1. Carlie Wagner Does It Again
Last year Carlie Wagner came almost out of nowhere to score 48 points and overshadow the great Rebekah Dahlman in her very 1st state tournament game ever. And, now, for an encore? How about 48 points in the state semi-finals, followed by an incredible 50 points (outscoring Dahlman again, this time 50-32) in a 60-59 Class A championship thriller over Braham. Wagner set records for points in a tournament with 129 and in a game with those 50 points, including the game-winning FT in the game's final seconds.
2. Minnesota Boys Class of 2014 Is the Best Ever
Juniors Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis are rated among the top 50 high school boys in their class, making this by far Minnesota's best recruiting class ever. In an average year, Minnesota has 0 or 1 boys in the top 100. 3 in the top 50 is unprecedented. And the urgency to get at least 1, if not 2 (3 would be too much to hope for) into the University of Minnesota weighs heavily on the minds of Minnesota basketball fans and plays mightily into the dissatisfaction with coach Tubby Smith.
Part of the back-story is that the 2013s are regarded as 1 of the best girls classes ever, with an unprecedented 2 McDonald's all-Americans in Nia Coffey and Rebekah Dahlman. Add DeLaSalle's Tyseanna Johnson to the list and you've got a "Big 3" that is analogous to Jones, Vaughn and Travis. And the fact is the Gopher women struck out on all 3. Similarly most fans seem to be resigned to the likelihood that the Gophers may not sign any of the boys "Big 3."
3. Gopher Men Falter, Tubby Smith Fired
The Gopher men under head coach Tubby Smith roared out to a 15-1 start including 3-0 in the Big 10 with wins over Michigan State and at Illinois. But the wheels quickly came off the Tubby-mobile as the Gophers lost 4 straight and faltered to a 5-10 finish in the Big 10 regular season, then lost to Illinois, a team they had beaten twice, in the Big 10 tournament. An NCAA tournament invitation and 1st round win over UCLA, 83-63, did not deter new AD Norwood Teague from making a move, announcing the day after an NCAA tournament loss to Florida that Tubby was through as Minnesota coach.
4. Minnesota Lynx Fall in WNBA Finals
The defending champion Minnesota Lynx looked like the best team in the WNBA--they were the best team in the WNBA--through the regular season, finishing up just 1 win short of a WNBA record number of wins at 27-7. As had been the case in 2011, the biggest roadblock to the league title appeared to be within the Western Conference--the LA Sparks at 25-9 or the San Antonio Silver Stars at 21-13. But the Lynx got a scare in the 1st round from the Seattle Storm before winning that series 2 games to 1, then shut out the Sparks 2 games to none to advance to the finals against the Indiana Fever. An easy win was anticipated.
Instead, the Fever manhandled the Lynx 3 games to 1 to win their 1st WNBA title. Still it was a 2nd straight solid season for the Lynx, whose Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen also helped the U.S. to the Olympic Gold medal during the summer.
5. Anders Broman and Rebekah Dahlman Score 5,000
Anders Broman of Lakeview Christian and Rebekah Dahlman of Braham became the 1st Minnesota high schoolers to score 5,000 points in a career. For Broman, the final number is variously estimated from 5,059 to 5,119, depending on whether a few games from early in his career (against non-MSHSL opponents) count or not. For Dahlman the number is 5,060, her 5,000th having come in a 1st round tournament win over BOLD.
See more Honorable Mention stories of the year below.
Player of the Year
Minnesota Hoops will poll its readers, who will choose a Readers Player of the Year. The 10 candidates in the poll are:
Semione Augustus, Minnesota Lynx. Augustus led the Lynx to a 2nd straight WNBA finals, where the team fell short of a repeat of its 2012 championship.
Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women. Banham led the Gopher women in good times and in bad, leading the Big 10 in scoring with more than 21 points per game. But the Gophers faltered to an 18-14 finish and a loss in the 1st round of the WNIT.
Anders Broman, Lakeview Christian boys. Finished his career as the 1st Minnesota high schooler ever to score 5,000 career points, and led his team to a 2nd state tournament berth.
Nia Coffey, Hopkins girls. Coffey led her team to a 3rd straight state title, dominating 3 straight opponents with her defense and rebounding, while also scoring 67 points in 3 games.
Rebekah Dahlman, Braham girls. Finished her career as the 1st girl ever to score 5,000 points in Minnesota high school ball, and led her team to runner-up in Class AA.
Taylor Hall, Bethel men. Hall was MIAC MVP, and was rated the #3 player in all of D3 and the #13 player below D1 by 1 rating service.
Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men. Andre was the Gophers leading scorer in good times and in bad, including a 41 point effort early in the year when the Gophers roared out to a 15-1 start and a #8 national rating.
Tyus Jones, Apple Valley boys. Regarded by some as the #1 national recruit in the class of 2014, Jones led his team to the state Class AAAA title, and in the process avenged his team's only defeat in thrashing Park Center 74-57.
Clayton Vette, Winona State men. Vette led Winona to the Northern Sun South Division regular season crown, to the NCAA North Central Region title and to the D2 Elite 8.
Carlie Wagner, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls. Scored a record 129 points in the state tournament, where she led her team to the Class AA title in a classic win over Rebekah Dahlman and Braham 60-59 in the final. Wagner scored a record 50 points in that game.
Team of the Year
1. Hopkins girls 31-1. State Class AAAA champion for the 3rd straight year.
2. Minnesota Lynx 27-7 in the regular season, then 5-4 in the playoffs. WNBA runner-up to the Indiana Fever.
3. Apple Valley boys 31-1. State Class AAAA champions.
4. St. Thomas men 30-2. NCAA D3 semi-finalist, rated #1 nationally before losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor 74-67 in the semis.
5 (tie). DeLaSalle boys 30-1 and DeLaSalle girls 28-4. The boys won their 2nd straight Class AAA title, the girls their 3rd as Tyseanna Johnson became the 1st hoopster, boys or girls, ever to win all-tournament honors 5 times.
Coach of the Year
1. Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls. 3rd straight Class AAAA title and both Hopkins' and Cosgriff's 5th title overall.
2 (tie). Faith Johnson Patterson, DeLaSalle girls and Dave Thorson, DeLaSalle boys. Won a 3rd and a 2nd straight Class AAA title, respectively. For Johnson Patterson, this brings her total to a record-tying (boys or girls) 8th title. Thorson's is his 5th, which is exceeded by only 1 other boys coach.
4. Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx. Kept the Lynx focused through distractions such as foreign obligations, Olympics, and so on, but ran into a buzzsaw in the Indiana Fever in the finals.
5. Mike Leaf, Winona State men. Led the Warriors to the D2 Elite Eight.
Game of the Year
1. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls 60 Braham 59. Girls Class AA state championship. Carlie Wagner out-scored Rebekah Dahlman 50-32, and made the game-winning FT with 6 seconds remaining.
2. Minnesota Gopher men 77 #1 Indiana Hoosiers 73. The 1st Gopher win over a #1-rated opponent since 1989.
3. Bloomington Kennedy girls 43 Eastview 39. Class AAAA semi-finals.
4. Winona State men 76 Mankato State 73 OT. NCAA D2 North Central Region final at Mankato. The winner advanced to the D2 Elite Eight.
5. Park Center boys 74 Lakeville North 72. Class AAAA 1st round.
Honorable Mention Stories
• DeLaSalle Makes It "5 in a Row." The DeLaSalle girls won their 3rd straight AAA title and the following week the boys won the for 2nd straight year. Coach Faith Johnson Patterson tied the Minnesota record of Myron Glass with her 8th state title while Tyseanna Johnson became the 1st basketball player, boys or girls, to earn all-tournament honors 5 times. The Islanders finished up at 28-4. The boys under coach Dave Thorson finished 29-1 with their 2nd straight state title.
• Apple Valley and Tyus Jones win 1st state title, avenging their only defeat of the season by defeating Park Center 74-57 in the final.
• Hopkins girls complete a 3-peat of Class AAAA titles.
• The Minnesota Timberwolves are ravaged by injuries--especially those to Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio--and fell well short of an expected run into the NBA playoffs.
• St. Thomas falls short. The St. Thomas men, 2010 national champions and now #1 rated, lost in the semi-finals of the NCAA D3 tournament. Meanwhile the women, Final Four participant a year ago, lost in the Sweet 16.
Player of the Year History
Minnesota Hoops readers have selected a Player of the Year 2 previous years now, while the editors have chosen a Player of the Year 7 times previously. (Our Minnesota Hoops Players of the Year for 2005 and previously all the way back to 1900 were selected retroactively.)
Minnesota Hoops Readers Player of the Year
2011--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2012--Taylor Young, St. Thomas women
Minnesota Hoops Editors Player of the Year
2006--Isaiah Dahlman, Braham boys
2007--Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central girls
2008--John Smith, Winona State men
2009--Tayler Hill, Mpls. South girls
2010--Rachel Banham and Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North girls
2011--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2012--Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx