Gophers depart for NCAAs

Tim Klobuchar

The Gophers’ last home game was a week ago, but Williams Arena (the parking lot anyway) was still filled with Gophers men’s basketball fans Wednesday morning.
More than 200 pompon-waving Minnesota supporters gathered at Williams to cheer the Gophers as they departed for the first round of the NCAA tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
Minnesota, which won its first Big Ten championship since 1982, plays Southwest Texas State on Friday night.
Many of the fans waited in the parking lot for over an hour and passed the time by singing “The Minnesota Rouser,” which was led by the cheerleaders. The recorded version of the song was also played over speakers set up around the perimeter of the parking lot.
“I couldn’t get into the pep band this year,” said University sophomore Joe Goblirsch. “So I thought, if I can’t go with them, I can at least send them off.”
Some students skipped class to attend the event, but others with different obligations didn’t have to worry about playing hooky.
“I found out about this from my boss,” said Sarah Cathy, who works in the medical office in the Stadium Village Mall. “He gave us the morning off so we could come here.”
The rally also attracted Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, who stepped up to the microphone to offer a few words of encouragement.
The team filed out of Williams shortly after 9 a.m. Sophomores Quincy Lewis and Miles Tarver each recorded the occasion for posterity, Lewis with a camera and Tarver with a video camera.
Before he boarded the bus that took the team to the airport, Gophers Coach Clem Haskins briefly addressed the gathering.
“I just want to thank everyone for coming out,” he said. “The players will be inspired to play hard with such a great turnout.”
Junior guard Eric Harris had similar feelings.
“It’s great,” he said. “They’re great. I’ve said all year long we’ve got the greatest fans.”