Reusse: Without turnaround, Borton's fate at U could mirror Tubby's

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2014 - 10:57 PM

 

The first Big Ten loss in men’s basketball for the 2012-13 Gophers came on Jan. 12 at No. 5 Indiana. Tubby Smith’s club hung tough before losing 88-81 and dropped only one spot, to No. 9, in the next week’s Associated Press poll.

And then came six more losses in nine games, including five consecutive games in which the Gophers did not exceed 53 points in regulation.

The ugliness ended on Feb. 26 with a 77-73 victory over an Indiana team that had ascended to the No. 1 ranking. There was a capacity crowd of 14,625 in the Barn and the students stormed the elevated floor.

The victory basically assured the Gophers a place in the NCAA tournament and caused many of us to suggest that it had saved Smith’s job. Athletic director Norwood Teague and his basketball man, Mike Ellis, didn’t see it that way, and they were the ones who counted.

Smith’s first NCAA victory in six years at Minnesota wasn’t enough to save him; he was gone within hours of the round-of-32 loss to Florida on March 24.

One side effect of the decision to fire Smith seemed to be this: It enabled Pam Borton to save her job as the women’s basketball coach after a fourth consecutive lousy season for the Gophers.

Smith went a feeble 29-43 (.403) in conference play starting with the 2009-10 season. Borton went 23-43 (.348) in those four Big Ten seasons.

The announced average attendances for the Gophers home games went from 10,794 (all games) and 11,770 (Big Ten) in 2006-07, the season before Smith’s arrival, to 12,580 and 13,970 in 2012-13.

The announced average attendance for Borton’s team in all games at Williams Arena went from 6,596 to 3,277 over that same period of time.

Smith was fired, justifiably. Borton stayed, because an AD who had been on the job for 10 months could not start off dealing with basketball coaches like Tony Montana dealt with rivals in “Scarface.”

So far in 2013-14, Borton has not taken advantage of her reprieve, even as junior Rachel Banham continues on a path that will put her among the all-time greats in the Gophers’ four decades of women’s basketball.

The Gophers are 2-5 in the Big Ten after accepting an 83-53 humiliation on Sunday at Penn State. They are home against Iowa on Wednesday night, and the winning needs to start immediately.

Perhaps Banham can ignite a Gophers’ run to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. That alone would not figure to save Borton. One NCAA victory didn’t save Smith last year, and one probably wouldn’t do it for Borton with a recent history worse than was Tubby’s, both in record and in deterioration of interest in the program.

Everything is relative, of course, with men’s basketball as a huge moneymaker for the athletic program, and women’s basketball shy of break-even in the best of times. Yet, the decline of interest in Borton’s team from being extra-special a decade ago, to satisfactory a half-decade ago, to events for friends, relatives and youth leagues can’t be tolerated by an athletic director.

Presumably.

Teague said in a brief conversation Tuesday that he remained hopeful of a turnaround for a Gophers team that can draw on the talents of the dynamic Banham and the impressive freshman center, Amanda Zahui B., among others.

“I’m going to stay level-headed and let this play out,” Teague said. “We should have a good women’s basketball program at Minnesota.”

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Iowa at Gophers women's basketball

    Tuesday January 28, 2014

    u women gameday7 P.M. VS. iowa • williams ARENA• no TV, 1500-AMGophers at a glance: Minnesota (13-8, 2-5 Big Ten)...

  • Chart: Gophers women's basketball trending down

    Tuesday January 28, 2014

    A look at the Gophers women’s basketball program during coach Pam Borton’s tenure

  • Gophers women’s basketball coach Pam Borton hopes her team can turn a 2-5 Big Ten start around.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close