If everyone else beats them, you may as well join them

Rip Van Finkel

Just imagine Minnesota women’s basketball guard Lindsay Whalen driving to the basket for a lay-up next year in Big Ten play when she is met by Iowa’s Reggie Evans.

Wait ñ Reggie Evans from Iowa’s men’s basketball team?

That is going to be the case next season when rival Iowa and other Big Ten teams face the Gophers.

With Minnesota looking to make cutbacks in the men’s and women’s athletic departments, a new University mandate going into effect January 22 states the men’s and women’s basketball teams will combine to form one squad.

“This will be a new challenge for both programs,” coach of the team Brenda Oldfield would have said if she had been interviewed for this story. “I expect our team to compete for the Big Ten title. We will be able to entice more fans than ever and create a new winning tradition.”

The new team has created a stir among the athletic department and players.

When informed of the new team after practice Thursday, both squads were seen in “cheery” and “upbeat” moods.

Expected to start for the Gophers are Lindsay Whalen, Corrin Von Wald, Michael Bauer, Dusty Rychart, and Jerry Holman.

The new roster will include seven players from each team. The coaching staff will also merge.

“(Men’s basketball coach) Dan Monson will become an assistant to coach Oldfield,” a source with little knowledge to the situation said. “He understands why this decision came about and will support the program to his fullest ability.”

One detail still in the works is what will happen to the Sports Pavilion, home to the former women’s team.

A scenario has the arena turning into another UDS dining center. This idea is most popular with University residents, who, when polled, said they could enjoy a quality meal before the game.

Minnesota will see immediate results financially.

The Gophers expect to save approximately $1 million in salaries, tuition, and food costs. Also in the mix are maintaining high quality uniforms and electricity to power both arenas.

“With this kind of money, we will be able to pull ourselves out of debt by year 2250,” Tom Moe might have said if we called him. “This is a great move by the Regents to get the University back on track.”

The quality of the new team should help ease the transition.

Although the co-ed team will be exciting with its inside-outside presence, some fans will miss each team on its own.

“I can’t imagine going to a basketball game and seeing men and women playing together,” said fan Tiffany Rose, who has never been to a basketball game. “I just hope the women aren’t too mean on the guys.”

Rip Van Finkel covers his room walls at Sanford with posters of J-Lo.