We're Talking About (NCAA) Practice

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The University of Minnesota women's basketball team boarded its charter flight and headed out to South Bend, Ind., for the 2015 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament late Tuesday night, sharing its flight with members of the U of M marching band, spirit squad and support staff.

But, before the Gophers took flight, they held their first practice at Williams Arena since learning Monday that they were selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years.
Sari Noga
Preparing for a DePaul team that ranks second in the NCAA in three-point field goals per game, the coaching staff enlisted the help of former Gopher Sari Noga, who ranks fifth all-time at Minnesota in three-pointers made, to join the team at practice as a scout player. Noga enthusiastically made the drive from Parkers Prairie to help out any way that she could.

"I was beyond ecstatic (when I heard the Gophers made the NCAA Tournament)," Noga said. "It's what these ladies have worked for all year and is what we worked for when I was here. It's exciting for them to have their dreams come true.

"Coach Mo asked me to come and shoot some three-pointers and I'm going to try to do that...we'll see how it goes," she said jokingly.

Minnesota followed that up with their first practice in South Bend on Wednesday afternoon, as Bethel College kindly shared its facilities with the Maroon and Gold. The excitement in the gym was undeniable as the Gophers diligently prepared for their First Round contest at Purcell Pavilion.

"We are super excitePractice d to be here. It is a great opportunity," Mikayla Bailey said. "Being here and practicing just makes (the team) want to get to the game even quicker. I can speak for all of us when I say we are super excited and can't wait until we get out on the court."

The Maroon and Gold will have one more practice on Thursday morning before taking the court against the Blue Demons Friday night.

Check back to Gophersports.com for daily updates from the events leading up to tip off.


Goodwin Qualifying

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The Gophers are practicing in Arizona over spring break, and are conducting team qualifying for the Goodwin hosted by Stanford. Jose Mendez and Riley Johnson are exempt. There will be one automatic qualifier and two coaches' picks.

On Friday, the Gophers played a dual match with Dartmouth and won 288 to 303. Riley Johnson won individually with a 4-under 68. The match also served as the sixth round of qualifying, and scores counted double.

Round 1: DC Ranch CC - Par 72 - 6,920 Yards
Round 2: Tegaveh GC - Par 72 - 7,229 Yards
Round 3: Desert Mountain Outlaw Course - Par 72 - 7,107 Yards
Round 4: Desert Mountain Apache Course - Par 72 - 7,156 Yards
Round 5: Phoenix CC - Par 71 - 6,763 Yards
Round 6: Desert Mountain Renegade Course - Par 72 - 7,435 Yards (Dual Match with Dartmouth)

1. Jose Mendez 71-71-74-exempt-72-75--exempt
2. Riley Johnson 76-80-74-exempt-70-68--exempt 
3. Jon DuToit 74-75-72-67-67-73(x2)--501
4. Matt Rachey 72-76-72-73-76-73(x2)--515
5. Runar Arnorsson 77-75-73-73-73-74(x2)--519
6. Charlie Duensing 79-76-77-77-73-71(x2)--524
7. Daniel Luftspring 82-74-78-70-81-70(x2)--525
8. Grady Meyer 76-75-73-82-74-75(x2)--530
9. Tyler Lowenstein 89-75-73-77-74-76(x2)--540
10. William Leaf 76-86-76-71-79-79(x2)--547

The travel squad for the Goodwin will be announced on Twitter (
@GopherMGolf/@coachjcarlson) and Facebook (Minnesota Men's Golf).

Katie Schau's Japanese Phrase of the Day

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As we close out our Japanese Phrase of the Day video series, we say goodbye as we take off for Japan on Saturday, March 14. Read up on how this trip was made possible HERE.

Sayo Nara!

Santana, Rosado Japanese Phrases of the Day

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As the Gophers prepare for Japan, here's another two Japanese Phrases of the Day from Daly Santana and Dalianliz Rosado. Minnesota takes off for Japan and the National Training Center Saturday.

Read about the upcoming trip, previously featured on gophersports.com

Paige Tapp's Japanese Phrase of the Day

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As the Gophers prepare for their upcoming Japan trip (March 14-22), director of operations Nao Ikeda is attempting to help the team and staff brush up on their Japanese.

Paige Tapp gives her best effort in this recent Phrase of the Day.

What They're Saying: March 3

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Briean Boddy-Calhoun is ready to lead (GopherSports.com)
Previewing the spring (ESPN.com)
Gophers have a spring in their step (Star Tribune)
Minnesota begins spring practice (Minnesota Daily)
Jeff Jones makes good first impression (Pioneer Press)
What's the connection between Michigan State's women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant and Coach Kill? (BTN.com)

Fans Invited to Open Practice Wednesday

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Bailey - Wagner
Prior to heading to Hoffman Estates, Ill., for the 2015 Big Ten Tournament, the University of Minnesota women's basketball team is inviting fans to attend an open practice Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Williams Arena. It will be the final practice for the Golden Gophers before departing for the league tournament at 3:30 p.m.

