Quick thoughts of Omaha's 3-2 victory over the Gophers on Friday night.
Mavericks are Comfortable at Mariucci
After tonight's victory, the Omaha Mavericks are now 3-0 all-time
against the Gophers at Mariucci Arena. Their previous two victories came at the
beginning of the 2010-11 season. Those games were the Mavericks first two games
in the WCHA. That weekend they came in and beat the Gophers by scores of 5-4
and 4-2. Tonight was the Gophers first loss at Mariucci Arena since March 2nd
of last season when they fell to Wisconsin.
Warning is Back!
Sophomore forward Sam Warning was in the lineup tonight for
the first time since the Gophers' trip to Michigan Tech. He wasted little time making
his presence felt when he backhanded a beautiful pass out to Zach Budish for
the Gophers' first goal of the game. Warning had been out with an undisclosed
injury, tonight he was back on a line with Erik Haula and Zach Budish. It was
Sam's first point since the second game of the season against Michigan State.
Christian Isackson broke a first period tie with his second
goal of the season. He took a pass from Nick Bjugstad and wasted little time in
putting the puck behind Omaha goaltender Justin Faulkner. Isackson scored his
first goal of the season on opening night against Michigan State. In the 12
games between the contest with the Spartans and tonight's contest with the
Mavericks, Christian posted six assists.
Omaha's Second and Third
The teams entered the final stanza knotted at two goals apiece.
The Mavericks got the only goal of the period when Jaycob Megna scored his
first goal of the season on a power play. The Mavericks would also get the only
goal of the third period. After a Minnesota turnover, the Mavericks used crisp
passing to find Josh Archibald all alone in front of the net. He made no
mistake, roofing the puck over Gopher goalie Adam Wilcox for the game-winning
goal. Josh Archibald had a goal and two assists to lead the Mavericks tonight.
Minnesota Needed More
The Gophers were simply unable to create enough chances in
key parts of the game. After managing just four shots in the second period,
they needed a late floury to get seven shots off in the third period. The
Gophers had opportunities on the power play, but struggled to maintain pressure
in the offensive zone during them. A last-ditch effort with an empty net came
up short as Omaha did a good job giving up the body and tying up the puck along
the boards. The Gopher will get another crack at the Mavericks tomorrow night
at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on Fox Sports North.
Written by University of Minnesota Intern Josh Brennock
FOX Sports North has moved two additional Gopher hockey games to FSN including Saturday's series finale against Omaha.
In addition to Saturday's game against the Mavericks, Minnesota's WCHA contest at Colorado College on Dec. 8 will also air on FOX Sports North. This Saturday's game against Omaha is set for a 7 p.m. CT puck drop while next Saturday's game at Colorado Springs is set for 8 p.m. CT. Both games were originally scheduled to air on FOX Sports North PLUS.
Next Friday's Colorado College series opener (12/7) will remain on FOX Sports North PLUS with a start time of 8:30 p.m. CT.
The men's hockey team met with members of the media before
this weekend's WCHA showdown with the Omaha Mavericks.
The Mavericks will arrive at Mariucci with a record of
8-3-1, setting up an important weekend for the Gophers. "It should be a good
weekend. You look at some of (Omaha's)
stats, they are right at the top in scoring and goals against. Omaha is
probably the best team we have played this year," head coach Don Lucia said.
Sophomore forward Seth Ambroz agrees, "It is going to be a fun weekend. Coach
Blais has done a wonderful job with the program. They have a really good team
this year with a lot of skill and big bodies."
This weekend represents the beginning of a tough stretch for
Minnesota, "We have four really important games coming up with (Omaha) and
(Colorado College). You look at how those teams have played, and they probably
will have home ice (for the playoffs)," Lucia said.
Omaha presents a unique challenge to the Gopher forwards.
The Mavericks defense is extremely tall. They feature seven defensemen standing
6-2 or taller, led by 6-foot 8-inch Andrej Sustr and 6-foot 7-inch Jaycob Megna.
The size and strength of the Mavericks' blue liners makes getting to the front
of the net more difficult.
One Gopher who is used to a size advantage over opponents is
Nick Bjugstad. The 6-foot 6-inch center will face stiff competition of the key
ice in front of the net, "In practice, we have been working on staying tough in
front of the net. Just making sure we play tough this weekend is the biggest
thing. We are going to need some dirty goals." The Gophers hope to solve the
problem by using speed on Mariucci's larger ice sheet. "I think the
Olympic-sized rink is a little different than the NHL-size rink, so I think
their defenseman will have to adjust to that," Bjugstad said.
Minnesota completed a weekend sweep of the Vermont Catamounts
over the Thanksgiving weekend, "It was a good trip for us last weekend. Being
it was an area we have not been at before. It is a great community and I loved
the rink we had an opportunity to play in," Lucia said.
Seth Ambroz said the
experience in Vermont was enjoyable and showed the team's resiliency, "It was
nice to start clicking. It really came together Friday night. Even on Saturday,
we did what it took to get the win. To be able to hold them off when they had
the momentum shows that we can do what it takes to win."
Both games against the Mavericks this weekend will start at
7 p.m. and can be seen live on FOX Sports North.
Story by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
Didn't have a chance to read Nate Condon's Q&A in our game program for the Wisconsin series? No worries, check it out now. We talked to Condon about coming from Wisconsin, what makes him such a fast skater and which Gopher would play Johnny Drama from HBO's Entourage.
You're one of just three Wisconsin natives to play hockey at the University of Minnesota. What made you decide to be a Gopher?
During the whole recruiting process, Coach Lucia and the staff were really good to me. They were actually one of the first programs that recruited me. I really enjoy the style of play that we have here at Minnesota, and it's a great school. It was just an easy pick for me to be a Gopher.
Do you remember your first memory of playing hockey?
My first hockey memory would probably just be playing pond hockey with my brothers and my dad --actually my older brother kind of got me into it. My dad would come out in boots and play with us because he can't skate.
Your older brother, Nick, just graduated after playing hockey at Notre Dame, and another brother, Ryan, plays lacrosse at Marquette. How much of a sibling rivalry do you have with them?
My older brother was always a defenseman growing up and with me being a forward, it was always me against him. That just kind of grew as we got older. There's always been a lot of competition between us, but along with that we've supported each other along the way. It's a positive rivalry. When it comes down to it, we're still brothers and we'll always support each other. It's always been that way with Ryan too especially when it comes to lacrosse.
How did playing lacrosse help you become a better hockey player?
The funny thing about lacrosse is that I was always kind of a physical guy - I don't know how. I know a lot of other guys on the team like Christian Horn are big lacrosse guys too. It's the same thing as hockey, you're just playing above your head. There's a lot of contact and slashing - actually slashing hurts worse in lacrosse because you're not wearing any pads. It's basically the same concept when it comes down to it.
Last weekend in Anchorage, Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco were discussing the fastest skaters to ever play at Minnesota, and your name came up. How much does your speed enhance your game?
Skating has always come naturally to me. I started playing when I was younger, and it's just something that I could always do. On the ice, speed is always going to help you. It's always helpful to be able to move faster than your opponent.
You're off to another great start this season with eight points (two goals, six assists) in nine games. How have you continued to develop since your freshman season?
I think it's a lot like junior hockey. Once you get used to the pace at the college level - faster, stronger skaters - thing start to come a little easier. Staying around campus the last two summers and working out with Cal Dietz, our strength and conditioning coach, has also helped me improve and get bigger and faster. When you can hold your own on the ice, it's a lot easier to make plays against some of the big bruts in this league.
Obviously, the college hockey landscape is going to change next year with Minnesota moving to the Big Ten Conference. How do you feel about the move?
The WCHA has so much history - a lot of great players and great teams have been successful in this league - and being able to say I played in this conference is a privilege. I also think the Big Ten is going to be a lot of fun for us and a great experience especially as a senior. I'm looking forward to playing Penn State. The guys are going to have a lot of fun playing in all of these Big Ten rivalries.
You don't hide you allegiances to professional sports in Wisconsin. Does that ever make things difficult in a locker room full of guys that root for Minnesota sports?
I'm still a Packer fan. When the Packers won the Super Bowl, it was a great year for me. Zach Budish, and Joey Miller are two of the most die-hard Vikings fans I've ever seen. I've gotten into it with Zach a couple of times, and Zach's a touchy guy. If I say anything about the Vikings, he'll take it to heart. It's been easy for me the last couple years, but this year it's a little close. Hopefully, the Packers can start winning again, and the Vikings start losing again.
What's your must-watch show on TV?
I love Entourage on HBO. One of my good friends - Eamonn McDermott, who plays at Colorado College - got me hooked on it. He's obsessed with it. It's just about living the life, the guys just hang out and have fun together - there's nothing wrong with that.
If you had to cast the show using Gophers, who would you pick?
You've got Vincent Chase - the stud movie star - we'll give that to Nick Bjugstad because he's a big celebrity, and everywhere he goes, somebody recognizes him. His assistant Eric is the brains of the operation - let's say Kyle Rau. Turtle's the driver, and that would be Budish because he shuttles Bjugstad around campus everywhere. Then you've got Johnny Drama - Vinnie's older brother. Kind of a funny, goofy character. We'll go with Jared Larson for that. Lastly, you've got Ari Gold - Vinnie's agent. He's got these legendary tantrums and amazing one liners. Definitely Coach Guentzel. He probably has better one liners than Ari though.
Coming off a weekend sweep in the team's first-ever trip to Vermont, the Minnesota men's hockey team jumped to No. 3 in both the USCHO Division I Men's Poll and the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine Poll this week.
Still riding a six-game unbeaten streak, the Gophers (9-2-2 overall, 4-2-2 WCHA) earned 880 total points in this week's USCHO.com Divison I Men's Poll, trailing only Boston College (999 points; 49 first-place votes) and New Hampshire (936 points, one first-place vote). Miami (794) and Denver (786) round out the top five in this week's USCHO poll.
This week's USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine Poll is identical to its USCHO counterpart with the Gophers back in third with 427 points. Boston College picked up 33 first-place votes and 509 total points with New Hampshire coming in second with 473 points and one first-place votes. Miami (379) and Denver (325) round out the top five.
Minnesota returns to WCHA play this weekend with a two-game series against Omaha at Mariucci Arena. The Friday/Saturday contests are both slated for 7 p.m. puck drops.
Minnesota welcomes Michigan State to TCF Bank Stadium tomorrow, so we turned to Brian Calloway of the Lansing State Journal to learn more about the Spartans. You can follow Brian on Twitter at @brian_calloway.
GopherSports: Brian, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on the Spartans?
Brian Calloway: Michigan State's offense has had its share of struggles throughout the season as its struggled to get the ball in the end zone. Injuries on the offensive line and to tight end Dion Sims have hampered the unit at times as well. MSU was unable to come away with points when inside the 5-yard line on two different occasions last week against Northwestern. Le'Veon Bell is the main guy on offense and has six games with more than 100 rushing yards and ranks seventh in school history in rushing yards. First-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell has done well spreading the ball to multiple receivers with Keith Mumphery, Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and Sims each with more than 30 catches. Defensively, junior middle linebacker Max Bullough is the heart and sole and has made many big plays this season. Junior defensive end William Gholston is very talented and has come on here of late. The defense is just as dominant as it was last year but has struggled to force turnovers, which plays into the disappointing season.
GS: The Spartans need to win to become bowl eligible. Is there a sense of
determination this week to get that sixth win or is there a different feeling surrounding the team, given its high preseason expectations?
BC: There is very much a sense of determination for the Spartans to get bowl eligible and the wheels haven't fallen off despite the lofty preseason expectations. This group has stayed together and many have taken the approach of this being like a playoff game to keep their season alive. MSU coach Mark Dantonio said during his weekly press conference 'when we win this game' as a way of trying to instill confidence in his team, which has had several disappointing losses here this season (five Big Ten losses by total of 13 points). But there is determination there to get to a bowl and get the extra practices and Dantonio called Saturday's contest a 'program game.'
