Reusse: Short search for Stollings figures to be big upgrade for Gophers women's basketball

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2014 - 6:51 AM

Marlene Stollings was on Norwood Teague’s and Mike Ellis’ radar early on.

We’re not exactly talking about a Gopher Nation when it comes to women’s basketball. It might not even rate as a Dinkytown, after five consecutive seasons without a bid to the NCAA tournament.

OK, the Dinkytown joke was broken out when Tim Brew­ster mentioned Gopher Nation at his first news conference in January 2007, but it works here, too, so I’m going with it.

It has been a decade since the front-runners filled Williams Arena for a pair of NCAA tournament games, and we have long since disappeared. The Gophers were down to a precious few hundred for several games in Pam Borton’s 12th and last season.

Norwood Teague fired Borton and then promised a “national search,” as do most athletic directors — and particularly those with schools in a major conference.

The loyalists for women’s basketball at the U are small in numbers but vociferous in their views. They seemed to be expecting that Teague and his basketball man, Mike Ellis, would be twisting arms through the end of the Women’s Final Four (Tuesday night in Nashville) to find a prominent replacement.

Instead, it took no more than a week — from firing Borton on March 28 to finalizing details with Marlene Stollings — for Teague and Ellis to have a Borton replacement and beat feet to Dallas for the start of the men’s Final Four.

Teague and Ellis see it as a positive that Stollings is a graduate of the Villa 7 seminar for basketball coaches that they popularized at Virginia Commonwealth. Ellis had hired Stollings away from Winthrop for VCU in June 2012, before joining Teague in this new gig at Minnesota.

Now, we shouldn’t make a molehill out of the anthill of complaints I’ve received from followers of the program, but there seems to be a perception that Teague and Ellis didn’t put much energy into this “national search.”

Call the old college in Richmond. Offer the job to a coach with three years total as a head coach in secondary Division I programs. Get to Dallas to schmooze it up with Villa 7 graduates from the male side of the sport.

Was that it, Director Teague?

“Not at all,” Teague said Tuesday morning, as he and Ellis waited for their flights at DFW airport. “Marlene was one of the coaches we had in mind from the start, but we also went through a long list of candidates.

“We wound up interviewing three coaches who I would consider finalists, and Marlene stood out. We feel very good about this. She has a lot in common with Richard Pitino in her belief in an up-tempo game, but even more so, the energy she’s going to have away from the court — as a recruiter, as someone totally involved in making women’s basketball at Minnesota the great program that it should be.”

Teague was hired as Gophers athletic director on April 22, 2012. He didn’t take over for Joel Maturi until the early summer, but during that time he was out of the picture concerning decisions at VCU.

Beth Cunningham’s women’s program had flattened out at VCU and she returned to Notre Dame as an assistant coach. Ellis was prepared for this and quickly contacted Stollings at Winthrop. VCU hired her on June 5.

“We kind of targeted her as the one we wanted to pursue at VCU,” Ellis said. “In one year at Winthrop, she already was turning around a team that had been way down. Marlene’s smart, a grinder, she coaches the style of play that kids like to play.”

There has been a suspicion that the first choice for the job was Wichita State’s Jody Adams, the hard-driven former Tennessee star player.

After Tuesday’s conversations with Teague and Ellis, this is my strong impression: Stollings was the leading candidate from the time Teague fired Borton.

The men’s basketball coach at VCU was also the Gophers’ first choice in 2013. When Shaka Smart said no, that put Teague and Ellis into a scramble that led to Richard Pitino.

  • related content

  • New Gophers coach gets off to a running start

    Wednesday April 9, 2014

    New Gophers coach Marlene Stollings expects a faster tempo and better recruiting for her new team.

  • Marlene Stollings' contract with the U of M

    Wednesday April 9, 2014

  • Marlene Stollings

  • Marlene Stollings’ belief in an up-tempo style and energetic recruiting won her the U women’s basketball job, AD Norwood Teague said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - N. Martinez 2:35 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Boston - B. Workman 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Washington - G. Gonzalez 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Hand
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Arizona - V. Nuno 7:40 PM
Colorado - Y. Flande
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Adrian Peterson ever play for the Vikings again?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close