Gophers continue to thrive in Frozen Four and NIT

Published 9:14 am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

Perhaps the best time of the year for sports fans has arrived.

March Madness is in full swing, both in NCAA men’s basketball and hockey, the NBA and NHL are in the home stretches and MLB’s Opening Day was on Monday. The NFL Draft is coming up, too, which means fans of all major sports have something to look forward to.

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Some local teams are still thriving. The Gophers men’s basketball and hockey teams are in the final four of their postseason tournaments. Both teams wrap up their seasons on the east coast in New York City and Philadelphia, respectively. Some teams are struggling as the Wild are clinging to a playoff spot and the

Timberwolves will again miss one altogether, and some are hopeful with the Twins still 89 losses away from a fourth consecutive 90-loss season and the Vikings looking to add its next star in the upcoming draft.

Here are some thoughts on what’s happening around the state with our college and professional teams:


Teague makes right call in Borton firing

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague continued cleaning up the mess left by former athletic director Joel Maturi on Saturday by firing longtime women’s basketball coach Pam Borton.

The coach, who finished her 12th year with the Gophers in a loss to South Dakota in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, led the Gophers to the Final Four in 2004 but has missed the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons.

Borton struggled to recruit the state’s top talent, although she landed this year’s best prospect, Carlie Wagner, of NRHEG, and inherited the players she had the most success with.

The Gophers’ coaching position should be highly sought after because the incoming coach will have a wealth of talent. The Gophers return senior Rachel Banham, who might be the league’s best player next year, the reigning Freshman of the Year in Amanda Zahui B. and a frontrunner for next season’s Freshman of the Year in Wagner.

The expectation for the next should be a Sweet Sixteen berth at minimum.


The Vikings are cautious to draft Johnny Football

I was surprised last week when Paul Charchian, who contributes to KFAN Radio out of the Twin Cities, said he expects quarterback Johnny Manziel to fall into the second half of the first round of the NFL draft in May.

Manziel, who has been projected to be taken in the first eight picks by most experts’ mock drafts, was also said to have had an impressive pro day at Texas A&M.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told Twin Cities media, though, that Manziel has raised a lot of flags in the team’s interaction with him. He wasn’t impressed by the “side show” at Manziel’s pro day or how the QB has conducted himself since declaring for the draft by starring in TV commercials.

If Charchian is right, and Manziel does begin to fall during the draft, it doesn’t sound like the Vikings will take him at No. 8.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.