GS: You mentioned Le'Veon Bell earlier. He leads the nation in rushing attempts and is one of the best backs in the country. What is the key to slowing him down, or isn't there one?
BC: The key to slowing Bell is forcing him to run east-west instead of north-south. He doesn't necessarily have the speed to get around the edge when running to the side. That would be the biggest key.
GS: Who is an under-the-radar player for the Spartans this year? A player who Gopher fans may not be familiar with but should keep an on on Saturday?
BC: Most of the talk about the Spartan defense centers around the success of the linebackers and Gholston, but junior safety Isaiah Lewis has been a strong component of the secondary. He led the team with nine tackles against Northwestern and is tied for second on the team with 72 tackles. Offensively that person is probably Mumphery, who has quietly become the most consistent receiver and leads the team with 40 catches for 506 yards.
GS: Can you finish this sentence for us? Michigan State will win if....
BC: Michigan State will win if its able to force turnovers and find a way to finish drives with touchdowns instead of relying on what's been an inconsistent kicking game this season.
GS: Brian, thanks for your time. We certainly appreciate it.
On behalf of everyone at Gopher Football, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spoke with a few Gophers and asked them what their favorite Thanksgiving memory is.
Brock Vereen - "We would always have a Turkey Bowl and it would start
off as flag football but would always escalate to a little bit more."
Harold Legania - "Being with my family and eating wonderful food."
Troy Stoudermire - "Being home with my family eating dinner. I had a chance to eat a lot of Thanksgiving dinners with my family so whenever I get a chance to go back it's a good time."
Max Shortell - "Getting ready to play in the State Championship Game that we won pretty easily."
Kyle McAvoy - "Probably how welcoming the guys around here were. I didn't get a chance to go home so a lot of the guys invited me over to their place and I got a chance to eat with them and some of their families."
Caleb Bak - "Probably would have to be the mashed potatoes."
Victor Keise - "Honey glazed ham by my mom. It's been a while since I got to go home though."
Jeremy Baltazar - "My favorite memory is probably just my family and all my cousins just laughing and stuff before we eat."
Theiren Cockran - "Probably a couple of years ago having all of my family over and just sitting at the table, giving thanks for what we have, and eating some of that delicious food from the south."
There are many things to be thankful for every day, but Thanksgiving gives us an entire day to reflect on the most important things to each and every one of us. I am thankful for having an amazing husband, wonderful family and friends and my health and happiness. On top of those things, I am also fortunate enough to have a rewarding profession which allows me to travel to Cancun, Mexico (my first time out of the country!) and spend the holiday with the Golden Gophers women's basketball team.
As the team prepares to open the Cancun Challenge today at 12:00 p.m. against Richmond, the Gophers shared with me what they are most thankful for on this day.
Rachel Banham, sophomore guard - "I am thankful for my family, friends, food, my health and basketball." Sari Noga, junior guard - "I am thankful for my friends, family, food, health, my faith and Peter." Mikayla Bailey, freshman guard - "I am thankful for my family, my grandparents, my team, my health and to be able to play basketball on Thanksgiving with the Gophers." Leah Cotton, senior guard - "I am thankful for my family, my friends, that I have the opportunity to go to college and to have the opportunity to go to Cancun." Shayne Mullaney, freshman guard - "I am thankful my family, friends, health and to be able to play basketball in Cancun! And for my puppy dog Tootsie." Jackie Johnson, freshman forward - "I am thankful my family and friends and all of the people that I have around me and help influence my life. I am also thankful that I am here (in Cancun)." Kayla Hirt, redshirt freshman, forward - "I am thankful for my friends and family, to be able to play basketball and to be spending Thanksgiving with my team." Danye Guinn, Director of Operations - "I am thankful for my family." Kate Taber, Athletic Trainer - "I am thankful for having a job where I am able to have the opportunity to spend a week in paradise."
Some big challenges are coming, but the Gopher men's basketball team appears to be coming together as they prepare for a tough stretch of games where they'll challenge some of NCAA basketball's elite.
The Gophers are off to a 4-0 start this year. So far, the Gophers have been dominant, with their closest game by 15 points. Head coach Tubby Smith says the team is starting to bond.
"I feel good about where we are as far as the play of our players. I felt good about it for the last few years. I just want to make sure we stay healthy," Smith said. " We have a very unselfish team and we're playing together."
While the Gophers haven't been challenged just yet, the first few games have helped the team gel with each other as they prepare to do battle with some of the nation's top programs.
Trevor Mbakwe and the Gophers take on Duke this Thanksgiving.
The Gophers are hitting a stretch where starting Nov. 22 they will play eight games in their next two-and-a-half weeks.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Gophers will play in the Battle for Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. In their opening round game, the Gophers will take on #5 Duke.
The tournament also features 2012 NCAA tournament qualifiers in Missouri, Virginia Commonwealth University, Louisville and Memphis. Stanford and the University of Northern Iowa will also participate in the tournament.
The Gophers do not get much of a break after the weekend tournament. On Nov. 27, they will travel to Tallahassee to play Florida State. The game with the Seminoles is a part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.
After a couple of home games, the Gophers go back on the road to Los Angles to face the University of Southern California Dec. 8.
The schedule gets a little easier after the Dec. 11 game against North Dakota State University. The Gophers do not play a game for 11 days.
Smith says he'd rather not take some of these long road trips after the tournament, but that's how the schedule falls.
"We'd rather not be going into these places to be honest with you, but that's how it fell with the ACC/Big Ten Challenge," Smith said. "It is compressing a lot of games in a short period of time. Unfortunately we have that issue with our academic calendar--so that's why were like that. We play one game in about 11 days. I don't think anybody else has that long a break in the country, so its a real challenge for us in the scheduling, so that's why you see us with so many games in such a short period of time."
The Gopher men's hockey team visited with the media ahead of
this weekend's nonconference tilt with the Vermont Catamounts of Hockey East.
This is the Gophers first-ever trip to Vermont, meaning the
team will have to adjust to a new environment.
"I have never been to Vermont, so it will be a fun
experience," the team's leading scorer Erik Haula said. Haula and his teammates
will get their first taste of Gutterson Fieldhouse, the home of Vermont hockey.
"Normally, we would practice here before we go, but since we
have never been in (Vermont's) rink before we will practice there to get a feel
for it," head coach Don Lucia said.
The Gophers are familiar with the Catamounts after splitting
a pair of games with them at Mariucci Arena last season.
"I think they are a similar team," Lucia said. "They have a
couple guys who are hurt right now, so it will be interesting to see who is in
their lineup. It should be a good atmosphere and a really good test for our
An adventure outside of the WCHA provides a great chance for
the entire roster to experience a road-trip.
"It is nice that we get to take the whole team," Lucia said.
"We do not have to worry about travel restrictions because it is a non-league
game. Some guys that haven't had the chance to go on a trip yet will have that
Both contests will start at 6 p.m. CT and can be seen on Fox
Story Written by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh
GopherSports: Devin, when did you know you wanted to be a Gopher?
Devin Crawford-Tufts: I really did not get any attention from the Gophers until I was going into my senior year at Edina. I went to Minnesota's three-day camp and looked at the facilities - the weight room, the indoor facility and the stadium - and then I kind of knew then that I wanted to come here. I grew up in Minneapolis and have been around this area. It is beautiful and I love it.
GS: You mentioned TCF Bank Stadium. What makes it so special?
DCT: This year, I have noticed that our fans are two or three times louder than they had ever been before. It is good to know we have support from our community, and we try to go out and help the community as well too.
GS: Did you come to Minnesota games growing up
DCT: I never got to go to any games growing up, but I watched them on TV all the time. Once I got my first TV in my room, I watched their games like it was my job. I tried to get my dad or mom to take me every so often, but it never happened. But I did watch the games.
GS: How did you get into football?
DCT: When I was younger, I watched it on TV a lot. I used to go to middle school in Eden Prairie. They had fourth-grade tryouts and my parents asked if I wanted to play football. I said, "Sure, I guess." So I went and tried out and became an offensive lineman my first year. I loved it. Even though I really did not get to touch the ball, I have loved it ever since.
GS: You started as an offensive lineman, but now are a speedy receiver. Take us through that position change.
DCT: My first year I played offensive lineman. Then I played quarterback, running back and middle linebacker for six or seven years. Then I went to Edina and started playing receiver and have played that ever since.
GS: You were an accomplished tack star in high school as well. Did you think about doing both sports in college?
DCT: It was definitely something I thought about. When I was being recruited they knew that I ran track and knew it was something that I might be interested in. We talked about it and then coach Kill came in and he said the same thing and was open about it. But when I got here, things just happened and football became my No. 1 sport and this is my focus right now.
GS: How does your track background help you in football?
DCT: It helps a lot actually to have that running form and being able to get out of breaks. I am able to bust out of breaks and have that explosive speed that sprinters have, just like Marcus Jones and Derrick Engel have as well. It helps when I have an angle and I know that all I have to do is get by my man and I will be gone.
GS: There is a lot of fast guys on this team, but who do you think is the fastest?
DCT: I honestly could not tell you. We have never raced more than 10 or 15 yards, so we have never really gotten a good estimate of who is the fastest. I would say that I am pretty close up there though.
GS: We know you do not have a lot of free time, but what do you like to do away from the football field?
DCT: School and football. That is basically my life right now, school and football. That is how I want it right now. It is a lot of work, but I love it. But I still try to get out and do things around my community and around Minneapolis. I actually take trips around campus and drive downtown on my moped. I like to look at the different building and architecture. I go on walks around campus and go to Coffman Memorial Union a lot because they have a lot of stuff going on over there, like the bowling alley and everything else. I am always looking for new stuff to find that is close to campus. My mom and my dad know a lot of stuff around here too and know the good restaurants, so they always take me. There is always fun stuff to do around here.
GS: You also said you like to give back to the community. What are some of the things you have done?
DCT: Last winter, I spent a lot of time volunteering at Second Harvest. I enjoy helping package and ship food out to different homeless shelters around Minneapolis and around the Midwest. As a team, we have also volunteered at Kids Against Hunger.
GS: You and a number of your teammates shaved your heads recently in support of teammate Connor Cosgrove who is battling leukemia. Was that an easy decision?
DCT: Yes. Everyone knows about Connor Cosgrove and what he is going through. We are all family here and I consider him to be my brother. He is going through something and needs help with it, so that is what we are trying to do and that is what we did by shaving our heads.
GS: What are your long-term goals?
DCT: The dream is definitely to be a professional ballplayer, but I have not sat down and thought about life after football yet. I have not declared a major yet, but I have begun to look around and try to figure out what I want to do with my life. That is what is so great about playing football, as it helps me figure out what I am interested in. I get to talk to different people who have different backgrounds and see what they are doing and see how they have progressed from freshman to senior year and how things worked out for them. It gives me a good way to look up to other people and see how they went through everything.
Coach Kill met with the media today to preview this weekend's game against Michigan State. You can read a few of the highlights from his press conference
About playing Michigan State... We gotta make sure that
our guys are feeling good, and we're going to have to be ready for a
physical football game. That's who they are. They're physical on
defense. They're physical on offense. A lot of people say -- this is an
important game because it gets them bowl eligible. But they haven't
slipped any. They've just been in a heck of a lot of close games and
played a lot of good people. They're still Michigan State.
About Michigan State's defense... You
just gotta do a good job up front. You gotta get a body on a body and
you gotta make good reads at quarterback and you gotta be able to make
some plays. Look back on the game on Saturday, we had chances to make
plays. We had guys open. We had shots. We just didn't make plays, and I
think against Michigan State is the same scenario.
room for error. I said that all year, and through some of the injuries
we've had there's really no room for error. We've gotta fight our tail
end off. But our kids have done that. They have done that. They really
have. I have no complaints. I think they've played hard all year. I
think we're getting everything we can get out of them.
