Hey Clem! Let us celebrate our team

In Lexington, Ky., a winning basketball team is expected. It’s applauded and enjoyed, yes, but it’s expected.
Eight national championships and the (former) all-time winningest coach in the game will do that to fans. And chances are, current Kentucky coach Rick Pitino has no problem with the status quo.
So the sort of scene that developed — a packed Williams Arena, and then some — on the night of the Gophers basketball victory over UCLA in the NCAA tournament, the win that sent them to their first-ever Final Four, would seem ludicrous in Lexington.
Only 1,000 or so fans showed up at a similar rally for the Wildcats. Why? Because they’ve been there before.
No big deal. Call me when you win the damn thing.
Things are different in Minnesota, and they should be. That’s why Clem Haskins’ decision to refrain from any sort of team celebration is sad.
Haskins says he wants his players to be students again. The tournament is over, and it’s time to move on. The only scheduled public appearance by the team will be at tonight’s Twins game, where Haskins will throw out the first pitch of the season.
Agreed, the tournament is over. Fine. But there’s no reason the celebration has to end so soon. And the players on this team aren’t normal students, no matter how hard they try.
A week ago Sunday, when the team climbed the stairs leading to the playing floor at Williams, the crowd erupted big time — maybe as loud as it’s ever been. Each and every person who took the microphone that night thanked the crowd and said the Gophers wouldn’t have made it so far without them.
But now — now that the season has come to a close, now that the need for a neutral stadium full of partial fans has passed — Haskins has decided that he and his team have done enough for the fans, and the fans have done enough for them.
He’s wrong.
We are not in Kentucky. The Gophers hadn’t been to the Final Four before, and it’s doubtful, unfortunately, that this was the first in a long line of extended tournament runs. And Haskins, for that matter, is not Pitino, and probably wouldn’t want to be held to the same standards.
Minnesotans have a reputation for being front-runner fans, one that’s well-deserved. It’s undeniable that the fans across the Mississippi often make the locals look foolish, if not utterly disloyal. The repeated assertions that “Minnesota fans are the best basketball fans in the country” is empty.
Nevertheless, more than 20,000 of those fans showed up in to attend a 20-minute cheering session. Some waited for five hours or more, but all left with smiles on their faces.
Minnesota basketball fans aren’t the best, but they’re good enough. And they deserve a chance to whoop it up one more time.
You can’t blame Haskins for wanting his team to get back to school — the work that really matters. That attention to detail has served him well; the Gophers boasted the highest graduation rate of any of the Final Four schools. That’s a decent victory right there.
But c’mon. Loosen up. The coach himself said the Final Four had been an all-consuming goal for his entire coaching career. Now that he made it, and won six coach of the year awards along the way, he wants to put it behind him. I just don’t get it.
Maybe this has something to do with his no-tattoo, no-earring, no-baseball cap rules. Maybe another rally would be over the top, too showy or too self-aggrandizing.
But then, next year might be too late. This isn’t Kentucky, after all.
Change your mind, coach. Enjoy it while you can.