March 2012 Archives

Rau: "We are the last WCHA team standing."

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Frozen Four Central

The Gophers face Boston College at 7 p.m. CT on April 5 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in the NCAA Frozen Four. The winner will advance to face either Ferris State or Union in the NCAA championship game on April 7.

Members of the Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media last week to talk about playing in the Frozen Four. The Gophers, who are playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years, are in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2005.
 
Hollins at the Line
Andre Hollins entered tonight's game with a streak of 17 consecutive made free throws, not having missed since going 2-for-3 in the NIT opener against La Salle. Following that night, he made two, eight, and seven in the next three games. He made the first of two on his first trip to the line tonight, extending the streak to 18, and then missed the second. He shot 21-24 from the line during the tournament, and finished 2011-12 with the school's best ever single-season free throw percentage, .904 (85-94). Hollins fell seven makes short of qualifying for the NCAA's leaders list.
Go Gophers! Dre Hollins FT
Go Gophers!
Hollins set a Minnesota single-season record by shooting 90.4 percent.
Go Gophers!

Stingy Stanford
After a pretty good start to the game, Minnesota went on a long drought. Julian Welch scored two points around the nine-minute mark in the first half, and that was the last field goal the Gophers made before heading to the locker room. Minnesota continued to struggle in the second half while Stanford shot 57.1 percent. The Cardinal finished with a 52.7 shooting percentage, and also became the first team since Wisconsin on February 28 to hold the Gophers (.373) below 40 percent from the field.

Lenard's Record Stands

Voshon Lenard's 99-point performance in 1993 remains the best single-tournament NIT scoring effort in school history. Rodney Williams was on pace to surpass Lenard, averaging 21.0 points per game in the NIT entering tonight's game. He started off hot tonight, scoring 10 points in the first 10 and a half minutes. But Williams struggled along with the rest of the Gophers down the stretch, and he only picked up two points in the second half before fouling out. He finished the tournament three points shy of Lenard's record.

Wrapping Up the NIT
This marks the second time Minnesota has finished as runner-up in the NIT. The Gophers fell to Virginia, 58-55, in the 1980 title game. Minnesota's all-time NIT record now stands at 22-12 (or 28-13 when vacated games are included).

Frozen Four Is One Week Away

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Frozen Four Central

One week from today the Gophers will meet No. 1 seed Boston College in the NCAA Frozen Four with a berth in the national championship game on the line. Minnesota, which is the lowest seed remaining in the NCAA tournament, faces a daunting task as the Eagles storm into the Frozen Four on a 17-game winning streak.

Minnesota players Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Kent Patterson met with the media this week and talked about the challenge that awaits them in the Frozen Four in Tampa.

Read full Stanford game preview | Recap: Gophers top Washington in OT to advance

NEW YORK - The Gopher basketball team is staying right in the middle of Times Square, but hasn't let the bright lights of New York City distract them from the task at hand: Winning Minnesota's third NIT title tonight against Stanford Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Go Gophers! Andre Hollins
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins is averaging 19.5 points per game in the postseason.
Go Gophers!
"We've shown a lot of heart, going on the road and winning three, then another on a neutral site," said Tubby Smith to the media Wednesday. "We've got our work cut out for us in a a very good Stanford team... I'm really proud of how [our guys] have stepped up."

If you'll be watching tonight's game (6 p.m. on ESPN with Mike Patrick, Bill Raftery and Fran Fraschilla on the call) one theme you'll undoubtedly hear will center around freshman guard Andre Hollins. The Memphis native was heavily recruited by both Stanford's Johnny Dawkins (as both the Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller and the Star Tribune's Amelia Rayno discuss today) and Minnesota.

The latter part of the season, the freshman has been Minnesota's most dynamic playmaker and "is probably our best shooter" according to Smith. He's averaging 19.5 points per game in six postseason contests, with his back-to-back 20-point efforts against Northwestern and Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament making him the first Gopher to accomplish the feat since Blake Hoffarber in December of '09 (Rodney Williams saw his streak of four straight 20-point efforts come to an end Tuesday).

"If we're now seeing the real Andre Hollins, the Gophers are going to be in fine shape at the point in 2012-13," writes ESPN 1500's Judd Zulgad. Tubby Smith agrees:

"I think he's becoming a true point guard," said Smith of Andre on Wednesday. "I think he's getting closer."

"If you get to this point you probably deserve this opportunity," continued Smith. "I think our guys have earned this opportunity to compete for a championship."

Be sure to watch the game on ESPN and follow us on Twitter at @MNGopherHoops for live updates throughout the day. Also, if you're looking for a place to watch with other Gopher fans tonight be sure to attend the official viewing party at Joe Senser's in Roseville.

New Gopher Q&A - Philip Nelson

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Nelson Philip.jpg

GopherSports.com will be posting interviews with many of the newest Gophers from the 2012 signing class throughout the remainder of the winter and spring. The next profile in our series is a conversation with quarterback Philip Nelson of Mankato, Minn.

Nelson enrolled in school in January so he could participate in Spring Practice. CBS Sports' Tom Lemming ranked Nelson as the 2nd best pro-style quarterback in the country and tabbed him as his "National Sleeper of the Year." He was ranked as the 15th best pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com, the 46th best quarterback overall by Scout.com. Both Scout and Rivals rated Nelson as a three-star prospect.

GopherSports.com: How does it feel to officially be a Gopher?

Philip Nelson: It's really fun. I love working with the team and getting better every single day as a team.

GopherSports.com: When did you know you wanted to be a Gopher and what was the experience like when you informed the coaches you'd be coming to Minnesota?

Philip Nelson: I knew that I wanted to be a Gopher probably a week before I committed. When I officially committed, my whole family was there. It was a pretty special moment.

GopherSports.com: Why did you decide to enroll early?

Philip Nelson: It was just the right situation for me. I love the whole coaching staff and the offense really fit into what I needed to do. All my faith is in these coaches and I really believe that everything is going to turn around and it'll be really special to be a part of that turnaround.

GopherSports.com: What are your thoughts about next season, whether you play or red-shirt?

Philip Nelson: It's a win-win situation for me. Either I get to learn more about the offense and what the Big Ten is really about or I get to play. Whatever the coaches want to do, it'll be fine with me.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for next season?

Philip Nelson: I want to continue to get better and to give it my all in practice. A more specific one is to get that Axe back where it belongs.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for your college career? When it's all said and done, where do you want to be?

Philip Nelson: I want to win a Rose Bowl. I mean I want to win any bowl games to start off. I want us getting over .500 and eventually getting up to the point where we could get into the Big Ten Championship Game. Personally, I want to get my degree and maybe get a shot to make it to the next level.

GopherSports.com: Is there a particular athlete that you try to model yourself after?

Philip Nelson: Not really, to be honest. I'm just kind of my own person I guess.

GopherSports.com: How do you feel about the new uniforms?

Philip Nelson: They're really sharp. It's nothing crazy like an Oregon or a Maryland which is a good thing. They're sharp and they have a lot of meaning and tradition to them. That's really special and something a lot of other schools don't have, so that's pretty unique on our part.

GopherSports.com: What is your favorite TV show?

Philip Nelson: Probably SportsCenter.

GopherSports.com: Who is your favorite musical artist?

Philip Nelson: I'd have to say Brad Paisley.
Interview by Athletic Communications Student Assistant Mitch Praxl

#Hollinsanity
In the very arena where Knicks guard Jeremy Lin started a hot streak that led to "Linsanity," Austin and Andre Hollins continued their trend of good play that has gained the nickname "Hollinsanity." Andre carried the Gophers late in the game, including a drive for a key basket that put the Gophers up three with half a minute left in overtime.

Andre's double-digit scoring streak extended to eight games, including four 20-point games, and his NIT average is 17.8 ppg. The true freshman starting point guard also dished out five assists and did not commit a turnover until about the 12-minute mark of the second half. Austin has reached double figures in six of the last seven games, and is averaging 11.5 ppg in the NIT.
Go Gophers! Williams dunk
Go Gophers!
Williams contributed half of the Gophers' eight jams.
Go Gophers!

Dunk-O-Meter
In building a 38-26 halftime lead, the Golden Gophers took advantage of one of the most high-percentage shots in basketball: the dunk. Rodney Williams got the dunk-o-meter rolling when Andre Ingram made a perfect pass to him for an alley-oop. Williams' first three field goals were of the slam variety. Ingram added two of his own, and Austin Hollins cleaned up a missed lay-up with a dunk, bringing the first-half team tally to six. Williams ended up with half of the team's eight total dunks.

Streak Over, Record Still in Reach

Though Williams' run of 20-point games fell two points short of continuing, he still has a shot at a Gopher NIT record. Through four games, his NIT point total sits at 84. With one game left on Thursday, he has a good chance to eclipse Voshon Lenard's single-tournament mark of 99 points, set in 1993.

Holding the Huskies

In its first three NIT games, Washington averaged 82.7 points per contest. The Huskies' lowest point total was 76 in those games. Even with overtime, the Gophers still held Washington to 67 points tonight. Minnesota never trailed.

Just Five More Minutes

The Gophers have played 35 extra minutes of hoops this season. They are 3-3 in overtime or double-overtime games, with half of those coming in postseason play (including the Big Ten Tournament). Six is the largest number of overtime contests on record for any season in the Gopher media guide, surpassing the five Minnesota played in 1980-81.

If I Can Make It There...
The Gophers made it to New York, N.Y., by winning three road games. Tonight they made it to the NIT championship game by holding on against a No. 1 seed in one of basketball's most beloved venues. On Thursday, they will face third-seeded Stanford to decide who makes it back home with the championship trophy. The Gophers won titles in 1993 and 1998, the latter of which was later vacated.

Live from New York, It's Tuesday Night!

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Start spreading the news, the Gophers are live from New York! Even though it's Tuesday night and not Saturday, the Gophers are still fired up for their NIT semifinal game against the Washington Huskies (tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN2).
Go Gophers! Andre Hollins
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins and the Gophers had shoot around at the Garden this afternoon.
Go Gophers!

Yes, it's the Big Apple, but the Gophers have been playing it pretty low key here in NYC. After arriving late Sunday night, Tubby Smith's squad did some studying yesterday morning before speaking meeting with both Minnesota and New York media. Click here for a photo gallery from Tuesday's activities.

Tubby also spoke a few words at the NIT opening luncheon at the Marriott Marquis hotel near Times Square. Watch what Tubby had to say here; he's introduced by ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, one of the TV analysts for tonight's game. (Just an FYI -- Tubby's wallet was not actually stolen, that's one of his favorite jokes!):

After a short practice at NYU yesterday afternoon (check out the photos in this gallery), the Gophers attended the official NIT opening banquet Monday night (at the prestigious Loeb Boathouse near Central Park). This morning (Tuesday), the Gophers had an hour-long shootaround at Madison Square Garden, the "World's Most Famous Arena" as it is branded. It was a pretty cool experience for the guys; check out this short video from the shoot around:



Tip-off is tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 -- be sure to watch and follow us on Twitter (@MNGopherHoops and @GopherAthletics) for live updates throughout the game!

Lucia Finalist For Spencer Penrose Award

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Go Gophers! Don Lucia
Go Gophers!
Don Lucia is one of seven finalists for the 2011-12 Spencer Penrose Award.
Go Gophers!
NCAA Conference Call To Preview The Frozen Four

Coach Don Lucia is one of seven finalists for the Spencer Penrose Award, given annually to the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Coach of the Year. Voting will be conducted prior to this year's Frozen Four and the winner will be announced on Friday, April 6 in Tampa, Fla.

Lucia led the resurgent Gophers to the MacNaughton Cup this year and his squad will play in the NCAA Frozen Four next week. The Gophers had previously missed the NCAA tournament the past three seasons and were picked to finish sixth this year in both the preseason coaches and media polls.

The Gophers, who have a combined 18 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, went 28-13-1 overall this year and 20-8-0 in WCHA play.

Lucia, who led Minnesota to national titles in 2002 and 2003, won the award in 1994 when he was at Colorado College. He is also a three-time WCHA Coach of the Year (1994, 1996 and 2006).

The Spencer Penrose Award is named in memory of the Colorado Springs benefactor who built the Broadmoor Hotel Complex, site of the first ten NCAA championship hockey tournaments. The actual award will be presented at the AHCA Coach of the Year Banquet in Naples, Florida, on Saturday evening, April 28. The AHCA Coach of the Year Awards are chosen by members of the American Hockey Coaches Association.

2011-12 AHCA Men's Ice Hockey Spencer Penrose Award Finalists

Norm Bazin, UMass-Lowell - Hockey East Coach of the Year
Rick Bennett, Union - ECAC Coach of the Year and NCAA Semifinalist
Bob Daniels, Ferris State - CCHA Coach of the Year and NCAA Semifinalist*
Don Lucia, Minnesota - NCAA Semifinalist*
Mel Pearson, Michigan Tech - WCHA Coach of the Year
Ryan Soderquist, Bentley College - Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year
Jerry York, Boston College - NCAA Semifinalist*

* Past Spencer Penrose Award Winner

Minnesota To Face Boston College In Frozen Four

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Go Gophers! Keith Ballard
Go Gophers!
Keith Ballard and Minnesota beat Boston College 2-1 in overtime in the 2002 Mariucci Classic championship game.
Go Gophers!

Click here to visit Frozen Four Central!

Minnesota won the NCAA West Regional last weekend with wins against Boston University (video highlights) and North Dakota (video highlights) to advance to the program's 20th NCAA Frozen Four.

The Gophers beat Boston University 7-3 on Saturday before topping North Dakota 5-2 on Sunday to punch their ticket to the April 5-7 Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.

Minnesota will meet No. 1 Boston College in a national semifinal at 7 p.m. CT on April 5. The winner will advance to the national championship game at 6 p.m. CT on April 7 and will face either Union or Ferris State.

