shooter, while Alex Kneeland shot just 30 percent from the floor. Hayley McCarron opened the year in the starting lineup and ended at the end of the bench.
The highlight, of course, was Shaunteva Ashley, who had one of the best individual seasons in recent Augie women’s history. She ranked second in the league in scoring with over 18 points per game, led the league in assist/turover ratio, shot 49 percent from the floor, 36 percent from 3, and led the team in free throw attempts, where she converted 80 percent of the time. She should be the NSIC preseason player of the year going into next season.
Again, considering what they had, I don’t think it’s really fair to call the Vikings’ season a disappointment.
They’ll miss the toughness that Schulte and Katie Meister, the team’s only seniors, brought to the floor, but otherwise things look good for next year.
Ashley and Nordgaard should only be better. McCarron is going to be a good player. Sydney Rome had some nice moments, and I really like the way Sophie Kenney — the heir apparent at point guard — runs the floor. Having a quarterback who doesn’t worry about getting shots for herself could be a benefit for several Viking players.
Gullickson has another year of eligibility, but it’s unclear if she’s going to use it. With an almost tragic history of knee injuries, it’d be hard to blame her for walking away.
But if she returns she gives the Vikings a reliable senior who never makes mistakes and has a solid inside offensive game.
There aren’t any 6-2 true 5s among the incoming freshmen, but the Vikings should at least be deeper in the middle next season.
"I’m proud of this team," said coach Dave Krauth. "We have some feisty kids that really work hard and fight and they were the heart and soul of our team. I love players that have that kind of tenacity, and we’ll have a bunch of those kinds of kids back next season. We need to be a little stronger and a little more efficient in the post. If we can just get a little of that it could take us a long way."
The NSIC Tournament wrapped up Tuesday night with the MSU-Mankato men beating Winona State 75-66 in the men’s title game, and the Concordia-St. Paul women beating Northern State 54-36 in the women’s championship.
Sixteen teams played fourteen games in four days at the Pentagon.
It went pretty well.
It was obvious that the Pentagon impressed players, coaches and media from outside the area who hadn’t seen it. Game ops went pretty smoothly. There were a few early glitches. They weren’t providing stats during the opening game between the Augie and Northern women, and the rooms labeled ‘media’ and ‘hospitality’ were both empty. The actual hospitality room was mislabeled, so it kind of took awhile to figure out where everyone was supposed to go to get what they needed.
But the event was well-staffed. Media seating was good and the TV broadcasts appeared to go well.
There were no press conferences for the game, and that was the right call. While the Argus Leader bylined 11 of the 14 games (I covered nine myself), and the St. Cloud Times, Winona Daily News and Mankato Free Press all sent reporters to the event, press conferences are always awkward at these kind of things. Even the Summit League press conferences can be really uncomfortable when they don’t involve a Dakota school.
It did make my job a little tougher, as the players came out of the locker rooms to a hallway full of fans and parents, which made it kind of difficult to get interviews with players.
It didn’t bother me, though, because the postgame kids autograph sessions was a nice touch, and while lots of reporters judge these kind of events totally on how much they’re catered to, I won’t.
The important thing is how good of an experience is created for the players and fans, and I think that was excellent.
I talked to several players and coaches, and they all were very impressed with the Pentagon as a facility, and appreciative of the fan support, which was solid.
Each of the games that featured a team from Augustana and USF were well-attended, and Northern State and SMSU also brought very strong crowds. And even the games where I anticipated really small crowds, there were enough folks in the stands to keep the place from being dead.
I don’t know how the attendance numbers that wound up on the box scores were tabulated, because they were not an accurate representation of the number of people in the stands.
The announced attendnace for the Winona vs. St. Cloud men was 194. There were at least twice that many. The Northern State women’s game against Mankato was announced at 291. There were probably more like 600 or so.
Granted, that still doesn’t sound like a very big crowd, and it isn’t, but in a small venue, it looks better than it sounds. There were no games played in front of a quiet, empty gym. Considering the weather was almost worst-case scenario bad, that’s a good sign.
Then again, what if USF and NSU’s women had been beaten right away like Augie’s teams did? That would’ve hurt attendance.
The primary criticism of having the tournament at the Pentagon is that it’s not a truly neutral site, but I don’t know if that’s really a problem at all.
Did USF and Augie have a home court advantage? Yes. USF especially did, because their students came out in full force. Augie’s fans were pretty quiet — something the Viking players and fans definitely noticed — but it was still more or less a home game for them, especially their men.
