Three weeks ago, Hugh McCutcheon was guiding the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team to a silver medal in the 2012 Olympics in London. On Thursday, McCutcheon joined Minnesota for the first time since being announced as the program’s head coach on Feb. 10, 2011.
McCutcheon took the job more than 18 months ago but could not officially take the helm of the Gophers’ program until his Olympic coaching duties were complete. He replaced Mike Hebert, who mentored Minnesota for 15 years. Laura Bush served as Minnesota’s interim coach during the wait and will remain as an assistant on the coaching staff.
No. 16 Minnesota (5-0) opened the McCutcheon era with a trio of 3-0 victories, against Long Island, Miami (Ohio) and Albany in the Diet Coke Classic, which the Gophers hosted, and it was a smooth beginning by all accounts.
“We’re still trying to figure out how it is all going to work together, but it seemed like our styles meshed OK and they were open and responsive to the changes we were trying to make,” McCutcheon said. “We’re in the embryonic stage, but it was a great start.”
“He definitely fits into our program really well and we like having him as a coach,” senior outside hitter Katherine Harms said. “It’s only our first couple of days with him but we’re definitely going to grow in this relationship and I think it’s going to get better as we go.”
Minnesota had won two matches in a season-opening tournament at James Madison on Aug. 25, but McCutcheon had not yet joined the team. It was a seamless transition despite the head coach’s delayed start to the season.
“We’ve only been together for a couple days but I think everyone is pretty comfortable,” junior outside hitter Ashley Wittman said. “You’d never know he was only here a day before we played in a tournament. It didn’t affect our play. … I think we’ve really gelled so far.”
McCutcheon, who also coached the U.S. men’s team to a gold medal in 2008, was encouraged. “The thing I was most impressed about was the consistency of our execution,” he said. “It is a great place to start.”
The Minnesota job is McCutcheon’s first foray as a collegiate head coach. A former BYU volleyball player, McCutcheon spent the previous eight years with USA Volleyball and posted a combined 213-72 record (106-39 women / 107-33 men) as a head coach from 2005-12.
“I’ve been to matches [at Minnesota] before and I think the fan support is phenomenal,” McCutcheon said. “It’s a great volleyball environment. It’s a good place to play and a good place to be.”
McCutcheon and Gophers head to No. 2 Texas on Thursday for the team’s first top-25 match of the season.
• Eureka senior quarterback Sam Durley passed for an NCAA single-game record 736 yards to lift the Red Devils to a 62-55 victory against Knox in the inaugural Abraham Lincoln Bowl in Galesburg, Ill. Durley connected on 34 of 52 passes with five touchdowns. The previous record of 731 yards was set by Menlo’s Zamir Amin on Oct. 7, 2000.
• Akron men’s soccer head coach Caleb Porter announced Wednesday he will step down at the end of the Zips’ season to become head coach of the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. Since taking the helm at Akron in 2006, Porter has compiled a 107-17-14 record and leads all active DI coaches with an .825 winning percentage. The Zips won the 2009 NCAA championship — the school’s first team national title in any sport.
During the weekend, Porter directed the seventh-ranked Zips to a 1-1 tie at No. 2 Creighton in double overtime as Akron improved to 7-1-3 against top-25 teams since 2009. The Zips followed up with a 2-1 victory against SIU-Edwardsville to improve to 2-0-1.
• The No. 25 San Diego State women’s soccer team is off to a 5-0 start after shutting out No. 5 Pepperdine 1-0 on Friday. The only other time SDSU started a season 5-0 was 1996. The Aztecs have held all five opponents scoreless, recording five consecutive shutout wins for the first time since 2004.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Boaz has played every minute for the Aztecs. Last year, she posted seven shutouts and a 0.91 goals against average in 20 games.
• Eastern Washington quarterback Kyle Padron passed for 260 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Eagles as they downed former Big Sky Conference foe Idaho 20-3 on Thursday.
Padron, a transfer from SMU, is the second former Mustang to lead the Eagles at the QB position. Bo Levi Mitchell guided EWU to the 2010 FCS title and won the Walter Payton Award in 2011 as the top player in the division. The win also ended EWU’s 10-game losing streak to FBS opponents.
• California (Pa.) senior defensive back Rontez Miles broke up a potential touchdown in the end zone as time expired as the No. 11 Vulcans held on to a 30-22 victory against No. 10 Hillsdale on Thursday. The win was the first under first-year head coach Mike Kellar.
