Head Coach Richard Pitino
On his philosophy for summer practice:
"This is the summer. If I come in here going nuts in July, in June, they're going to hate me come December. So I try to take it somewhat easy on them but also kind of instill the culture. We're allowed two hours (per week), and when the season starts we practice much, much more than that. So for me, I'm just trying not to make them feel like this is the season."
|Pitino and the Gophers met the media on Tuesday.|
Pitino and the Gophers met the media on Tuesday.
"A lot of our practices have been going up and down as much as possible, not blowing the whistle that much, getting them to play through mistakes."
"This time of year, it's probably good when they screw up, because you can show them on film."
*Pitino said the Gophers have played a lot of five-on-five to get used to the pace he would like them to play. Building chemistry, instilling team culture and preparing for the pace are the main offseason focuses.
On some of his personnel:
"I think Austin (Hollins is) a really good player. We're going to rely on him a lot, just because he's done it. He'll be fine in any system that he plays in. Andre (Hollins is) another guy we'll rely on a lot."
"What you see right now is not what you're to get with Charles Buggs. Hopefully he'll continue to grow, continue to improve. When he puts on weight and when he figures out how to play for me, he'll be a very good player down the road. It's going to take time, though."
*Pitino said that the starting point guard spot is open for competition, but he would be "shocked" if Andre Hollins doesn't start as either point guard or shooting guard.
*The Gophers are still waiting to find out if transfers Malik Smith and Joey King will be cleared to play in the upcoming season. Smith played for Pitino at Florida International last year, while King transferred from Drake for family reasons. Pitino said that Smith has played the best in practice so far because he is used to his system.
Meet the New Guys
Malik Smith (Senior/Guard)
"I love the way Coach Pitino plays. A lot of shots. I love to shoot. ...He's a demanding coach. He's going to get the most out of us. He's a good guy."
On his new teammates:
"There's no bad teammate. Everybody's good people."
*Smith started 31 of 32 games for FIU last season. He averaged 14.1 points per game and made 96 three-pointers on the year.
Joey King (Sophomore/Forward)
On coming back to his home state (King attended Eastview High School):
"It's definitely a great opportunity. I'm enjoying my time at Minnesota, being close to home. It's really special playing for the hometown team. It was sad to leave Drake, but I couldn't be happier here. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the Big Ten."
On his game:
"I want to bring an aspect of toughness. I'm a pick-and-pop 4-man, so I can shoot the ball from outside."
*King was selected to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team last season at Drake.
Daquein McNeil (Freshman/Guard)
On his new teammates:
"I love them. They're all embracing me, welcoming me. I'm the only freshman, so they're always trying to make fun of me, but they're pretty good guys."
On what he is most looking forward to about the season:
"Getting to the games. ...Right now we're playing against each other, but it will feel good for all of us to be on the same team."
*McNeil, a combo guard, averaged 19.0 points per game as a senior at Vermont Academy
Gopher basketball players, media, staff and fans got their first look at new head coach Richard Pitino this morning. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, Director of Athletics Norwood Teague and Pitino gave opening remarks before Pitino and Teague fielded questions from the media.
Teague said that Pitino has all the key characteristics that he looked for during the coaching search. These qualities included "relentless" recruiting, ability to develop student-athletes on and off the court and ability to "manage and build this program to the highest level."
"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity," Pitino said. "Minnesota basketball has got one of the best traditions in all of college basketball."
Members of the Gopher basketball team, who sat in the first few rows during the press conference, met their new mentor earlier in the morning. Both coach and players are eager to get to know each other better.
"He really gave us a positive vibe," Austin Hollins said. "He's coming in, and he has a solid plan that he really wants to enforce. He knows what he wants to do. I think all the guys are going to be on board with that."
Before the media even started asking questions, Pitino already talked about the style of play he would like to implement with his new team.
"He really wants that hard-nosed defense up the court," Hollins said. "Then on offense, we're just going to run them down--a lot of pick-and-rolls, getting up and down, getting a lot of shots up."
After about half an hour of answering questions, Pitino did one-on-one interviews with local TV stations, along with Mike Grimm and Spencer Tollackson. Watch Grimm's exclusive interview above and by clicking here.
Thank you so much Gopher fans for all the support!Today is a special day!!!-- Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) April 5, 2013
Sunday, March 24, in Austin, Texas, the Gophers will
continue their quest to make a deep NCAA Tournament run
a Third Round matchup against No. 3 seed Florida in the South Regional. GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett took a peek at what the Gators have accomplished so far this season, and how the Gophers will match up with them.
Head Coach: Billy Donovan
Overall Record: 27-7
SEC Conference Record: 14-4
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Erik Murphy-12.8 ppg; Kenny Boynton-12.3 ppg; Mike Rosario-12.2 ppg; Patric Young-10.5 ppg; Scottie Wilbekin-9.1 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Patric Young-6.3 rpg; Will Yeguete-5.9 rpg; Erik Murphy-5.5 rpg; Casey Prather-3.8 rpg; Michael Frazier II-3.3 rpg.
