Gopher Sports Hall of Fame to induct Saunders, thirteen others

Dan Miller

Flip Saunders was told he would fail.

He said on Tuesday at the Carlson School of Management’s First Tuesday luncheon that as the team’s point guard from 1974-77, Minneapolis sports writers predicted he would be removed from the Gophers’ lineup.

But Saunders started 101 of his 103 games with the team, and nearly 30 years later, he will be inducted into the Gopher Sports Hall of Fame next month.

During his time with Minnesota, Saunders set a school record in free throw percentage and helped the Gophers to a 24-3 record.

“My time with Minnesota helped me prepare for what happened afterwards,” Saunders said.

What happened was a long basketball playing and coaching career that has landed him at the helm of coaching for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Coaching awards have come throughout Saunders’ career, but one that honors him as a player he said was special.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “We had great teams and great fan support. People would have to be there an hour before the games to be able to see us … it was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of fun.”

Joining Saunders are 13 other Minnesota sports honorees: Cindy Anderson (Swimming, 1976-79), Nancy Harris Blanchard (Golf, 1981, 84), Gary Gambucci (Hockey, 1964-68), Julian Hook (Football, 1960-62), Mary Jablonski (Swimming, 1970-72), Barb Drake Lindgren (Softball, 1984-87), Virgil Luken (Swimming, 1962-64), Jennifer McElmury (Soccer, 1994-97), Don Timm (Track and Field, Cross Country, 1969-71). Three athletes will be inducted as “legends”: William Daley (Football, 1942), Earl Martineau (Football, 1924), and Ron Wojciak (Baseball, 1964).

Football ranked No. 23

Minnesota’s football team received its first preseason ranking since 1969 last week.

The ESPN/USA Today preseason poll, which was released last Friday, ranked the Gophers No. 23 in the nation.

“The ranking is a credit to those kids and the staff,” Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi said. “The preseason rankings are usually a reflection of your last season, and we have a lot of kids returning.”

The Gophers won 10 games last season for the first time since 1905. They finished the season ranked 17th in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 20th in the Associated Press rankings.

Maturi said the Gophers aren’t getting too excited about the ranking.

“Preseason rankings are fine-line things,” he said. “A lot of things still have to happen right. There is a fine line between a championship team and a fifth place team.”

The Big Ten holds the most teams in the rankings with six. Minnesota shares the 23rd spot with Purdue.

Minnesota opens its 2004 season Sept. 4 against Toledo.

Gophers join USA team

USA Hockey has selected seven members of Minnesota’s women’s hockey team to participate in the 2004 USA Hockey Women’s National Festival.

Current players Natalie Darwitz, Jody Horak, Kelly Stephens, Lyndsay Wall and Krissy Wendell will represent Minnesota at the festival in Lake Placid, N.Y. from August 15-22.

Darwitz, Stephens and Wall will also participate in a scrimmage against Canada as part of the U.S. Under-22 Team.

Joining the current Gophers at the festival are incoming freshman Erica McKenzie and former Gopher Winny Brodt.

Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said the event serves as an evaluation and informal tryout for the national team.

Halldorson said that Minnesota has been well-represented in the past. With only 63 women selected this year Halldorson said seven is a good number of representatives.

“It’s a great honor for our program to have so many participants involved in an event that is women’s hockey at it’s highest level in the United States,” Halldorson said.

Schauman places 24th

Former Minnesota men’s goler Wilhelm Schauman finished in a tie for 24th place with a 3-under par score at the Scandinavian Masters.

Schauman shot a 75 last Sunday in the final round of the tournament held at the Barseback Golf Club in Malmo, Sweden.

Schauman was a 2001 All-American with the Gophers and now competes professionally on the NGA Hooters Tour. He earned his first professional tour victory on July 18.