Title-winning team takes a charge down memory lane

The 1982 Big Ten title team appeared at Sunday’s men’s basketball game.

Tiff Clements

Darryl Mitchell is a lawyer in Florida. Kelly Scott sells carpet in Minneapolis. Tommy Davis coaches basketball in France.

Twenty-five years have scattered members of the University’s 1982 Big Ten championship men’s basketball team across the globe.

Most of the team returned to the University this weekend to share memories and celebrate the last time the program officially won the title.

Members of the team gathered for a private reception Saturday night at the Radisson University Hotel in Stadium Village and were honored Sunday during the men’s basketball game against Ohio State at Williams Arena.

Coach of the 1981-1982 team Jim Dutcher said picking up point guard and team MVP Darryl Mitchell from the airport reminded him of the recruiting process.

“A lot of this harkens back to when they were making the decisions to come here,” he said.

Dutcher said he was excited to see his former players.

“You try to stay in touch but it’s hard to do that,” he said.

Scott said he’d been doing a lot of thinking about his time on the court and brought a number of anecdotes to share.

The 5-foot-11-inch walk-on remembers a strange experience in Iowa near the end of the season.

The Gophers were a game behind the Hawkeyes in conference standings, and a victory would have put them in a first-place tie.

On that trip, Scott shared a hotel room with 7-foot-3-inch center Randy Breuer. When he pulled back the curtains in his room, he noticed something interesting.

“I look outside the door and there’s a police officer,” Scott said.

He explained that a death threat had been made against Breuer before the team arrived in Iowa, and the police were there to protect him.

“It was the only time I was ever worried I’d be mistaken for Randy Breuer,” Scott said.

Breuer said he thought the person phoning in the threat picked the wrong player because of an injury he sustained a few days earlier.

“I sprained my ankle in Michigan,” he said. “They should have threatened Darryl (Mitchell).”

After being fouled at the end of a third overtime, Mitchell made a pair of free throws, giving the Gophers a 57-55 victory over Iowa and setting them up to beat Ohio State at home and win the title.

Breuer said the police took special care of him in Iowa, physically surrounding him everywhere he went despite his considerable size.

“These cops surrounded me, but it didn’t do much good,” he said.

After a 12-year NBA career, Breuer is devoting most his time to coaching his son’s basketball team at St. Croix Lutheran High School in St. Paul.

Stu Starner, one of Dutcher’s assistant coaches, put on his gold championship ring just for the weekend’s events.

“I haven’t worn it in 25 years,” he said.

Starner said people expected a lot from this team throughout their collegiate careers.

“It was a group that was so highly acclaimed that there was a lot of pressure,” he said. “It was a well-deserved finish.”

The University has not officially won a Big Ten men’s basketball championship since 1982. The 1997 team earned the honor, but the NCAA later vacated the title in the wake of academic scandals under coach Clem Haskins.