Notable wins: Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State, Marquette, Florida State, Air Force Academy, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama
Notable losses: Arizona, Kansas State, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi
Florida is a team that is a serious contender for the Final Four if they are hitting on all cylinders.
Senior forward Erik Murphy and senior point guard Kenny Boynton lead the Gators. The two led the team in scoring and on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin's defense has also been important to Florida's success.
The Gators average 71.9 points per game and allow just 53.5 points per game, which is third in the nation. In fact, Florida's defense has been so stout that it has allowed more than 70 points just once (80 points in a loss to Arkansas) and allowed 50 points or fewer 13 times this season.
In their Second Round game, the Gators held the highest scoring team in the nation in Northwestern State to 34 points below its season average.
However, Florida is not without its weaknesses. The Gators are 0-6 in games decided by six points or fewer this season. They have also let three double-digit leads slip away.
If the Gophers can get up and down the court and take the Gators out of their element and turn this into a high scoring game, there is a good chance they could make it into the Sweet 16.
By Jeff Fett, GopherSports.com
Friday, March 22, in Austin, Texas the Gophers will begin their quest to make it to their second Final Four in school history in a second round matchup against No. 6 seed UCLA in the South Regional. Here is a preview of what the Bruins have accomplished so far this season.
NCAA Tournament Preview: UCLA
Head Coach: Ben Howland
Overall Record: 25-9
Pac-12 Conference Record: 13-5
Leading Scorers: Shabazz Muhammad-17.8 ppg; Jordan Adams-15.3 ppg; Travis Wear-11.2 ppg;
Kyle Anderson-9.8 ppg; Larry Drew II-7.6 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Kyle Anderson-8.6 rpg;
Shabazz Muhammad-5.3 rpg; Travis Wear-5.2 rpg; David Wear-5.0 rpg; Joshua
Austin Hollins and the Gophers are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.
Notable wins: Georgia, Texas, Missouri,
Long Beach State, California, Arizona, Stanford, Colorado
Notable losses: Georgetown, Cal Poly, San
Diego State, Oregon, Washington State
Gophers second round matchup against UCLA is a tough one to predict. UCLA won
the regular season Pac-12 title this season, but also went through some rough
stretches as well.
Bruins are led by freshman guard/forward combo Shabazz Muhammad, who leads the
team in scoring and is likely to be a top 10 pick in the NBA draft this season
should he choose to exit early.
can get up and down the court, averaging 74.7 points per game, which is 28th
in the nation. The team also is averaging 16.1 assists per game, which is 11th
in the country. However, the Bruins also give up a lot of points as well. In
the Bruins' 34 games, they have given up at least 60 points or more 26 times.
before the NCAA tournament, UCLA suffered a big hit. The Bruins will be without
freshman guard Jordan Adams after he broke his foot in their Pac-12 Conference
tournament semifinal victory over Arizona on Friday. Adams is the team's second
scorer and led the Pac-12 in steals with 73 this season. Sophomore Norman
Powell will take his place in the starting lineup.
could work in the Gophers favor is UCLA's depth. With the loss of Adams, the
Bruins will likely stick to a seven-man rotation. If the Gophers can make this
game into a track meet, there is a good chance they could move on.
GAME INFORMATION | Watch the Tournament Online
Quotes from Today's Media Activities: Minnesota | Florida
Blog: Previewing the Gators (by GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett)
Yesterday, the Gophers had one final practice before taking on UCLA. Other than that, the team had all day to relax before playing the very last game of the NCAA Second Round.
The band and spirit squads (including national champion mascot Goldy, of course) have done a phenomenal job this weekend. They were at the 'Sota Social at the Tavern before the game, along with a lot of family and fans who had an opportunity to chat and have snacks before taking a shuttle to the arena.
The team had press conferences this afternoon, and will be finishing up their closed practice soon. A false fire alarm during Miami's practice earlier today pushed back the schedule for the rest of the practices. I used practice time to explore the surrounding part of campus. At Texas Memorial Stadium, a gate was ajar, so I walked through without asking, just to snap a couple pictures.
March 21 -10:30 p.m.
It's fitting that I mentioned the bat bridge earlier today, because we ended up having a close encounter with a bat tonight. A few different times during the Gophers' open practice, everyone stopped for a moment while a bat flew around in the court area at the Frank Erwin Center. (See the video above for some bat footage.) The bat even went at Julian Welch. I don't think Dre Hollins was a big fan--he kept running away. I guess Barnyard animals follow the Gophers around even when they're not playing in Williams Arena.
Before practice, the media had access to the team. The locker room was open to media for half an hour. Coach Tubby Smith and the two captains, Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams, fielded questions in the press conference area during part of that time. As most of the media cleared out of the locker room, we started watching the Michigan-South Dakota State game before heading out to the court for practice.
A few tidbits from the locker room:
Rodney Williams, on the city of Austin:
"It's a pretty nice city, from what we've seen. I'm most happy about getting out of the cold weather, just being somewhere warm."
