Randy Breuer stood on the familiar Williams Arena court, three decades from the days when his clutch baskets and blocked shots rocked the Barn, but only just now seeing those accomplishments truly validated.
Less lanky now, but still donning the hands of a grizzly bear, Breuer held a framed copy of his Gophers jersey and looked to the rafters as another No. 45 was unveiled between banners honoring Kevin McHale (No. 44) and Jim Brewer (No. 52).
The jerseys of Lou Hudson (No. 14), Chuck Mencel (30), Trent Tucker (32), Whitey Skoog (41), Mychal Thompson (43), and Dick Garmaker (53) round out the lineup of all-time greats.
“It’s certainly the icing on the cake,” the 52-year-old said before taking that stage. “What it means is it was actually appreciated here, what we did here at the University of Minnesota. For me to come to the University from Lake City, it was appreciated.”
Earlier, Breuer sat signing autographs for folks who remembered well his journey. A gangly 7-3 Lake City High School graduate and 1979 Minnesota Mr. Basketball, Breuer developed into a formidable post threat, leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks for three consecutive years. The two-time All-Big Ten first-teamer, who is No. 3 among the Gophers’ career scorers, helped lead Minnesota to the 1982 Big Ten championship under coach Jim Dutcher and was voted team MVP the following year.
Breuer was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA draft in 1983 and played 11 years of professional ball, including three seasons with the Timberwolves (1990-92).
“It’s just great — it’s nice to see the people that I’ve known for so many years, recognize faces from back when I played, see the same people,” Breuer said, adding with a lighthearted smirk: “They’re all older, for some reason. I don’t think I got any older but I think they did.”
Flanked by grinning family members on the arena floor, Breuer’s straight face didn’t display any of the obvious joy for the moment, nor the frustration he clearly expressed about previous athletic director Joel Maturi, who chose not to retire his jersey.
Current athletic director Norwood Teague told Breuer at a charity golf event that he wanted to bestow him the honor.
“I’m happy for him because I know it meant a lot to him to get his jersey retired,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “So I’m happy for him that Norwood did that because I know that he’s a proud member of this family.”