Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Gophers hoops crowd gets annual rip-off notice

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: July 31, 2013 - 9:56 AM

They are the Twin Cities' hardiest sports consumers. They are older now and getting to the Barn on those cold winter nights is more of a chore. The consistency of the entertainment has waned as the ticket prices have soared. They have been moved to corners, or up flights of stairs, as loyalty has lost all meaning to the University of Minnesota's athletic department.

And yet there still are thousands annually sending in the payment for long-held season tickets, waiting for the announcement of the non-conference schedule, and hoping against hope that this will be the year to get something resembling their money's worth in November and December.

These generational fans jumped on board with their parents, or with a favorite uncle, in the early '70s, when Bill Musselman changed everything and turned their families into lifers for Gophers basketball.

Musselman came crashing down, but things were fine with Jim Dutcher and the Barn was jumping for the next decade. Clem Haskins dug the Gophers out of a hole and became a hero to the masses. He crashed, too, and then Dan Monson was a disappointment, and Tubby Smith was a greater disappointment, and here we are ... hopeful again because a young man with a famous name is now in charge.

There are 20, 25 years worth of ticket buyers who are trained to expect nothing from the non-conference schedule in Williams Arena -- trained to pay high prices for absurd matchups for two months, while waiting for the Big Ten schedule to start.

But the extra-longtimers, the ones brought in by Musselman, or in the early years of Dutcher ... they remember Marquette coming to Williams Arena and the joint rocking like it was Indiana. They remember when 60-65 percent of the home schedule was conference games, and two or three of the non-conference games were worth parking blocks away and trudging over snow and ice to get to the Barn.

Those schedules in modern times? Old ticket buyers, young ones, in-between ... all of 'em are getting ripped off. .

Rich Pitino's first non-conference schedule  was announced on Tuesday and, with slight improvement, the home portion could have been lousy.

The basics of the schedule were identical to the Tubby Smith Era:

Play the quality opponents in a late-November tournament in an exotic location. Then, line up the yawners, one after another, in Williams Arena in a December run-up to the conference season.

The visit to the Maui Classic was arranged before Tubby was fired and Pitino was hired. The first of three way out there in paradise will be against Syracuse on Nov. 25.

Fine matchup -- except a matchup in Maui doesn't do diddly for people putting Gophers' season tickets on their Visa cards.

This was the home non-conference schedule presented to the public on Tueday:

Nov. 8--Lehigh. Nov. 12--Montana. Nov. 19--Coastal Carolina. Nov. 21--Wofford.

Dec. 3--Florida State. Dec. 7--New Orleans. Dec. 10--South Dakota State. Dec. 20--Omaha. Dec. 28-Texas A&M.

Don't get too excited about that last one. This A& M is one with an addendum: --Corpus Christi.

Florida State sneaked onto the schedule because the Gophers are a home team this season in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Somehow, the 'Noles end up being the Gophers' Challenge opponent about 50 percent of the time. When do we get North Carolina to come to the Barn in December to see how the other half lives?

Other notes: Lehigh doesn't have C.J. McCollum, so forget that one. South Dakota State doesn't have Nate Wolters, so forget that one.

As for the rest of the November-December schedule, the next-best attraction to Florida State might be the exhibition opener vs. Cardinal Stritch (Milwaukee) on Nov. 1. That outfit is the defending national champ in NAIA Division II. And exhibitions are still half-price, I believe.

The whole danged non-conference schedule (except for the Challenge) should be half-price. That's not happening, because Gophers baskeball fans get spanked in the pocket book every November and December, only to cringe and respond:

"Thank you, Goldy. May I have another.''








Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 0 1st Qtr 12:10
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 1st Prd 2:01
Nashville 0
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 59 2nd Half 9:33
North Carolina 38
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 4 1st Half 16:28
Western Mich 4
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Rice 8:30 PM
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
LSU 0 2nd Qtr 7:45
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 8:22
Texas 0
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 0 1st Half 20:00
Richmond 0
Oklahoma 3 1st Half 19:02
South Florida 2
Princeton 6 1st Half 16:31
Wake Forest 2
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM


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