About his team this week... As a head coach I always take responsibilities for wins and losses, and I think our team was fatigued going into Lincoln a little bit through the long stretch we've had. So we've gotta make sure they've got their legs and their feet and psychologically, so we'll look at practice and make it a little bit shorter, more crisp, be careful on the physicality and the contact of what we do and make sure they feel good on Saturday.
About Roland Johnson... Roland has got a leg injury and he's out. He's got an ACL injury. Going to get an MRI and he got hurt in the walk through. So that tells you how tough a situation you have. You get hurt in walk through, tear a knee up in walk through it's not a good day, not a good week.
About Brendan Beal and his potential knee injury... I talked with him after the game. I sat down and we sat there, and I put my arm around him, and we talked when people left the locker room, we just sat in there and visited. And I shared, I said Jiminy Christmas, I feel bad for you. I said, I wish I could give you my knee, but mine aren't any good either. We just talked and visited and tried to, I don't know, comfort each other or whatever you want to say.
About John Gagliardi retiring... He's a funny man. I got a chance, I was at the national convention, I don't know how long ago it was 10 or 11 years ago. And I was fortunate enough to get an honor and he got an honor also. He got up and spoke and they asked him about retirement at that time. He goes, 'I don't know what I'd do if I retired and I don't think I'll ever retire.' He says, 'There's only two things I don't like about the game. I don't get to control injuries and officials.' And everybody started laughing. And that was the end of his speech.
About the team this week amid potential distractions... All those seniors, they want to concentrate on playing and playing football and concentrate on the guys that are here. And it's a great group of kids. And they've been great to me. And I think that's where we -- again, players leave programs. And things happen. And I said publicly, I feel bad about it. I really do.
But I'm responsible for 115 kids and I gotta put the focus on those kids that are here. I owe it to those kids that want to be here and gone through it. There's a lot of them that have gone through a whole lot, so that's where my focus is going to be.
On why some players stick with football even though they do not play much... I think people like to be a part of something. And a lot of people don't get to. It's like people get a chance to join fraternities. People get a chance to join the choir. They get a chance to be in drama and so forth. Some kids just want the opportunity to be a part of a football program. I would tell you this, from my standpoint, if I'd had the opportunity to be able to put a uniform on at Minnesota, where I came from, it would have been a big deal. Even if I played one play, or two. It would have been a big opportunity and a big deal to me, because I love the game and love being around the game.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, the Gophers take on the University of
Richmond at Williams Arena at 6 p.m. The Spiders are 3-0 so far this year. Gophersports.com basketball beat writer Jeff Fett Spoke with Spiders Assistant Head Coach Kevin McGeehan to
learn more about Richmond and what his concerns are about playing the Gophers.
Gophersports.com: Who's the star of your team---what will make this team succeed this
"Our best player is probably is Darien Brothers. He's a good shooter--like 6'2"
or 6'3" strong guard. He really shoots well from three.
"We have a couple of guys who can score from the perimeter--we're
a pretty good perimeter team. We have one returning big guy that's a very good
player---a strong interior kid--and then a bunch of young kids who are going to
be good players."
Gophersports.com: What kind of style does your team play?
"We like to share the ball and move a lot. We do a lot of
passing and cutting--keeping the court spread. We try to move a lot and take
advantage of space. I think we share the ball pretty well."
Gophersports.com: Are your goals lots of possessions or are you methodical in how you
handle the basketball?
"This year we've tried to make an emphasis of getting the
ball up quick and trying to score quicker. We feel like we have good wing
players that can run and make good decisions and score in transition, so we've
kind of made that a point of emphasis."
Gophersports.com: What are your concerns about playing the Gophers?
"I think they are talented at every position. It seems to be
that they have good depth right now---a lot of experience back. Anytime you
play a Big Ten team in particular, you know there's going to be physicality
playing there on the road. You have to be ready for all of that.
"We've played a lot of teams through the years---big teams
and in BCS conferences and I think that's one of the things you have to mentally
prepare for as you go into a game, where you know all those guys are big and
strong and physical and athletic. I think that's no exception with Minnesota
being like that."
Gophersports.com: Richmond is taking on some tough teams on the road, like Minnesota,
Kansas and Wake Forest. Why do you make your schedule this tough?
"I think the Atlantic 10 is a really good conference, you
know arguably better than some of the big BCS conferences pending on the year.
So game in and game out in the Atlantic 10 you are facing really good teams. There
are very few bad teams and so in order to prepare for league play---and then
hopefully we're thinking about the ultimate goal, the NCAA tournament, we're
trying to play the best schedule we can. I think the best way to do that is to
try to play some teams that are in that mix. Teams who are going to be
tournament teams or really good teams in BCS leagues."
Gophersports.com: You are off to a great start at 3-0 on the year. Have their been any
surprises you weren't expecting so far this year?
"I wouldn't say surprises. I would say some of the things
we've tried to emphasize you know in the off-season. We had a trip to Italy
during the summer, which allowed us to practice and compete overseas.
"Some of the things that we started to talk about and try to
implement there and in practice have shown up in the games, which is a good
sign. The things that are going to be points of emphasis are actually
manifesting themselves in the games. I think that's a good thing.
"Surprises, not really at this point. You know we were
hoping to come to Minnesota at 3-0 and that's where we are--so this is a really
good test for us."
Gophersports.com: Is there anything else you want us to know about the Richmond
basketball team or the University of Richmond?
"Richmond has a very rich tradition basketball wise. Two
years ago, we were in the Sweet 16. Going back to the 80's and parts of the
90's, Richmond has been really, really good at basketball.
"I think it's a unique place and a special place because its
an excellent academic institution where kids are going to class and working
hard in the classroom--having to balance academic life and athletics.
"You can concentrate more on basketball here. We're a small
school and everything's hard and kids have to show up and go to class all of
that stuff. So there's something unique and special about that in our guys
representing themselves well in the classroom and on the court."
Minnesota plays at Nebraska this afternoon, so we chatted with Mike Jaixen of CornNation.com to learn more about the Huskers and their high-powered offense.
GopherSports: Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on Nebraska?
Mike Jaixen: Nebraska's offense is perhaps it's most explosive in many years. The Huskers are proficient in both running and passing. Taylor Martinez has refined his passing fundamentals and it's really made a difference...as has the experience of being a three year starter. He's always had the ability to make plays with his feet, but now he knows what he's doing in managing the offense and finding his receivers. The biggest issue the offense has is turnovers; Martinez has such confidence in his throws that he sometimes forces the ball into coverage, and when he's running the ball, he's been known to lose the grasp of the football. Nebraska's corp of receivers might be the most dynamic in school history; sophomore Kenny Bell has speed and great hands while fellow sophomore Jamal Turner is elusive. Don't forget about the tight ends; senior Kyler Reed runs like a wide receiver and senior Ben Cotton has sure hands. Ameer Abdullah is a durable fast running back who also has surprising power inside.
Defensively, the secondary has been playing well as of late. If Nebraska is vulnerable to anything, it's with the running game, especially with a mobile quarterback complimenting a good running back.
GS: It is Senior Day at Nebraska and this is the first time that Minnesota has played in Lincoln for a long time. What will the atmosphere be like today?
MJ: The "Senior Day" activities will likely occur well before kickoff. The atmosphere should be similar to Madison, Columbus, or State College. It's a big crowd, but B1G teams should be used to B1G crowds. The fans can be loud, but we're typically respectful. Fans who come to Lincoln should try to be in their seats at least seven minutes before kickoff; Nebraska's best tradition is the "Tunnel Walk", which choreographs the Huskers path from the locker room to the field. More than 80,000 Nebraska fans clapping in rhythm can be quite impressive.
GS: What is your feeling on Rex Burkhead? Will we see him today?
MJ: I get the feeling he MIGHT play. Ameer Abdullah has been more than serviceable playing in his place, so I hope he doesn't rush things. (He's reinjured himself twice, so that's why I err on the side of caution.) Burkhead does a couple of things if he's able to play. He's able to take snaps in the Wildcat, so he opens up all sorts of extra options in the offense. The biggest is a "Diamond" formation where he, Abdullah, and Braylon Heard all line up in an inverted wishbone, with Martinez taking a shotgun snap. Nebraska can run the ball in any direction, and if you bite on the run, a tight end is running free downfield.
GS: Who is an underrated player on Nebraska that Gopher fans should pay attention to today?
MJ: I'll throw out three names. Kenny Bell will probably be up for all-Big Ten honors at receiver, and likely will play in the NFL after his days in Lincoln are over. Great hands and speed. On defense, Eric Martin has become a beast in the pass rush. And cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a converted wide receiver who is very much hit or miss. He's still learning the position and makes mistakes which land him on the bench. But he's big enough to steal the ball from any receiver in coverage.
GS: What is your prediction for today's game?
MJ: Based on past history, Nebraska is going to make some mistakes early on, and the game could be closer than the oddsmakers think (and Husker fans hope). But they've become kings of the comeback, so no lead is safe against Nebraska. So I think this one stays a little closer at halftime, but then Nebraska puts it away late. So let's go with Nebraska 42, Minnesota 20.
The Gophers and Badgers skated to a tie this evening at Mariucci Arena.
Budish Collects Two Points
Zach Budish was back on a line with Erik Haula and Nate
Condon tonight, and it seemed to reenergize him. Zach Budish. He got his second
goal of the season a mere 3:49 into the first period. His first goal of the
season was the game winner vs. Minnesota State the last the Gophers were on
home ice. Budish also assisted on the second Gopher goal of the game, scored by
Erik Haula. It was Zack's first multi-point game since the opening weekend
versus Michigan State. The line of Condon, Haula, and Budish was the most
affective for Minnesota tonight.
Trouble Breaking Away
Minnesota captured leads twice, but the Badgers were quick
to respond both times. After Zach Budish put the Gophers out front in the first
period, the Badgers answered only 26 seconds. The Gophers' lead was again short-lived
in the second period. Erik Haula staked the Gophers to a 2-1 lead 48 seconds
into the frame, but Wisconsin squared the score at two just four minutes and
eighteen seconds later. Both Wisconsin goals came from Michael Mersch.
Power Play Needed More
The Gophers scored five power-play goals on nine chances
last weekend in Alaska. They came into the game ranked third in the nation at over
28 percent, but they missed significant opportunities tonight. Minnesota had
two separate five-minute power plays and failed to capitalize on either of
them. The Gophers took multiple shots each occasion, but Wisconsin goalie
Landon Peterson was up to the task. Overall, the Gophers were one-of-five on
the power play.
Point Earned at Mariucci
The Badgers became the first team to earn a point at
Mariucci Arena this season. The Gophers came into the weekend with a perfect
record on home ice, 4-0-0. Minnesota came into the game averaging four goals
per game and giving up just one goal per game at home. The last team to beat
the Gophers at Mariucci Arena was Wisconsin. The Badgers scored four goals en
route to a 4-1 victory in early March, the night before the Gophers claimed the
MacNaughton Cup. The Gophers still have not been beaten in Minneapolis this
Minnesota and Wisconsin will tangle tomorrow at 8 p.m. The
Border Battle will be covered live on the Big Ten Network.
Written by University of Minnesota Intern Josh Brennock
The Gophers met with the media ahead of this weekend's
Border Battle with the Wisconsin Badgers. The rivalry is always eagerly
anticipated, and this weekend's clash is no different.
"It's a healthy rivalry," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "Our fans get a little more excited when Wisconsin comes
to town. It has to do with all the sports and (Wisconsin) being another Big Ten
The Badgers are off to an uncharacteristic slow start with a record of
1-4-1, but Lucia still realizes the challenge they pose under head coach
"They have been playing a one-one-three, so we are going to see
three guys skating back all night long. We are not going to get two-on-ones or
odd-man rushes. We are going to have to win low scoring games."
Junior Forward Nate Condon is the lone member of the
Gophers' roster hailing from Wisconsin. The games take on a little more
importance for him. "If we lose to the Badgers, It is all I hear about when I
go home." Wisconsin is the opponent Condon looks forward to the most every year.
