Three leftover thoughts from a great weekend of sports viewing:
1 It was great that outdoor hockey at a high level finally made its way to Minnesota, with an announced crowd of 45,021 attending the Gophers’ doubleheader sweep at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday. As someone who spent a decent chunk of time sitting right by the boards — privilege has its privileges — I can attest to two things: Outdoor hockey is fun to watch, and outdoor hockey is extremely cold to watch.
You need to give fans a chance to savor the first and forget about the second, so it was nice to hear Gophers coach Don Lucia say the team doesn’t want to make this a regular event. “It’s special to be a part of, but I think you can do it too much,” he said. Amen.
2 The Wolves were booed off their home court Saturday, but this time it had nothing to do with wins and losses. Minnesota had just wrapped up a stifling 98-72 victory over a listless Jazz squad. Starters got to rest and cheer on the likes of Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad. So what was the problem?
Well, in winning for the first time all season when they didn’t reach 100 points, the Wolves also denied fans some delicious frozen yogurt. Fans get a freebie from Cherry Berry when the Wolves win and hit the century mark. With 10 seconds left in a blowout, though, the Wolves were content to dribble out the clock instead of trying for two more points against an opponent they have to face again Tuesday. Players laughed it off in the locker room, saying they were surprised by the boos until they figured out the promotion.
3 The bad news, if you are the Gophers basketball team or a fan, is that Minnesota has wilted in the second half of two consecutive Big Ten road games. The good news, we suppose, is that the Gophers have showed enough skill and moxie to legitimately threaten both Michigan State and Iowa — two teams, with apologies to Wisconsin, Michigan or anyone else, who look to be the best the Big Ten has to offer this season.
After the Gophers’ loss to Iowa on Sunday, Gophers coach Richard Pitino stressed just how impressed he was by the Hawkeyes while also lamenting his team’s approach.
“We certainly were humbled today,” Pitino said, adding: “I thought I sensed a little bit that we were losing that underdog mentality that we had all year.”