Forgotten Anniversaries: The 1988-89 Gophers basketball team

  • Updated: June 13, 2013 - 8:14 PM

Wille Burton had to wear a facemask to protect his broken nose in 1989. Despite the apparatus, he led the Gophers in scoring that year.

Plenty of Minnesota sports anniversaries and years are embedded in our collective sports minds. Merely mention 1987, 1991 or 1998, for example, and the Twins’ two World Series titles plus the Vikings’ 15-1 season spring immediately to mind. But what about some lesser-known anniversaries? We’re here to take a look back at some of those, in increments of five years, dating backward from 2013.

Today: The 1988-89 Gophers men’s basketball team — and five things you might have forgotten about that season.

1 The season ended with the program’s first trip ever to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16, but it started under a cloud of questions. Standout Willie Burton sat out the first two games of the season as a penalty for missing classes, including a home loss to Ball State in the opener. And the team was operating under NCAA probation announced in March of 1988.

2 And, well, the expectations were hardly great. It was the third season under Clem Haskins, and while improvement was anticipated Haskins’ first two teams won just six Big Ten games combined. This was written in the Star Tribune’s season preview: “[Haskins’] dream is a 16- or 17-victory season and a postseason bid. Reality, though, dictates that he would be happy to continue the success graph’s upward trend.”

3 An NCAA tournament berth was hanging by a thread after the Gophers dropped to 6-9 in the conference — 0-8 in Big Ten road games — with a five-point loss at Illinois. But the Gophers beat Northwestern and Michigan at Williams Arena and followed with their first conference road victory of the season at Ohio State to sneak into the tournament as a No. 11 seed.

4 In the NCAA tourney, the Gophers were in the East region. They started with an upset of No. 6 seed Kansas State, 86-75, and got a break when No. 14 Siena defeated No. 3 Stanford. That matched Minnesota against Siena in the second round, and the Gophers pulled away late for an 80-67 victory. The season ended with an 87-70 loss to No. 2-seeded Duke.

5 Burton led the team in scoring at 18.3 ppg, while Melvin Newbern was second at 14.6. Newbern also had 101 steals in the season, which still stands as the team record. No other player in team history has more than 75 steals in a season.

Michael Rand

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Walden 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: H. Rondon 5
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: A. Burnett 6
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7
NY Yankees - LP: A. Warren 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: T. McFarland 3
Pittsburgh - LP: T. Watson 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: C. Partch 6
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 7
Toronto - WP: A. Loup 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: G. Balfour 5
LA Angels - WP: G. Richards 3 FINAL
Texas - LP: N. Tepesch 0
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 7 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: F. Rodriguez 6
Boston - WP: J. Lackey 8 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Feldman 3
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: D. Duffy 1
Minnesota - LP: K. Johnson 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 6
San Diego - WP: J. Hahn 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 2 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez 3
Arizona - LP: M. Bolsinger 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: T. Lincecum 5
San Jose 1
Winnipeg 34 FINAL
Montreal 33
Ottawa 11 FINAL
Edmonton 27
Calgary 7/12/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 7/12/14 8:30 PM
Edmonton 7/17/14 7:30 PM
Toronto 7/18/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 7/18/14 9:00 PM
Montreal 7/19/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Los Angeles 68 FINAL
New York 54
Seattle 88 FINAL
San Antonio 67
Phoenix 72 FINAL
Chicago 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which upcoming event are you most excited about?

Weekly Question