Freshman goalie Adam Wilcox will be getting his first taste
of the Badgers. "I am pumped. I have been looking forward to this weekend since
the summer. It is one of those weekends you mark on the calendar."
Wilcox was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for his netminding
last week in Anchorage. Adam collected the second shutout of his career against
the Seawolves. "It is a big accomplishment this early (in the season). It is
nice to get, but in the end as a team we have to get four points this weekend."
Wilcox and his teammates will start the quest for four
points Friday night at 7 p.m. The rematch will take place at 8 p.m. Friday's
game can be seen live on Fox Sports North Plus, and Saturday's tilt will be
live on the Big Ten Network. All the action for both games can be heard this
weekend on 1500 ESPN.
Written by Minnesota Communications Student Intern Josh Brennock
Not headed to Nebraska for Saturday's game? Don't worry, as Verizon and Joe Senser's in Roseville (2350 Cleveland Avenue North) and Bloomington (4217 American Boulevard West) have you covered.
Verizon is hosting the athletic department's official viewing parties at both restaurants. In addition to football and great food, there will also be many prizes distributed including a Verizon tablet and devices, autographed balls and team merchandise.
Both viewing parties will run from 2-6 p.m. There is no need to RSVP for either viewing party. All you have to do is show up in your Maroon and Gold and enjoy the game and festivities with fellow Gopher fans.
Bo Pelini on the Gophers: "It doesn't happen over night. (Kill) took over a tough
situation and they were struggling. You see them steadily getting
better, believing, and staying the course of what they are trying to
do." (Lincoln Journal Star)
Coach Kill met with the media today to preview this weekend's game at
Illinois. You can read a few of the highlights from his press conference
below or you can read his entire transcript here.
On Nebraska... "I think what makes Nebraska, in my
opinion, better than a year ago, much better is their offensive line.
Their offensive line is pretty good. They run the ball with a purpose.
And Coach Osborne may be retired, but he's still got a lot of influence
there. They still run the toss lead and a lot of things they did when he
was there. So there's still some old Nebraska tradition in that
On Nebraska's quarterback... "I
think he's improved passing but their receivers probably physically they
catch the ball. They block very well. I think he's got great people
around him. He's improved his throwing skills. There's no question about
that. But they've also surrounded him with good people.
laid an article on the desk. I don't know if they're making me nervous
or what, talked about their offensive coordinator talked about they
really don't even need to practice or whatever because they're so - so
I'd say if you got an offensive coordinator that's that confident in
what they're doing, they got a lot of weapons."
On his center situation... "You know, until we get out to practice and work, Zach Mottla is out for the year and Jon Christenson will be questionable. We'll just have to see. Jon will practice today, but we'll see how he comes along with high ankle sprain. Sometimes those are slow, but he's a tough kid, so we'll see how that goes.
"And then Zac Epping finished the game and that would be our situation going into today's practice. If we were playing today, Zac would step in and between we'll be moving him from a guard spot. Then we've gotta fill that in. We'll just see how practice goes. I wish I had a crystal ball that gave me the perfect answer right now, but hopefully we'll get some of that answered over the next couple of days."
On injuries to KJ Maye, A.J. Barker and Derric Engel... "KJ's fine. He's okay. A.J. Barker, Engel, we'll see how practice progresses. They're both better, but again, if they're going to be able to play on Saturday, I don't know that."
On injuries to the offensive side of the ball... "I've coached for 30 years. I don't feel sorry for ourselves because each kid went in and did their job and it's much appreciative and it's a good thing we snapped those three guys. It could always be like Maryland. We're not playing a linebacker at quarterback."
On having two running backs who can produce positive yards... "I think it's really important. I think Wisconsin has proved that, and Nebraska has proven that, because you know, somebody's going to be banged up and you're going to have an injury. Both of these young kids are really playing well. They're physical. And one's a true freshman and one's a sophomore. So those are good things for the horizon. But certainly I thought Donnell the more he got the ball on Saturday, the more productive he was. I think he got better as it went. And then Rodrick when he got tired, he'd tap out and Rodrick would come in. He's got good hands and got the ball out in the flat and did some good things. So both those two kids have gotten better. There's no question, and that position has gotten better."
On the blitzes that Illinois showed... "They were blitzing us from everywhere they could come from. I mean it's the most we've been blitzing since I've been here and they were getting to the point where we said we gotta go downhill and take our chances and hopefully somebody gets out of a gap or somebody doesn't do their job or somebody blitzes and runs. And that's what happened. We ran the weak side power and strong side power and outside zone. And was able to have some success."
On what he said to the team after the Illinois game... "I think the biggest thing is I let the kids - it's hard to win games. It's hard to win on the road, and I let them enjoy it. They were excited. Let them enjoy it. I probably said less in the locker room than I've said all year."
"So they felt good about it, but as a coach, we're in the coaching deal trying to figure out what are we going to do at center. We're going to Lincoln, Nebraska. You're already working ahead. That's the tough thing about coaching. You don't get a chance to step back and, boy, this is great, because you gotta move forward."
On playing at Nebraska... "I will share with them today in the team meeting they need to be excited about it. They need to embrace it and get excited about it and let's go play. Let's go play."
On if Philip Nelson feels any pressure... "No. He don't say too much. I don't know what he says to you all. He just goes out and plays."
On if Philip Nelson is ready for the crowd and atmosphere in Nebraska... "We'll see. We'll see, you know. I can't answer that question until you get out there and so forth. But I don't know if you could put any more pressure. He went and played at Wisconsin and that's where his dad went to school. I mean first game, at Madison. I mean that's pretty good opening game to get educated in."
University of Minnesota head women's basketball coach Pam Borton and her staff, in conjunction with the Fast Break Club, will hold their first Coaches Luncheon of the 2012-13 season today at Jax Cafe in Minneapolis. The event is set to get underway at 11:30 a.m.
The Coaches Luncheons serve as a great way for Golden Gopher women's basketball supporters to discuss the season and enjoy great company throughout the year.
Jax Cafe will also host the next Coaches Luncheon, which is set for Monday, Jan. 14.
The longer you miss someone, the more you appreciate it when they return. For fans of Golden Gopher men's basketball, it's been far too long since senior forward Trevor Mbakwe and sophomore forward Maurice Walker have played in a game.
Both players, of course, made appearances in each of Minnesota's two exhibitions during the past couple weeks. But, officially, tonight's 72-36 season-opening win against American University marked the first time in what has seemed like ages that the pair of Gopher big men had donned a Maroon and Gold uniform.
Trevor Mbakwe made his return to the court Friday night against American University.
For Mbakwe, tonight's game was his first since tearing the ACL in his right knee during an 86-70 loss to Dayton on Nov. 27, 2011. The wait for Walker's return has been even longer, as he had not played for the Gophers since tearing the posterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee versus South Dakota State on Dec. 23, 2010.
The 6-foot-8 Mbakwe entered the game to a rousing ovation with 7:59 remaining in the first half. He played 14 minutes, finishing with four points, three rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots. And, for those who stayed around long enough, Mbakwe's alley-oop dunk on an assist from Chris Halvorsen with 1:39 left in the game might have been the highlight of the night.
A potential National Basketball Association draftee, Mbakwe hopes to return to the form he displayed during his junior season and in the first seven games last season. He led the Big Ten in rebounding as a junior, pulling down 10.5 boards per game to go along with a scoring average of 13.9 ppg. Last year, he earned preseason all-Big Ten honors and was averaging 14.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest before the injury.
Walker is an imposing presence at 6-foot-10, 289 pounds. He averaged 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game during the 12 games he played in 2010-11.
Like Mbakwe, he entered the game to an extended roar from the crowd of 10,172, and he saw limited action. Walker scored four points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, dished out an assist, and blocked a shot during his nine minutes on the floor.
Mbakwe commented after the game about how fun it was to have Big Mo back on the court.
"It was great. He's been working hard for the last year and a half," Mbakwe said. "I'm happier about his comeback than mine. He's been through a lot. It was great to see him out there, the crowd gave him a big ovation and he's going to be big for us this year."
As for his own return, and how long it might take him to get back to full strength, Mbakwe added, "I don't know, I think it's just a confidence thing, trusting my knee, and knowing that the doctors did a great job. I think now, conditioning is the biggest part. My knee is fine, it doesn't hurt at all."
If that's the case, Gophers fans are going to be happy campers this season.
Today was game day against Finland,
and it was the last round robin game.
We had an early breakfast and departed for pre-game skate after. It was a short
skate just to get our legs moving because we had a late game at 7 p.m. We had
lunch when we returned and had a video session with the coaches. Then it was
down time before departure to our game. I took a nice nap to relax and got some
Our game was our best yet at the tournament. We beat Finland, 15-1, and
controlled most of the game. We worked on lots of plays and played well as a
team to improve our weaknesses. We played strong and our whole team enjoyed the
win. It was a good game to play before tomorrow's gold medal game against
Canada. We are ready for a rematch!
Tomorrow should be an exciting day,
but it will be our last in Finland. It will be sad to leave, but I'm also ready
to return home. It has been an awesome experience here to get to play with the
National Team. I will miss this team and all of my great teammates, but we
still have one more game to play first.
Fresh off of a 23-win season, the Gopher Men's basketball team hopes its depth will help them through a tough non-conference schedule and a brutal Big Ten schedule.
This season, the Gophers return most of their team from the 2011-2012 campaign. On the roster this year, at least 13 out of the 15 on the roster saw minutes at some point last year.
Some of the key returners from last year's NIT Finalist team include sophomore point guard Andre Hollins, junior point guard Austin Hollins, sophomore forward Joe Coleman, senior forward Rodney Williams, and sixth year senior Trevor Mbakwe.
Gophers Head Coach Tubby Smith says the depth of his team is something he hasn't had in a few years.
Point guard Andre Hollins figures to be a key cog for the Gophers this season.
"We've got good depth--that is one thing I'm excited about," Smith said. "Depth though is only good if you have everybody available to you. That's been one of our problems over the last two years. We haven't had everyone available to us."
Last season, the Gophers depth was depleted early in the season when Mbakwe and red-shirt sophomore forward Maurice Walker went down with knee injuries.
While both Walker and Mbakwe are expected to be back at the start of the season, Mbakwe was having a career year when he went down.
Mbakwe was leading the team in scoring with 14 points per game when he went down just seven games into the season. He says he expects to be ready at the start of the year.
"The knee is doing great," Mbakwe said on media day. "I expect to play the first game. The knee is getting stronger by the day. Our staff has done a great job with slowly, putting me back into the lineup and with the team. I feel comfortable."
The Gophers depth will be key early-on. The schedule features tough road tests in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup at Florida State and a December trip to the University of Southern California.
The Gophers will also take part in the in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Gophers will play Duke in their first game. The tournament also features teams like Memphis, Louisville, Stanford and Missouri among others.
The Big Ten schedule could be even tougher. There are five teams from the Big Ten featured in the USA Today Preseason Coaches' poll. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State are in the top-five alone. In what will be a tough schedule for the Gophers, the team will rely on its senior leadership.
Among those returning is Rodney Williams. With a solid year this year, Williams could become only the sixth player in Gopher history to score 1,000 points, haul down 500 rebounds and dish out 200 assists. Williams believes the team can make a run in the NCAA tournament this year.
"I definitely think we can be a Sweet 16 team at least. We're a real deep team," Williams said. "We got a lot of guys at every position that are really good, so I think we're going to be a team to be reckon with this year."
The Gophers head to Illinois this week, so we chatted with Marcus Jackson of the The News-Gazette and IlliniHQ.com to learn more about the Illini. You can follow Marcus on Twitter at @MarcusJ_NG.
GopherSports: Marcus, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on Illinois?
Marcus Jackson: Illinois is a team with no real identity offensively. It can't run the ball consistently and the passing attack has been virtually non-existent all season. The main problem has been the offensive line. There were some injuries to the veteran guys early and the rest of the guys haven't gelled this season.