Miles starred for the Vulcans’ defense, racking up 11 tackles (six solo), two pass breakups and a forced fumble against the defending champions of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
• Messiah, the reigning DIII women’s soccer champion, lost for the first time since the 2010 NCAA title game, falling to No. 6 Emory 2-1 on a penalty kick in overtime on Saturday. It also was the first time Messiah lost on its home field since the 2006 season.
Junior Clare Mullins converted a penalty kick after sophomore Emily Feldman drew a foul from the Messiah defense. On Sunday, Feldman again played a key role for Emory, scoring the game-winning goal in a 1-0 double-overtime victory against Franklin & Marshall.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|16||The top-ranked USC men’s water polo team opened the season with a 24-3 drubbing of La Verne as 16 different players scored for the Trojans. USC has won four consecutive NCAA titles.|
|38||Grand Valley State’s women’s soccer squad notched a 3-1 defeat of No. 3 Armstrong Atlantic State, as the second-ranked Lakers extended their home unbeaten streak to 38 games, dating to Nov. 21, 2008. Both teams were DII semifinalists in 2011.|
|136||DIII Heidelberg’s 45-0 victory against Alma is the Berg’s first shutout since week four of the 1998 season — a span of 136 games.|
|219||Wofford’s Eric Breitenstein ran for 219 yards in a 34-7 win against Garnder-Webb — the most by a FCS player this week. It was his 21st career 100-plus rushing game and fourth career 200-plus rushing game Breitenstein also moved to second on the school’s career rushing list, with 3,914 yards.|
|729||DII Tiffin ended a 21-game losing streak with a 23-13 victory against McKendree on Saturday. The streak spanned 729 days, dating to the opening game of the 2010 season.|
|1992||Louisville’s women’s soccer team has scored three or more goals in three consecutive games for the first time since the 1992 season. The No. 14 Cardinals downed UNCG 3-0 on Sunday following a 4-0 win against Southeast Missouri on Friday. Louisville began the offensive run with a 4-3 double-overtime win against Purdue on Aug. 24.|
|105,039||Fans who witnessed Ohio State first-year head coach Urban Meyer to lead the Buckeyes to a 56-10 win over Miami (Ohio). Saturday’s crowd at Ohio Stadium was the largest crowd in college football last weekend. Including Meyer, the past 22 Ohio State coaches are 21-0-1 in their debuts.|
• The Nos. 1, 2 and 3 teams in D1 field hockey all lost during the weekend. Top-ranked Maryland fell to No. 3 Old Dominion 2-1 on Friday, while No. 2 North Carolina dropped a 1-0 overtime match to No. 7 Syracuse on Saturday. Both Maryland and UNC rebounded with wins against Ohio State and Cornell. However, just two days after topping the defending NCAA champion Terrapins, ODU was upended 5-4 by eighth-ranked Virginia.
|1||John Gagliardi *||485||133||11|
|6||Larry Kehres *||318||24||3|
|Amos Alonzo Stagg||314||199||35|
|Ken Sparks *||300||80||2|
|* — Active|
• DII Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks picked up his 300th career victory as the Eagles toppled Glenville State 56-46 on Thursday. Sparks is one of only 11 coaches in NCAA football history to reach the 300-win milestone.
Also: Sparks enters 32nd season after cancer battle
• The Hofstra women’s volleyball team is off to its best start since 1989 with an 8-0 record. The Pride need just one more win to tie the ’88 team for the best start in program history.
• Christopher Newport, the No. 1 team in DIII women’s volleyball, swept four opponents — including No. 9 Eastern — in the Captains Classic during the weekend. Senior Cory Harris became just the fourth player in program history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs, reaching both milestones on Saturday.
• Stony Brook senior running back Miguel Maysonet rushed for 171 yards, two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass to spark the Seawolves to a 49-17 victory against Central Connecticut State on Saturday. It was Maysonet’s sixth game with three or more touchdowns, highlighted by an 84-yard TD run — the longest in Stony Brook history.
• In men’s water polo, UC-Irvine junior Mitch Wise scored 10 goals Saturday as the sixth-ranked Anteaters picked up a pair of wins in the UCI Invitational. Wise had five goals each versus Chapman (16-8) and Redlands (18-7) in the Anteaters’ first two games of the season.
• With a 48-7 victory against Benedictine on Saturday, the Wheaton (Ill.) football program extended its non-conference regular-season winning streak to 30 games. Wheaton’s last regular-season loss against a non-conference opponent was a 23-16 setback at Alma on Sept. 14, 2002.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy