January 2013 Archives
Austin Hollins has emerged as one of the Gophers' go-to scorers this season.
This feature originally aired during "Gopher Basketball with Tubby Smith" which appears each Friday during Big Ten Season on Fox Sports North. Check your local listings for times and more details.
Hollins scored a career-high 21 points against Michigan earlier this season and also led the way in the Gophers' Jan. 6 victory over Northwestern at Williams Arena, hitting a career-high five three-pointers in just three minutes of play.
*Four Gophers were in action on Monday -- Ballard (VAN), Schroeder (VAN), Goligoski (DAL) and Johnson (COL).
The Gophers are set for an 8 p.m. tilt against Nebraska on Tuesday. Gophersports.com's Jeff Fett took a look at the Cornhuskers before the two teams' first of two meetings this season.
Head Coach: Tim Miles
Current Record: 11-10, 2-6 Big Ten
Last Year's Big Ten Record: 4-14
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Dylan Talley-13.4 ppg; Ray Gallegos-12.7 ppg; Brandon Ubel-12.1 ppg; Shavon Shields-7.4 ppg ; Andre Almeida-5.9 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Brandon Ubel-7.0 rpg; Dylan Talley-5.5 rpg; Shavon Shields-5.0 rpg; Andre Almeida-3.9 rpg; David Rivers-3.3 rpg.
Notable Non-Conference wins: Wake Forest, USC, Tulane
Notable Non-Conference losses: Creighton, Oregon, Kent State
Conference Wins: Penn State, Northwestern
Conference Losses: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois
The Gophers and Cornhuskers will meet again in March.
In just its second year playing Big Ten basketball, Nebraska hopes it can make a little noise as the Cornhuskers transition into what they hope will be a contender in years to come.
Tim Miles, who was the head coach at Colorado State last year and took over for the fired Doc Sadler, has a team with only one returning starter in Brandon Ubel. Miles has been making progress on the recruiting trail, but it may take a little while before he sees the Cornhuskers make a move in the Big Ten.
The Cornhuskers lost 73 percent of the team's minutes from last year's squad, meaning a lot of inexperienced players are getting a chance to contribute this year. To take some of that burden, they are relying on a pair of freshmen and a couple of transfers.
Nebraska is off to a 2-6 start in the conference season. While the transition to better basketball may take a little while, the Cornhuskers hope to finish strong during this steppingstone season as they wait for Miles recruits to hit the hardwood.
Here are some thoughts from the Gophers' 4-1 victory over Minnesota State.
Gophers Win in Mankato
The Gophers bounced back from yesterday's disappointing 2-1 lost to claim a 4-1 victory in Mankato. The Gophers have not lost a WCHA weekend since last February at Denver. Minnesota had more energy in the early stages of tonight's game, blocked shots, and got a boost from first-period goals by Justin Hull and Nate Schmidt and a 26-save effort by Adam Wilcox.
Much Better Start
On Friday night, Minnesota looked sluggish and failed to use the hometown crowd to their advantage early in the contest. Saturday, on the road, the early effort was there. The Gophers took the crowd out of the game and aggressively attacked the Mavericks in the first period with solid fore-checking. The Gophers registered just eight shots on goal in the first period Friday. Tonight, they had 13. The late power-play goal by Nate Schmidt capped off a road period the Gophers could take pride in.
Holl Has One
Justin Holl scored his first goal of the season with a spectacular individual effort, turning over a puck and finishing on a breakaway. In fact, it was Holl's first goal in 42 games. The goal was especially important to the Gophers because it gave them an early lead on the road. Before this season, Holl was an everyday defenseman for Minnesota. He has done a great job transitioning to a forward role in 2012-13. He was one of the most noticeable Gophers on Friday night and continued to make his presence felt on Saturday, creating multiple grade A scoring chances with his speed.
The Captain Comes Through
When a team has a disappointing loss like the Gophers did Friday night, the captain has extra responsibility to help the team positively respond. Gopher captain Zach Budish did just that. He had a goal and an assist tonight. His goal gave the Gophers breathing room in the third period. He was one of three Gophers, (Rau and Haula) to have multiple points in the game. Tonight's performance comes after a three-point weekend against North Dakota.
Mavericks Have Impressed This Season
Minnesota State played step for step with the Gophers in all four meetings this season. Tonight was the last WCHA regular season meeting between Minnesota and Minnesota State. However, the teams will continue to play next year as non-conference opponents. The Mavericks are tentatively scheduled to visit Mariucci for a pair of games next season. The season series ended split, 2-2.
Written by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
Thoughts after the Gophers' 2-1 lost to Minnesota State.
Mavericks End the Streak
The Gophers were topped by Minnesota State for the second time this season by a score of 2-1. A late goal by Brett Knowles was the difference. Minnesota's unbeaten streak ends at 10 games. It is the first time the Gophers have lost since November (Omaha). It is also the first time the Mavericks defeated the Gophers at Mariucci Arena since December of 2009. In all three meetings this season, The Gophers have seen just how challenging it is to play Minnesota State this year. The Mavericks have been the better team for all large portions of all three games.
The top two freshman goalies in the WCHA collided tonight, and they did not disappoint. The Gophers' Wilcox and the Mavericks' Williams came into the weekend tops in the league in goals against average. Both Goalies were strong at different times during the game. Williams made 37 saves and Wilcox made 31. Stephon Williams stopped the Gophers' streak of scoring at least four goals in a game at nine and collected the victory tonight.
Nate Schmidt burst on to the scene last year as an offensive force from the backend. Schmidt's ascent up this year's scoring chart can be traced back to a three-point against the Mavericks when the teams met in early November. He was the first to get on the board tonight when a pass from Nate Condon deflected off a Minnesota State skate right to him. Schmidt made no mistake putting the puck past Williams in the Mavericks' net. It would be the Gophers only goal of the game.
Minnesota State scored the winning goal 44 seconds from the end of the third period. Brett Knowles was on the spot to score his second goal of the season in a goalmouth scramble. The Gophers best line tonight was the line of Serratore, Boyd, and Holl. Justin Holl, the converted defensemen, created chances with his speed and blocked shots at the defensive end. He seems to be adjusting nicely to his forward role. The top point producers did not get it done for the Gophers tonight.
Can the Gophers Bounce Back?
When the Gophers played a home-and-home with the Mavericks in early November, they lost on Saturday night in front of an inspired crowd in Mankato. Tomorrow, Minnesota again must go to Mankato and play at the Verizon Wireless Center. Last time in Mankato, the Gophers made too many mental mistakes and got off to a very slow start. Tonight, they were again too sluggish and a late burst of energy was not enough. They will look to avoid a similar fate when the square off with the Mavericks in Mankato Saturday night.
Written by Minnesota Communications intern Josh Brennock
How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!
Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has junior Kionna Kellogg answering questions about Micaella Riche. Enjoy!
This Saturday, the No. 12 Gophers will look to bounce back from some tough losses as they take on Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison. Gophersports.com's Jeff Fett takes a look at Minnesota's border rival.
Head Coach: Bo Ryan
Current Record: 13-6, 4-2 Big Ten
Last Year's Big Ten Record: 12-6
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Jared Berggren-12.5 ppg; Ryan Evans-10.9 ppg; Ben Brust-10.6 ppg; Sam Dekker-9.2 ppg; Mike Bruesewitz-7.5 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Ryan Evans-7.0 rpg; Jared Berggren-6.4 rpg; Ben Brust-5.7 rpg; Mike Bruesewitz-5.2 rpg; Sam Dekker-3.4 rpg.
Notable Non-Conference Wins: Arkansas, California
Notable Non-Conference Losses: Florida, Marquette, Virginia, Creighton
Conference Wins: Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana
Conference Losses: Iowa, Michigan State
Wisconsin is one of those teams you can always pencil in to compete in the top half of the Big Ten and, once in a while, make a long run in the NCAA tournament. This year should be the same. The Badgers have 12 of 14 lettermen returning and a solid freshman class contributing right now.
The season did not get started the way Wisconsin wanted. The Badgers lost Jordan Taylor to graduation and then lost his replacement, Josh Gasser, to a torn ACL. But the Badgers still got off to a 4-0 start in Big Ten play. Ben Brust has been taking the reins leading the Badger backcourt.
Perhaps Wisconsin's biggest strength is inside. Forwards Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans have been making life difficult for teams to pound the ball inside night in and night out. They've also been getting help from athletic 6-7 freshman forward Sam Dekker.
If there is a weakness on this team it is that the Badgers do not have the premier scorer that can light it up night in and night out. They play as a team in every sense of the word.
The Badgers have not missed the NCAA tournament since 1998, and if their backcourt can stay productive, they should make it again this year.
The Gophers met the media after their Tuesday afternoon practice to preview Wednesday's game at Northwestern. Minnesota picked up a home win against the Wildcats earlier this month, but has not won at Welsh-Ryan Arena since 2008. Sophomore point guard Andre Hollins feels that dealing with the Northwestern crowd will be a factor in the game.
Dre Hollins will make his second trip to Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"They play really well at home," he said. "And we have to get back to playing good defense. We haven't played the best defense these past couple games. Taking care of the ball is the No. 1 thing. We've beaten ourselves in almost every game that we've lost. That's going to be key--taking care of the ball, making shots and playing good, sound basketball."
Minnesota won this season's first matchup 69-51 behind Austin Hollins' 19 points, but the Gophers will not take the Wildcats lightly.
"Bill Carmody and his staff, their team--they always find a way to make adjustments to give themselves a chance," head coach Tubby Smith said.
The Gophers are looking to snap a two-game losing streak. After starting Big Ten play with a 3-0 record, the Gophers lost to two of the top teams in the conference in Indiana and Michigan. Minnesota is still No. 12 in the country, and still has a positive outlook moving forward. The Gophers will try to start a new winning streak on Wednesday night.
"We definitely can't let those two losses get to us," senior forward Rodney Williams said. "We've got a long season left ahead of us. This will be a chance for us to show everybody what we've really got."
The Gopher men's basketball team is halfway through the season, and the offense that was projected to be a strength before the season is one that is showing up on the stats sheets.
As a team, the Gophers appear in the top 50 out of 345 teams in the nation in several offensive categories right now. They have also lit up the stat sheet in a few areas on the defensive side as well.
* Won-lost percentage: 83.3% (24th)
* Final points: 45th
* Scoring offense: 76.2 points per game (37th)
* Scoring margin over opponents: 13.7 points per game (26th)
* Field goal percentage: 47.1% (31st)
* Rebound margin over opponents: 9.8 (4th)
* Assists per game: 16.4 per game (18th)
* Blocked shots per game: 6.4 per game (8th)
* Steals per game: 9.6 per game (15th)
Mbakwe has ruled the boards in the Big Ten.
So far the Gophers are still in the early stages of the Big Ten season, but they are dominating in blocks per game, which they have done for the last five years. They are also tops in the conference in several other categories as seen below.
* Blocked shots: 6.4 per game
* Steals: 9.6 per game
* Offensive rebounds: 16.0 per game
* Offensive rebound percentage: 47.9%
Statistically, the Gophers have several players in the top 10 in the Big Ten individually, primarily led by senior forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. Sophomore guard Andre Hollins is also lighting up the stat sheet in several categories as well.
* Scoring: Andre Hollins-14.3 points per game (10th)
* Field goal percentage: Mbakwe- 58.3% (5th), Williams-53.1% (9th)
* Assists: Andre Hollins-3.7 per game (9th)
* Free throw percentage: Andre Holins-77.2% (10th)
* Steals: Austin Hollins-2.1 steals per game (2nd), Joe Coleman-1.6 steals per game (9th)
* 3-point field goal percentage: Andre Hollins- 42.9% (5th), Austin Hollins-41.0% (10th)
* 3-point field goals made: Andre Hollins-2.0 per game (t-8th)
* Blocked shots: Mbakwe-1.7 per game (3rd), Williams-1.4 (4th)
* Rebounds: Mbakwe-8.2 per game (t-1st)
* Offensive rebounds: Mbakwe-3.2 per game (1st), Williams 2.8 per game (2nd)
* Defensive rebounds: Mbakwe-5.0 per game (6th)
In the conference-only standings, the Gophers top several statistical categories.
* 3-point field goal percentage: 46.8%
* Assists: 16.2 per game
* Rebounding margin: 8.8 per game
* Blocks: 6.0 per game
* Offensive rebounds: 14.2 per game
* Offensive rebounding percentage: 45.2%
* Rebounds: Mbakwe-10.8 per game
* Offensive rebounds: Mbakwe-4.4 per game
* Defensive rebounds: Mbakwe-6.4 per game
* 3-point field goal percentage: Austin Hollins-59.3%
* 3-point field goals: Austin Hollins-3.2 per game
Gophers Earn Three Points
Tonight's game ended in a 4-4 tie after the Gophers scored two goals in the third period. The result means the Gophers collected three points this weekend against their rival from North Dakota, and ran their unbeaten streak to 10 games. Minnesota ends the weekend two points clear of North Dakota in the WCHA standings. The Gophers finsh the weekend atop the WCHA standings.
Gophers Make A Comeback
North Dakota scored the first two goals of the second period to take a 3-1 lead. The Gopher battled back in the second period, picking up a goal later from Sam Warning to cut the North Dakota lead to one. North Dakota went back up by two goals in the third period courtesy of Drake Caggiula. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, Nick Bjugstad scored to trim UND's lead back to one. Nate Condon tied the game at four with just-under three minutes remaining in the third period. It was Condon's fifth point of the weekend. The game ended in a tie despite good opportunities for North Dakota to win the game in overtime.
Impressive Point Streaks Extended
Both The Gophers' Erik Haula and North Dakota's Corban Knight increased their splendid point streaks. Haula used an assist on Nick Bjugstad's goal to put his streak at 16 games. After missing three games with an Injury, Erik has picked right up where he left off. North Dakota forward Corban Knight moved his point streak to an amazing 19 games with a goal to give North Dakota the 2-1 lead at the time.
Parenteau Gets His First
Jake Parenteau scored his first goal of the season in the first period to tie the game at one. It came at a critical time for the Gophers after Danny Kristo had given North Dakota the lead just one minute and 11 seconds earlier. Patenteau was in the lineup as a forward this weekend, playing alongside Christian Isackson and Seth Ambroz. Mark Alt and Isackson picked up helpers on the goal. For Alt, he now has two assists in the last three games.
Goodbye For Now
The University of Minnesota and North Dakota have no more scheduled matchups. The archrivals have met on the ice 290 times with the first meeting coming in 1930. The Gophers lead the all-time series 145-130-15, with the two squads squaring off in many national tournaments. Minnesota fans will fondly remember the 1979 NCAA Championship Game when the Gophers topped UND 4-3. Perhaps it was fitting the two teams played to a tie tonight. The teams could meet in the WCHA Final Five this season or in the national tournament in the coming years, but regular battles between the bitter rivals will be missed on both sides.
Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
|Hockey Day Minnesota Results|
|1/20/2007||Minnesota vs. Denver||W, 5-4|
|2/9/2008||Minnesota at Denver||L, 1-4|
|1/17/2009||Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State||W, 8-6|
|1/23/2010||Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State||L, 1-4|
|2/12/2011||Minnesota vs. Denver||W, 7-3|
|1/21/2012||Minnesota vs. Colorado College||W, 2-1|
Here are some quick thoughts on the Gophers 5-1 victory over North Dakota.
Another Top Team Goes Down
The Gophers picked up another win over a highly-ranked opponent. Minnesota can add No. 6 North Dakota to their growing list of impressive wins. It includes Boston College and Notre Dame. In all the Gophers have not dropped a contest since November 30th versus Omaha. Since that date, the Gophers are 8-0-1. They will go for the sweep of North Dakota tomorrow.
Erik Haula returned to the Gophers' lineup for the first time since getting injured against Boston College. He was slotted on the left wing, playing alongside Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. Haula posted a goal and an assist. In addition, he was slashed on a breakaway late in the second period leading to the power play where the Gophers scored their second goal. Erik collected his 100 career point with assist on Schmidt goal in the third period, which made the score 3-1 Haula put the game on ice with an empty-net goal to make the score 5-1.
Late in the second period, the Gophers got a key goal and never relinquished the lead. Nate Condon took a shot, which deflected in to the air. The first player to find it when it came down was Seth Ambroz. He was able to put the puck on net and start whacking away at it and goalie Clarke Saunders. The puck was finally pushed over the line by Ben Marshall with only six seconds left to go in the period. The Gophers took the momentum to the third period.
The star of the night was Gopher forward Nate Condon. He posted a game-high three points. Nate assisted on two critical goals for the Gophers in the second period. He picked up his first assist on the goal by Zach Budish, which tied the game at one. His second assist came on the game-winning goal. Condon fired a shot towards the net and it was deflected in the air. Ambroz and eventually Ben Marshall found it to give the Gophers the key one-goal lead heading into the final frame. Nate's goal was a spectacular individual effort. While the Gophers were on the penalty kill, he blocked a shot and raced the other way past the remaining North Dakota defenders before going top shelf to put Minnesota up 4-1.
Issuing a Warning to Opponents
Perhaps no Gopher is feeling better about his game than Sam Warning. He extended his point streak to six games in fine fashion. With the Gophers trailing 1-0, Sam made a diving play along the wing to get the puck in the middle for Zach Budish. Zach wasted no time putting the puck beyond Clarke Saunders and into the net to tie the game at one. Warning had four assists last weekend against Alaska Anchorage.
Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock
How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!
Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has freshman Shayne Mullaney answering questions about fellow freshman Jackie Johnson. Enjoy!
With one of the greatest rivalries in hockey set for this weekend at Mariucci Arena, the No. 1 Gophers spoke with members of the media on Wednesday ahead of the team's Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with No. 6 North Dakota.
This Thursday evening at the Barn marks one of the most anticipated match-ups in recent Gopher basketball history: No. 5 Michigan takes on No. 9 Minnesota in the first game between Top-10 ranked teams at Williams Arena since 1972 (not counting the vacated season of 1976-77). GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett gives us a quick look at the Wolverines.
Big Ten Preview: Michigan
Thursday marks the first match-up of Top-10 teams at Williams Arena since 1977.
Head Coach: John Beilein
Last Year's Big 10 Record: 13-5
This Year's Big 10 Record: 3-1 (Ws vs. Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska; Loss at OSU).
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Trey Burke-18.0 ppg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-16.1 ppg; Nik Stauskas-12.7 ppg; Glenn Robinson III-12.3 ppg; Jordan Morgan-6.6 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Mitch McGary-5.4 rpg; Glenn Robinson III-5.8 rpg; Jordan Morgan-5.5 rpg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-5.4 rpg; Nik Stauskas-3.2 rpg.
Notable non-conference wins: Pittsburgh, Kansas State, N.C. State, Arkansas, West Virginia, Bradley
Notable non-conference losses: None
This year's Michigan team is unlike ones in year's past. The Wolverines still rely on the 3-point ball, but not as much. Michigan also has much more athleticism. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke lead a team that hasn't lost a game this season. To make things worse for the other teams in the Big Ten, Michigan has a freshman class that's making a big impact right now. Power forwards Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and guard Nik Stauskas add depth and more athleticism to a team that already has an abundance of it. Michigan has played well against tough non-conference opponents. They've beat up on West Virginia and Kansas State, and handled N.C. State, who's been in the top 20 all season. The only slight weakness is how young this team is. Three of the Wolverines top six scorers are freshmen this season.
After being upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, the question remains how much has Michigan learned from that experience. The Wolverines should be a strong contender for the Big Ten title this year and if everything falls just right, they should be in the hunt for a National Championship as well.