Defensively, the front seven, led by Michael Buchanan, Akeem Spence, Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim are very talented, but too often they've been put in tough situations by the offense and special teams and it's worn on them. The result: A 2-7 record.
GS: Minnesota has one Big Ten win, while Illinois does not have any yet. How much emphasis is being put on this game for the Illini or are they approaching it as just another week?
MJ: From everything they're saying, it's business as usual for the Illini. Don't get me wrong, they're hungry for a win and Minnesota just happens to be the next team up, so they're geared up for this one. The understand they're not in a position to feel a great deal of confidence about beating anyone, no matter the record, so they're not approaching this game with over-confidence.
GS: Nathan Scheelhaase is a quarterback the Gophers are familiar with. How has he developed in his time at Illinois, and when healthy this year, what does he provide for the Illini offense?
MJ: This has been the worst season of Nathan Scheelhaase's career. It can mainly be chalked up to the fact that he hasn't been healthy since the first half of the season opener. He got off to a great start in his career, but he's not the same player this year. He won't complain about it, but he hasn't been healthy and the offensive line has been brutal. When he is healthy, he's a true dual-threat quarterback who is a nightmare to prepare for because he can make plays consistently on the ground and through the air. Take away his legs, which happened with the ankle injury, and he's not nearly as dangerous.
GS: Who is an under-the-radar player Gopher fans should pay attention to?
MJ: Corey Lewis' story has been the highlight of the season for the Illini. Lewis is an offensive lineman, who was projected to be an anchor on the line, before suffering a knee injury during the 2010 spring game. All told, Lewis has had a total of five surgeries between his two knees and missed two full seasons before returning to the field for the first time last week in the loss at Ohio State. For the fifth-year senior, it was the first game action he had seen since the 2009 season finale. He likely won't start, but he'll play plenty, probably at right tackle.
GS: Care to give us a prediction on the game?
MJ: Minnesota 30, Illinois 20. Both teams are starved for a win. Minnesota has had some sustained success early in the season and can draw on that under a great coach like Jerry Kill to get themselves over the hump.
GS: Marcus, thanks again. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.
Today was a great day for the team in Helsinki. We had an early breakfast and
lunch, then we headed to the rink for a quick strength and conditioning lesson,
which was followed by a team practice.
After that, we had some down time. People chose to stay back and rest and catch
up on homework, but a couple teammates and I decided go see downtown Helsinki.
The city, looking by the pictures, had the appearance of Times Square. The
buildings were very bright and animated! Downtown was beautiful, not to
mention, the chocolate is amazing!
We had dinner with the team back at
the hotel, and now we are starting to preparing for the game tomorrow versus
Finland! All of us are excited and ready to get back to action here at the Four
American University head coach Jeff Jones and the Eagles travel to Williams Arena Friday.
From time to time during the 2012-13 season Gophersports.com basketball beat writer Jeff Fett will check in with someone that is close to the Gophers upcoming opponent. Can't get any closer that American head coach Jeff Jones. Jones has been at the helm at American for 12 seasons and has won a program-leading 202 games. We asked Coach Jones several questions about his team, and what he hopes to accomplish against Minnesota and the rest of the year. Please see below:
GopherSports.com: Who are your top returning players and which ones will make your team perform well this year?
Jeff Jones: "Our best returning player is our senior point guard Danny Munoz. He had a real solid year last year and worked very hard in the off-season and has come back. I think he's poised to have a terrific year for us and he's going to be vitally important in anything that we do.
"Our starting center from last year returns, (6'10", junior) Tony Wroblicky. When you look at his numbers from his sophomore year, you know its not real impressive, but down the stretch his statistics were on the upward trend, and so I think he's going to have a good year for us.
"A player who's returning, but wasn't on the team last year, was Stephen Lumpkins. He was a second-team All-Patriot league player two years ago. He averaged 14 and eight I think. Last year, he was in the Kansas City Royals organization as a pitcher, so he didn't play basketball for a year. He's kind of picked up where he left off. You certainly don't see any rust in his game and we're going to need him to be a big factor for us as well.
"So these would be the top three. You know for our league, for Minnesota, its no big deal, or for a Big Ten school, but for our league, having a 6'10"- a 6'9" guy in the lineup at the same time, that's a pretty big front line."
GopherSports.com: What kind of style do you play?
Jeff Jones: "I would say moderate. Offensively, if the break is there, we'll certainly explore those opportunities, but we certainly don't want to get into a real fast paced game. We prefer more deliberate than break-neck speed. A majority of the time, we're going to run a lot of sets and try to see if we can create shots through our offense."
GopherSports.com: What do you hope to accomplish in your first game of the year against Minnesota?
Jeff Jones: "As far as the game against Minnesota, you know, the simple goal is we want to try to win the game. Short of that, we want to play as well as we can. We want to learn from the opportunity. Whoever the Patriot League team is, the way you go to the NCAA tournament, you're going to be playing somebody like Minnesota or Kansas or Georgetown or other teams that are on our schedule, so you want to try to play against that top competition.
"Obviously, our guys are well aware of the late season stretch that Minnesota put on. They're young, but experienced and they virtually have everyone coming back. They're fully aware of that, but I think you know for us, it's something that our guys can be excited about because they've read about and watched on TV about Minnesota and they know for us to have any chance, we've got to play extremely well."
GopherSports.com: What makes you schedule tough teams like Minnesota, Kansas and Georgetown?
Jeff Jones: "We want to challenge ourselves. I'm a big believer of it. I've been doing this a long time. I've known Tubby for 25 years. Norwood Teague, the AD there, is one of my very best friends. We used to work together at the University of Virginia.
"We always want to challenge ourselves. That's the way you get better. Going up against programs the likes of Minnesota, Kansas or Georgetown, that helps you prepare to be the best team we possibly can by the time conference play rolls around.
"We've beaten DePaul, Florida State. We've beaten Maryland. You know every once in a while, you can pull off that upset. You know in order to do that, we've got to be a little bit lucky. We've got to play really, really hard and we've got to play really, really well."
GopherSports.com: What are your goals for your team in the Patriot League?
Jeff Jones: "Our goals for the year are to win the Patriot League and be playing our best basketball at the end of the year. The Patriot League is a one bid league, so you've got to be ready for the tournament and see if you can win that title and participate in the NCAA tournament.
"I certainly hope we can be in the top half (of the conference). For the last 12 years, since American has been in the Patriot League, we've never finished below fourth. We've been probably over a decade the most consistent team in the Patriot League, and that's something that we've prided ourselves on, that year in and year out, we want to be in the picture. We want to be competitive for that Patriot League title.
"You know this year, I believe we were picked third in a lot of preseason polls, you know, we'll see. Bucknell and Leigh are in the top two right now and on paper, are clearly the two best teams, but the great thing about athletics is that the competitions are played on the court and you know we'll get a chance to work hard and improve. When conference play rolls around, you know hopefully we can handle that gap and be a factor in the conference picture."
GopherSports.com: Anything else about American University you want Minnesotans to know?
Jeff Jones: "We're a small school in Washington, D.C. People hear Washington, D.C. and I think often times they think in terms of an urban setting, but it's a very small, but a very nice traditional campus. We're up here in the northwest and it's a great situation."
Members of the men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday ahead of this weekend's trip to Alaska for a WCHA matchup with the Seawolves. This will be Minnesota's final regular season trip to The Last Frointier as a member of the WCHA.
The players are looking forward to a trip that will take them to a part of the county that is far from the comforts of home.
Defenseman Nate Schmidt believes the trip provides the team with a great opportunity to bond off the ice.
"This will be a nice trip to get away and be with the guys for a weekend. I think creating bonds and renewing the chemistry we had last year is what is most important right now."
Forward Travis Boyd is looking to see the scenery present in the nation's 49th state.
"Anchorage is a really beautiful place. You fly in and there are mountains everywhere. It is a really fun going up there and seeing the surrounding area."
Head coach Don Lucia has a lot of history in Alaska. He was an assistant coach with the Seawolves for two seasons in the mid 80s, and he landed his first collegiate head-coaching job with Alaska Fairbanks.
"I always enjoy the trip, it is a good place to play this time of year. There is a bit more daylight than December and January. It was a lot of fun those two years (as an assistant coach of Alaska Anchorage)."
The Gophers will be in action on Friday and Saturday night. Both contests will start at 10 p.m. CT. Fans can listen to the games on 1500 ESPN, with Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco calling the action.
Today in Finland, we had the same routine as Tuesday. We woke up had breakfast,
some meetings and then it was game time.
We ate our pregame meal at 10 a.m., and I made the mistake of having coffee
with my meal. Let's just say coffee, pasta and salad does not mix well! After
our meal, I just laid around, listened to music and hung out before we departed
for the rink. At the rink, I like to joke around and sing and dance as part of
my pregame routine, so I stay loose and have fun.
It is nice to have current and old
gophers on this team. However, a little fun fact is that I spend a lot of time
with a current rival and Wisconsin Badger, Brianna Decker. I have known her
since I was young, and we are really good friends despite having the bitter
It was a tough game today versus Canada as it did not go in our favor. We
3-1 loss, but the good thing is we can
move on and learn from that game.
Tomorrow, we have an off day from games, but we will keep busy since our
schedule is jam packed with activities and meetings.
For the ninth consecutive year, ESPN networks will present all 12 games in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Regional and Semi-Regional rounds live from four regional sites, in addition to the Frozen Four and Championship matchups from Pittsburgh, Pa. Every game will air over ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or on ESPN3 and local syndication. The games carried over ESPN3 and syndication will also re-air on ESPNU.
As in previous years, the 2013 tournament brackets will be announced on the NCAA Hockey Championship Selection Show, slated to air Sunday, March 24 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. ESPN's 24-hour college sports network will air more than eight consecutive hours of non-stop college hockey coverage each day during Regionals - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - with a doubleheader of live action Friday and a tripleheader on Saturday. In total, ESPNU will air 30 hours of game action within a 54-hour span.
ESPN's coverage continues in April with both Frozen Four games airing on ESPN2 and the Championship airing on ESPN. All of ESPN's NCAA hockey coverage will also be available on computers at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app live.
ESPN has aired games from the men's championship since 1980 and extended its commitment to the NCAA last year to include the airing of the entire Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship through 2024.
2013 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Schedule:
Fri, March 29
West Regional Semifinal Game 1 (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Northeast Regional Semifinal Game 1
West Regional Semifinal Game 2 (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Northeast Regional Semifinal Game 2 (Manchester, N.H.)
Northeast Regional Semifinal Game 1
Sat, March 30
Midwest Regional Semifinal Game 1 (Toledo, Ohio)
West Regional Final (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Midwest Regional Semifinal Game 2 (Toledo, Ohio)
East Regional Semifinal Game 1 (Providence, R.I.)
Northeast Regional Final (Manchester, N.H.)
East Regional Semifinal Game 2 (Providence, R.I.)
East Regional Semifinal Game 1 (Providence, R.I.)**
Sun, March 31
Midwest Regional Semifinal Game 1 (Toledo, Ohio)**
Midwest Regional Semifinal Game 2 (Toledo, Ohio)**
Midwest Regional Final (Toledo, Ohio)
East Regional Final (Providence, R.I.)
Thu, April 11
Frozen Four: Semifinal 1 (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Frozen Four: Semifinal 2 (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Sat, April 13
NCAA's Men's Division I Hockey Championship (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
* All ESPN3/Syndicated games will be aired live and re-aired in tape delay on ESPNU **previously aired ESPN3/Syndicated games
This week, three
current and three former Gophers are suiting up for the U.S. Women's National
Team for the Four Nations Cup in Vantaa & Kerava, Finland. This blog will
give you a first-hand insight on what the current Gophers (Megan Bozek, Amanda
Kessel and Milica McMillen) are experiencing during their time with the
Hello from Finland!
We just ended Day 2 of our week here in Finland. Today, we played our first game and pulled out a 4-0 win over Sweden!
We got to sleep in today, which was nice after traveling all day and then
having practice right after. We had our pregame meal, a team meeting, and then
had some down time. Everyone has their own ways of preparing for game, such as:
getting treatment, doing homework or taking naps. I decided to go with a little
homework and then a nap before leaving for the rink.
Our first game of the tournament was against Sweden, and we won 4-0 in a fast
and physical game. One of our defensemen, Lisa Chesson, got hurt in the opening
two minutes, right after she scored the first goal. So we had to roll with six
defensemen for the rest of the game. We scored two more goals in the
second period, and then in the third period, my roommate Brianna Decker scored!
It was a lot of fun getting to wear the USA jersey again. This is only my
second time with the senior team and first major tournament. We have all
different players ranging from veterans to first-timers. The veterans are a lot
of help and have great advice on and off the ice for us newer players, so we
get to know the team and program better. Meghan Duggan, who is the assistant
captain of the team, pulled some of us aside today to tell us to have fun and
relax. It's really nice to have the support around us as we try to adjust, and
it's worked so far!
We play Canada tomorrow, so it's time to get some rest!
Coach Kill met with the media today to preview this weekend's game at Illinois. You can read a few of the highlights from his press conference below or you can read the entire transcript here.
On the health of his team... "A.J. Barker will not practice, and I really question whether he'll play or not. So that seems to be a little bit more of an issue than I think they thought at the beginning.
I'm hoping that Eddie Olson is available. We're going to practice him a little bit today. We're going to be in full pads and see how he moves with that, but I think the biggest question mark for us from an offensive standpoint would be A.J.
Derrick Wells, I was excited that, you know, is going to be able to practice today, which is good for us. And but other than that, with what we've had in the past, A.J. is the biggest concern, and I just don't unless some a miracle takes place, so to speak, I don't look for him to be able to play on Saturday."
On where his team is... "I've said all along, sometimes when you first take a program over, they're usually open because there's a reason for it. There's a struggle there. And your first year is you're just not very good. The second and third year and you hope you can move it quickly, is that you win some games, but then you're close in a lot of games that you don't win because you're not quite good enough to get over that hump, and I'd like to see us be able to get over that hump a little bit.
I thought we took a jump at the end of the year last year, down the last three game stretch, so to speak. I'd like to see us keep moving forward with it."
What do you know of Illinois? "Well, they're athletic. I said a year ago, they take the field, they got some good looking kids now. They're good looking up front and great defensive ends and they run well, and an active quarterback, which we've seen
We gotta keep rush lanes and keep the quarterback inside the pocket and not let him get outside and run around and be able to make a play. And he's that type of youngster that can do that and he runs the ball very well. So any time you have an athletic quarterback, you gotta spend a lot of time on discipline, pass rush lanes and things of that nature."
On the decision to play true freshman Rodrick Williams... "We definitely knew Rodrick had some talent. When he showed up he was about 215, 218. Now I think he's 238. So he's kind of grown through the summer, and I always worried about, and I'd say this with Rodrick was what his maturity was going to be, with school, all the things that comes with it; is he going to be ready for that. So we just didn't immediately do it.
Plus he'd gotten hurt a little bit in camp and missed two or three practices in there, and the learning curve, you know. So that happened a little bit with some kids. So then you go, well, that gives you a reason, you know, to not use them. And then as the season went on, he kept again, we were practicing a lot of kids right now because we have a young team, and he kept getting better and better. And he's got a little pop to him. I think when you see him run, when he hits you, there's something different about I mean he just knocks you backwards."
On is Isaac Fruechte will replace Barker's role... "I think him and Tufts both, they're both long and can run. But we have a whole group of them that we gotta keep working with them, but I'd like to see those guys step up a little bit. I think it's important for us."
On coaching against Tim Beckham before... "We coached against each other. And you know, there's a lot ... seems like even all through the history there's been a lot of coaches come from the MAC to the Big 10, and he's another one that has. And got a great deal of respect.
We hooked it up pretty good. Toledo is pretty good, both Toledo and Northern Illinois are both pretty darn good. He did a good job there and coached good athletes and disciplined program and so forth. So got a lot of respect. But we're excited about going down to play."
The Minnesota men's hockey program remains ranked No. 2 in the nation in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and the USCHO.com Division I poll after last weekend's Western Collegiate Hockey Association home-and-home series with Minnesota State.
The Gophers (5-2-0 overall, 2-2-0 WCHA) finished second in this week's USCHO.com Division I men's poll behind defending national champion Boston College -- the third-straight week of the poll with a 1-2 pairing for the Eagles and Gophers. Minnesota earned 896 points in this week's poll behind Boston College's 998.
This week, three current and three former Gophers are suiting
up for the U.S. Women's National Team for the Four Nations Cup in Vantaa &
Kerava, Finland. This blog will give you a first-hand insight on what the
current Gophers (Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel and Milica McMillen) are
experiencing during their time with the national team.
We just got back from a good skate today. Our travel day was very long,
consisting of a two and half hour flight to New York City, which was followed
by a six-hour layover and then a seven and a half hour flight to Helsinki! We
made it safe and had a little bit of time to spare at the hotel before heading to
All is college players that were joining the team today thought our skating
would be prettybad, due to all the
traveling, but it turned out good. Helsinki gets very dark around 4 p.m., so it
is kind of depressing walking out of the rink and having our day gone so fast!
The weather here is rainy and dreary, which isn't fun for us since we can't
walk around and sightsee, but then again most of us are more interested in
getting some sleep over touring Helsinki.
It's been really exciting being able to spend time with friends from other
collegiate teams, especially my roommate Hilary Knight, who played for
Wisconsin the past four years. Here are a few fun facts about her:
- She plays for the Boston Blades in the CWHL.
- She is from Idaho.
- She knows how to use a lasso/rope.
- She played the viola and the saxophone when she was younger.
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team will open the 2012-13 season at Williams Arena on Saturday, Nov. 10, vs. Washington State as part of the Best Buy Classic, and fans can catch all of the season-opening action for free in a number of different ways.
Thanks to the Gophers' tournament sponsor, fans can pick up free tickets to the Best Buy Classic at local participating Best Buy stores from now until Nov. 11.
Fans can also get free admission to Saturday's game vs. Washington State by bringing in a non-perishable food item to donate to the Gopher Food Drive. Fans that may already have tickets are still welcome to bring in a donation for the food drive, and will receive a raffle ticket for some great prize drawings in exchange for their generosity.
Saturday is also Military Appreciation Day at the Barn, and members of the armed forces will gain free admission with a valid military ID.
Junior Justin Holl was our featured Gopher in this weekend's game program. We asked Justin about periodically playing forward (he tallied two assists in his debut as a wing this season), which road trip is his favorite, what he does away from the rink and, most importantly, if his infamous moustache will be returning this November. Couldn't get your hands on a game program? We've got you covered.
Gophersports: You're from Tonka Bay, Minn. Did you follow the Gophers growing up?
Holl: "I grew up being a Minnesota fan. My parents attended the University of Minnesota, so they were Gopher fans, and I remember watching the team growing up specifically the 2002 National Championship game, when (current Gophers assistant coach) Grant Potulny scored the winning goal. I wanted to be a Gopher my entire life. When they offered the scholarship, it was a no-brainer that I would go here."
You are normally a defenseman, but you have been called on to play forward for the team at times this year. How have you been able to adapt to the different role when called upon?
"The positions are different. It has been a little bit of adjustment playing forward, I have not played forward since bantams. It definitely requires a little more thinking when I am on the ice. Especially, when I switch positions during the game."
You played at forward on opening weekend against Michigan State and had a pair of assists. It must have felt good to get off to a strong start as a forward.
"I was really excited about that. I want to contribute to the team anyway I can with hits, assists, or goals. I just make an impact. I think one of the responsibilities of the fourth line is to bring energy and momentum to the team. If things are not going our way, we need to get a good shift in and get some offensive-zone pressure."
Does the fact that you developed as an offensive-minded defenseman help you when you move to forward?
"Yeah I definitely think it helps a little bit. Having some offensive instincts and speed that you can bring to the front line is good too."
NHL players come back in the summer to workout with the team, and they have recently been around to play a charity game to benefit Defending The Blue Line. What do you learn from watching the NHL players?
"I definitely learn a lot. They are NHLers, and they are a step above anything we can do. It's the little things they do that make them better, and it's fun to watch them. Especially some of the defenseman like Paul Martin and Keith Ballard. It's interesting to watch what they do on two-on-ones, breakouts, and all the little things that make their game a little easier."
What is your favorite road trip of the year?
"I actually really like going to Anchorage. I think it is really fun, even though it is far away, and the time difference is rough. It was fun to go somewhere new and different."
You will get a chance to go back to Alaska next week. Can you describe your game day routine?
"I will eat a quick breakfast at home before coming to the rink for pregame skate and the team meeting. Then, we eat a big meal as a team. My roommates and I usually play Mario Kart for an hour before shutting it down to take a nap for about two hours. Then, I get up and get ready to play a game."
3-on-3 NHL Arcade was listed as one of your favorite activities off the ice, is that a game you play to relax before a game?
"I still enjoy the game. We just don't have an Xbox right now with the game on it. We switched over to Mario Kart with the old Nintendo 64. We play way too much Mario Kart at our place."
I heard you are an avid wiffleball player, when do you hone your skills?
My friends and I have a big wiffleball tournament at the end of the summer every year. We have about 50 guys that end up going to the tournament, so there are a lot of teams. My team won the first year, but since we have not been able to replicate the magic. I think I'm washed up now, but it is still pretty fun."
Will you be breaking out your "Movember mustache" again this year?
"You better believe it! I got a little head start on it. I don't think I will be shaving until the end of November now."
By Minnesota Communication Student Intern Josh Brennock
As the NBA Developmental League's fall camps begin, three former Golden Gophers will participate in the action. Dan Coleman, Ralph Sampson III, and Paul Carter are all on camp rosters. Another former Gopher, Dusty Rychart, is playing in Spain.
Coleman will work out with the Skyforce, the D-League affiliate for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. Coleman and the other 16 invited players will begin camp on Nov. 10 and conclude on Nov. 21. The team will determine its opening day roster on the final day of camp.
Coleman played for the Gophers from 2004 to 2008. He currently ranks 15th in school history in scoring with 1,317 points. Coleman earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention acclaim as a senior. After graduation, he played on the Timberwolves' summer league team before signing with a team in Portugal. He has spent the past few years playing in France.
Sampson is the most recent Gopher graduate to try his hand at the pros.
Sampson was selected by the Reno Bighorns with the 11th pick in the third round of Friday night's D-League draft. The Bighorns are the affiliate for the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. Sampson concluded his Gopher career last season as one of just five players in school history to compile 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 150 blocks.
Carter remains with the Idaho Stampede (affiliate for the Portland Trail Blazers) for the second-straight season. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last year.
Carter played two seasons with the Gophers before transferring to Illinois-Chicago for the 2010-11 season to be closer to his sister.
Rychart has been playing professionally in Australia for a decade. He currently lives in Cairns, where he plays for the Cairns Taipans. He writes a blog about his experiences.
Rychart played for the Gophers from 1998 to 2002. He ranks 17th in school history with 1,268 career points. He made the All-Big Ten Third Team as a senior.
Analysis of the Gophers 5-3 loss to the Mavericks.
The Gophers fell behind last night on two occasions, but they
were able to come back. Tonight, the Gophers were behind the eight ball once
again. Minnesota trailed three times this Saturday and they were unable to
fight back when Dylan Margonari gave the Minnesota State the lead late in the
third period. An empty-net goal gave Minnesota the 5-3 victory.
Mavs Came Out Hard
The Mavericks were ready to go on home ice tonight. The Mavericks
outshot the Gophers 19-7 in the first period. Minnesota struggled to get the
puck out of the zone on many occasions in the opening frame. Tonight, unlike
last night, the Mavericks found a way to get the job done in the third period.
The crowd was certainly behind them tonight.
Gophers show Resiliency
The showed real spirit in erasing two deficits, but in the
end the Mavericks had too much on this night. Erik Haula showed real hustle as
he battled through a check to put the Gophers on the board and cut the deficit
from two goals to one. The Gophers would level the score early in the second
period on the power play. After falling behind again, it took the Gophers just
26 seconds to tie the score courtesy of Nate Condon. The Gophers spent too much
time this weekend behind the Mavericks.
Off on an Alaskan Adventure
The Gophers will head to Anchorage, Alaska next weekend to
take on the Seawolves. Minnesota defeated Anchorage all four times they met
last season, including in a sweep in the playoffs. The Seawolves were idle this
weekend, they are 2-2-2 on the season. UAA has already had three matchups with
North Dakota this campaign. Many of the players enjoy the trip to Alaska.
Hopefully, they can enjoy it on the ice.
Written by Minnesota Communications intern Josh Brennock
Brandon Green does not walk with a cane or sit on a rocking chair on the front porch. His dark hair shows no signs of graying or falling out.
He cannot tell stories of an era when football players wore leather helmets and games were only broadcast on the radio. He is only 23 years old, after all. But to many of his Golden Gopher teammates, Green is known as "Grandpa."
The fifth-year senior is the oldest wide receiver on the roster, and those young whippersnappers will not let him forget it. They waste no opportunities to make him feel old.
"Every chance we get," sophomore Marcus Jones said.
After the adversity he has faced, he may even feel old without any reminding. In his time in Minnesota, Green has battled back from a major injury and stayed on board during a coaching change.
It was not so long ago that Green was just like those who now call him Grandpa. He arrived in Minneapolis from Chicago, young, speedy, and brimming with hopes for a triumphant college football career. Green came to the Gophers after a prolific senior season Robeson High School. Rated by Rivals as the No. 1 prospect in Illinois, he knew he would have an opportunity to play for the Gophers right away.
Unlike most of his current teammates, Grandpa Green can remember playing at the Metrodome. Green saw his first action during the second game of the 2008 season, and gained more playing time as the year progressed. He racked up 100 receiving yards in his first career start and went on to start five of the Gophers' last six games that year.
The Gophers moved to TCF Bank Stadium for Green's sophomore season. He was again a five-game starter, and he finished the year as No. 4 on the team's receiving leaders list. Things looked interesting heading into the 2010 season. Two of the three Gophers ahead of Green on that list--Eric Decker and Nick Tow-Arnett--graduated in 2009, opening up even more of an opportunity for Green in his junior season.
Unfortunately, it would not turn out to be so easy. After appearing in just two games in 2010, Green suffered a ligament tear in his knee. He underwent surgery and was relegated to the sidelines for the rest of the year.
"It was hard, because I couldn't be out there and make plays for my teammates," Green said. "It was hard not being able to run and do the stuff that I wanted to do, and just sitting there watching. It was painful."
Green went to work strengthening the muscles around his knee, usually going through treatment twice a day. He received a medical hardship waiver, allowing him an extra year of eligibility.
"It felt great," he said. "I had another opportunity to come back the next year and help my team win and make plays and raise my stock."
He returned to the field for all 12 of the Gophers' games the following year. In addition to being his post-surgery debut, the Gophers' 2011 opener was also his first game playing for new head coach Jerry Kill and his staff. A new playbook and a loss of speed caused by his injury added challenges for Green in his junior season. Despite starting for most of the season, Green's numbers declined from where they were his first two seasons.
Green felt optimistic entering this season. He had an additional year of recovery under his belt, and he did not have to learn a new offense again. Green hit another snag, though, when his knee started acting up during fall camp. He had to go through yet another round of treatment, and had limited playing time early in the fall.
Green may have lost a step, but he is by no means old and rickety. His knee was finally healthy enough for him to see extensive action in the Gophers' game at Wisconsin. He took advantage of the opportunity, hauling in his first three passes of the year. The first was a 16-yard touchdown from true freshman Philip Nelson.
"The coaches told me to be ready any time," he said. "Once I got in, it was just all about making plays. He made the right call, and I made a play for him. It felt good to be back out there. I've had limited plays the whole season this year, so it felt good to back out there just to make plays with my teammates."
The young quarterback appreciated the fact that his first college touchdown went to the wily veteran.
"It was really special," Nelson said. "He's a great player. It is really unfortunate with his injuries, but being a senior, he's pretty savvy out there and he can really settle in gaps. That's probably one of his biggest attributes. He's smart enough to not run through gaps. He can sit in there and catch the ball and make a play."
Whether or not he has always been healthy enough to play, Green is still able to help his team by offering pointers to the rest of the receiving corps.
"Brandon's a good mentor because he's been here awhile, so he's definitely more knowledgeable on different ways to run routes or how a corner's playing you," Jones said. "All around, especially young guys like myself, he helps us get better every day."
Beyond technical aspects of football, Green's teammates can learn from his intangible qualities. Jones said that watching Green fight through injuries has taught him a lesson in perseverance. Green has earned praise from fellow senior MarQueis Gray, who called him a role model.
"When I was in the training room, he was in there right along with me," Gray said. "His injury was more serious than what I've had so far. He's a great guy for the younger guys to look up to. He's very positive, especially the way he's working hard to come back from injuries. Those guys look up to him a ton."
As a fifth-year player who has faced adversity, Green is naturally looked to as a leader. By his teammates' accounts, he has fulfilled that responsibility admirably.
"I just lead by example," he said. "That's all that matters. I always had to be a leader in high school, so it really didn't faze me."
The nickname is another story. At this stage in his life, Green is not quite ready to be called "Grandpa."
"I don't go for it, but that's what they call me now," he said. "So I've just got to go with it."
Along with the nickname come ribbings during practice or film sessions. If Green's knee buckles when he makes a cut, or if he moves a little slower than others, he can be sure he will catch an earful--"anything to get him mad," Jones said. But as a grandpa cannot stay mad at his grandchildren, Green knows his counterparts' jibes are all in fun.
"BG is funny," Jones said. "He's a funny dude. He's nice. He tries to be mean, tries to come off like a tough guy persona. But he's as sweet as a teddy bear. It doesn't get any better than BG."
Green reciprocates the affection. While he shares his football knowledge with his younger teammates, he also gets to enjoy their company.
"They keep you energized, keep telling jokes and stuff like that," he said. "It's pretty funny."
Though he does not particularly like his nickname, Green sees no need to be ornery about it. In fact, despite his distaste for it, there are times when it truly seems to fit. In summing up his mindset for his senior season, Green offered some words of grandfatherly advice that anyone can follow.
"Take it seriously, because you never know," he said. "Play every play like it's your last play, because you never know when you'll get your last one. Just go out there and give it your all."
Thoughts from the Gophers' 3-2 triumph over Minnesota State
Coming from Behind
There was a new wrinkle to a Gophers' victory tonight. Minnesota
came from behind. It was the first time this season Minnesota won a game in
which they trailed at any point of the contest. Zach Palmquist scored early on
the power play for the Mavericks to give them the lead. The Gophers answered quickly
with a power-play goal of their own as Travis Boyd lit the lamp for the third
time this season. The Gophers fell behind in the second period as well, but a
bullet from Nate Schmidt at center point leveled the score. Zach Budish would
win the game in the third period.
Power Play a Plus
Minnesota notched all three of their goals with the extra
man. They did so on just five chances. Coming into tonight, the Gophers had
just three power play goals all season on 20 opportunities. Travis Boyd goal in
the first period tied the game at one, and Nate Schmidt's blast in the second
period squared the contest at two. The winning goal came off the stick of Zach
Budish, who found his way to the net and was able to stick home another
power-play goal. Budish's goal proved to be the game winner.
with the Top Line
Zach Budish was reunited with his line mates from last year.
Zach showed good energy tonight. The line, with Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad,
spent much of the first period with pressure in the offensive zone and had good
opportunities all night. Nick Bjugstad gave the Mavericks fits all night long
with his size and ability to control the puck amidst contact. Budish scored his
first goal of the season to secure the Gophers second WCHA victory of the
campaign. Budish already had four assists on the season.
Great Start to the Third Period
Minnesota played like the No. 2-ranked team in the country
at the beginning of the third period. The student section, which was vocal all
night, had plenty to cheer about as the Gophers registered the first nine shots
of the period. Among them was Zach Budish's game-winning goal on the power
play. Minnesota State was able to get their legs later in the period, but the
damage was already done as Adam Wilcox once again made a one-goal lead stand up.
Wilcox Stays Perfect
With the win tonight, freshman Adam Wilcox ran his career
record to a perfect 4-0. He made 23 saves in the game en route to the victory. Adam
dealt with shots that come in at odd speeds and angles. Wilcox now has a stingy
goals against average of 1.32 and a save percentage of .930. The Gophers will
tangle with the Mavericks tomorrow night in Mankato.
Written by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
FOX Sports North has
announced that three Gopher men's hockey games previously scheduled to air on
Fox Sport North PLUS will now air on FOX Sports North including this Saturday's
road contest at Minnesota State.
The three games moving
channels are the Gophers' WCHA road game at Minnesota State on Saturday, Nov. 3
(7 p.m.), Minnesota's nonconference matchup at Vermont on Friday, Nov. 23 (6
p.m.) and, finally, the series opener against Nebraska-Omaha on Friday, Nov. 30
Former Minnesota Gopher Ben Utecht (@BenUtecht) will sing the National Anthem at TCF Bank Stadium prior to Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Michigan. Utecht will also be honored as a Gopher Great during the first quarter. Utecht will be the first person ever to sing the National Anthem at a Gopher football game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Utecht, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, was a star tight end for the Gophers from 2000-03. He caught 82 career passes for 1,201 yards and 15 touchdowns during his career as he helped revive the Minnesota program. The Gophers went 10-3 during his senior season - a year where he also punted three times - and he ended his career with a 31-30 win against Oregon in the Wells Fargo Sun Bowl.
While a student at Minnesota, Utecht often sang the National Anthem before Minnesota hockey and basketball games. He also partnered with teammate Dan Nystrom and sang the National Anthem prior to Minnesota's first home football game against Purdue (9/29/01) after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Utecht, who has performed the National Anthem for every major pro and
college team in Minnesota, is an accomplished musician and is working on his next album. You can learn more about Utecht at his website benjaminutecht.com.
The Little Brown Jug is on the line this week when Michigan visits TCF Bank Stadium for the first time. The Gophers last won the Jug in 2005 and their last home victory was in 1977. We chatted with Michael Spath, who is the Associate Editor of The Wolverine to learn more Michigan. You can follow Spath on Twitter @Spath_Wolverine.
GopherSports: Can you give us a brief scouting report on Michigan?
Michael Spath: Michigan runs a hybrid spread/pro-style offense, though more spread than anything else because of the presence of Denard Robinson. The senior quarterback has accounted for 74.9 percent of the Wolverines' total offense this season, and 15 of 26 touchdowns, and as we saw a week ago when he went out of the game with an injury, U-M is completely reliant on the dynamic athlete to generate the majority of its offense.
The Maize and Blue have struggled to produce a rushing attack all year sans Robinson, with its running backs averaging only 82.5 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry, though Robinson, who has 946 yards in eight games and is averaging 7.2 yards per rush, is expected to play this weekend so that is not a significant issue.
Defensively, Michigan has improved considerably since allowing 431 yards and 417 yards to Alabama and Air Force the first two weeks of the season. In the past six games, the Wolverines have yielded an average of only 245.8 yards and 12.0 points per game.
U-M ranks first nationally in pass defense, giving up 145.3 yards per game, thanks to an experienced secondary and aggressive cornerbacks. However, Michigan began experiencing success when its front seven, especially its defensive line, found its rhythm, and it's that front four that continues to befuddle opponents and provide the entire defense the opportunity to stymie offenses.
GS: As you mentioned, everyone is expecting Robinson to play, but if he cannot or is limited, how does that affect Michigan and does their game plan change at all?
