Archived Story

Nostalgic holiday tourneys

Published 11:54pm Monday, December 27, 2010

As a high school athlete, there’s nothing more nostalgic than a two- or three-day tournament, especially if it’s an overnighter.

As a fifth- and sixth-grader, weekend tournaments were your social life, a weekly pool party at a different temporary home each Saturday night.

For me, it was always the AmericInn in Winona and the Radisson in downtown Rochester — staying up late to play cards in the lobby and riding the elevator to each floor, spying on other guests.

Basketball games just interrupted was seemed most important, spending time with my seven best friends.

Life was understandably good.

But in high school, tournaments were replaced by individual games every Tuesday and Friday night. Van rides with your buddies became dragging bus trips on cold vinyl seats.

No more games of 500 in the hotel pool. Down time was spent practicing, doing walk-throughs, reading scouting reports and watching film. It wasn’t about fun anymore, it was about winning.

But holiday tournaments give high school athletes the chance to relive those memorable weekends of their childhood.

Sure there’s no longer pool parties and I doubt the Albert Lea wrestling team, which left this morning for a two-day tournament in Fargo, N.D., will ride the elevator to each floor of their hotel, but they’re stuck spending time together and I bet they’ll figure out ways to have fun.

Teams commuting to or hosting holiday tournaments, like the Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ basketball teams and girls’ hockey team won’t get the overnight experience of yore, but the environment — patiently watching from the stands, waiting for your game to begin — is powerful enough to bring you back.

No. 13-ranked Gophers are a bit overrated

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team has quietly moved up to No. 13 in the Coaches Poll, a spot I think they’ll peak at this season.

The Gophers are now ranked just two spots behind Purdue and well ahead of Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois.

I think the Gophers are the fifth best team in the Big 10 and deserving of a top 25 ranking, but No. 13? That’s a stretch.

The Gophers have a nice 11-1 non-conference record but struggled winning their last five games at home against quality mid-majors. With three of their next four games at No. 24 Wisconsin, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 2 Ohio State, followed by a home game against No. 11 Purdue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Gophers slip out of the Top 25 in the coming weeks.

The Gophers first 12 games were nothing to sneeze at but the real test begins at 6 p.m. tonight against the Badgers.