No surprises:Gophers set to host NCAA

There was little suspense at the Bierman Athletic building on Monday afternoon as the Gophers baseball team crowded around a big screen television to watch the pairings for the NCAA tournament.
After being selected to be one of 16 regional hosts last week, Minnesota already knew it was in. The only question was who would be playing at Siebert Field along side the Gophers?
Those distinctions go to Nebraska, Wichita State and Butler. The Cornhuskers grabbed the regional’s No. 1 seed. The Gophers drew a second seed and play the Shockers in the first round on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last week’s early exit from the Big Ten tourney might have cost Minnesota the top seed.
“If we had won our postseason tournament I think we would have had a chance,” Minnesota coach John Anderson said. “Nebraska finished second in the Big 12, but came back to win their conference tournament. Winning the Big 12 tournament pushed them into the number one seed.”
The Gophers will have to put their disappointing performance at the Big Ten tournament behind them and focus on this weekend’s NCAA regional. Anderson said he hopes his players learned from what happened at the Big Ten tourney.
“We’ve spent the last couple of days trying to make some corrections and get our team back on track,” Anderson said. “It certainly has been easy to get the kids’ the attention in practice, believe me. Maybe what happened last weekend will turn out to be a good thing.”
If it does turn out to be a good thing, the Gophers will be heading on to the super regionals a week later, and they’ll be one step closer to the College World Series.
Although that is a long way down the line, Anderson offered up a historical prospective about regional hosts, including the last time Minnesota hosted a regional.
“If you study the history of the teams that get to the College World Series, 75 or 80 percent of them are hosts,” Anderson said. “In 1977 we hosted right here, went 3-0 in the regional, and went onto Omaha.”
Following the pairings announcement, Anderson was one of several coaches interviewed live on ESPN.
But perhaps the most exciting part of the selection show for the Gophers was when ESPN aired highlights of third baseman Jack Hannahan, first baseman Josh Holthaus and pitcher Ben Birk.
The footage on national television came as a surprise to Holthaus.
“I should have taped it, I didn’t know that was going to happen,” he said.
Big Ten awards
After guiding the Gophers to a 20-8 conference mark and regular season title, Anderson was named the Big Ten coach of the year last week.
The honor is Anderson’s second, he first won the award in 1982, his rookie season as Minnesota’s skipper.
The Gophers also had several players honored by the conference. Sophomore pitcher Mike Kobow was named to the Big Ten’s first team. Holthaus and Hannahan were named to the second team, while Rick Brosseau, Scott Howard and Luke Appert all made the third team.
Penn State’s Mike Campo was named Big Ten player of the year, while Illinois’ Jason Anderson and Ohio State’s Nick Swisher were named pitcher and freshman of the year, respectively.

Team awards
The Gophers also passed out some hardware of their own in announcing their team awards Monday evening.
Hannahan was honored with the Richard “Chief” Siebert Memorial Award as the team’s most valuable player. The Dave Winfield pitcher of the year award went to Kobow.

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]