But you may have noticed that Augie, USF and Northern all failed to win the tournament despite the home court advantage. Yes, the USF women scored the biggest upset of the tournament over Wayne State, and while the crowd played a big role in lifting the Cougars to that win, my guess is that Wayne would’ve won that game if they’d had anything to gain by winning it (they didn’t).
And I think for a lot of players, playing in front of a hostile crowd is better than playing in front of no crowd.
The Concordia women, for example, were essentially the visiting team in both the semifinals and the finals, and they enjoyed it. Guard Rachel Hansen told me it was a lot more fun playing in front of loud USF fans than playing in front of a small crowd consisting mostly of parents, which, let’s face it, is what we had in Rochester last year.
Some people still want the regular season champ to host, but that’s really not the way it’s being done these days, and let’s face it, some of the schools in the NSIC have less-than-amazing facilities.
The first year of something like this always has somewhat of a honeymoon period, so we’ll see how things work next year, but I think most would agree the first year of this event was a success.
I’ll have season wrap ups for all four USF/Augie teams on the blog later this week. In the meantime, here are links to all of my game stories from the tournament.
Northern women beat Augie
USF women stun Wayne State
MSU-Mankato men beat Augie
Winona men over St. Cloud State
Northern State women upset MSU-Mankato
USF women fall to Concordia
Mankato men drop SMSU
Concordia wins women’s title
Mavericks win men’s championship
Tuesday is live chat day. Today we’re going to move it back to 5 p.m., because I’ll be covering the NSIC tournament championship games at the Pentagon. The women’s game pits Northern State against Concordia-St. Paul, and MSU-Mankato will take on Winona State in the men’s final.
I realize 5 isn’t the ideal time to kick off a chat since that’s when most of you working stiffs are commuting, but the chat will be open for the duration of both games, so stop by when you can. We can talk NSIC tourney or anything else. See ya then.
Of the four local NSIC basketball teams, the USF women might’ve been the last ones you’d expect to make a run, but here they are, playing in the NSIC tourney semifinals after knocking off top seed Wayne State on Saturday. They’re the last of the four Sioux Falls teams still alive. Their opponent, Concordia-St. Paul, is not a good matchup for them, but being two wins away from an NCAA tourney berth, just about anything could happen.
Their win over the Wildcats was one of the more entertaining games I’ve covered in years. The fans were a big factor.
If you can’t make it out to the game, I’ll be covering it live at argusleader.com/mattchat.
If the USF students/fans are anything like they were against Wayne, it should be a fun one.
Tipoff is at 6 pm.
If you google ‘Matt Malloy USF’ or ‘Matt Malloy basketball’, the first thing that pops up isn’t a story on Malloy’s exploits as a dynamo point guard for the Cougars. It’s a three-year old story detailing Malloy’s arrest, along with teammate Eric Tisby, for an altercation in the early morning hours of Jan. 28, 2011 at a Sioux Falls convenience store.
The Pentagon field is set.
The NSIC tournament heads to Sioux Falls after the 16-team mens and womens brackets pared down to eight during first round action Wednesday night.
Here’s a recap of Wednesday night and a look at who’s coming this weekend.
USF 75, St. Cloud State 68
Augie 90, MSU-Moorhead 79
Northern State 74, SMSU 45
MSU-Mankato 106, UM-Crookston 63
Concordia 81, UM-Duluth 72
Mary 72, Winona State 66
Minot State 74, Upper Iowa 73
Wayne State 72, Bemidji State 42
Nice win for USF. SCSU only lost at home three times all year and two of them were to the Cougars. Especially nice to see meaningful contributions from Bailey Bouman and Chrissy Strassburg, two seniors who don’t play a whole lot.
An impressive win for Augie, too, as they withstood a 31-point, 13-rebound effort from center Megan Strese thanks to terrific guard play.
Shaunteva Ashley had 30, Emily Schulte 25 and Riley Nordgaard 11 and 10 with five steals and four assists. Sophie Kenney had maybe the best game of her career off the bench.
Ashley is averaging 24.6 points over her last six games. In the 15 games since scoring just seven against Minot on Jan. 4, she’s averaged 22.4 points.
Also of note, Minot State center Carly Boag, my pick for NSIC MVP each of the last two seasons, scored 46 points, and NSIC record and the most points scored in D2 this season. The Beavers needed every one of them, as they narrowly held off Upper Iowa in what would’ve been a huge upset.
By holding on, they ensured that USF’s win over SCSU was the only upset of the first round. Not a big upset, but the Cougars were the only road team to win on the women’s side.
Augie vs. Northern State, Noon
USF vs. Wayne State, 6 p.m.
Mary vs. MSU-Mankato, Noon
Concordia vs. Minot State, 6 p.m.