The Gopher women's basketball home contest vs. Nebraska on Sunday is jam-packed with promotions and deals for fans. Any Minnesota fan will be able to find a reason to come out and support the Gophers, who are off to their best start since the 2005-06 season with a 13-4 record.
The Gophers are looking to "Burst the Barn" in the contest at Williams Arena Sunday at 5:00 p.m., with head coach Pam Borton set to donate $1,000 to five different charities should the attendance reach 5,000 fans. The charities looking to benefit from Coach Borton's generosity are the Ann Bancroft Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, Urban Ventures, Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Animal Humane Society.
How can you get in on Sunday's Big Ten women's basketball action? Just $10 buys you:
* 2 Bench Tickets (must order in advance of the game)
* Gopher Meal Deal Ticket - Bench Ticket and $5 Concession Voucher (available for all home games)
* A Great Seat for intense Big Ten basketball action!
Don't forget to wear your favorite white t-shirt, as the team is looking to "White Out" the Barn for the contest!
Gopher men's hockey remained No. 1 in both polls this week after sweeping Alaska-Anchorage.
University of Minnesota head women's basketball coach Pam Borton and her staff, in conjunction with the Fast Break Club, will hold their second 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.
How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!
Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has sophomore Rachel Banham answering questions about redshirt freshman Kayla Hirt. Enjoy!
Big Ten Preview: Indiana
Head Coach: Tom Crean
Last Year's Big 10 Record: 11-7
This Year's Big 10 Record: 2-0 (wins over Iowa and Penn State)
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Cody Zeller-16.5 ppg; Victor Oladipo-13.3 ppg; Christian Watford-12.7 ppg; Will Sheehey-12.1 ppg; Jordan Hulls-11.1 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Cody Zeller-7.9 rpg; Christian Watford-6.5 rpg; Victor Oladipo-5.9 rpg; Will Sheehey-4.1 rpg; Kevin Ferrell-3.3 rpg.
Notable non-conference wins: Georgia, Georgetown, North Carolina, North Dakota State
Notable non-conference losses: Butler
The Gophers went into Assembly Hall last season and took down the Hoosiers.
Indiana has some big aspirations this season. Not only do they expect to battle for the Big Ten title, they are hungry for a national title this season.
Indiana has everything to expect for a team that could make a long run in the NCAA tournament. They have preseason player of the year in center Cody Zeller. They have solid power forwards in Christian Watford and Will Sheehey. They have an experienced backcourt in guards Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls.
Everything is there this season. The only thing stopping the Hoosiers is consistency on the defensive side of the ball. Head Coach Tom Crean has been preaching that to his team, and they have responded. They've only allowed 60 plus points in four contests this season.
Indiana doesn't have many holes in its lineup this season. Barring any major injuries, they should be a serious contender for the Big Ten title. It's also feasible to see them making a run to the final four and possibly the national championship game.
Minnesota just closed out its nonconference schedule with an 8-0-0 record, but 16 league games remain on the team's calendar -- meaning nothing is guaranteed for the nation's top team.
Watch the video above and read more about these fans' incredible journey via Rick Moore of Rick's "Season Pass" Gopher Football blog!
[READ THE ORIGINAL POST ON RICK'S BLOG BY CLICKING HERE]
By Rick Moore, UMN.edu's "Season Pass": A Gopher Football Fan Blog (link)
There's one more tale I wanted to share from Houston, but I ran out of time before the flight home.
It concerns the fate of about 20 University of Minnesota students who signed on for a good old-fashioned road trip to watch the Gophers play in Houston. They boarded a coach bus at 3 p.m. last Wednesday, two days and five hours before kickoff, with the plan of arriving in Houston 20 hours later.
They were reveling in the experience--enjoying poker, war, Uno, and Xbox tournaments--when suddenly their bus pulled over to the side of the road. A belt had snapped, and after a driver's consultation, they wound up inching along at 20 mph to a truck stop a few miles away.
It was, said senior Shelby Morton, the most outspoken spokesperson for the journey, "in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas."
These Gopher student fans had a memorable journey down to Houston for the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas!
