The Gophers were winding up John Kundla's third season as coach on March 5, 1962. They were going to be under .500 in the Big Ten, which seems surprising when you look back at the roster.
Maybe it's generational bias, but my view is they had up-front talent with Eric Magdanz, Ray Cronk, Tom McGrann and Bill Davis, and an OK backcourt with Bob Bateman and Don Linehan.
"The Big Ten was the best conference in the country," Magdanz said. "I played against Jerry Lucas with that Ohio State team a couple of years. The Buckeyes were unbelievable. The NBA was a 12-team league and all of them played there."
The 1961-62 Gophers played Ohio State for two losses in a 14-game Big Ten schedule. They also had two games with Indiana near the end of the Hurryin' Hoosiers Era with coach Branch McCracken. The Gophers scored 104 points in both games, and split them.
On that first Monday in March, a crowd counted (not merely announced) at 4,975 showed up at Williams Arena to see the finale with Michigan. The Gophers won 102-80 in a game still notable for this reason:
Magdanz scored 42 points to set a single-game Gophers record. The record had been held by the great George Kline, who scored 40 in a 102-81 home victory over Iowa on Feb. 25, 1957.
The 42 was tied by guard Ollie Shannon in a 104-98 victory over Wisconsin on March 6, 1971, also at Williams. It should be pointed out this was the second-to-last game before Bill Musselman brought defensive devotion to the Gophers, and 24 years before Dick Bennett did the same with the Badgers.
Magdanz was 16-for-25 from the field and 10-for-10 on free throws with his 42. To get his 42 points, Shannon was 17-for-42 from the field.
"I thought Ollie's arm was going to fall off," said Magdanz, then following the Gophers as the boys' basketball coach at his high school alma mater, Minneapolis South.
Marcus Carr scored 41 last season, and Andre Hollins reached 41 in 2012-13, but 60 years later, Magdanz continues to share the scoring record for a men's game.
"That's kind of amazing, with the three-pointer now in the game," he said. "What I remember about that night is that I felt like I could kick the ball in."
Magdanz's wife, Lynelle, died in 2019 after 44 years of marriage. Eric changed houses in south Minneapolis (where he's always lived) to be next-door to daughter Holly and her husband.
"They have a dog, Buddha, that's here as much as he's over there," Magdanz said. "And I've now got a couple of cats. One is a Norwegian Forest cat. You're not going to have mice with that thing around."
'Platinum' came hard for Oliva
Tony Oliva stepped toward a Pete Rose display on his Hall of Fame tour Wednesday, rubbed a hand across his right cheek and said, "Smooth."
This was in humorous reflection on a Gillette commercial that featured Rose and Oliva in 1971. Gillette was pushing its new "Platinum Plus" razor blades, and Pete and Tony were notable hitting stars brought together for an ad.
"Gillette thought it was going to take an hour," Tony said. "We were there from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon. I couldn't say 'Platinum Plus.' I kept saying, 'Platono' … the Spanish word for that fruit like a banana [plantain].
"And then when I did get it right, Pete would mess it up. One-hundred and twenty-six takes!"
And then Tony O. went toward the next Hall display, repeating, "Plat-in-um, plat-in-um."
Larson's death shocks Somerset
Bruce Larson, 58, a football coaching legend from right across the Wisconsin border at Somerset High, died suddenly at home last Sunday morning. Larson was Wisconsin's Coach of the Year in 2014 and the Don Shula NFL National Coach of the Year award in 2015.
Larson's Spartans played in six state title games and won three state championships in his 22 seasons as head coach. They also won the Middle Border nine times — a conference filled with wonderful rivalries (as I know from way back as a prep writer at the St. Paul newspapers).
Bruce's sons have followed their father into coaching. Reggie is the coach at New Richmond (Wis.) High, and Rocky has been the head coach at Mayville (N.D.) State for the past two seasons.
On its Facebook page, Somerset Spartan Football offered this: "We are beyond saddened at the unexpected passing of Bruce Larson … As someone said, 'Bruce Larson is Somerset.' "
- Premier Boxing Champions will be back at the Minneapolis Armory on March 26, with a card to be televised on Showtime. The main event will be Australian light middleweight Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (22-2-1). The rest of the card is yet to be announced.
- Murray Williamson's book, "The Road to Respectability," is now available on Amazon and other outlets. The respectability sought was in international hockey for a U.S. national program that went from a gold medal in 1960 to quickly hitting rock bottom with a 17-2 loss to Sweden in the 1963 World Championships. Williamson took over as coach in 1967 and, by 1972, the U.S. was winning a silver medal in the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
- Madelia senior Ja'Sean Glover became Minnesota's 13th boys' basketball player to reach 3,000 points on Friday in a 78-39 victory over Cleveland in a sub-sectional opener. Glover reached 3,000 with a lefthanded dunk seven minutes in. He finished with 31 points and now stands at 3,020 points entering Tuesday's second-round game at Springfield.