The Gophers and Eagles have met nine times in the NCAA tournament and Boston College leads the postseason series 5-4. The teams last met in the NCAA tournament in Northwest Regional on March 29, 2008, in Worcester, Mass. The Eagles won that game 5-2 and went on to win the national championship that season.

Prior to this year, 2008 was the last time Minnesota was in the NCAA tournament, so the last team to beat the Gophers in NCAA postseason play is Boston College.

Minnesota won the lone meeting between the two teams in the Frozen Four, as the Gophers won 14-1 in 1954 before falling to RPI 5-4 in overtime in the NCAA championship game in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The 1954 game was the first meeting ever between the two schools, while the 2008 contest was the most recent.

Minnesota and Boston College have played 27 times overall and the Gophers lead the series 14-11-2. Minnesota is 8-1-0 at home against Boston College and 5-9-2 on the road. They are 1-1-0 in neutral-site games, with those being the 1954 and 2008 games.

Tampa Bound!
For the 20th time in program history, Minnesota has reached the NCAA Frozen Four. The Gophers will face either Boston College or Minnesota-Duluth in Tampa Bay, Fla. on April 5 for a spot in the national championship game on April 7. Minnesota will be seeking its sixth NCAA title and first since 2003. The Gophers will make their first Frozen Four appearance since 2005.

Unlikely Sources
In two games at the West Regional this weekend, Minnesota scored 12 goals, but it wasn't just the usual suspects getting on the scoreboard. Five of the Gophers' goals were scored by players who entered the weekend with four goals or less on the season. On Friday Jake Parenteau scored his second of the season, Seth Helgeson notched his fifth, and Nico Sacchetti tallied his fourth. On Saturday, Ben Marshall posted his fourth goal of the year, while Travis Boyd scored his first collegiate goal.

Also of note, Taylor Matson ended a 17-game goal-scoring drought with his eighth goal of the season and linemate Nate Condon ended an 11-game goalless streak with his 11th goal of the season.

Not This Time
On Friday, Minnesota won its first NCAA Tournament game since Mar. 24, 2007 when it defeated Air Force 4-3. That year, the Gophers lost to North Dakota 3-2 in overtime in the regional final. This year, the Gophers earned a 5-2 win in the regional final to reach the Frozen Four and avenged a 6-3 loss to North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five.

Minnesota also won the season series against UND 4-2-0 with the win. The Gophers have the same record in regional championship games under Don Lucia.

Classic Field
Three of the four teams from the 2010-11 Mariucci Classic have advanced to this year's Frozen Four. Minnesota, Union, and Ferris State all competed in the two-day tournament, which was won by Bemidji State. Playing without then-freshmen Nick Bjugstad and Erik Haula, who were competing at the World Junior Championships, the Gophers lost to Union 3-2 in overtime in their first game and tied Ferris State 2-2 the next night.

Hot Streaks
With an assist on Saturday, Kyle Rau continued his postseason tear. He now has nine points, including two goals, in his last four games. Erik Haula, who scored the game's second goal, now has 20 points, half of them goals, in his last 15 games. Haula, who was only held off the board in two games during that span, leads the team with 48 points and is the Gophers' highest-scoring player since 2005-06 when Ryan Potulny had 63 points.

Defenseman Nate Schmidt has one goal and 14 assists in his last 14 games and is on a six-game point streak. He now has 41 points on the year and his 38 assists this season are sixth all-time by a Gopher defenseman in a single season.

Rematch
After both teams won today, Minnesota and North Dakota will face off for the sixth time this season and 288th time in history for a trip to the Frozen Four on Sunday afternoon. The Gophers hold a 3-2-0 lead in the season series after sweeping UND at home and splitting in Grand Forks in the regular season and dropping a 6-3 decision in the WCHA Final Five semifinals last week.

Five Years To the Day
Minnesota, which played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since losing to Boston College 5-2 in Worcester, Mass. on Mar. 28, 2008, won its first tournament game in exactly five years on Saturday. The Gophers beat Air Force 4-3 on Mar. 24, 2007 to advance to the second round of the tournament, where they lost to North Dakota, 3-2 in overtime.

All Even With BU
Storied rivals Minnesota and Boston University met for the 26th time on Saturday. The Terriers held a 12-11-2 advantage in the all-time series entering the contest, but the Gophers evened it up with a 7-3 win. It was the first time the teams met since Minnesota closed Walter Brown Arena with a 2-1 win on Jan. 2, 2005 and BU rebounded with a 2-1 triumph the following night to open Agganis Arena--its new home. The Gophers are 5-3 against BU in NCAA Tournament play.

Four With 40
Freshman Kyle Rau and sophomore Nate Schmidt joined second-year centers Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad as Gophers with 40 points or more on Saturday. Rau had a single-game career-high four points with one goal and three assists to up his season total to 42 points. Schmidt added two assists to get to 40 with three goals and 37 assists. Bjugstad, who scored Minnesota's last goal has 41, while Haula, who notched an assist, now has 47.
 
Schmidt also moved into a tie for sixth for assists in a single season by a Minnesota defenseman. His 37 helpers tie him with Jordan Leopold in 2000-01 and Mike Knoke in 1979-80. Haula has the most points in a single season by a Gopher since Ryan Potulny posted 63 in 2005-06.

Minnesota has four 40-point scorers for the first time since 2002-03 when Thomas Vanek (62), Troy Riddle (52), Keith Ballard (41), and Matt Koalska (40) did it. 

Filling the Net
For the second time in two weeks, Minnesota scored more than six goals in a game. On March 10 in Game 2 of their first round playoff series against Alaska Anchorage, the Gophers scored seven times in a 7-3 win to complete the sweep. Minnesota won by the same score against Boston University.

It was the third time this season the Gophers recorded seven goals or more, also accomplishing the feat in a 9-0 win against Sacred Heart on Oct. 7. The last time Minnesota got seven goals in an NCAA Tournament game was against Ferris State in a 7-4 victory on Mar. 29, 2003.

Also of Note...
The Gophers improved to 7-1-0 in their alternate white home sweaters on the season. They are now 16-3-0 when leading after one period and 19-2-0 when leading after 40 minutes. Minnesota has a Saturday record of 16-3-1 and are 9-3-1 coming off a loss. The Gophers improved to 2-2-0 against teams from Hockey East and 5-4-1 against non-conference opponents.



The road-warrior Gopher men's basketball team has finally returned to Minneapolis, at least for a little while. After winning three straight NIT games on the road, the Gophers leave for New York City Sunday for their NIT Semifinal game Tuesday with Washington.

Go Gophers! Trevor Mbakwe
Go Gophers!
Trevor Mbakwe said he's "leaning towards" returning for a sixth year.
Go Gophers!

Other than the Gophers' NIT run, the other big news surrounding the team was the NCAA's decision this week to grant senior Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility in 2012-13, should he choose to return to the U.

"It made my week a whole lot better," said Mbakwe about the NCAA's ruling. "It makes my life a whole lot easier, not having to rush back and get ready for the draft... It gives me some nice options."

Right now, Mbakwe says, he's "leaning towards" returning to Minnesota next season.

"I'm leaning towards coming back for another year, but the situation is kind of complicated," said Mbakwe. "There's a lot more that needs to play out before I can make a decision."

Head coach Tubby Smith seemed optimistic that the particulars surrounding Mbakwe's situation would eventually be resolved.

"If the NCAA is willing to give someone a sixth year, they're probably willing to work with us as far as scholarships and stuff is concerned," said Smith. "We expect that everyone in our program this year to be back next year."

Mbakwe said Coach Smith has advised him that another year with the Gophers could help his NBA Draft stock for 2013.

"Yeah, [Coach Smith] said that another year could put my stock back up," said Mbakwe. "It would show [NBA} GMs that my knee is fine, and that I'm still the same player... Definitely another year could help."

Gophers Meet Media Before NCAA Regional

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Single Session NCAA Regional Tickets On Sale | West Regional Tournament Central

All four teams at the NCAA Hockey West Regional--Minnesota, North Dakota, Boston University, and Western Michigan--got a chance to practice at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Friday before beginning tournament play on Saturday.
Go Gophers! Taylor Matson
Go Gophers!
Taylor Matson and the Gophers met the media before tomorrow's game against Boston University.
Go Gophers!

Following each practice, each team held a press conference. The second-seeded Gophers, who were the last team to get off the ice, concluded the day by sending head coach Don Lucia, senior captain Taylor Matson, and sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt to the podium.

Minnesota, who last met BU in 2005, will renew a rivalry that dates back to 1963.

"It's exciting to play Boston. A lot of the guys never have. We're looking forward to it and I'm sure it'll be fun," said Matson, who will be playing in his eighth career game against a team from Hockey East. "BU is a really high-powered offensive teams. They compare to a lot of WCHA teams with their speed and their offense.

Schmidt, who had a breakout season this year with was in agreement with his teammate. "BU's a really good team coming into this tournament and it'll be an exciting game," he said.

The Gophers have moved on from a 6-3 loss to UND in the WCHA semifinals last week and have spent the week preparing for an uncommon opponent.

"We've had a good week of preparation and we're ready to go," said Lucia. "We are two very evenly matched teams and tomorrow it'll be all about execution."

The second-seeded and WCHA regular-season champion Gophers, will meet the Terriers on Saturday at 4:30. The winner of Saturday's contest will play the winner of the North Dakota-Western Michigan game at 12:30 for a spot in the Frozen Four in Tampa Bay, Fla. on April 5 and 7.

This weekend is sure to be action-packed with an impressive bracket on the ice in St. Paul.

Said Lucia, "It is a great field. We have a regional where if anyone came out of it, I don't think anyone would be surprised." 

Picture Time: Hockey Trophies At Coffman Union Today

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Go Gophers! MacNaughton Cup
Go Gophers!
Get your picture taken with the MacNaughton Cup and women's NCAA championship trophy today at Coffman Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Go Gophers!
Calling all hockey fans, Gophers and loyal Minnesotans!

You have the opportunity today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Coffman Union (Fireplace Lounge) to get your picture taken with both the MacNaughton Cup and the NCAA Championship trophy.

The men's hockey team, which begins NCAA play this weekend, won the MacNaughton Cup after finishing the WCHA regular season with a 20-8-0 record. The Cup, which is hand crafted of pure silver, is almost three-feet tall and weighs nearly 40 pounds.

The Minnesota women's team thumped rival Wisconsin 4-2 last weekend to win the NCAA national championship.

Bring your camera or smartphone and stop by Coffman Union today to get your picture today with both trophies. They are certainly impressive.
Hollins Homecoming
Officially a road game on the Gophers' schedule, tonight's game probably seemed like a home game to Andre Hollins. The freshman and Memphis native played in Charles M. Murphy Athletic Center four years in a row during the state tournament. Hollins helped his team to a state title there his sophomore year, and poured in 24 points tonight for the Gophers, extending his double-digit scoring streak to seven games, including three 20-point games.

Sophomore Austin Hollins, a native of Germantown, scored 10 points in his return to Tennessee. All of Austin's points and 20 of Andre's points came in the second half to help lift the Gophers to victory.
Go Gophers! Austin Hollins
Go Gophers!
Hollins scored 10 points in his return to the state of Tennessee.
Go Gophers!

Williams Continues Torrid Pace
Who moves on and who goes home in the postseason depends on which team is hot at the time. In the NIT, no one has been hotter than Rodney Williams. The junior forward boasts a streak of four games with 20-plus points, including all three of Minnesota's NIT contests. After a career high of 24 tonight, his three-game total sits at 66 points on 68.4-percent shooting. With at least one game remaining, Williams could threaten Voshon Leonard's single-tournament school record of 99 points, set in 1993.

20/20 Vision
Tonight was the second time this season that Williams and Andre Hollins have teamed up to post 20-plus-point totals in the same game. The two both passed the 20-point mark against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

Freshman First
Elliott Eliason has been a fixture in the starting lineup with Ralph Sampson III injured, but he had not yet scored in double figures until tonight. Eliason had a solid overall stat line: 12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and an assist.

Madison Square Garden, Here We Come
The Gophers will take on first-seeded Washington on Tuesday, March 27. This will be the Gophers' fourth trip to the NIT semifinals during non-vacated seasons. They are 2-1 in the three previous semifinal games, going on to win a championship in 1993. They also won the title in 1998, but it was later vacated. Minnesota last appeared in the semifinals in 2003.

Tough Guys
With about 20 seconds left in the game, three Gophers went down on the court. Austin Hollins suffered a bloody nose running into a screen, Joe Coleman took an elbow to the face on a rebounding scramble, and Rodney Williams' leg cramped up after he jumped for that same rebound. Coleman fouled out on the play, and Williams was helped off the court to avoid putting pressure on the cramp. Williams did return to the game. Hollins finished the game with tissues in his nose to stop the blood. All three players seemed to be doing fine.

Gophers Beat Terriers In Memorable 1976 Game

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VIDEO: Highlights from Minnesota's 4-2 win against BU in national semifinal

PHOTO: Gophers, Terriers get tangled up with one another 68 seconds into the game

Denver Post recap:Minnesota 4 Boston University 2.pdf

Since Minnesota is playing Boston University this week in the NCAA tournament we thought it would be fun to look back at previous games between the two teams. Boston University leads the all-time series 12-11-2, but Minnesota staked a 4-2 win in the most memorable game between the two teams.

That game was a 1976 national semifinal tilt in Denver and featured a 10-minute skirmish just 68 seconds into the game.

Minnesota, which trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes, scored three times in the third period to win 4-2 and secure a place in the NCAA championship game. The Gophers then defeated Michigan Tech to capture their second national championship

Wednesday Roundup: Gophers Talk NCAA Tournament

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Members of the Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media today and talked about playing in the NCAA Tournament this weekend. You can listen to what they had to say here.
 