The Maroon and Gold enters the event as the No. 6 seed for the second-straight season and will face the winner of No. 11 seed Wisconsin and No. 14 seed Purdue Thursday at approximately 8:30 p.m. at Sears Centre Arena. The contest will be broadcast live on BTN.

Fans making the trip to suburban Chicago are invited to the official Gopher fans Sota Social at The Saddle Room Restaurant, located across the street from Sears Centre Arena. The event will begin at 5 p.m. and will be located in the Track Room. For more information on The Saddle Room, visit thesaddleroomrestaurant.com.

Mr. Kanno Featured on KARE 11

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Some of you may have wondered how our volunteer coach, Mr. Koichiro Kanno came all the way from Japan to Minnesota.

One of eight coaches in the running to become the 2020 Olympic coach, Kanno was placed at the University of Minnesota by the Japan Volleyball Association. With the international notoriety of head coach Hugh McCutcheon and director of operations, Nao Ikeda, hailing from Japan, the placement was a perfect fit. In his second year helping with the Gopher program, Kanno's skills will also help as the Gophers travel to Japan, March 14-22.

KARE 11 Television recently caught up with Kanno, Ikeda and McCutcheon.

Check out this video feature HERE.

NHL: Leopold Comes Home to Minnesota Wild

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!2002 Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold
Go Gophers!

MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - Welcome home, Jordan Leopold! The 2002 Hobey Baker Award winner and two-time First Team All-American for Gopher Hockey has been acquired at the NHL trade deadline by the Minnesota Wild.

A native of Golden Valley, Minn., Leopold has played in 677 NHL games over a 12-year NHL career, tallying 213 points (67 goals, 146 assists) for seven different organizations (Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus). Leopold also represented the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

In 164 career games at the University of Minnesota, Leopold scored 45 goals (the most ever by a Gophers defensemen) and had 99 assists (fourth-most among Gophers defensemen) for a career total of 144 points (third most among Gophers defensemen and 32nd all-time at Minnesota). The blue-liner's college career culminated with a memorable weekend in St. Paul as Leopold was named the fourth Hobey Baker Award winner in school history and then proceeded to lead the Maroon & Gold to a national championship the following day at Xcel Energy Center.  

The Minnesota team captain twice earned First Team All-America accolades as well as WCHA Defensive Player of the Year honors (2001, 2002) and earned All-WCHA distinctions in each of his four seasons with the Maroon & Gold (First Team: 2000-01, 2001-02; Second Team: 1999-2000; Third Team/All-Rookie Team: 1998-99).  

One of 16 Gopher Hockey alums to play in the NHL this season, Leopold is now the sixth former Gopher in the Minnesota Wild organization - joining Thomas Vanek, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Stu Bickel and Keith Ballard. Ballard and Leopold were teammates on Minnesota's national championship squad in 2002.                                                                                                                   

Gophers featured on the MAGIC Bus (3/2/15)

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Some of you Gopher fans have seen our M.A.G.I.C. bus (Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community) visiting your schools, neighborhoods or communities. When you look at the bus, did you ever wonder how 12 of our 750 student-athletes receive the honor of being on the side of the bus? Here's the first of a four-part series on some of our great student-athletes who have given back and represented their program in a positive way. The first group recognized hails from football, women's basketball and men's gymnastics. Tune in next week for another edition!

Gopher Football: Peter Mortell (Green Bay, Wis./Notre Dame Academy HS)
Not only has he made his impact known on the field, but since he walked onto the University of Minnesota campus in 2010, Mortell has already volunteered for over 57 hours of community service. Attending HopeKids events, to reading to elementary children, Mortell has also visited the U of M Masonic Children's Hospital and the U of M's Youth Day Out. In addition to volunteering, Peter used his $452 Best Buy gift card that he received through the Citrus Bowl to purchase toys and every day necessities for the St. Joseph's Home for Children. For more on this story, read here. Thanks Peter for your contribution to the Gopher M.A.G.I.C. program. 

Gopher Women's Basketball: Rachel Banham (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North HS)
Rachel Banham has been giving back to her local community since the start of her freshman year in 2010. While becoming a standout in her own right, Banham has volunteered for over 94 hours as a Golden Gopher. With her decision to come back to Minnesota for her fifth year (red-shirting her senior year due to injury), Banham has helped out with the HopeKids organization, the Golden Gopher Fund Thank-a-Thon, Urban Adventures and the Women Run the Cities events. Thanks for helping out our local community Rachel. 

Men's Gymnastics: Paul Montague (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead HS)
In just his third year as a member of the Gopher men's gymnastics program, Paul Montague has already posted over 68 hours of community service. While helping raise money for cancer awareness to helping out at Feed My Starving Children, Montague has also logged additional hours on his own. During his time as a Gopher student-athlete, he's visited elementary schools and played bingo at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Thanks you for all our outstanding efforts to give to those in need Paul.