Augie 66, Northern State 64
St. Cloud State 86, USF 75
Winona State 67, Minot State 56
Wayne State 88, Bemidji State 76
Upper Iowa 86, UM-Duluth 81
MSU-Moorhead 68, Concordia 64
SMSU 82, Mary 65
MSU-Mankato 76, UM-Crookston 60
The USF loss to SCSU was a lot closer than the score reflects, and the Cougars were dealt a big blow when Charles Ward went down with a fairly serious head injury. He suffered a concussion and a bad laceration on the back of his head that required stitches.
It happened right before halftime, at which point Ward had a game-high 17 points and USF led 44-40. They hung admirably in the second, but the Huskies were too much. USF had 20 turnovers. They had nine total in two games last weekend.
Weird win for Augie. Casey Schilling, Dan Jansen and Adam Beyer combined for 25 points on 6-of-29 shooting. If you’d told me that beforehand, I’d have assumed that Augie not only lost, but got rolled.
Fortunately, they seem to have taken my sage advice to Tom Billeter, which was to actually guard Skye Warwick and Jared Hannigan. Those two combined for 11 3s in Northern’s win at the Elmen two weeks ago. Last night they had 13 points combined on 4-for-13 shooting.
Devin Gilligan had 11 points and Evan Pierce nine for the Vikings, modest bench contributions that ultimately keyed the win.
The shocker came in Bemidji, where Wayne State, the last place (tied) team in the South, stunned Bemidji State, the North co-champ. The Beavers apparently cut down the nets after clinching a tie of the North two weeks ago, then went 0-3 the rest of the way, forcing them to share the division title and then ending their season early with a frankly embarrassing loss.
Then again, when you consider Concordia, the team that tied Wayne for last in the South, very nearly upset Moorhead, it kind of reinforces how much better the South is than the North right now.
Moorhead and St. Cloud were the only North teams to win, and both were lucky to escape.
Duluth almost pulled off an upset for the North, going up by as much as 22 over UIU, but the Peacocks rallied.
Upper Iowa vs MSU-Moorhead, 2:30
Augie vs MSU-Mankato, 8:30
St. Cloud State vs Winona State, 2:30
SMSU vs Wayne State, 8:30
Things worked out pretty good for the Pentagon, as far as the local team presence. Both Augie teams made it, USF’s women will be there, and so will Northern’s, although the Wolves men certainly would’ve brought a lot more folks from Aberdeen than the women will.
Attendance could also be decent for SMSU vs. Wayne, as those two schools are both just a two-hour drive.
Hopefully they get there a little early, otherwise there’s going to be a really small crowd for that Concordia-Minot women’s game at 6 on Sunday.
I don’t much like Augie’s chances against Mankato, and the USF women seem unlikely to knock off Wayne. But who knows. Stranger things have happened, and they do have the luxury of being in their home town (although the Coo women have never played at the Pentagon).
The Augie women have never played there, either, and they just beat Northern, soundly, two weeks ago. It’ll be tough to knock them off again, but it seems like a pretty decent matchup.
With Augie’s lack of size, it’ll basically come down to whether or not they make shots.
I’ll be covering all three Augie/USF games on Saturday. We’ll see what happens from there, but I’m looking forward to the tournament.
There has been plenty of talk during the Twins’ busy offseason that they were interested in signing former Cy Young winner Johan Santana.
Santana’s career has been ruined by injuries — the trade that sent him to the Mets in exchange for five prospects will go down in history as one of the most disappointing-for-both-sides trades in baseball history — and many have suggested that the Twins were actually the favorites to land the 35-year-old lefthander on an incentive-laden contract this offseason.
Indications have been that Santana would seek a major league deal. The last time the Twins took a risk and gave a major league contract to an injury reclamation project, it was Joel Zumaya, who they ended up paying nearly a million bucks to throw off a mound once in spring training.
Judging by the results of Santana’s workout Tuesday, it seems highly unlikely the Twins, or any other team, would be interested in anything more than a minor-league deal at this point. Santana hasn’t pitched since mid-2012 and might not be ready for game action until next year. And he apparently now throws as hard as I do.
This is depressing, in part because it would’ve been fun to see a Santana reunion, especially with the Twins already getting much of the old band back together, with Jason Kubel, Jason Bartlett and Matt Guerrier all in camp this spring.
Santana’s changeup was good enough that I think he could still be effective throwing in the mid-to-high 80s, so it’s probably too soon to write him off entirely, but it also seems pretty obvious that he’s not ever going to rediscover his Cy Young form or anything close to it.
Maybe he could try learning a knuckleball.
Or, maybe he could take some lessons from Eddie Harris.