GWH Blog: National Champions visit State Capitol

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Go Gophers! Gopher women's hockey team
Go Gophers!
The Gophers visited the State Capitol on Tuesday.
Go Gophers!
The Gopher women's hockey team had the chance to visit the legislative session at the Minnesota State Capitol yesterday afternoon. Senior captains Sarah Erickson and Jen Schoullis, along with coach Brad Frost, were able to go down on the house floor, with NCAA trophy in tow. The rest of the team sat in the balcony. With gavel in hand, Erickson signaled the start of the day's session, and after the opening prayer, she led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Gophers were first up on the agenda. Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced a resolution to commend the Gopher women's hockey team on their NCAA Championship title. The house responded with a standing ovation for the Gophers.

View photos from the State Capitol visit here.

There are some video clips here and here.

THIS JUST IN: Going to the Minnesota Wild game Thursday night against the Calgary Flames? The Gophers will be making an appearance there too! More details to follow...

GWH Blog: Gophers, Gophers, Everywhere!

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Minnesota, Boston University To Meet For 26th Time

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Saturday's NCAA tournament game will be the 26th all-time meeting between Minnesota and Boston University. The two hockey powerhouses have each won five NCAA titles and begin their quest for a sixth at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Terriers lead the all-time series 12-11-2 against the Gophers, but Minnesota owns a 4-3 advantage in NCAA tournament play. The schools have not met since they split a regular-season series in Boston in 2005.

The teams also met in the 1996 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game, which was an exhibition at the time. The Terriers won that game 4-3.

Below is a game-by-game listing between Minnesota and Boston University.

* - denotes NCAA tournament game
& - denotes NCAA championship game

Date
Winner
Score
Location
12/20/63
Minnesota
4-2
Boston
12/20/66
BU
8-5
New York, N.Y.
12/22/70
BU
3-0
Boston
3/20/71&
BU
4-2
Syracuse, N.Y.
12/29/71
BU
5-4 (2OT)
Syracuse, N.Y.
3/14/74*
Minnesota
5-4
Boston
3/26/76*
Minnesota
4-2
Denver
12/26/79
Minnesota
5-4
Minneapolis
12/27/79
Minnesota
5-1
Minneapolis
10/19/84
Minnesota
5-2
Boston
10/20/84
BU
5-4 (OT)
Boston
1/10/86
Minnesota
3-1
Minneapolis
1/11/86
BU
4-2
Minneapolis
3/21/86*
Minnesota
6-4
Boston
3/22/86*
Minnesota
5-3
Boston
1/16/87
BU
6-1
Boston
1/2/88
Minnesota
5-3
Minneapolis
1/21/89
BU
1-0
Boston
3/31/94*
BU
4-1
St. Paul
12/31/94
BU
4-3 (OT)
Minneapolis
3/30/95*
BU
7-3
Providence, R.I.
1/2/04
Tied
5-5
Minneapolis
1/3/04
Tied
5-5
Minneapolis
1/2/05
Minnesota
2-1
Boston
1/3/05
BU
2-1
Boston

New Gopher Q&A - Martez Shabazz

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Shabazz Martez.jpgGopherSports.com will be posting interviews with many of the newest Gophers from the 2012 signing class throughout the remainder of the winter and spring. The next profile in our series is a conversation with defensive back Martez Shabazz of Trinity Valley Community College. 

Shabazz enrolled at Minnesota in January and will participate in spring practice. Rivals.com rated Shabazz a three-star prospect and he received two stars from Scout.com.

GopherSports.com: How does it feel to officially be a Gopher?
Martez Shabazz: It feels great. I like the atmosphere that Minnesota brings. Being in the Big Ten, it feels awesome. 

GopherSports.com: Why did you decide to enroll early in school?
Martez Shabazz: I wanted to get the defensive system down so I can have a head start. I want to help the team out as fast as I can. 

GopherSports.com: Do you have a planned major yet? 
Martez Shabazz: Business and Marketing. 

GopherSports.com: Have you made any friendships with your new teammates yet? 
Martez Shabazz: Yeah, Cooper, Keise, Michael Carter, a lot of guys. It's a really cool team. 

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for next season? 
Martez Shabazz: I want to help the team out the best I can to make a bowl game and just win games, period. I want to help change the atmosphere around here with the football team and help the team out the best I can. 

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for your college career? When it's all said and done, where do you want to be? 
Martez Shabazz: This year I want to be Big Ten Newcomer of the Year and get my name out there as best I can and set myself up for my senior year. Hopefully I get a shot at making the league. 

GopherSports.com: Is there a particular athlete that you try to model yourself after? 
Martez Shabazz: I would say Charles Woodson, simply for the fact that he plays corner and he's all over the field. I'd like to be like that. 

GopherSports.com: How do you feel about the new uniforms? 
Martez Shabazz: I love them. It's a classic look yet kind of a new look with the helmets. I can't wait to put them on and have my name on the back. I really like the all-maroon and the all-white looks. 

GopherSports.com: What is your favorite TV show? 
Martez Shabazz: ESPN First Take. Skip and Stephen A., I love to see them debate. I don't get to see it that much because I'm always in class now, but I try to catch them if I can. 

GopherSports.com: Who is your favorite music artist? 
Martez Shabazz: I like Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi and Drake. I don't really have a top favorite, but those three would probably be my top.
-Interview by Athletic Communications Student Assistant Mitch Praxl

Gophers, Terriers To Be Shown Live On FSN Plus

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FOX Sports North Plus channel listings

FOX Sports North announced today plans to televise Minnesota's NCAA West Regional game against Boston University live on Saturday, March 24, from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports North Plus with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. with Gophers Live.

Puck drop is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Scoring Early and Often
Even after an 11-0 Miami run nearly erased the Gophers' 12-0 start, the Gophers still led by a dozen points at halftime, 35-23.  The last time Minnesota led by double digits at the half was against Northwestern on Jan. 22 when they carried a 41-24 advantage into the locker room. Despite the small drought after jumping out to a 12-0 lead, the Gophers still ended up with 78 points for the game. They have surpassed the 70-point mark in four of their last five games.

On the individual level, ever since his three-point performance in the Gophers' loss to Indiana, Rodney Williams has been on a tear. He has scored in double figures each of the six games since then. Last game, 17 of his career-high 21 points came in the first half. Tonight, he scored 16 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting. Williams ended up tying that career high with 21 points again, extending his streak of 20-point performances to three. Dan Coleman in 2007 was the last Gopher to put together such a streak.
Go Gophers! Ingram
Go Gophers!
Ingram's two dunks contributed to his career-high point total.
Go Gophers!

Career Night for Ingram    
Entering tonight's game, junior transfer Andre Ingram had averaged just 6.8 minutes per game. He played just two minutes in the Gophers' NIT opener against La Salle. But tonight, with Ralph Sampson III out and Oto Osenieks suffering a head injury during the game, Ingram played 24 minutes. He took advantage of the extra court time, playing with great energy on both ends of the court. Ingram pulled down six rebounds and scored eight points--both career highs--on 3-of-3 shooting, including two dunks, to lead the Gopher bench.

Only Eight Remain
With tonight's win, the Gophers advanced to the NIT quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. The Gophers went on to lose the third place game that year. They lost in the second round in 2006, and the first in 2008. Minnesota will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to face Middle Tennessee on Wednesday.

One Streak Ends, Another Continues
Sophomore Austin Hollins' double-digit scoring streak came to an end at four games. Meanwhile, freshman Andre Hollins extended his to six with 14 points today. The younger Hollins is averaging 17.2 points during his streak.

GWH Blog: National Champions Return to Ridder Arena

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The Gopher women's hockey team has returned home to Minneapolis, and was welcomed by fans and media today. The team bus arrived from Duluth shortly after 1:00. Senior captains Sarah Erickson and Jen Schoullis were the first off the bus, with the national championship trophy carried by Sarah Erickson.

Photo gallery from the welcome home celebration.
Go Gophers! Gophers
Go Gophers!
Sarah Erickson hoists the national championship trophy Monday.
Go Gophers!

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has declared March 20, 2012 Gopher Women's Hockey National Champions Day.  See the proclamation here.

In case you missed any of the local news coverage of the NCAA title win, check out these links:

Gophers in NCAA title (MN Daily)

Gophers are champs again by combining toughness, skill (Star Tribune)

Gopher goalie saves her best for last (Star Tribune)

Golden girls: Noora Räty lifts Gophers women to NCAA hockey title (Pioneer Press)

Gophers win NCAA hockey title (KARE 11)

Minnesota women's hockey wins national title (Fox 9)

Minnesota bests Wisconsin for women's DI championship (USCHO.com)

Gophers top Badgers in Frozen Four championship (Duluth News Tribune)

These Gophers are Golden (NCAA.com - full replay of the game in case you missed it!)

Play of a lifetime (NCAA.com)

Quality helps build the game (NCAA.com)

Badgers run into immovable force in NCAA title game (Wisconsin State Journal)

Badgers suffer hockey heartbreak (The Badger Herald)

Gophers To Face Boston University In NCAA Tournament

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2012 West Region Information

Minnesota is heading back to the NCAA tournament.

The Gophers were awarded the No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play in the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years. Minnesota will play No. 3 seed Boston University at 4 p.m. on March 24 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

No. 1 seed North Dakota will face No. 4 seed Western Michigan at 12:30 p.m.

The winners of the two semifinal games will face one another at 4:30 p.m. on March 25 with a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., at stake.

Boston University finished the season with a 23-14-1 overall record and tied Massachusetts-Lowell for second in Hockey East with a 17-9-1 conference record.

Minnesota, which is making its 33rd appearance in the NCAA tournament, is 4-3 all-time against Boston University in the NCAA tournament. Their most NCAA tournament meeting was on March 30, 1995. The Terriers won that game 7-3 in the national semifinal in Providence, R.I.

The Gophers are 11-12-2 all-time overall against Boston University. The last time the two teams met was Jan. 2-3, 2005. The No. 1 Minnesota won 2-1 on Jan. 2 to close the Walter Brown Arena and lost 2-1 the following day as the No. 13 Terriers opened their new Agganis Arena.

Both teams have won five NCAA championships.

Minnesota is making its first NCAA tournament appearance since losing 5-2 to Boston College on March 28, 2008, in the NCAA Northeast Region semifinal in Worcester, Mass.

Boston University returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time in two seasons. The last time the Terriers were in the NCAA tournament they won the 2009 national championship by beating Miami 4-3 in overtime.

Game Time Set for Idaho State Game

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The rain has cleared (for now) and the Golden Gophers are slated to face Idaho State at 4:45 p.m. CST. It is still up in the air on whether their second game against Utah State will be played following the first game because Boise State doesn't have lights on their field.

Minnesota will play Idaho State instead of Utah State to make sure all four teams that have traveled here to Boise, Idaho get a game in today. Boise State will not see action today.

For all your Gopher softball needs, head to GopherSports.com, Facebook or Twitter.

The Golden Gophers' softball games have been bumped back again, but there has been no definitive game time set for any games today. I will keep everyone updated as game time information becomes more clear.

The fastest way to get updates is by following Gopher Softball on Facebook and Twitter. GopherSports.com will not be updated until exact game times are set.

Rain Delay at the SpringHill Suites Invitational

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The University of Minnesota's softball games for Saturday have been pushed back two hours due to the rain accumulated over the night. The Gophers originally were scheduled to face Utah State at 1 p.m. and Idaho State at 3 p.m, but the times have now shifted to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Stay up-to-date with the latest game time information by checking GopherSports.com, Facebook or Twitter.

Observations from Minnesota's 6-3 Loss To North Dakota

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WCHA Postseason and Final Five
Minnesota got back to the Final Five for the first time in three years, but was unable to win a game for the first time since Mar. 21, 2008 when it beat Colorado College. The Gophers are now 2-2-0 at the Xcel Energy Center against UND and 3-4 against North Dakota at the Final Five. The teams have split 24 all-time WCHA postseason meetings.

Two Different Games
Friday night's contest was a tale of two halves. Through the first 30:01 of the game, Minnesota had a 3-0 lead, but UND went on to score six unanswered goals to earn a 6-3 win. The Gophers had a 12-2 edge in shots after one period and North Dakota outshot Minnesota 19-2 after getting on the board late in the second period. Minnesota lost after scoring first for the seventh time (21-7-0) and is now 11-9-0 on Fridays.

Underclassman Impact

Of the six points recorded by Minnesota players on Friday, five were recorded by players with freshman or sophomore eligibility. Freshman Kyle Rau had a goal and as assist, sophomore Nate Schmidt had two assists, and redshirt sophomore Zach Budish had a goal. The freshman class now has 31 goals and 49 assists for 80 point and the sophomores have 80 goals and 141 assists for 221 points. Senior Jake Hansen, who scored the game's second goal, was the only junior or senior to get a point.

Hot Haula
At the most crucial time of the season, sophomore center Erik Haula is heating up. The Pori, Finland-native, who became the first Minnesota player to score 17 points in a month in October, now has 18 points (nine goals and nine assists) in his last 13 games, dating back to a 2-1 win on Jan. 27 against St. Cloud.

Schmidt Assists
With two assists in Friday's loss, sophomore Nate Schmidt moved into the top 10 in school history for assists by a defenseman in a single season. His 35 helpers tie him with Dan Trebil in 1995-96. Mike Crowley had the most all-time in 1996-97 when he put up 47 assists.

Third Period
For the second time all season, Minnesota lost a game when leading after two periods. Prior to Friday night, the Gophers had an 18-1-0 record when up after 40 minutes. Minnesota let up more than three goals in a period for the first time since allowing four in the second period in a 5-4 loss to Vermont on Oct. 23. It was the first time all year the Gophers allowed five goals in a period and first time they conceded more than five goals in a game. Minnesota also lost by three or more for the second time all year.

Rain Out at SpringHill Suites Invitational

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Due to unsafe field conditions, Friday's softball games at the SpringHill Suites Invitational have been cancelled for the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were slated to face Portland State and Idaho State.

Minnesota will return to action tomorrow afternoon as they face Utah State at 1 p.m. CST and Idaho State at 3 p.m. CST. Rain is also projected in the forecast for tomorrow, so check GopherSports.com, Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

The University of Minnesota softball team is currently in a rain delay at the SpringHill Suites Invitational. The game was supposed to begin at 11 a.m. CST, but the new game time is slated for 1 p.m. CST.

Check back here for future updates, or check Facebook and Twitter.

Weather Update from the SpringHill Suites Invitational

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Today's University of Minnesota softball game against host Boise State has been moved up one hour and is currently slated to begin at 4 p.m. CST.

Rain is also projected in the forecast for the next couple days, so stay tuned to GopherSports.com, Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date information related to game times.

Matson Leads Resurgent Gophers

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Go Gophers! Taylor Matson
Go Gophers!
Taylor Matson captained Minnesota to its first MacNaughton Cup in five years.
Go Gophers!
It is simply called the four corners, but there is nothing easy about it. It is a grueling training exercise that begins and ends at the same spot on the Mariucci Arena concourse and is one that every member of the Minnesota men's hockey team is familiar with.

In between starting and stopping, members of the team run down and up the 69 steep stairs from the concourse to the ice level four times, while completing a lap around the expansive concourse. It takes the average player around 2:45 to complete.

Taylor Matson is not your average player.

The senior captain completed the strenuous task in 2:10, breaking Kris Chucko's program record by 16 seconds.  

"It is a matter of timing and speed at the same because you want to go down and up the stairs as fast as possible and you obviously want to sprint around the concourse," said Matson. "This year, I pushed myself to the max. I was throwing up for a good half hour after. That was not a good part of it, but it was worth it after it was done."

Hard work is nothing new to the ultra-competitive Matson. Whether it is hockey, school or running up and down stairs as fast as possible, the 23-year-old gives maximum effort in everything he does.

"He has been here every day," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, who has coached 16 first team All-Americans. "He is not a guy who misses anything. He never says he is going to take a week off. Taylor's home in the summertime has been in the weight room and his conditioning. He takes it very seriously. That is why he is our captain."

Matson pushed himself so hard while running the four corners that in addition to vomiting, he also experienced limited vision.

"His heart rate registered 250 beats-per-minute," said Minnesota strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz. "You begin to lose your vision when your heart rate gets that high. He could only see big, broad objects. That tells you how hard he works and how much pain he can withstand and keep pushing himself. I have never seen anyone withstand that much pain."
Go Gophers! Taylor Matson
Go Gophers!
Matson was voted captain by his teammates prior to this season.
Go Gophers!

It is pretty remarkable that Matson was able to set a new standard in the four corners, as he has never finished a season healthy. His freshman year ended after he suffered an ACL injury eight games into the season against Michigan. His sophomore season was cut short after 18 games after he suffered an ankle injury that would require two surgeries and the implementation of a titanium rope into his lower leg. Last year, he played in 33 games before suffering a minor injury that kept him out of the WCHA playoffs.  

"I have always been a hard worker, but I think those injuries made me appreciate the game and really made me come out and work hard every single day because you never know when it is going to be your last," said Matson, who has received the Mike Crupi Most Determined Player award each of the last two seasons. "After my ACL injury I told myself that nothing could get worse than that. I hurt my ankle and told myself that it was just another thing that I had to get through and that it would heal pretty well. After that, once I was healthy it was the strongest I had been and I was in the best shape of my life."

He is not kidding about being in the best shape of his life either. Before this season he had to undergo a body fat test three times because his levels kept coming back so low.

"I got like .9 percent the first time and they said that could not be possible and tested me again," said Matson. "I did it again and got 1 percent and did it again and got 1.1 percent. They said there is a 3-5 percent error, but that they had never seen that number before."   

Dietz said that in his 11 years at Minnesota he has rarely seen an athlete like Matson, calling him an, "Exception to the rule."

Lucia said it is Matson's mental toughness that separates him from other athletes.

"With his mental toughness, he could be a Special Forces guy in the military," said Lucia. "He is a guy who will push himself and never give up and that is the type of mentality you have to have in a situation like that. That is the way he comes to the rink every day and works on the ice. That is the way he comes every day to work in the weight room. That is how he treats his academics too. Not many people can do that in every phase of their life."

Not many people are Taylor Matson.

Smith Reaches the Century Mark

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With tonight's win over LaSalle, Tubby Smith recorded his 100th victory as head coach of the Golden Gophers. He is the eighth coach in Minnesota history to reach that milestone. Smith's win-loss record now stands at 100-67 with the Gophers, and 487-212 over his 21 seasons as a head coach. Tonight's win also secured his fourth 20-win season in five years at Minnesota.
Go Gophers! Tubby
Go Gophers!
Smith's 100th win was also his first postseason win at Minnesota.
Go Gophers!

Smith was stuck at 97 wins for a while as the Gophers went through a rough patch late in the season, but picked up No. 98 against Nebraska in the regular season finale, then No. 99 over Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament.

Victory No. 100 holds more importance than simply a third digit--this was also Smith's first postseason win in his time at Minnesota. The Gophers lost in the first round of the NIT in 2008 (Smith's first year), and the first round of the NCAA Tournament in both 2009 and 2010.

"I really didn't realize it," Smith said of reaching 100. "You really don't think about that--you're just so involved in the game. I'm really happy to get this win. Whether it's the first one or the 100th, it's always good to get a win."

L.J. Cooke is the school's all-time wins leader at 250-135 over a 28-season Minnesota career that ended in 1924. Most recently before Smith, Dan Monson (1999-2006) joined the 100-win club. His Gopher record was 118-106.

Smith and the Gophers still have an opportunity to add more wins this season. They will have a second round game later this week. Congratulations to Coach Smith!
Strong First Half Finish
After trailing for much of the up-and-down first half, the Gophers went into the locker room with a 40-37 lead. Minnesota ended the half on an 8-0 run. Rodney Williams led the way with 17 points in the first.

Back-to-Back Big Games
For the first time in his career, Rodney Williams posted consecutive 20-point games. He scored an even 20 in the Gophers' loss to Michigan in the Big Ten quarterfinals, and upped that total to 21 tonight, tying a career high. He now has three 20-point games in his career, all this season.

Williams scored some of his points with his patented highlight reel dunks, but also mixed in some mid-range jumpers. The jumpshot has been a focus for him during this season as it was during the offseason, and he showed some improvement in his shooting stroke today. Williams will become even more of a scoring threat next season if he continues to work on his shot, forcing opponents to guard him on the perimeter as well as around the basket.
Go Gophers! Dre
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins has scored in double figures in five straight games.
Go Gophers!

Gophers in the NIT

This is Minnesota's 14th appearance in the NIT. The Gophers are 19-11--including a championship in 1993--in the tournament during non-vacated seasons. With the vacated games, they are 25-12, including another title in 1998. Their last NIT appearance came in 2008, Tubby Smith's first season at Minnesota, when they lost to Maryland in the first round. Minnesota's last NIT victory came in 2006 against Wake Forest in the first round.

Hollins Hot Streak
With Trevor Mbakwe out for the season, Ralph Sampson III (the only other senior) injured, and just three juniors on the team, the Gophers have needed big contributions from their younger players. Recently, sophomore Austin Hollins and freshman Andre Hollins have been the ones to step up. Andre (13 tonight) scored in double figures the past five games, Austin (16 tonight) in the past four. This five game stretch includes the Big Ten Tournament, where Andre earned all-tournament honors by scoring 46 points in two games.

Smith Reaches the Century Mark

Tonight's win was Tubby Smith's 100th as Minnesota's head coach. He is the eighth Gopher coach to reach triple digits. This was also the 20th win of the season for the Gophers, making this the fourth season in which Smith has guided them to at least 20 wins. More information here.

Gophers Inner Circle: Gophers Final Preparations

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The Golden Gopher wrestling team is all set for the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Minnesota had one last team practice before wrestling gets underway from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., tomorrow morning. 330 student-athletes will be competing this week.

It was announced this afternoon that tickets for this week's three-day event have been sold out. More than 110,000 fans are expected to attend over the course of the week.

Head coach J Robinson and company are excited for the week and have a strong feeling about their upcoming performance for the week.

"We have to be consistent this week and score bonus points," Robinson said. "We lost to Penn State at the Big Ten Championships by 15 points and those points came from bonus points in the final round. We have to be very consistent for these next three days and with how consistent we wrestle, will impact where we finish on Saturday."

Action gets underway tomorrow at 11 a.m. with Session I. All sessions will be broadcasted on ESPN. A portion of matches through session V will be streamed. A full schedule can be found below.

Session I (Thursday Morning)

Mat 1
Mat 2
Mat 3
Mat 4

Session II (Thursday Night)

Mat 1
Mat 2
Mat 3
Mat 4

Session III (Friday Morning)

Mat 1 (Quarterfinals)
Mat 2 (Quarterfinals)
Mat 3 (Quarterfinals)
Mat 4 (Quarterfinals)

Session IV (Friday Night)

Semifinals

Session V (Medal Round)

Session VI (Final)

 

 

Wednesday Roundup: Gophers Talk Final Five

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Members of the Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media today and talked about playing in the WCHA Final Five this weekend. You can listen to what they had to say here.


President Kaler's day at the Metrodome

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Go Gophers! Eric Kaler
Go Gophers!
President Eric Kaler throws out the first pitch.
Go Gophers!
Gopher head coach John Anderson invited University of Minnesota President, Dr. Eric Kaler, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at last Saturday's game against Stony Brook. With ties to both Minnesota and Stony Brook (Dr. Kaler was the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and vice president for Brookhaven affairs prior to his arrival at Minnesota.)

Along with throwing out the first pitch, Dr. Kaler visited the radio booth and sat in on the Gophers/Seawolves' third inning. Gophersports.com's Matt Nelson also had him call Andy Henkemeyer's walk. In the radio booth, he talks about his love for the sport of baseball, the Gophers' need for a new stadium, the search for a new athletics director and of course Gopher Baseball.

Here's his 20 minutes in the booth.
Go Gophers! =Jackie and Shayne
Go Gophers!
Star Tribune's All-Metro Teams

Future University of Minnesota women's basketball players Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney were named to Star Tribune's 2012 All-Metro First Team Tuesday morning. The pair, who each signed National Letters of Intent to play for Pam Borton's Gophers next season, are seniors at Eden Prairie High School.

"I am very happy for Jackie and Shayne," Borton said. "This honor is well deserved and we are looking forward to both of them being a big part of our program. Their impact as players has been noticed on a national level and we welcome their talents, leadership and work ethic to this program."

Johnson, a 6-2 power forward, scored in double-figures in every contest this season for the Eagles to average an impressive 17.7 points per game. The senior was also a dominant presence on defense, as she averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game and recorded close to 100 total blocks. Johnson closed out her prep career as Eden Prairie's career-leader in rebounds and blocked shots.

Mullaney, a 5-10 guard, led her team in scoring at 17.8 points per game this season, while she also paced the squad with over 130 assists. Mullaney now holds the Eden Prairie High School record for career points and career assists.

Johnson and Mullaney, the top-two scorers in school history, led the Eagles to a 22-6 record and finished their final campaign as the Section 4A runner-up.

Weekend Rewind: Gophers Advance To Final Five

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Minnesota 2, Alaska Anchorage 1


Video Highlights l Final Stats l Game Story

Erik Haula scored two goals and Kent Patterson made 16 saves as Minnesota beat Alaska Anchorage 2-1 in Game 1 of the WCHA first round playoffs. Minnesota staked a 2-0 lead before allowing an Alaska Anchorage power-play goal with two seconds remaining in the second period. With the win, Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Minnesota 7, Alaska Anchorage 3

Video Highlights l Final Stats l Game Story

Minnesota scored six unanswered goals and beat Alaska Anchorage 7-3 in Game 2 of their first round WCHA playoff series. The Gophers trailed 3-1 nearly halfway through the game, before erupting for six goals. Erik Haula led the way with two goals and two assists, while Kent Patterson made 16 saves. With the win, Minnesota advanced to the WCHA Final Five for the first time in three years. The Gophers will play at 7 p.m. this Friday at Xcel Energy Center against the winner of Thursday's game between St. Cloud State and North Dakota.

GWH Blog: Gophers in the News

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Here are some articles/recaps from last weekend's 5-1 win over North Dakota in the NCAA Quarterfinals:

Gophers punch ticket to Frozen Four (Star Tribune)

Women gain Frozen Four by whipping North Dakota (Pioneer Press)

Gophers punch ticket to Frozen Four (Minnesota Daily)

Sioux season comes to an end at hands of Gophers (Grand Forks Herald)

Räty backstops Minnesota back to Frozen Four with win over North Dakota (USCHO.com)

Gophers defeat North Dakota, move on to Frozen Four (examiner.com)


See You in St. Paul!
By beating Alaska Anchorage in their best-of-three first-round playoff series, the Gophers moved on to their first WCHA Final Five in three years. Minnesota, who will be one of six teams in the league left when play begins next weekend at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, will get a bye on Thursday and will next play in the semifinal round on Friday against an opponent to be determined. The Gophers lost 2-1 to Minnesota-Duluth in their first game at the last final they went to in 2008. Minnesota is looking to claim its 15th WCHA Playoff championship all-time and its first Broadmoor Trophy since 2006-07.

Battle Hymn of the Republic
With two wins over Alaska Anchorage this weekend, the Gophers completed their ninth sweep of the season and eighth against a WCHA opponent. After being eliminated by a sweep at the hands of the Seawolves last season, Minnesota won all four meetings with UAA in 2011-12 by a combined score of 18-5. The Gophers did not allow an even-strength goal in those four games.

Barrage of Goals
Entering the third period tied at three, Minnesota went on a tear offensively in the third period, scoring four goals to make for a 7-3 victory. Saturday's final frame marked the fourth time Minnesota scored four times in a period all year. The Gophers scored four in the third period on Dec. 10 against Michigan Tech in a 6-2 win and scored in each of the final two periods on Oct. 7 against Sacred Heart. Minnesota also improved to 5-3-0 on the year when entering the third period with the score tied and have outscored its opponents 51-18 in the final stanza.

Comeback Kids
After trailing 3-1 with 11:40 to play in the second period, the Gophers reeled off six unanswered goals to earn a 7-3 win. Saturday marked the second time all season that Minnesota won a game when faced with a multiple-goal deficit at any point in the contest. The Gophers also beat Minnesota-Duluth 5-4 on Oct. 15 after falling behind 2-0 in the first 7:11 of the game.

Kremer Gets In
After serving as the team's third goaltender for almost four full seasons, senior Jake Kremer entered the game with 43.2 seconds to play in the third period. The Seawolves didn't get a shot on goal in that time and Kremer closed out the Gopher victory.

Minnesota Notes For March 10 Against Alaska Anchorage

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About Last Night
Erik Haula scored two goals and Kent Patterson made 16 saves as Minnesota beat Alaska Anchorage 2-1 in Game 1 of its best-of-three playoff series against the Seawolves. Haula opened the scoring with a breakaway goal 1:42 into the second period and added his second goal of the game a little more than eight minutes later. Nate Schmidt assisted on both goals. Alaska Anchorage scored a power-play goal with two seconds left in the second period and neither team scored in the final stanza.

Playoff Win
Minnesota snapped a three game-postseason skid with a 2-1 win against Alaska Anchorage last night at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota's last playoff win prior to last night was a 4-2 win at North Dakota on March 13, 2010. Before last night, the Gophers lost two playoff games to Alaska Anchorage and one to North Dakota.

27-3
The Gophers improved to 27-3 all-time in WCHA first-round playoff games at Mariucci Arena with their win last night. Minnesota's three setbacks all came to this weekend's opponent Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves won twice at Mariucci Arena last season and also won Game 2 in overtime in a 2007 playoff series.

One-Goal Games
Minnesota beat Alaska Anchorage 2-1 last night. It was the 20th game that Minnesota played this year that was decided by one goal. The Gophers are now 11-9-0 in one-goal games this season. They have won four straight one-goal games and have won seven of their last eight one-goal games. The 20 one-goal games is a season record for Minnesota. The previous was 18 games and last happened during the 2006-07 season.

Clubhouse Leader  
With two goals last night, Erik Haula overtook Nick Bjugstad for the team lead in point. The sophomore center from Finland now has 40 points (17g-23a) this season in 38 games to lead Minnesota. Bjugstad, who has played 35 games, has 38 points (23g-15a). Haula is the first Gopher to reach 40 points in one season since Ryan Stoa (46 points in 36 games) and Jordan Schroeder (45 points in 35 games) both accomplished the feat during the 2008-09 season.    

Schmidt Assists   
Nate Schmidt had two assists last night and now has 32 assists in 38 games this season. His 32 assists are the most by a Gopher blueliner since Chris Harrington had 33 assists in 40 games during 2005-06.  

Saturday Night Success
Minnesota enters tonight's game with a 14-3-1 record on Saturdays this season. The Gophers went 13-1-0 in the WCHA (7-0-0) on Saturdays this year. Minnesota's last Saturday home loss was a 4-3 setback to No. 5 Notre Dame on Jan. 7.

Against Alaska Anchorage
Minnesota improved to 3-0-0 against Alaska Anchorage this year with a 2-1 win last night. The Gophers, who won two games in Anchorage in October, have outscored the Seawolves 10-2-0 this year and have not allowed an even-strength goal.

Hot Haula
After becoming the first Gopher to notch 17 points in a month since 2002 after a red-hot start in October, it seems sophomore center Erik Haula has found his scoring touch again after putting up 11 points in his next 19 games played. Minnesota is 8-3-0 in its last ten games and Haula has been a big part of the team's success, racking up 12 points (including seven goals) in that span. Haula now leads the team with 40 points.

Avoid Becoming an Outlier
If Minnesota can beat Alaska Anchorage on either Saturday or Sunday (if necessary), the Gophers will become the 18th-straight No. 1-seeded team in the WCHA playoffs to move on to the second round after Michigan Tech upset No. 1 Colorado College in three games in 1994. The last time the top seed lost a game was on Mar. 10, 2007 when the tenth-seeded Seawolves beat Minnesota 2-1 in overtime.

Continued Success at Home
With the win on Friday, Minnesota improved to 27-3 at the current Mariucci Arena in WCHA Playoffs. The Gophers' only three loses came to Alaska Anchorage, who swept Minnesota last year and also picked up a win in 2007. 

One-Game Advantage
Since playing its first two-game WCHA Playoff series in 1974, Minnesota has won the first game of the opening round of the playoffs 30 times and have advanced to the next round each time. Nine of those series wins have come under current head coach Don Lucia and all but one were sweeps.

Playoff Debuts
Entering Friday, senior captain Taylor Matson had not played in a postseason hockey game after ending the first three seasons of his collegiate career early due to injury. Matson started Friday's game against Alaska Anchorage. Matson was one of eight Gophers to make his college postseason debut. The only other non-rookie was sophomore Nate Schmidt, who recorded two assists in the game.
Freshman Point Guards
Andre Hollins out-dueled Northwestern's Big Ten All-Freshman point guard Dave Sobolewski in yesterday's first round victory. Today he had to face the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Trey Burke. The two youngsters played virtually the whole game and led their respective teams in scoring. The two guarded each other went back and forth with key points at the end of the game.
Go Gophers! Dre
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins led the Gophers in scoring in both Big Ten Tournament games.
Go Gophers!

In the end, Burke and his Wolverines came out on top. Burke has been sensational all year, which is why the media selected him as conference rookie of the year. In just the second Big Ten game of the year, Burke scored 27 points against the Gophers. Today, he scored 30.

Hollins played just 14 scoreless minutes in the teams' first meeting, but has come a long way since then. He showed flashes of his talent at times during the early season, and has recently emerged as a more consistent scorer and team leader. Hollins reached double figures in his last four games, including team highs of 25 and 21 points in the last two games. His recent play gives the Gophers good reason to be excited for the future.

Sound Familiar?
For the second time in two days, and the fifth time this season, the Gophers played overtime basketball. This was their first time playing back-to-back overtime contests since the 2003-04 season, and their first time since 1980-81 to play five overtime games in one season. Minnesota is the first team ever to play multiple overtime games in one Big Ten Tournament.

First Half Ups and Downs

The Gophers drew first blood with an Andre Hollins three-pointer, and they continued to build a lead from there. Michigan did not make a field goal until the 13:27 mark. The Gophers led by up to nine points in the first, but the Wolverines' switch to zone defense helped them slow down the Gopher offense. They tied the game for the first time with under two minutes left in the half. Minnesota still went into the locker room with a 23-20 lead after Austin Hollins hit a three.

Gophers Wrap Up Winter Workouts With "Bowl Games"

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The intensity was through the roof at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex at 6 a.m. Friday morning. There were spectators. Cameras were rolling. The Rose Bowl and the Capital One Bowl were taking place on the indoor practice field at the University of Minnesota.

Wait a minute. Those bowl games were played back in January. And they certainly aren't played at the Gopher football complex. True enough. But for the Gophers, the competitions that took place on the turf at the indoor complex Friday morning were about as important as it gets in mid-March.

""This morning was probably the most awesome atmosphere for a 6 a.m. workout you could have," Klein said. "There were probably 30 or so alums, lettermen who were out there watching. There were all kinds of people out there. We had cameras rolling."

Friday morning was the culmination of the Gophers' winter workouts. The Minnesota squad was broken down into eight different teams at the beginning of winter conditioning. Each week, these teams competed against one another in the weight room and on the field in events designed by head strength and conditioning coach Eric Klein. Points were tallied, as were wins and losses.

The top four teams advanced to Friday morning's "bowl games." Each Friday's "game" consisted of an obstacle course, a tire-flip-and-carry competition, a speed obstacle course and individual, one-on-one tug-of-war battles.

"Each week, the captains got to pick their matchups," Klein said. "They had their game, so they had to pick their lineup and talk with the other team captain and figure out who was going to match up against whom."

The idea of competition during the off-season isn't new to Klein or head coach Jerry Kill. But it was tweaked a little bit this year.

"At Southern (Illinois) and at Northern (Illinois), we used a team competition," Klein said. "It had the weight room, it had academics, it was kind of an overall competition. I talked to Coach (Kill) and I said I just want one simple thing here. Let's just make it a weight room and conditioning type of competition.

"I'd heard of other places using trophies and awards," Klein continued. "So I said, 'What's the two biggest bowls the Big Ten can get into?' You've got the Rose Bowl and the Capital One Bowl. So ... we got similar trophies to what you'd get if you win that game. We told the guys that's what you're playing for. That's what we play for in the season, that's what we're going to play for right now."

Going into Friday, Team Accountability and Team Pride qualified for the Rose Bowl. Accountability was captained by offensive lineman Ed Olson, while Pride was led by quarterback MarQueis Gray.  Accountability came out on top in a hotly-contested battle.

"We've been competing all winter for this," Olson said. "We put everything we had into it and it was a great competition today."

Notes:

> There was a bit of a sub-plot in Accountability's win over Pride, as well. Team Accountability was captained by the starting left tackle and included two other offensive linemen - the men who are charged with protecting the quarterback. Meanwhile, Gray - the starting signal-caller - did not select an offensive lineman for his squad.

"(Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt) Limegrover kept telling us all winter that he wanted us to beat MarQueis' team because he didn't have any o-linemen," Olson said. "We just tried to prove it to him today and we did a good job and came out with the 'W.'"

Gray told me late this morning that he had targeted Ed's brother Tommy to be on Team Pride, but Ed picked him before Gray had a chance. He also told me he felt not having any linemen on his team might have been the difference in the competition.

> Overall, Klein said he was happy with the way winter conditioning played out. He believes the team is in much better physical condition. Klein also said the conditioning sessions had a positive effect mentally, as well. Hear his comments about that below.

> Klein also had positive reports on a number of other guys and their hard work in the winter conditioning period. To hear what he had to say about the offensive line, some of the junior college transfers, as well as comments about Troy Stoudermire, listen below.

> Tip of the hat to Mike Ricci with GoldenGopherGridiron.com for help with the video and photos of this morning's events. Click here if you'd like to see more of Mike's coverage of Friday morning's competition.

Fifteen Gophers Named To All-WCHA Academic Team

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A record of 146 student-athletes, representing all 12 Western Collegiate Hockey Association-member institutions, earned distinction as members of the men's 2011-12 All-WCHA Academic Team as announced by the conference office.

Fifteen of those recognized are Minnesota Golden Gophers.

To earn recognition as a member of the All-WCHA Academic Team, member team student-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1) have completed one year of residency at present institution, prior to the current academic year; and 2) have a grade point average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for the previous two semesters or three quarters.

Minnesota players earning All-WCHA Academic Team distinction are Mark Alt, *Zach Budish, Nate Condon, Jake Hansen, Seth Helgeson, Justin Holl, *Jake Kremer, Jared Larson, *Nick Larson, *Taylor Matson, *Kent Patterson, *Nico Sacchetti, Nate Schmidt, Tom Serratore and Chris Student.

* Indicates a repeat honoree

Hot Start for the Hollins
Minnesota's first 15 points came from a player named Hollins. Andre Hollins scored the first eight before Austin Hollins added a jumper. Andre scored the next five before Chip Armelin broke the all-Hollins scoring streak. During that stretch, Andre was 3-for-3 from three-point range. Andre Hollins finished the first half with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, sitting on the bench for the last several minutes with two fouls. For the game, the duo combined for 37 points, including a career-high 25 from Andre.
Go Gophers! EE
Go Gophers!
Eliason set a new career with 10 rebounds.
Go Gophers!

Cleaning Up the Boards
The Gophers out-rebounded the Wildcats, 44-29. Making his fifth career start in place of the injured Ralph Sampson III, redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason set a new career high with 10, bettering the nine-rebound mark he set against USC in December. Joe Coleman and Austin Hollins each added seven.

Rubber Match

A victory today gave Minnesota the 2-1 edge in this year's meetings after the teams split their regular season series. The Gophers won decisively at Williams Arena on Jan. 22, and the Wildcats won at Welsh-Ryan on Feb. 18. Today's match-up was the closest of the three.

Five More Minutes
Missed last shots by both squads sent the game into overtime tied at 61. The Gophers have gone 2-2 in overtime games this season. The last time Minnesota played four overtime games in one season was 1982-83, and the Gophers were 2-2 that year as well.

Three Is the Key

Against Northwestern, a team that relies heavily on three-pointers, the Gophers needed to hit some threes of their own to keep pace. In the end, both teams ended up with identical three-point shooting numbers, going 11-for-26. The Gophers have made 10 or more triples in three games this year, most recently against Nebraska on Saturday. 

Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament
The Gophers are now 8-6 all-time in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and 13-14 in the tournament overall. They own a 4-2 record against Northwestern in conference tournament play. The Wildcats are Minnesota's most common Big Ten Tournament opponent. Northwestern won last year's first round match-up, and the Gophers won in 2008 and 2009.

Go Gophers! Kent Patterson
Go Gophers!
Kent Patterson (pictured) and Nick Bjugstad were named to the All-WCHA First Team.
Go Gophers!
Minnesota had four players named to an All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association team this afternoon. Senior Kent Patterson and sophomore Nick Bjugstad were named to the All-WCHA First Team, while sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt was named to All-WCHA Second Team. Freshman Kyle Rau was named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team.

It is the first time since the 2006-07 season that Minnesota had four players honored by the WCHA. That year Alex Goligoski (first team), Mike Vannelli (second team), Kyle Okposo (second team and rookie team) and Erik Johnson (rookie team) were recognized for their play by the WCHA.

Patterson, who secured the WCHA Goaltending Champion title with a 2.06 goals-against average while playing 1659:41 in 28 games, was named to an All-WCHA team for the second straight year. He was named to the All-WCHA Second Team last year and is the first Gopher to be named to the All-WCHA First Team since Ryan Stoa (2008-09). Patterson is the first Minnesota goaltender to be named All-WCHA First Team since Steve DeBus (1996-97).    

