There are more national recruits in a couple of class years in Minnesota boys’ basketball today than could be found in a decade with previous generations. The big-name coaches favored to bring teams to Minneapolis for next month’s Final Four have been here earlier to display publicly their desire to land Minnesota’s best.
High-profile AAU programs and year-round basketball clearly have helped to maximize development and exposure, yet it is a familiar suggestion that talented athletes are missing out on something by not competing in multiple sports.
It’s a great source for the “back in my day’’ argument, but for some of us, back-in-my-day is far enough back to remember when pompous bureaucrats and school administrators were devoted enemies of talent development.
As the Final Four approaches, we’ve been looking through the archives at this state’s basketball past, and I was able to become mortified again by what took place between March 21 and 23, 1961.
I was in high school, and the state one-class basketball tournament was a monumental event that filled Williams Arena to its 18,000-plus capacity. Minneapolis Roosevelt made it through Region 5 to stand as one of the favorites in the eight-team field.
The Teddies had defeated Royalton in the region semis and Mound in the final. Roosevelt coach Wayne Courtney brought in Warren Scamp and John Totushek from the end of the bench in the closing seconds.
A Mound player had been refereeing a Masonic youth tournament 11 months earlier and recognized Scamp as a player. The Minnesota State High School League banned athletes from out-of-season team competition — other than baseball and softball.
Mound ratted out Roosevelt. The Teddies were tossed.
Royalton coach Wally Chute was found taking advantage of last call at a central Minnesota saloon. Chute was told Royalton had won a coin flip with Mound and was replacing Roosevelt in the tournament.
Chute thought it was a friend playing a joke. It was a joke, not on Chute but on common sense.
One sport, year-round beats that, right?
More from 1961 state tourney:
• Roosevelt coach Wayne Courtney went to the Royalton locker room to wish luck to the Royals. Didn’t help. They lost 71-51 to Winona.
• Chute and Royalton reciprocated by inviting Roosevelt to the Royals’ postseason awards dinner. The Teddies came en masse and a good time was had by all.
• Unbeaten Duluth Central and once-beaten Roosevelt seemed a likely final early that week. As it was, Central (27-0) held off Bemidji 51-50 in the title game.
Read Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick.