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  1. #1

    Default Reusse: Former Gophers Assistant, Ted Riverso, Prepares for Showdown with St. Thomas

    Jackie Voigt is in her third year as an Augsburg assistant.

    Riverso knows all about this Auggies-Tommies competition from the other angle: He was 30 when elevated from assistant to Tom Kosel to head coach of the St. Thomas women’s team for the 1984-85 season.

    The Auggies defeated St. Thomas twice in that first winter. But over his next 14 seasons, Riverso’s Tommies went 28-0 vs. Augsburg with an average victory margin of 35 points.

    This was a reflection of the excellence of Riverso’s program — 337-80, five MIAC titles, three Final Fours and a national championship — and Augsburg’s second-division status in women’s basketball.

    Riverso resigned in 1999 and spent seven years in St. Thomas’ development office. This was followed by eight seasons as an assistant to Pam Borton with the Gophers.

    Bill McKee, a basketball man to his core, had taken over at Augsburg for 2011-12. By 2014-15, he had the Auggies upsetting Concordia in the MIAC playoffs, before a loss to St. Thomas in the semis. He also was dealing with an illness that would turn out to be terminal kidney cancer.

    Bill knew his fate when he had a few conversations that summer with Riverso, a friend from his St. Thomas days — encouraging Ted to express interest in the job to Augsburg athletic director Jeff Swenson.

    “I was saying, ‘I’ve already done D-III, Billy, I don’t think so,’ ” Riverso said. “Of course, the other part of it was that I needed a job.”


    Riverso also was occupied lining up a strong group of freshmen that would arrive in the fall of 2016. The half-dozen recruits were Arianna Jones, Tamira McLemore, Kaezha Wubben, Aiza Wilson, Camryn Speese and Abby Jordan.

    Jones, McLemore, Wubben and Speese are now in a third season as starters, with Wilson as the first player off the bench. Jordan suffered a torn ACL and is sitting out the season. Camille McCoy, a senior transfer from Langston (Okla.) University, is the fifth starter.

    There was an article in this week’s Star Tribune on Augsburg and how it’s dealing with an increasingly diverse student body. As the true urban private school, the Auggies long have had more black athletes than the rest of the MIAC.

    Augsburg is now believed to be the first MIAC school to have five black starters in women’s basketball. All are from the Twin Cities area.

    “The junior class has been tremendous in lifting up Augsburg in basketball, and we just had our best semester for team GPA since I’ve been here,” Riverso said. “The school is proud of what this group is accomplishing.”

  2. #2


    Glad to see Riverso extend his admirable career. I had the privilege of watching most of the Lady Tommies' home games during the Riverso glory years. You might even say that Ted's teams got me addicted to the game of women's basketball, really. While attending a men's game someone told me "If you like basketball, you should check out the women's team, they're national championship caliber." And so I did (go to most of their games from there on out, that is). And they did (win a national championship). That led me to start attending state high school championships, where I saw a fun-to-watch player named Lindsay Whalen, who I later watched in the Barn with Janel McCarville.

    Ruth Sinn has carried on the Tommie basketball excellence started by Ted. The Tommies have what is probably the most wicked press in NCAA Div III. Wish the Gophs had practiced against them just before the Michigan game (although they do occasionally scrimmage the Tommies in early Fall).

  3. #3


    CutDowntheNet, it seems that you and I took similar paths to Gopher women's basketball. I went to many St. Thomas women's games when Riverso was the coach there. Then he left and the St. Thomas program was never the same with the new coach (Ruth Sinn's predecessor). Then I saw Whalen and McCarville & Co. play Wisconsin on tv, went to my first Gopher women's game after the pipes burst in the Pav, and the Whalen-led Gophers became my women's team of choice. Riverso is a really solid coach. As is Sinn at St. Thomas. I seem to recall that Ruth played for Riverso at St. Thomas. She has a heckuva program there, #4 in the nation. I've watched their games online about a half-dozen times this year. They are talented, but uncharacteristically slow and like our Gophers, not all that good from beyond the arc. That being said, they still could go undefeated in the MIAC. I find that there's quite a difference between DI and DIII, more than there was before. It used to be that UST had some players who could have played and contributed at the DI level, but not so much anymore. Not sure if that's a function of recruiting, the increased number of DI scholarships, etc.

    I never saw Whalen play in high school, but I always watched the state high school tourney on tv and that got me hooked on women's hoops.

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    Well that's interesting - tripledouble probably sat down the row from each other in some of those classic UST games. Interesting thing was, there were not that many St. Thomas WBB fans back in the day in the old field house, in spite of a perennially ranked team. These days with Sinn's team in the new field house, it's a big deal, with season ticket holders and everything. Back then, who showed up for games was the players' families, players' friends and boyfriends, opposing team's entourage, and maybe a dozen unrelated true basketball fans like tripledouble and me. I knew some of the parents at least by sight if not by name.

    Womens' basketball didn't get to be a truly big deal in Minnesota until Whalen and company inspired the whole state.

    Not mentioned on the article is that Ted quit coaching so he could help coach his daughters at the high school level. After that, Pam asked him to join as Gopher assistant coach.

    I agree that there seems to be a bit wider talent gap these days between Div I and Div III. Back then, many great players (including MacDonalds All Stars) skipped Div I scholarships in order to play under Ted. There's still good players attracted to playing under Ruth, but seemingly not so many nationally ranked players.

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    Auggies lost by 15 points to St Thomas.

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    Augsburg is now 15-3 and losing to St. Thomas is not the end of the world.

    I met Ted R. at St. Thomas back in the early years of his coaching tenure when he was in Admissions, and he made a point of bringing me to a men's basketball practice and meeting MBB HC Fritz although I was clearly an undersized post player who loved basketball, but was more a better if not reluctant football prospect.

    Later, as I realized in my true calling as a St. Thomas intramural/ fieldhouse pickup rebouding, floor running machine, I was a push the tempo #3 or small #4 type player, and enjoyed watching some of the Ted Riverso St. Thomas teams crush the MIAC.

    I had no idea that Ted had emerged from the past (Borton assistanthe would have done much better than stubborn, Thibbs like Borton) and was still coaching. I look forward to watcihng his Augsburg team keep winning.

    Last edited by oak_street1981; 01-20-2019 at 01:28 AM.

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