They weren't able to get the bus fixed right away; turns out "there was one more piece missing," Morton says, so they got to spend six hours at that truck stop socializing with the locals and the truckers, and presumably playing more games.
They eventually got on a different bus and reunited with their original, repaired coach during a break in Dallas... but there was one more delay after that.
"We had a bit of another detour to get to Houston just because it was dark, it was raining, and we missed a turn," Morton said.
They arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Houston shortly before midnight on Thursday--a half day late but not much worse for the wear.
"It was an experience. Everybody has to have a broken-down-bus trip," Morton said with a chuckle at the pregame party at Reliant Stadium. "Even though we got hung up for a few hours, it was totally worth it. I mean, we're at the game. This is awesome."
She had even more reason to smile. The students partook in a number of contests along the way, and the final one, held Friday afternoon, was for the best game "costume." Morton, sporting a shade of arguably maroon dye in her hair and wearing maroon and gold bib overalls and funky gold shoes, was declared the winner, and returned home with a 55-inch TV.
In addition, she came back with a great broken-down-bus story, another rite of passage in her collegiate journey.
Members of the University of Minnesota women's basketball team volunteered their time at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan, Minn., Tuesday afternoon as part of their community service efforts over winter break.
The Gophers filled, sealed and packed food pouches that will be sent to starving children around the world, with each pouch providing enough food for six meals. At the end of the experience, the team was informed of the impact their two hours of work will have on the world, and with the help of a handful of additional volunteers, the Gophers filled 42 boxes of food which is the equivalent of 9,072 meals.
The organization also informed the team that the pouches it put together will provide 25 children with a daily meal for an entire year!
The vision of Feed My Starving Children is to strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.
The outgoing seniors will participate in separate All-Star Games in the coming weeks. Stoudermire will play in the upcoming Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game on Friday, Jan. 11 at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., while Gray is scheduled to play in the Texas vs. The Nation game on Feb. 2 at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas.
Stoudermire is the only Gopher participating in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game and is one of three Big Ten players in the event, which is in its second year. The inaugural game produced six NFL draft picks and 67 players who were signed to an NFL contract. The game starts at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Stoudermire started all 12 games for the Gophers and led Minnesota in tackles (82) and solo tackles (59). He also broke up three passes and notched 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Stoudermire returned 22 kicks this year for 513 yards as he became the NCAA all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 3,615 yards.
Gray is the lone Gopher in the Texas vs. The Nation game as well. The game, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, was established in 2006. Since the game began, more than 100 players have been selected in the NFL Draft and more than 500 have signed with an NFL team.
Gray played both quarterback and wide receiver at Minnesota this year, while battling an injury. He rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns from the quarterback position, while also passing for 472 yards and five touchdowns. Gray also caught 12 passes for 121 yards this year.
Minnesota's Jordan Leopold accepts the 2002 Hobey Baker Award.
As college hockey enters the second half of the season, fans of the collegiate game can now help determine the winner of the 2013 Hobey Baker Award.
Awarded annually to college hockey's top player, the Hobey Baker's highly popular fan-voting phase opens at noon CT on Monday, January 7. Visit the Hobey Baker website: www.hobeybakeraward.com. Click on the Vote for Hobey icon and follow the prompts to make your selection from this year's outstanding crop of 77 college hockey players. Please spend some additional time to check out our website.
Among those nominated for the 2013 Hobey Baker Award are Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt.
This first phase of fan balloting will run now through March 10, 2013. Phase two of fan balloting will begin on March 22 from the list of Top Ten Hobey Baker finalists. The fans' vote accounts for a full 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase in selecting this year's award recipient.
Award criteria include candidates emulating the exceptional character traits exhibited by the award's namesake, Hobey Baker. An American super-hero, Baker was a World War I fighter pilot and was known as America's greatest amateur athlete in his day, excelling at hockey and football at Princeton. Award candidates must demonstrate strength of character both on and off the ice, contribute to the integrity of his team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.
