As expected, Harding got destroyed by Minnehaha Academy 88-35, thus sealing their first winless season in school history. This happens just one year after finishing at the bottom of the St. Paul City Conference for the first time in school history.
This was once a team that could battle with the greats in the state. Powered by Shannon Loeblein and head coach Tom Gunderson, now at Central, Harding finished second in the 1990 and 1991 class AA state championship (they expanded to four classes in 1997).
Gunderson was replaced by Jerry Utecht, who hasn't fielded many talented teams since his tenure began in 1994. I was a Harding student the last time the lady Knights had a competitive team, in the 2003-04 season. Since then, Harding has become a doormat that everyone else can stomp on. One of my partners and I joked on the phone that we could beat them with one hand tied behind our back shooting just threes. The players don't put their hands up to take away open looks and appear lethargic overall.
Some former Harding players say Utecht doesn't do enough to make his team competitive. If you go by his record, you might win that argument. On the other end, you need solid players to contribute. Harding doesn't have that either. There is little incentive to step up your game when you play in a mostly empty gym.
I could continue to gripe, but anyone can do that. I understand high school sports are extracurricular activities and wins alone should not define the experience. However, I think the student athletes would enjoy the sport if they felt like they had a chance to win. Harding needs to find people who want to play and are willing to improve their skills throughout a season. A coach or assistant coach that could mold potential into talent would also benefit Harding.
Finishing a season without a win in a low-respected conference does have a psychological effect. Performance does come in cycles, but Harding may have reached the point where no one cares about the state of girls basketball on the far East Side of St. Paul. The bright side? Harding can't do any worse next season.
Programs available for DVD purchase
Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)
What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15
From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15
Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15
Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15