MS: It would affect Michigan considerably. A week ago, in two-plus quarters without Robinson, U-M had 44 yards of offense as backup QB Russell Bellomy completed 3 of 16 passes for 38 yards and three interceptions. Admittedly, getting thrown into the fire against a top team, on the road, at night, was no easy task, but no one expected the kid to struggle that badly.
If Robinson cannot play, Bellomy or junior Devin Gardner, who like Minnesota's MarQueis Gray has been converted into a wide receiver, would take the snaps. Gardner can run the offense the same way Robinson does, in a spread-like formation that relies as much on his legs as his arm to move the chains, but Bellomy would be better suited for a pro-style scheme, and U-M could alter its approach if the redshirt freshman is indeed called upon.
Whether either backup would be effective remains to be seen.
GS: The Gophers have not beaten Michigan at home since 1977. Is that something Michigan talks about at all or is this more of a rivalry game to Minnesota because the wins have been more scarce on this side?
MS: Perhaps if Michigan was coming off a win, the Jug talk this week would have been more jovial, but the Wolverines have been ticked off since their loss and their focus has been entirely on getting back into the win column this weekend, and not the Little Brown Jug.
In any rivalry, when it becomes so one-sided, the impact lessens for the winning side and heats up for the losing side. We saw that this year with Michigan State; U-M hadn't beaten the Spartans since 2007 and there was full-bore rage as the Maize and Blue prepared for that game. During the six-game winning streak Michigan had over MSU prior to four straight losses, the passion had subsided greatly.
There is only one foe that consistently drums up Michigan's intensity year after year after year - Ohio State.
GS: Michigan has three defeats on the year, so what is the key to beating the Wolverines?
MS: Red-zone defense. Admittedly, that's not a strength this season for Minnesota; the Gophers rank 95th nationally, allowing opponents to score on 20 of 23 occasions, including 16 touchdowns. But it has been Michigan's Achilles heel the past two weeks. U-M has entered the red zone four times and has come away with four field goals.
The Maize and Blue are scuffling in the red zone thanks to a passing attack that lacks a go-to wide receiver and a running game that seems to lose ground closer to the goal line. Michigan has to snap out of its funk and put up touchdowns, not field goals, with opportunities this weekend, but if Minnesota can bear down and limit U-M to three points instead of seven, it will keep this one close and give its offense a chance.
GS: Who is an under-the-radar player that Gopher fans should keep an eye on Saturday?
MS: Offensively, freshman tight end Devin Funchess was targeted five times last Saturday against Nebraska, up from just twice against Michigan State a week earlier and twice against Illinois Oct. 13. A big-play threat in September, when he had eight catches for 151 yards and two scores, Funchess inexplicably saw his opportunities disappear in October, but it's clear the game plan is intent on getting him involved again, taking advantage of his elite athleticism and 6-4, 229-pound frame.
Defensively, sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor will be one to keep an eye on. Minnesota had such great success a week ago with the double-move, burning Purdue's cornerbacks for 34-, 38- and 63-yard touchdown passes, and the Gophers will undoubtedly try again Saturday. Taylor is a very aggressive corner, playing tight coverage, and willing to gamble a little bit. That tendency could come back to bite him or it could be of benefit as the second-year Wolverine has a pair of interceptions this season, returning one 63 yards for a score.
GS: Last year's game ended 58-0 and that is a pretty hard score to forget. Care to give us a prediction on this year's game?
MS: I see Michigan winning thanks to stout defensive play that held Nebraska below its pre-game scoring average by 18 points, Michigan State by 11 points, Illinois by 21 points and Purdue by 29 points. The Gophers may have discovered the right formula offensively last weekend against the Boilermakers, but they probably won't score more than 14-17.
The question becomes how much will U-M score? If Robinson is healthy, Minnesota may have a difficult time containing the Wolverines' ground game. If he's not, and either doesn't play or misses a few series, the Maize and Blue will have to scrap and claw their way to a victory. However, I believe he'll play enough to provide a comfortable margin.
Michigan 34, Minnesota 14. (23-14 if he doesn't play)
GS: Michael, thanks for your time. We certainly appreciate it.
Members of the men's hockey team met with the media Wednesday
ahead of this weekend's home-and-home series with Minnesota State. Here is a sampling
of what they had to say:
Defenseman Nate Schmidt is a fan of how the home-and-home
series is scheduled this weekend, "I like the way it is setup, having a Friday
home game. We are trying to cure this first-game jitters bug. It is good to
start at home instead of on the road."
Both Schmidt and head coach Don Lucia offered some insight
into the challenges the Mavericks will present the Gophers.
"The are good. They have a lot of older guys with junior experience. I played
with Matt Leitner, Chase Grant, and Corey Lievermann, so I am familiar with
some of there guys having played with and against them. (Minnesota State) has
some good skill," Schmidt said.
Lucia agreed with his junior defenseman. He added that he
expects to see a much better team then the one the Gophers swept last season,
"Last year, they had devastating injuries early in the year. Their top players
are all returning. Chase Grant missed all of last season, he is one of their
better players. I think they have a really deep and talented group of
Lucia is very familiar with Minnesota State head coach Mike
Hastings, who previously was an assistant coach for the Gophers, "I think I
recruited him a bit when he was with the Rochester Mustangs, but he did not
want to go to Alaska. He has a real passion for coaching. It is a pretty seamless
transition for him right now after all of his years in the USHL."
After posting one goal on Sunday against Canisius, some are
wondering where the Gophers offense went. "Those things are going to correct
themselves, but we have to get more traffic in front of the net and bang home
some rebounds. We got a couple of tipped goals this last weekend, which shows
that we are getting to those dirty areas. It is an on-going battle to get to
those hard areas," Schmidt said.
With Sam Warning out with an injury, look for Ben Marshall
to continue playing forward this weekend as he did Sunday against Canisius.
"I said at the beginning of the year that we have a surplus
of defenseman, and we want are best 18 skaters playing. (Marshall) did a lot of
good things and that was without a practice. (Marshall) has talent and he can
skate. We feel this move makes us better for the time being," Lucia said.
The Gophers will host the Mavericks at Mariucci Arena on
Friday night. The Mavericks will return the favor on Saturday.
Story by Minnesota Communication Intern Josh Brennock
The facemask. Number 99. The punishing hits. Ra'Shede Hageman is certainly an imposing figure on the football field. He loves chasing down opposing quarterbacks and making them feel his wrath. But what is he like off the field? Turns out he is the biggest - literally and figuratively - goofball on the team.
GopherSports: You are a large man. Have you always been bigger than your peers or when did you really begin to grow? Ra'Shede Hageman: I reached my growth spurt in eighth grade. I was a little taller than all the kids I played basketball and football with. I was pretty tall and skinny, so I was definitely abnormal from the beginning. That was one of the main reasons why I played sports because I was too big to do some of the other things. I just tried to stay active.
GS: We know you were an accomplished basketball player. Do you remember the first time you dunked? RH: Eighth grade. It was a basketball tournament at Concordia. It was a fast break and I just closed my eyes and the next thing I know I am just hanging from the rim. I remember it like it was like yesterday. It was like reaching a manhood or brotherhood that I was able to dunk. I definitely felt that I was able to improve the rest of my game after I was able to dunk. I was the only one in eighth grade who could do it. I was in a tournament once and the other team saw me dunking in the layup line. Everyone was watching me and it was one of those "Aah" moments. Everyone was scared of me because I could dunk, so I used that to my advantage.
GS: You were taller than everyone in eighth grade, but when did you put on the weight and bulk up? RH: I was always skinny in high school, especially my senior year. I was 6-6 with a six-pack and I miss those days because I was fit. I loved going to the beach and showing off my physique. When I got to college and the food and the lifting started, I lost track of the sit-ups and was focusing on the McChicken with cheese and Mesa pizza.
GS: So you keep your shirt on at the beach now? RH: Oh no. I am too big. I have tattoos as well, so I still like to show off. I don't have the six-pack but I am still big and abnormal. There is no point in trying to hide what God gave you.
GS: Tell us about the sack competition among the defensive line? RH: We just want to be competitive as a defensive line. We are a tight group. If one person is doing better then we hold a grudge and the best thing to do is compete and see who can get the most sacks. Right now D.L. (Wilhite) has the most sacks. I am eager and looking forward to the games to get some more sacks so I can catch him.
GS: Are you going to catch him? RH: Yeah, that is my goal. I don't want him in front of me. Just the fact that he gets to show off and brag about it...I want to be better than him. It is all about competing.
GS: What does it feel like to hit somebody? RH: I love it. It is am empowering feeling. You can be angry and go full speed. Then the coaches pat you on the butt and tell you to do it again.
GS: Is it a similar feeling to dunking a basketball for the first time? RH: No, it is most definitely different. If I am having a bad day I can put the pads on and give somebody my wrath and let them know how I am feeling. Then the coaches congratulate you. Sometimes basketball does not go your way. You can miss a couple shots and may not dunk every ball. I think I stay more consistent running full speed at somebody than dunking a ball. That is why I chose football.
GS: You played tight end in high school. How did you end up on the defensive line? RH: I was an All-American tight end coming out of high school and was recruited here as a tight end. I played tight end my freshman year when I was a redshirt. Then one day the coach saw me looking over at the defense and he knew right then and right there that I was a defensive player since I liked the contact. I did not totally like the blocking aspect of being on the offensive line. I like the physical aspect of defense and love trying to overpower everybody. Defense was the spot for me even though I was an All-American tight end.
GS: Have you ever asked coach Kill to give you some red zone playing time at tight end? RH: Coach Kill knows I was a tight end, and I told him that if he ever needs me that I still have my hands. I am always going to have that talent. If he wants to do that then we can definitely work it out, but right now I just have to do my job on the defensive line.
GS: Your facemask has gotten a lot of attention this year? Why did you make the switch? RH: I chose it because I needed something different, something nasty. When the new Batman movie came out this past summer I was a big fan of Bane. Bane beat Batman in the movie and he was the underdog and was able to overpower him. I just liked his whole swagger and how mean and calm he could be. I try to take that character to real life when I play football.
GS: Is that why you wear No. 99 as well, to go along with that nasty image? RH: I had to pick it. No. 99 is what everyone looks for. All those small numbers are irrelevant. Ninety-nine is the biggest number on the field and I want to be the biggest person on the field. I want to represent that number and try to be a beast. Off the field I am just Ra'Shede, but on the field I am Big Shede.
GS: You keep talking about being mean on the field. How are you off the field? RH: It's a man's game. You cannot show up every day smiling and laughing because then somebody is going to knock your head off. You have to have that mentality of being a man. When you cross those lines you have to have the mentality of being a man. Off the field, I am probably the goofiest guy on the team. I love telling jokes and goofing around with the defensive line because I am close with them. But when it comes to playing on Saturday, the other team does not care about you. They are going to go full speed, so you have to step your game up and become mean as well.
GS: A lot of people follow you on Twitter. You can get pretty deep with some of your Tweets. Where does that come from? RH: That comes from within. People know you as an athlete before they know you as a student. I just want to keep it real. I have gotten a lot of compliments about how deep some of my Tweets are. I am not trying to sugarcoat anything. Everyone sees us with shoulder pads and cleats. They don't really see the real Ra'Shede outside of football. They just see a big, aggressive defensive tackle with a Bane facemask. They don't know about all the hard work I have put in or that I am also a father. They don't know that we have to maintain a certain GPA to play the game. They just see us as a football player. I just want people to know that we are student-athletes. We get up at 6 a.m. for a reason. Football is probably the longest internship I have ever had. Hopefully it works out for the long run. Plus, when you have the right music on you can Tweet about anything.
GS: You talked about being a father. Tell us about that. RH: I have a 1-year-old little boy. His name is Zion and he definitely takes after his father. He is a knucklehead and goofy. That is definitely another motivation for me to keep grinding. I am blessed to have him.
GS: Is he going to be as big as you? RH: He is definitely tall and lanky, but I think he is going to play baseball or maybe golf. There is no salary cap in baseball. I don't want him banging his head around in football like his father is doing.