Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reusse Targets U Fanbase, Tubby, Royce White

I've defended Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse in the past. I've even (gasp!) agreed with him.

But his column today criticizing the Gophers for continuing to pursue Royce White after an admitted academic mistake at DeLaSalle--which preempted his departure from the school--is off base in my opinion. Here's the gist of Reusse's take:

We are nine years removed from Minnesota becoming the basketball program by which all others compare themselves when it comes to academic fraud.

There's no evidence that White's verbal commitment was greeted with hesitation by coach Tubby Smith, or his boss, athletic director Joel Maturi, or Maturi's bosses.

They can't comment on the qualities of recruits before they sign, but certainly it was in Smith's power to tell White, "Let's cool it here until next fall -- make sure you have your act together academically and elsewhere before you make an announcement."

And if Smith wasn't willing to take that stand on White, then Maturi should have ordered his coach to deliver this message: Tell the young man the offer is off the table until he proves himself somewhere other than the basketball court.

Reusse's suggestion certainly sounds like a reasonable one. But he fails to mention that Tubby Smith and the Gophers can change their minds on Royce at any time. Tubby very well might have told Royce to keep his house in order or else he'd be kicked out quicker than Brandon Smith. Additionally, should White fail to qualify academically, there isn't much Tubby or Maturi could do to sneak him past the admissions office.

Reusse goes on to take potshots at the University of Minnesota fan base, calling us fans "Gopher Acreage." This would be sort of cute if it were the first time Reusse had taken the phrase Red Sox Nation and adjusted it to mock the fan bases of the local franchises. A reference to Twins Region comes to mind.

After that unfortunate bit of attacking his own readership, Reusse goes on to suggest that playing basketball for Hopkins--where White is now enrolled--is tantamount to admitting zero academic interest. He bashes Kris Humprhies and Dan Coleman, Hopkins grads both, by stating: "If White's one season there preps him as well for the Gophers as did the Hopkins experience for Kris Humphries and Dan Coleman, Tubby has a chance -- come the fall of 2009 -- to find himself with a combination of a ball hog featuring inconsistent effort."

Reusse is right on his analysis of both Humphries and Coleman. But to assume that White will be anything like them is simply a reach on Reusse's part.

And the last point that Reusse failed to mention is that during Humphries' stint at the U and for the majority of Coleman's stay, the coach on the sidelines was Dan Monson, he who developed the reputation of letting his players run roughshod over him. Monson sold his soul and the team aspect of the college game and gave into Humphries and Rick Rickert. Tubby Smith is no Dan Monson. Tubby has groomed many players. He's seen as a father figure by many of his former players.

So, unless Royce White screws up again, and until we see players walk over Tubby Smith, let's give White, Maturi and Tubby the benefit of the doubt.

3 comments:

Good Skate said...

Right on, brother Shik! Great column, always! I was awaiting your take on today's Reusse ramblings. I hope Royce and any other young athlete has skin tough enough to withstand the ravings of this lunatic, Reusse. The planets were all in alignment today - just think, if Royce hadn't left DelaSalle, enrolled at Hopkins and verbally committed to MN, we would never have known what really gets under Reusse's skin - EVERYTHING except Brother Michael Collins at D. Peace be with you!

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