Patterson, who played every minute in net this season except for 20 minutes, finished first in the WHCA in goals-against average (2.06) and was second in winning percentage (71.4 percent). He finished third in save percentage (.918) despite playing more than 600 minutes more than Colorado College's Josh Thorimbert who was first (.928) and more than 1,000 minutes more than North Dakota's Brad Eidness (.919).

He led the WCHA in wins with 20, which was five more than his next closest competitor. He was third in saves with 642 behind Michigan Tech's Josh Robinson (708) and Minnesota Duluth's Kenny Reiter (647).  

Patterson recorded at least one win against 10 WCHA teams. He leads the nations and set school single-season record with seven shutouts this year, four of which came against WCHA teams. He was named the National Player of the Month for October and was a three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week.

Bjugstad, who tied Erik Haula for the team lead in points with 38, centered Minnesota's top line all season. He leads the Gophers and ranks tied for third nationally with 23 goals. His 23 goals are the most for a Gopher since Stoa had 24 in 2008-09. In addition to leading the team in points and goals, Bjugstad also paced Minnesota in shot percentage (18.9 percent) and tied for first on the team in power-play goals (7).

The sophomore had 21 points (9g-12a) in 16 road games and recorded a point in 13 of those games. He had five multiple-point games on the road. Bjugstad is third on the team with a +20 rating and leads the team in faceoff percentage (of players who have taken more than 70 faceoffs) with a .584 winning percentage.

Bjugstad, who represented the United States at the World Junior Championship earlier this season, enjoyed point streaks of six games (7g-4a) and five games (5g-1a) earlier this season. He never went more than two games without a point.

Bjugstad was the National Player of the Month for November and was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for Nov. 22.
Go Gophers! Nate Schmidt
Go Gophers!
Nate Schmidt, who led defensemen nationally with 30 assists, was named All-WCHA Second Team.
Go Gophers!

Schmidt had a breakout season this year as he led the Gophers with 30 assists and finished fourth on the team with 33 points. His 30 assists lead the nation for defensemen and rank sixth nationally. Schmidt also tied Ben Marshall for the team lead in blocked shots (43) and tied Kyle Rau in plus-minus (+22).

Schmidt scored 23 points (3g-20a) on the power-play, which led Minnesota. The most important point he tallied was his most recent one, as the sophomore scored an unassisted power-play goal in the third-period against Wisconsin to clinch the MacNaughton Cup outright for the Gophers.

Schmidt was the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for Feb. 28.

Rau, who played high school hockey last year, finished third on the team with 34 points (16g-18a). He leads all freshman forwards and ranks second among freshman nationally in scoring. He finished the WCHA schedule with 27 points in 27 games to finish second among freshman scoring in scoring but tied for first in points-per-game (1.00). Rau scored 17 points at home and 17 on the road this season.

Rau, who joined Bjugstad on Team USA at the World Junior Championship, led the Gophers in game-winning goals (6) and tied for first in power-play goals (7). He is tied with Schmidt for the team lead with a +22 rating. Rau is the first freshman to score more than 15 goals in a season since 2006-07 (Jay Barriball had 20 and Okposo had 19). He is the first freshman to score more than 30 points in a season since 2008-09 (Jordan Schroeder had 45).

Rau, who was the National Rookie of the Month for October and a three-time WCHA Rookie of Week, had point streaks of eight games and seven games this year. He also led Minnesota forwards in blocked shots with 23.

2011-12 WCHA Major Award Winners

WCHA Player of the Year
Jack Connolly • Senior, Forward, Minnesota Duluth

WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year
Brad Eidsness • Senior, Goaltender, North Dakota

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year
Justin Schultz • Junior, Defenseman, Wisconsin

WCHA Rookie of the Year
Joey LaLeggia • Freshman, Defenseman, Denver

WCHA Scoring Champion
Jack Connolly • Senior, Forward,  Minnesota Duluth

WCHA Goaltending Champion
Kent Patterson • Senior, Goaltender, Minnesota

WCHA Coach of the Year
Mel Pearson • Michigan Tech

All-WCHA First Team
F Jack Connolly - Minnesota Duluth
F Nick Bjugstad - Minnesota    
F J.T. Brown - Minnesota Duluth
D Justin Schultz - Wisconsin
D Joey LaLeggia - Denver    
G Kent Patterson - Minnesota

All-WCHA Second Team
F Jaden Schwartz - Colorado College
F Drew Shore - Denver
F Jason Zucker - Denver
D Gabe Guentzel - Colorado College
D Nate Schmidt - Minnesota    
G Kenny Reiter - Minnesota Duluth

All-WCHA Third Team
F Mark Zengerle - Wisconsin
F Brock Nelson - North Dakota
F Travis Oleksuk - Minnesota Duluth
D Nick Jensen - St. Cloud State    
D Ben Blood - North Dakota   
G Josh Thorimbert - Colorado College

All-WCHA Rookie Team
F Kyle Rau - Minnesota    
F Jean-Paul Lafontaine - Minnesota State   
F Jayson Megna - Nebraska Omaha   
D Joey LaLeggia - Denver   
D Andrew Prochno - St. Cloud State  
G Juho Olkinuora - Denver  

Alumni Corner: New website designed for contact information

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Calling all Golden Gopher baseball alums. Gophersports.com and the Gopher baseball program has designed a new website to keep in contact with its alums. Gopher baseball prides itself on keeping a connection with members of its family. If you are an alum, please take the time and make sure Golden Gopher baseball has the appropriate information.

Please check out our website and fill out the appropriate information here.

Traffic Alert For This Weekend

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4thStreetSERampDetour(2).pdf

Gopher hockey fans please plan your travel for this weekend accordingly as the northbound ramp from Southeast 4th Street to northbound I-35W will close for a period of two weeks beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 10.

The ramp is scheduled to reopen on Friday, March 23. 

During this two-week period, traffic will be detoured north to New Brighton Boulevard in order to access northbound I-35W. This closure is needed to allow crews to work on the water main under the roadway. 

Video: Golden Gopher Strength Regimen

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The Golden Gophers do not spend all of their practices at the golf course. In fact, they spend quite a bit of time in a hockey arena. The weight room the golf team uses is located in Mariucci Arena. The team also uses Mariucci's concourse for warm-ups and cardio. The physical improvement the Gophers gain from the strength and conditioning program provides a foundation for what they do on the golf course.


VIDEO: Top 10 Highlights of the Season

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As we get closer the 2012 NCAA Championships, Cole Schrupp put together his top 10 highlights of the 2011-12 Minnesota Wrestling season. 

So sit back and get your popcorn ready, for look back at an incredible season that the Gophers have had this season! 


Gophers Talk MacNaughton Cup, Playoffs

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Minnesota won its 13th MacNaughton Cup this year, but its first since the 2006-07 season. We talked with several members of this year's team about what winning the MacNaughton Cup meant to them.

Don Lucia, head coach

It is a tremendous accomplishment for our players. They have been through a lot, especially our senior class. They desperately wanted to be able to leave something behind when they left this program and they have done that this year by winning the MacNaughton Cup. However, I think they all feel there is more to accomplish.

It was great to win it in such dramatic fashion. Even though we knew we had part of it, the guys desperately wanted to win it outright. We were down in the third period and Erik Haula made a great play on the shorthanded goal and Nate Schmidt made an even better play by holding that puck in and then faking and scoring. The fans were into it. The building was as loud as I can remember it being. I also think having it on Senior Night made it extra special.

Mike Guentzel, associate head coach

That is what you play for in the regular season. It is such a prestigious award and to be able to see our guys the other day have that celebration and that mentality was nice. The fans were into it and it means a great deal for our program. People expect us to do well and when you come in here the expectation is to put the program at a high level. Hopefully we are going to continue to have success and not once every five or so years. Hopefully it is on a regular basis. It is such a competitive league and tough to win, but you cherish it when it happens.

The last time I was here we had won it, but this time had a special feeling. It had not happened in a long time and sometimes you take things for granted. It is hard to win and some guys here have had difficulty being on a championship-level team so it was nice to see them win. It was hard to do, but I think that made it more rewarding.   

Grant Potulny, assistant coach

It was a remarkable evening with the way the crowd was and the way we came back and won the game. It is such a hard trophy to win. When I played, we had a lot of success here as a team, but never won the MacNaughton Cup. It represents a successful season and goes to the best team all year and takes consistency and effort and a little bit of luck. It was very fun to win and now there is a banner that will be hanging for the rest of Gopher history in Mariucci Arena.

Go Gophers! Taylor Matson
Go Gophers!
Taylor Matson captained the Gophers to their first MacNaughton Cup in five years.
Go Gophers!
Taylor Matson, senior captain

Winning the MacNaughton Cup is what we worked so hard for, especially for this team. We have worked really hard together especially in the offseason and at the beginning of the year. It was an amazing feeling being out there on the ice and winning. Our senior class has been through a lot as well the last three years so to finally have something that was successful for our team was special. We were able to hang a banner in here and it will be fun to come back years from now with our kids and show them that. To be part of the tradition of Gopher Hockey is what you come to Minnesota for. I am glad we can be a part of it.

Jake Hansen, senior alternate captain

It is amazing. It almost feels like it did not happen, like it was a dream. Our senior class has been through a lot. We came here with 12 or 13 guys and now there are only seven of us. It is amazing to win the league with a group of guys that you have been so close with. We worked very hard for this, especially in the summer in the weight room. It is nice to finally get rewarded for our hard work. Guys talk about hanging banners and you never realize it being here, but not too many teams have won the MacNaughton Cup. Even the teams that won the two recent national championship were not able to do that and they had unbelievable teams. It shows that we were able to put together a full year of consistently good hockey and to be able to do that in our league, which is pretty tough, is cool.  

Nico Sacchetti, senior

It would have been embarrassing if we were the only class to come through here and not win anything. It feels good to get that monkey off our back. We got that out of the way and now we can stop worrying about that and just focus on doing more in the playoffs. It will be nice to come back years down the road and see that banner hanging up. It will be nice to see something and think, "I was part of that." That kind of solidified us as being part of the tradition.

Nate Schmidt, sophomore

It is and unbelievable accomplishment for us so far. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to bring the MacNaughton Cup back to Minneapolis. It was a hard-fought season but there are still things to be done. It was unbelievable to win it for the seniors. You could see the genuine excitement on their faces. They have been through a lot. Look at our captain Taylor Matson, hopefully he will be able to play in his first playoff game this weekend. You could see how excited they are about being able to leave a legacy behind. I am really proud and honored to be part of a team that will be up in the rafters forever. It is a testament to the group that we have been throughout the year. We have great unity on this team and it feels really good. But we are not satisfied. We have a lot of stuff to do the rest of the season. It begins this weekend with Alaska Anchorage. I was in the stands last year for this exact weekend. It is going to be a good test for us to see where we are at because come playoff time anybody can beat anybody.

Kyle Rau, freshman

It is cool because you can see how hard our seniors wanted it and how much it means to them. It is fun to be a part of that and help them do something they have wanted to do.

Wednesday Roundup: Gophers Talk Alaska Anchorage

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Members of the Minnesota men's hockey team met with the media today and talked about this weekend's playoff series against Alaska Anchorage. You can listen to what they had to say here and see more above.

Don Lucia, head coach

Don Lucia previews this weekend. (mp3)


Nick Bjugstad, forward


Nick Bjugstad previews this weekend. (mp3)


Nate Schmidt, defense


Nate Schmidt talks to the media to preview this weekend. (mp3)


Kent Patterson, goaltender


Kent Patterson previews this weekend. (mp3)

New Gopher Q&A - Jeremy Baltazar

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Baltazar Jeremy.jpg

GopherSports.com will be posting interviews with many of the newest Gophers from the 2012 signing class throughout the remainder of the winter and spring. The next profile in our series is a conversation with defensive back Jeremy Baltazar of Blinn Junior College.

Baltazar enrolled in school in January and will participate in spring practice. Both Scout.com and Rivals.com rated Baltazar as a two-star prospect.

GopherSports.com: What does it feel like to be a Gopher?
Jeremy Baltazar: It feels good. It's a really good program.

GopherSports.com: When did you know you wanted to be a Gopher and what was the experience like when you informed the coaches you were coming to Minnesota?
Jeremy Baltazar: The experience was great. They were really excited about me coming. I knew I wanted to come here after I took my visit during the game against Wisconsin.

GopherSports.com: Why did you decide to enroll early?
Jeremy Baltazar: I was graduating from junior College. I didn't have any other classes to take there, so I decided that I was going to come straight here.

GopherSports.com: Do you have a planned major?
Jeremy Baltazar: I plan on majoring in Communications.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for next season?
Jeremy Baltazar: To help the team win as many games as possible and to try to get to the Rose Bowl. I know there will be competition, so I plan on competing for a starting spot.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for your college career? When it's all said and done where do you want to be?
Jeremy Baltazar: When it's all said and done I'd like to go to the NFL if I'm blessed enough to get that opportunity. If not, then I am going to get my degree and get a job.

GopherSports.com: Is there a particular athlete you try to model yourself after?
Jeremy Baltazar: I don't really model myself after any athlete. My favorite athlete is Barry Sanders, but I don't model myself after him. He's just my favorite athlete and a great role model.

GopherSports.com: How do you feel about the new uniforms?
Jeremy Baltazar: I like them. They give a little pro combat look.

GopherSports.com: What is your favorite TV show?
Jeremy Baltazar: I haven't really been watching too much TV lately. I just watch SportsCenter and ESPN when I am watching TV.

GopherSports.com: Who is your favorite musical artist?
Jeremy Baltazar: My favorite music artist right now would have to be Soulja Boy.