Key Hobey Baker announcement dates for 2013 include:
- Top Ten list of candidates: March 21
- Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists: April 3
- Hobey Baker Award announcement: April 12
The 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 12, 2013 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Pittsburgh, PA. The 33rd annual award announcement honoring college hockey's top player will be televised live. For more info on the Hobey Baker Award or to access the Hobey logo, please visitwww.hobeybakeraward.com.
Trevor Mbakwe and the Gophers travel to Illinois Wednesday for a match-up with the No. 12 Illini.
Big Ten Preview: Illinois
Head Coach: John Groce (1st season)
Last Year's Big 10 Record: 6-12
2012 Big Ten Record: 1-1 (W- Ohio State, L - Purdue)
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Brandon Paul-18.5 ppg; D.J. Richardson-10.6 ppg; Tracy Abrams-12.1 ppg; Tyler Griffey-8.7 ppg; Joseph Bertrand-9.3 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Brandon Paul-5.1 rpg; D.J. Richardson-4.7 rpg; Joseph Bertrand-4.5 rpg; Nnanna Egwu-4.3 rpg; Tracy Abrams-3.9 rpg.
Notable non-conference wins: Butler, Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb
Notable non-conference losses: Missouri
Could this be the year Illinois finally grabs a Big Ten championship title? On paper, the Illini have everything going for them.
The Illini have a loaded backcourt. Seniors Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and junior Joe Bertrand have led the way so far this season. The experience has led the Illini to just one loss in the non-conference season so far.
In the frontcourt, gone is Myers Leonard to the NBA draft, but the Illini have reloaded there. Seniors Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey have stepped up in Myers absence, and Nnanna Egwu is showing lots of promise in just his sophomore season.
Last season, Illinois had all of the pieces there as well, but stumbled down the stretch losing 12 out of their last 14 games. Head Coach Bruce Weber was fired, and Ohio Head Coach John Groce was brought into lead the team.
So far, the Illini have played consistent basketball this season. The only weakness this team appears to have is depth. They primarily have a seven-man rotation and in a grueling Big Ten season, one has to wonder if that will hold up come late February into March.
If early season success has anything to do with it, Illinois should be there at the end. The pieces are there for at least an NCAA tournament trip, if they can hold together will determine if they can grab a Big Ten championship.
The Big Ten conference season is underway. The Gophers opened with a win over Michigan State at Williams Arena. Up next is a date with Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 6. The Wildcats open against No. 2 Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Gophersports.com men's basketball beat writer Jeff Fett takes a peak at Northwestern.
Big Ten Preview: Northwestern
Head Coach: Bill Carmody (Union College, '75)
Career Record: 280-220 (17th season)
Record at Northwestern: 188-195 (13th season)
Trevor Mbakwe and the No. 9 Gophers host Northwestern Sunday at 6 p.m.
Top Scorers: Reggie Hearn-14.5 ppg; Dave Sobolewski-11.3 ppg; Jared Swopshire-8.8 ppg; Alex Olah-7.2 ppg; Tre Demps-5.6 ppg.
Top Rebounders: Swopshire-6.0 rpg; Hearn-5.5 rpg; Olah-4.5 rpg;
Notable non-conference wins: TCU, Baylor, Illinois State
Notable non-conference losses: Maryland, Butler, Stanford
The biggest question for Northwestern is can they break the curse this year. Since the NCAA tournament started in 1939, they are the only team in a BCS conference to never have made a tournament appearance. They have also not won the Big Ten conference since 1933.
And so as the drought continues, there bid this year to get into the NCAA tournament took a big hit. Drew Crawford, who was second on the team in scoring and was an NBA draft prospect, is out for the year with a torn labrum.
Sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski and senior point guard Alex Marcotullio will now have to step up to take bigger roles in the offense.
The Wildcats will also rely on their revamped frontcourt consisting of Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire, TCU transfer Nikola Cerina and freshman Alex Olah.
Northwestern is one of the toughest teams to predict this season. With nice non-conference wins over Baylor and Illinois State, the Wildcats have set themselves up nicely to start the Big Ten season. Expect the Wildcats to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. If they can make a run in the Big Ten tournament, they could make a strong case to make a bid for the NCAA tournament.