Brad Frost, the coach of the women’s hockey team, was among the Gophers coaches spotted among attendees for Friday night’s regional baseball game at Siebert Field. As he stood nearby, I said to the young sports pundit next to me:
“It has been a couple of years since Frost won the national championship, right? He better watch himself.”
Later, I was contemplating how a Gophers fan base — whether minimal, middling or large in size — perceives success for an athletic team.
There are 34 schools in Division I women’s hockey, the Gophers have a dedicated arena, first call on numerous Grade A recruits, and if they don’t win it all, it can’t be a satisfying season.
There are 60 schools in Division I men’s hockey, and while it is now a much more even playing surface since the days the Gophers were referred to as the “Yankees of college hockey,” being in the 16-team NCAA field is an expectation, not an achievement.
New coach Bob Motzko will have to reach a regional final, at a minimum, for a good first impression.
The softball team won a third consecutive Big Ten tournament, thrilling its band of loyalists, and not getting out of a regional has been blamed on unfavorable seeding rather than as a failure.
The baseball team hit the exacta this season, with Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, but if John Anderson’s Gophers don’t get out of this home field regional, it will be seen as a disappointment and not misfortune.
Then there’s basketball:
Marlene Stollings was 11-5 in the Big Ten last season, 38-30 overall and 1-2 in the NCAA tournament in four seasons. The fans were happy to see her leave and open the Barn’s doors for Lindsay Whalen.
Richard Pitino was 4-14 in the Big Ten last season, and he’s 31-59 overall and 0-1 in the NCAA in five seasons, and the hoop(le) heads say, “Give him time.”
Lastly, football: A computer tells us Minnesota has the easiest 12-game schedule in the Big Ten, and yet the Goldy Gullibles are ready to define 6-6 and rejoining the 70 percent of Power Five teams that play in a bowl game as success in what’s-his-name’s second season.
Standards at the U are interesting.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
• The Gophers are so good in the field that it was shocking Friday to see Alex Boxwell not catch a ball in deep center and Micah Coffey make a poor decision at third.
• Controversy has pushed the NBA to a solid No. 2 behind the NFL in American sports popularity. J.R. Smith simply added fuel to that inferno in Game 1.
• Are we finally getting hints Miguel Sano has started to think rather than just hack when he steps in batter’s box? That would be nice.