-Interview by Athletic Communications Student Assistant Mitch Praxl

Best Rookie in BCS

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Go Gophers! Rachel Banham
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

Banham vs. BCS Freshmen Get Acrobat Reader

To say Rachel Banham had a breakout year as rookie for the Gophers this season would be an understatement. The freshman from Lakeville, Minn., took her role as Minnesota's starting point guard this season and ran with it... literally.

It did not take her long to race to the team lead in numerous categories and it seemed like in the snap of a finger she was placing her name among the top players in the conference, being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times before eventually being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Not only that, but both league head coaches and media voted her to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

But, what is most impressive about her rookie resume is the fact that she put up numbers that top almost every other freshman in the BCS.

Among the six power conferences, the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, Banham ranks first in total points (518), field goals (196), three-point field goal percentage (.429) and is tied for the most points per game (16.2) with Washington's Jazmine Davis, while she also ranks second in free throw percentage (.813) and fourth in minutes per game (34.2).

The Minnesota native beat out the likes of UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Duke's Elizabeth Williams, who came into the season as the No. 1 and No. 2 recruits in the country, respectively. In fact, Banham's scoring numbers topped all 18 recruits' which ranked ahead of her in the 2011 ESPN HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings.

In addition, Banham ranks in the top-15 among BCS freshmen in field goal percentage (.414), three-point field goals (48), rebounds (178), rebounds per game (5.6), assists (83) and steals (50).

VIDEO: 2012 Big Ten Championship Highlights

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What a season it had been for Golden Gopher Wrestling! It is not over yet as later today the field will be announced for the 2012 NCAA Championships, which will be held in St. Louis, Mo. March 15-17. 

First though we wanted to pass along highlights from this pass weekends Big Ten Wrestling Championships that were held at Purdue University. Big congrats goes out to Kevin Steinhaus (184) and Tony Nelson (Hwt.) on winning individual titles. 

Once again Cole Schrupp did an outstanding job of putting together this piece for Gopher fans!

Nine Gophers Take Part in Pro Day

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Nine Golden Gophers who wrapped up their collegiate careers with the conclusion of the 2011 season had their opportunity make a case for professional careers Monday morning as Minnesota held its annual Pro Day at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.

Gopher seniors from last season taking part included Duane Bennett, Chris Bunders, Anthony Jacobs, Brandon Kirksey, Eric Lair, Da'Jon McKnight, Kim Royston, Gary Tinsley and Ryan Wynn. They were joined by roughly 20 athletes from other area schools to work out for a handful of National Football League scouts. The student-athletes were put through their paces in numerous drills, all mirroring the testing which took place at the recently-completed NFL Combine.

While Pro Day is the equivalent to one of the biggest job interviews these young men will encounter in their lives, the level of anxiety varied from player to player.

"I was pretty nervous, shaking at the line," Eric Lair said, talking about preparing to run the 40-yard dash. "It was pretty nerve-racking at the beginning."

"The process is always fun," Duane Bennett said. "The biggest thing I came in with was just not to stress about anything, just to come out here and have fun. I was walking around telling guys it's just another day in the office. Some guys come in thinking they have to do a certain amount of things ... but it's just like go out there and play ball. Ball hasn't changed since you've been seven years old."

Each of the Gophers who took part in Monday's testing said they were happy with their performances. But there was definite buzz around defensive tackle Anthony Jacobs' performance. Lair and Bennett also seemed particularly pleased with how they performed.

While official results were not available, Jacobs reportedly ran a very good 40-yard dash time for a near 300-pound defensive lineman. There were reports of Jacobs hitting 35.5 inches on the vertical leap and going over 10 feet in the broad jump. Jacobs worked out on campus with Minnesota strength and conditioning coaches Eric Klein and Chad Pearson in preparation for the Pro Day and he gave them plenty of credit.

"The coaches have trained me hard," Jacobs said. "We go every single day. I was just blessed to have an opportunity to show what I can do. The coaches just told me to go out there and do the same things they've trained me to do. That's what I did. I was relaxed and I happened to get some decent numbers."

While he put up "some decent numbers," Jacobs had no idea what those numbers were. He was so focused on performing, he didn't even pay attention to that stuff. He was so locked in on doing well, he couldn't even remember what he weighed in at Monday morning.

"I didn't ask or pay attention," Jacobs said. "I just did what they told me to do and then I was getting ready for the next one."

Bennett said he recorded a personal best on the bench press. He ripped off 28 repetitions with 225 pounds on the bar.

"I was banking on anywhere at 25 or greater," Bennett said. "When I knocked out the first 15, I was like 'Oh, wow. I'm really going up there.' I kind of caught myself off guard.

"There's always room for improvement," Bennett added about his overall performance. "But I think ... the numbers I put up, from what I've been hearing, I think it's been pretty satisfactory."

For every college football player who takes part in a Pro Day, the goal is simple. Just get at least one team interested enough in you to get to camp.

"20 percent of the league is drafted players," Lair said. "Everybody else is undrafted free agents. So (being drafted) really doesn't matter ... as long as you are productive."

Gophers Participate in Polar Bear Plunge

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team photo

The Minnesota women's golf team participated in the 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota. The Golden Gophers raised money for the cause and then took a dip in icy Lake Calhoun this weekend. Check out more pictures below!

team photo 
Gophers take the plunge.


team photo

Recovering from the cold.


Weekend Rewind: Gophers Win MacNaughton Cup

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Go Gophers! MacNaughton Cup
Go Gophers!
Minnesota finished 20-8-0 in the WCHA and won the MacNaughton Cup.
Go Gophers!
Saturday, March 3, 2012

Minnesota 2, Wisconsin 1


Video Highlights l Final Stats l Game Story

Postgame Interviews l Photo Album

The fourth-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team gave a raucous crowd of 10,241 at Mariucci Arena cause for celebration on Senior Night, erasing a third-period deficit to beat rival Wisconsin 2-1 and claim its 13th WCHA MacNaughton Trophy outright.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wisconsin 4, Minnesota 1


Video Highlights l Final Stats l Game Story

The fourth-ranked Minnesota men's hockey team had its four-game win snapped by border rival Wisconsin, dropping a 4-1 decision at Mariucci Arena. Despite the loss, the Gophers clinched at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA's regular-season champion when Minnesota-Duluth fell to St. Cloud State 2-1. Friday's results also gave Minnesota the top seed in the upcoming WCHA playoffs.

Final Vote: Rodney's Best Dunk of the Year

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WATCH PART ONE ENTRIES (5 dunks) | WATCH PART TWO ENTRIES (5 dunks)

Go Gophers! Rodney
Go Gophers!
Vote for your favorite Rodney Williams dunk of the year!
Go Gophers!
It's time to vote for your favorite Rodney Williams dunk of the season! Fan voting (click above to watch all ten entries in our countdown) has revealed two clear-cut favorites -- Rodney's epic 360-degree slam against USC last December and his gravity-defying leap against Illinois in the Gophers' late January win.

To spice up the competition, however, we're adding a last-second curveball to the mix -- Rodney's unbelievable one-handed slam against Nebraska this past Saturday at the Barn! Once you watch it (it was ESPN's number one play on their nightly "Top Plays" countdown) you'll understand why we had to make an exception and add this to the competition -- it was a great play!

We'll leave the voting open until Thursday, when the Gophers will take on Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament. Cast your vote and encourage your friends to do the same -- which one will emerge victorious?

What was Rodney Williams' best dunk of 2011-12?
  


MacNaughton Cup Champions

Minnesota celebrated Senior Night by claiming sole possession of its 13th MacNaughton Cup, clinching the WCHA regular-season title with a 20-8-0 record in conference play. The Gophers won the title for the first time since 2006-07. Prior to Saturday, Minnesota clinched the top spot in the league playoffs. The Gophers will host a best-of-three first-round playoff series against 12th-place Alaska-Anchorage beginning next Friday. UAA is the only team to beat the Gophers in postseason play at the current Mariucci Arena, having done it three times. The Seawolves eliminated Minnesota last season.

Senior Night Celebration
They will play at Mariucci Arena again next week, but seniors Taylor Matson, Jake Hansen, Nico Sacchetti, Nick Larson, Joe Miller, Kent Patterson, and Jake Kremer played their last regular-season home games as Gophers on Saturday. The Gophers won on Senior Night for the fourth consecutive year. Minnesota beat Michigan Tech 5-2 last season and drubbed Wisconsin 6-1 the year before that. The Gophers are now 13-1-1 all-time against Wisconsin when playing the Badgers in their final home game of the regular season.

Shorthanded Score
Sophomore Erik Haula scored the Gophers' seventh shorthanded goal of the season on Saturday night to tie the game in the third period. It was the second shorthanded goal of Haula's career. 

Saturday Night
By winning on Saturday night, Minnesota improved to 14-3-1 on Saturdays in 2011-12, including a 13-1-0 mark in the WCHA (7-0-0 at home). The Gophers have not been swept at home all year after finishing last season by being swept by Alaska-Anchorage. The last time Minnesota was swept in its own building in the regular season was on Oct. 15-16, 2010 when Nebraska Omaha beat the Gophers 5-4 and 4-2.

Bjugstad's Back
After missing Friday's game, first-line center Nick Bjugstad returned to the lineup on Saturday. Bjugstad missed two games prior to this weekend to represent the United States at the World Junior Championships. He missed the same amount of time for World Juniors last season and sat out five more due to mononucleosis. The Gophers are 1-2-0 without him this year and 4-4-2 without his services over his two-year career.

Bjugstad did not get on the scoresheet, but recorded six shots and saw time on the power play and penalty kill.

Observations from Saturday's 81-69 Win Against Nebraska

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BTN.com's Rodney Williams/Blake Griffin Comparison

Senior Day
Seniors Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe were honored before today's game. The video embedded above was played on the video board. Sampson will leave the University of Minnesota as one of only five players to compile 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 150 blocks. His numbers stand at 1,016 points, 630 rebounds, and 203 blocks after today's game. He passed up Larry Mikan, Dick Garmaker, and Jim Brewer to move into 34th place on the scoring list.

Mbakwe posted 19 double-doubles and piled up 327 rebounds (third-best all-time at Minnesota) as a junior last year. In the seven games before his injury this year, he posted four more double-doubles. He may be able to return for a sixth year, but was honored today just in case.

Go Gophers! Ralph Sampson III
Go Gophers!
Sampson scored 12 points on his senior day.
Go Gophers!

Long Distance
On this day during the 25th year of the three-point shot in college basketball, the Golden Gophers and Cornhuskers put on quite a display. The teams shot a combined 23-for-53 from three-point range. In total, four players in today's game made at least four three-pointers. Nebraska's Bo Spencer led the way with a 7-for-12 performance.

At one point in the first half, the Golden Gophers were 7-of-10 from three-point range. Austin Hollins and Chip Armelin each hit a trio of triples before halftime. Armelin made a fourth in the second half for a career high, and Hollins also added one more. For the game, Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins, and Armelin went a combined 10-for-18 from behind the arc. The 10 threes tied a season high. In addition to Spencer for Nebraska, Dylan Talley made four threes.

"It's Called Williams Arena for a Reason"
Those are the words of Big Ten Network play-by-play man Eric Collins after one of Rodney Williams's baskets today. In the first half, Williams dunked right over the Huskers' Brandon Ubel, and BTN.com posted the highlight, comparing it to a Blake Griffin dunk (linked above). Williams also added an alley-oop from Sampson in the first. Later in the game, he soared in from the second-farthest block for a spectacular, uncontested dunk.

Balanced Scoring Attack
For the second time this season, Minnesota saw five of its players reach double figures in the scoring column. Armelin's career high tally of 20 points led the way, with Williams (16), Austin Holins (13), Andre Hollins (12), and Sampson (12) joining in. The last time five Gophers scored in double digits was the win over Northwestern on Jan. 22.

May I Be of Assistance?
The Gophers assisted their teammates on 23 of 26 field goals today. Minnesota dished out a season-high 24 assists against Central Michigan on Dec. 13, but today's total is a new Big Ten season high. Andre Hollins led the team with six.

UPDATE: Rain Delay at Bulldog Invitational

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Currently, the Gophers' games at the Bulldog Invitational are pushed back three hours, due to last night's thunderstorms. Minnesota was originally slated to play Ohio at 8 a.m. and Georgia at noon, but the new game times are noon. and 5 p.m., which are still subject to change.

Follow the Golden Gophers on Facebook and Twitter (@GopherSoftball) for the most up-to-date information on today's game times and all other information pertaining to Minnesota softball.

Observations from Minnesota's 4-1 Loss to Wisconsin

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MacNaughton Cup Champs
Thanks to a 2-1 Minnesota-Duluth loss to St. Cloud, Minnesota clinched at least a share of its 13th MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA's regular-season champion on Friday, despite losing 4-1 to Wisconsin. The UMD loss also locked the Gophers into the first seed for the conference playoffs, which begin next weekend. Minnesota will host last-place Alaska-Anchorage starting next Friday. The Gophers can claim sole possession of the trophy on Saturday with at least a point or another loss or tie by the Bulldogs. The MacNaughton Cup title is Minnesota's first since 2006-07.

Three-goal Loss
The loss for the Gophers on Friday was their 12th of the year and eighth in WCHA play, but it was the first time they were beaten by more than two goals all season. It was also their first home loss that came by more than one goal. Minnesota's 3-1 loss to the Badgers on Nov. 11 in Madison, Wis. and its 5-3 loss to Denver on Feb. 10 were the only two multiple-goal defeats UM had suffered all season before Friday.

Patterson Pulled
After starting in 57 straight games for Minnesota, goaltender Patterson's streak of 3414:13 consecutive minutes played came to an end after he was pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots in the first two periods on Friday. The streak went through 170 regulation periods and 12 overtime sessions. Prior to Friday, the senior netminder was on pace to become the first goaltender to play every minute of a Gopher hockey season (excluding empty net time) since John Lothrop did it in 1965-66.

Sophomore backup and Colorado College transfer Mike Shibrowski replaced Patterson for the third period and turned away all five shots he face. The last time Shibrowski appeared in an NCAA game was on Feb. 6, 2010 for the Tigers, who beat Mercyhurst 5-3 that night.

