Sunday, March 15, 2009

2007 Season Recap

Minnesota's signature basketball programs--the Gopher men and women, and the Timberwolves--struggled in 2007. Still, it was a big year in Minnesota hoops as the St. Paul Central girls and Winona State men made history. Then, the hiring of Tubby Smith rekindled interest in the Gopher men's program.

#1 Story--St. Paul Central girls are just too good

The Central girls, led by four recent transfers, waltzed to the state AAAA title and a 32-0 record. The Minutemen scored 90 points or more 14 times, but coach Willie Taylor never allowed them to score 100 points. There was enough animosity toward his program as it was. Still, most observers agreed it was the greatest girls basketball team in Minnesota history. State tournament victims were Roseville 76-58, Edina 79-41 and Mpls. South 81-63. The Central-South championship match-up was the first in 95 years of MSHSL tourney play between schools representing Minnesota's largest cities. Central's magical point guard, Angel Robinson, later was selected Minnesota's Ms. Basketball. 

#2 Story--Winona State wins 57 in a row

The Winona State Warriors seemed to have an unbeaten season and a second straight NCAA D2 title well in hand, leading Barton 74-67 with 45 seconds to go in the national final. Instead, Anthony Atkinson of Barton scored 10 points in those 45 seconds to lead Barton to a shocking 77-75 victory. The loss broke a 57-game Winona winning streak, and the Warriors finished at 35-1. Winona's John Smith was chosen as the NCAA's D2 player of the year.

#3 Story--Monson out, Tubby in

The Gopher men started out 2-5 with losses to Marist and Montana--not to even mention an embarrassing exhibition loss to Winona State--when athletic director Joel Maturi decided that he'd seen enough. Coach Dan Monson was fired on December 1. The Gophers and interim coach Jim Molinari struggled to a 9-22 record, the most losses in Gopher history. Then on March 22, Maturi injected a dose of enthusiasm into a moribund program by hiring Tubby Smith away from the University of Kentucky.

#4 Story--Buffalo surprises in AAAA

The first big surprise was Minnetonka's 55-53 win over two-time defending state AAAA champ Hopkins in a 6AAAA semi-final. Then, 'Tonka lost to Bloomington Jefferson 84-76 in OT in the section final, Jefferson lost to Apple Valley 68-66 in the first round of the state tournament, and Apple Valley lost to Armstrong 70-67 in the semis. Finally, it was Buffalo's turn to surprise Armstrong 67-65 in the final. Buffalo won despite a severely sprained ankle by leading scorer Josh Ortmann, who hobbled his way to nine points. Darrin Olmscheid picked up the slack with 25 points, including the game-winning floater at 0:02.4.

#5 Story--Anoka-Ramsey women win again

Anoka-Ramsey won its sixth--and the Minnesota Community College Athletic Conference's tenth--national championship, beating Mohawk Valley CC 52-44 in the national final. Sonja Ellingson of Maple Grove was the tournament MVP, and first-year coach Dave DeWitt led the Rams to a 26-4 record.

Player of the Year

1. Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central, senior, guard
2. John Smith, Winona State, junior, center
3. Erika Quigley, St. Cloud State, senior, center
4. Kelly Roysland, Minnesota, senior, guard
5. Cole Aldrich, Bloomington Jefferson, senior, center

Coach of the Year

1. Nicholas Guida, Buffalo boys
2. Justin Hegna, Becker girls
3. Mike Leaf,  Winona State men
4. Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men
5. Matt Marthaler, Mankato State men

Top Teams

1. St. Paul Central girls 32-0, MSHSL AAAA state champion
2. Winona State men 35-1, NCAA D2 runner-up
3. Buffalo boys 28-3, MSHSL AAAA state champion
4. Anoka-Ramsey CC women 26-4, NJCAA D3 national champs
5. Hopkins boys 26-2

Game of the Year

1. Winona State 69 Minnesota 64 in men's exhibition game
2. Barton buzzer-beater shocks Winona 77-75
3. Central girls complete perfect season, 81-63 over Mpls. South
4. Buffalo 67 Armstrong 65 on buzzer-beater for AAAA state title
5. Ellsworth 74 Cass Lake 73 for A title on Adam Van Der Stoep's tenth 3 of the day

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