Minnesotan in Training: April 9, 2014

 

Congratulations to Richard Pitino and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on defeating the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the NIT Championship!
Though the natural response may be to write off this win as insignificant, I think it’s important for a couple reasons.
First, it gave this team several games of postseason experience. Had they limped into the Big Dance, they likely would have won one or two games, if any at all. They were still challenged by their opponents and forced to take the tournament seriously. Any come-from-behind win is a good win, and the maroon and gold found themselves in that situation throughout their tournament run.
Second, the championship pitted Pitino, the son of future Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, against future Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who would have become the first coach to win an NBA, NCAA and NIT championship. A win against his squad is no small feat and is an early sign that the proverbial apple didn’t fall too far from the tree in the Pitino household. It was also neat to see the senior member of that household trying to coach from the crowd.
In the NCAA championship game, I found myself cheering for the University of Connecticut Huskies for a couple reasons.
First, it’s nice to be able to say the Iowa State Cyclones lost to the NCAA champions.
Second, they’re coached by Kevin Ollie, a former member of my two favorite NBA teams: the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s also a longtime friend of ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, whom he went with on a recruiting trip to the University of Arizona in the early 1990s. Neither went there, but they’ve stayed friends, which made their matchup intriguing in the first place.
They also share their nickname with St. Cloud State, as if I needed another reason to pick the “lesser of two evils.”
On a non-basketball note, Kat Perkins, of Minnesota, will continue singing on The Voice. She overpowered a duo and is advancing to the playoffs. Congrats!
 
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