MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Gopher men’s basketball team hosts Green Bay in an exhibition game Sunday at the Maturi Sports Pavilion — but it’s not all just about basketball.
A charity basketball game last month between Kansas and Missouri — just an exhibition — raised more than $2 million for hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.
“Our conference emailed all of us and said, ‘OK, you can do this,’ so then we jumped on it right away to say, ‘OK, who can we play? Who can we give to?’” said Coach Richard Pitino.
Minnesota quickly scrambled to get a game together. Green Bay was available, and the Gophers coach says supporting Puerto Rico after its recent hurricane was a no-brainer.
“I thought Puerto Rico because I’ve been here four years, we’ve been there twice, and I really, really liked it,” Pitino said. “So it kind of breaks your heart to see what’s going on there, and still what’s going on there. It’s not been fixed. I think I saw 80 percent of the island still doesn’t have power.”
But the Gophers, Pitino says, have the power to help. So they should, and will.
“We have fond memories of Puerto Rico, so if we can help out in any little way, we want to do that. We’re grateful that the NCAA allowed it,” he said. “But I think more than anything it’s a really good way for our fans and our community to show that giving side of it. And they get to come out and see the team, I love the fact that we’re playing in the Pav because it’s a different environment, I think that’ll be cool. So my biggest thing is I want to pack that thing. I think it’s about 5,000 fans, there’s no excuse not to. Because 100 percent of it goes to helping Puerto Rico, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
Tickets for the game, which tips off at noon in Maturi Pavilion, are $10.