Empty Penalty Box
The Gophers and Badgers had a combined four power plays on Friday night. Minnesota came up empty on its only power play of the game in the first period and Wisconsin went two-for-three on the man advantage. The four combined power plays for the Gophers and their opponent tied a season low in a Minnesota game. The Gophers had four power plays on Feb. 17 and played a penalty-free game against Bemidji State.

Coach Kill Getting Out & About Recently

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University of Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill is always busy. When he isn't in the office, working on ways to improve his team and program, he can often be found on the road somewhere at a speaking engagement. Coach Kill is very generous with his time. 

For example, in a three-day span between (Feb. 25-27) Coach Kill had a pair of speaking engagements. On Saturday, he spent time mingling with fans, signing autographs and speaking at The Foursome in Plymouth, which supplies him and the Gopher coaches with some apparel. Then, on Monday night he was in Preston, Minn. to speak at the Preston Area Community Foundation Dinner and Celebration.

During his time at The Foursome on Saturday, Coach Kill was interviewed by local radio/television personality Mike Max and held a Q&A session with the fans. 

Coach Kill gave fans an update on where he feels the program is, as the Gophers prepare for their second spring practice on his watch.

"You go in and you try to figure out how you're going to fix it," Kill said. "We started on the ground floor. I always talk about academics, the weight room, keeping your coaches. That's kind of what we've focused on. I think we're moving in the right direction. The kids are working hard. They're going four days a week at 6 o'clock in the morning. They understand that for this to change, we're going to have to be different."

See the video below for Coach Kill's entire talk with the fans in Plymouth.


Just a couple evenings later, Coach Kill made a four-hour round trip to speak in Preston. He was the keynote speaker at the Preston Area Community Foundation Dinner and Celebration. Coach Kill was very well-received at the event. Nearly 200 Gopher fans showed up and were there for hours in advance of Coach Kill's arrival at the Branding Iron restaurant.


Preston native Amy Walterman is a big fan of Coach Kill. She told KAAL TV that she's seen him speak a number of times now.

"All of us are really excited for the next season," Walterman told KAAL.

Kill said he was more than happy to make the trip to Preston, because he believes the Golden Gopher program belongs to all Minnesotans.

"We're the state's team," Kill said to KAAL. "I feel like it's their football team and we need to get out as much as we can to let people know our vision and what we're trying to do."

Coach Kill spoke about his connection with Minnesotans, his childhood and he was also frank and candid about his battles with cancer and seizures.

Click here to read more about Coach Kill's visit to Preston and to see the KAAL TV report on his talk there.

Barnstorming with Grimm: The Locker Room

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Even if you have been to dozens of Gopher games and explored the various nooks and crannies of venerable Williams Arena, there is a good chance you have not ventured into this week's "Barnstorming" destination. The locker room is usually reserved for the team, and sometimes special guests like former players. Radio play-by-play man Mike Grimm got special access to show us this special place in the Barn. Watch the video to see what he saw!

New Gopher Q&A - Mitch Leidner

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Leidner Mitch.jpg
GopherSports.com will be posting interviews with many of the newest Gophers from the 2012 signing class throughout the remainder of the winter and spring. The next profile in our series is a conversation with quarterback Mitch Leidner of Lakeville, Minn.

Leidner enrolled in school in January and will participate in spring practice. Leidner was ranked as the 56th best quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com. Scout.com listed him as a three-star prospect and he was given two stars by Rivals.com and ESPN.

GopherSports.com: How does it feel to officially be a Gopher?
Mitch Leidner: It feels pretty good. I chose Minnesota because of the coaching staff and because it was close to home. I like the team. They're pretty cool and everything. I also like Coach Klein and the lifting program a lot.

GopherSports.com: When did you know that you wanted to be a Gopher and what was the experience like when you informed the coaches you'd be coming to Minnesota?
Mitch Leidner: I probably knew I wanted to be a Gopher when they offered, because I wasn't sure if they were going to or not. But when they did, I knew I wanted to be a part of the program. The coaches were pretty excited when I told them. 

GopherSports.com: Why did you decide to enroll early?
Mitch Leidner: I know a lot of quarterbacks do it. I'm glad I did it so far, because I've got a lot of the offense down already and I'm getting stronger and faster. So it's already benefited me.

GopherSports.com: What are you planning to major in?
Mitch Leidner: I don't have a planned major yet. Maybe kinesiology, but I'm not really sure yet.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for next season?
Mitch Leidner: I don't want to put the cart before the horse or anything, but it would be sweet to get some playing time. I wouldn't mind red-shirting either, so I could keep getting a feel for the offense and keep getting stronger and faster to get ready for the next season.

GopherSports.com: What are your goals for your college career?
Mitch Leidner: I want to have a really good college career and hopefully make it to the league someday. Team-wise, obviously I want to win a Big Ten Championship and win some bowl games.

GopherSports.com: Is there a particular athlete you try to model yourself after?
Mitch Leidner: I don't know. I like Tom Brady a lot. He's got a really quick release and a quick ball. He's not the fastest dude, but he's athletic enough to make plays.

GopherSports.com: How do you feel about the new uniforms?
Mitch Leidner: I like them a lot. They're pretty sweet. I probably like the gold jerseys with the maroon pants the best.

GopherSports.com: What is your favorite TV show?
Mitch Leidner: Probably Two and a Half Men. I don't like it as much now, but I like to watch the old ones.

GopherSports.com: Who is currently your favorite musical artist?
Mitch Leidner: I don't really have just one favorite. But I like country music.

-Interview by Mitch Praxl, Athletic Communications Student Assistant

Part Two: Rodney Williams Best Dunks of 2011-12

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Go Gophers! Rodney
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Time for Part Two of our "Rodney Williams Best Dunks of 2011-12" poll! We revealed the first five dunks in our countdown yesterday (be sure to click here and vote in Part One if you haven't already), and it's time to look at the next five.

Watch the videos below and pick your favorite! The top two vote-getters will square off this weekend right here on the official Gopher Basketball Blog beginning tomorrow night and running through Sunday.

Don't forget -- Rodney's Gophers host Nebraska this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the final regular season home game of the year! Click here to get your tickets!


Part Two: Which of these five Rodney Williams dunks is your favorite?
  
Throughout the nation's elementary schools, February was deemed "I Love To Read Month." Wednesday marked the end of February and many schools held events celebrating the students' accomplishments and achievements in reading throughout the month.

At the Jenny Lind School in Minneapolis, a group of Golden Gopher Football players helped the children celebrate. Kicker Chris Hawthorne, linebacker Ryan Grant, fullback Mike Henry, defensive lineman Austin Hahn, tight end John Rabe and wide receiver Matt Kloss visited the school and spent time reading to the kids.

Thanks to GoldenGopherGridiron.com for the video below.


View From Wisconsin

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Minnesota closes out the regular season this weekend with a Border Battler against rival Wisconsin. The two teams split their series earlier this season in Madison. We once again chatted with Chuck Schwartz, who is the hockey editor of Bucky's 5th Quarter, about the upcoming weekend. Schwartz tells us everything you need to know about the Badgers. You can also follow Schwartz on Twitter here.

GopherSports: Chuck, how have the Badgers played since Minnesota and Wisconsin met earlier this year in Madison?

Chuck Schwartz: It's truly been a roller-coaster ride for the Badgers since these two clubs last met. The Badgers have gone 10-9-1 since the border battle in November, but there have been many swings. The Badgers are currently on a three game winning streak which has come on the heels of a five game losing streak.

Wisconsin won seven of 12 at home since the teams last met, but have won just three of eight outside of Madison. The road record has truly been the story of the season for the Badgers. Their 3-8-1 record on the road this season is likely to keep them out of the NCAA tournament, but they did sweep Bemidji State in their barn last weekend, becoming just the first team to do so this season.

GS: Everyone knows about Mark Zengerle and Justin Schultz, but who is a player who has emerged for Wisconsin since they last played the Gophers?

CS: I think you first have to look at a pair of young defensemen when you're talking about emerging players since November. Sophomore Frankie Simonelli has surely benefited from playing with All-American Justin Schultz over the past few months, but the Bensenville, Ill. native has chipped in 13 points since the last meeting, and is second on the club in plus/minus.

Additionally, freshman Jake McCabe who missed the first series due to a hand laceration has really come along nicely. The cousin of former Gopher wide receiver Eric Decker has chipped in nine points of his own, all coming since the Gophers left Madison. He's also been solid on both ends of the ice, and has seen his ice time increase every weekend.

GS: These two teams split their first series of the year in Madison. What does Wisconsin have to do this time around to have success at Mariucci Arena?

CS: I think first and foremost Wisconsin needs to stay out of the penalty box. It sounds like a simple thing, but the numbers really tell the story. Wisconsin has one of the worst penalty kills in the nation (55th overall, 75%), and the Gophers own one of the best power play units (7th overall, 23.2%).

As one would suspect, the Badgers have had much more success in games where their penalty kill has been good. In Wisconsin's 15 wins its penalty is over 80%, but in its 15 losses it's at 66.66%. They are oddly 100% killing penalties in games that result in a tie.

The point remains that in order for the Badgers to have success against the league-leading Gophers this weekend they are going to have to shut down their electric power play, and that starts with limiting their opportunities.

Feature: "Gopher Bloodlines"

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Joe and Dan Coleman used to play pick-up games with their cousin and their uncle Ben. Joe was the youngest and smallest, and his team usually lost. He has come a long way since then. Joe used to have a hard time holding his own on the driveway with Ben and Dan, but now he is competing in the same Williams Arena where his uncle and brother played before him.
Go Gophers! Joe Coleman
Go Gophers!
Joe is the third Coleman to play for the Gophers.
Go Gophers!

The Golden Gophers' freshman guard enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 2011, but his family's history with the team stretches back much farther than that. Before Joe Coleman was born, his uncle Ben earned two varsity letters (1980 and '81) for the Gophers before transferring to Maryland and later playing in the NBA. More recently, Dan ended his college career with 1,317 total points and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors as a fifth-year senior in 2008.

Joe, Dan's junior by about eight and a half years, spent a lot of time around Gopher basketball during his teen and pre-teen years. Dan sat out his true freshman year after transferring from Boston College following summer classes. He could not travel with the team that season, so Joe sometimes came over to watch the games and spend the night at his brother's place. Joe often tagged along with Dan to practices. He was a little brother not just to Dan, but to all the Gophers.

"Everybody on the team knew me," he said. "I was just that little rascal who was always in the gym."

Because of their age and size differences--at 6-9, Dan has about five inches on Joe--Dan served as more of a role model than a serious one-on-one opponent for Joe in his younger years. It was not until Joe's junior year at Hopkins High School that he was able to compete with his older brother. That season, Joe earned All-State and All-Tournament honors after averaging 24.7 points per game and helping the Royals to a state title.

It was now clear that he had the potential to follow in Ben and Dan's footsteps and play Division I basketball. Despite all the family's Gopher connections, Dan did not pressure Joe to accept head coach Tubby Smith's scholarship offer.

"He didn't try to convince me to go anywhere, actually," Joe said. "He just told me, 'Make the decision on what you want in life, not necessarily what others want. Try to stay focused on what your goals are, but also what you want to do after basketball. Just pick a school off of that.'"
Go Gophers! Dan Coleman
Go Gophers!
Dan Coleman graduated three years before his brother came to the U of M.
Go Gophers!

Coleman, of course, did end up picking the Gophers. He signed his National Letter of Intent during fall of his senior year. He capped off his high school career with another state championship and Minnesota's Mr. Basketball award, an award for which Ben and Dan were once finalists.

When Joe finally donned the maroon and gold, he and his brother swapped roles. This time it was Dan playing the part of spectator. The older Coleman plays professionally in Europe, but he was home in Minnesota during the Gophers' early season.

"It was nice to see him in the stands watching my games," Joe said. "It's unfortunate that I didn't really play that much, so he wasn't able to really see a 'real' game for me."

Unlike Dan, Joe saw limited minutes to begin his freshman season. Dan started 27 games and made the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2005. But Ben could relate more to Joe's transition from high school to college. Ben barely played as a Gopher freshman under Jim Dutcher before getting more opportunities as a sophomore. Joe said that while Ben does offer some pointers, he and his uncle had not spoken much about his playing time situation. But Joe did recall the advice Ben gave him in high school.

"He just told me, 'Just keep fighting through. Just be as efficient as you can. Eventually, they're just going to have to put you on the court,'" Joe said.

Joe has earned more playing time over the season. He scored 14 points against Purdue in his first career start, drained some crucial free throws in the win at Indiana, and piled up a career-high 23 points at Penn State. His ability to find seams in the defense was paying off. By that time, Dan was back overseas. He still made sure to check in with his little brother.

"He just said, 'Good game. That's what you're supposed to do,'" Joe said. "He's just happy for me that I was able to get the opportunity to show that I am able to do those things."

Joe recently went through a four-game scoreless streak. Still, he led the team in rebounds in two of those games, and he snapped out of the scoring slump with a 12-point performance at Northwestern. It is all part of the ups and downs of being a freshman in the Big Ten.
Go Gophers! Ben Coleman
Go Gophers!
Ben Coleman played for the Gophers in 1980 and '81.
Go Gophers!

Joe may not catch up to Dan's freshman year numbers, but Dan played under different circumstances--he had the advantage of a redshirt season, and the team needed him to have an immediate impact after the graduation/departure of several starting forwards. Joe is also a different style of player than Dan.

Joe believes he can write his own unique chapter in the Coleman history book if he eventually helps his team to be more successful than Ben and Dan's Gopher teams were. Even while he distinguishes his own game from his relatives' games, Joe Coleman knows that he can count on Ben and Dan for support, and he knows that the three will always be linked in Minnesota basketball history.

"It's a good experience," he said. "Not too many families can say they've had three different generations play at the same school. It's nice to know that. Hopefully it's looked on for years to come."