Williams, on being back in the Tournament as a senior:
"It's definitely nice. To come in my freshman year and get to the Tournament and then not go for a couple years, that was tough. To go out with an NCAA Tournament, I think that's the best way to go out."
Andre Hollins, on his first NCAA Tournament experience:
"It's very exciting. As a kid, you grow up watching college basketball with a sense of excitement. You're on the couch watching these games back to back with the players playing their hearts out. You just hope that one day that's you. Now that I have the opportunity to be here, it's crazy. It's exciting."
The Gophers will have one last practice tomorrow before playing in the very last game of the 2013 Second Round (formerly known as the First Round) at about 9:00 p.m. For information about the viewing party in Roseville, the 'Sota Social in Austin and home viewing options, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
March 21 - 3:00 p.m.
Thursday has a day of practice and meetings so far. Some of the staff attended morning meetings to go over tournament procedures so that everything would run smoothly later in the day and on game day. The coaches' meeting starts pretty soon, as well.
Pictured above: Frank Erwin Center
At noon, the Gophers practiced at St. Edward's University in Austin. Several of us watched basketball on our phones on the way there. (Check out the NCAA March Madness Live app if you have a smart phone or tablet--but be prepared to charge your device soon if you do. The app is free and allows you to track scores and watch games live.) At practice, we could see passers-by stopping at the windows to take a peek at the Division I team using the Division II Hilltoppers' gym.
Our bus driver gave us a nice tour of the University of
Texas campus and other parts of Austin before bringing us back to the hotel.
The Longhorns have some incredible facilities, and their campus is spread out
like the University of Minnesota. Places we saw included the state capitol
building, the Longhorns' football and baseball stadiums, the Lyndon Baines
Johnson Library and a bridge under which a lot of bats live (kind of creepy). There would be pictures of some of this if we had gotten off the bus--maybe I will add some tomorrow if I have a chance to walk around in the morning.
It has been kind of fun just walking or driving around Austin and seeing some of the quirky things in this city. It seems like there are food trucks just about everywhere. There are a handful of them right outside our hotel, and there are some streets with a whole bunch them lined up in a row. On one street not far from our hotel, people have converted most of the houses into bars/restaurants.
The Gophers will be going back to the Frank Erwin Center for
media availability and open practice tonight. Practice is open to the public
and runs from 6:40 to 7:20.
March Madness has officially begun for the Golden Gopher basketball team. The team, band, cheerleaders, staff and others involved with the program flew to Austin, Texas, this afternoon to get ready for Minnesota's game against UCLA on Friday night.
We left Williams Arena and well-below-average "spring" temperatures late in the morning and arrived in balmy Texas this afternoon. The Minnesota Rouser played in the airport as we were boarding. When we got off the plane at the airport, it was nice not to need a winter coat. A local news crew was at the hotel when we arrived to greet our buses and interview Tubby Smith.
The Gophers had lunch at the hotel, and went to practice later in the evening, where they had a chance to meet Texas Longhorns football coach Mack Brown and listen to a little talk from him. The Gophers will have their first look at the Frank Erwin Center court tomorrow during open practice. Anyone in Austin who wishes may come to watch on Thursday. Minnesota's open practice runs from 6:40 to 7:20 p.m.
"Had a chance to visit with my friend Tubby Smith. Great coach and class act! Enjoyed catching up. twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s..."-- Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) March 21, 2013
Info for Friday
The No. 11 Gophers will play No. 6 UCLA in the second game of the Friday night session. The first game will start at 6:27 p.m. CT, and the Gophers will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game between Florida and Northwestern State. Find both teams' game notes and all the other information you need on our preview page.
For Gopher Fans in Minnesota
There will be a viewing party at Joe Senser's in Roseville. If you would like, come early for the Gopher men's hockey game at 7 p.m. and stay for the basketball game at 9 p.m. There will be food and beverage specials and chances to win prizes.
If you're watching on TV at home, try these channels:
Comcast 51, DirecTV 246, Dish 204. Or look for your provider with the TruTV channel
finder. Games are also available online at ncaa.com.
For Gopher Fans in Austin
The NCAA Tournament edition of the 'Sota Social runs from 5-7 p.m. at the Tavern (922 West 12th Street, Austin, Texas, 78703). The event will feature snacks, a cash bar, prizes and entertainment. Starting at 6:30, fans can take a shuttle from the social to the arena for the game.
Trevor Mbakwe and the ninth-seeded Gophers will take on eighth-seeded Illinois Thursday in the opening round of the B1G Tournament.
On Saturday, March 2nd, the Gophers will conclude the home schedule against Penn State at Williams Arena. In preparation for their only meeting with Penn State during the regular season, Gophersports.com' s beat writer Jeff Fett takes a look at the Nittany Lions.
Head Coach: Patrick Chambers
This Year's Big 10 Record: 1-14
The Gophers hope to capitalize on Tuesday's dramatic win over No. 1 Indiana during Senior Day on Saturday.
Top 5 Leading Scorers: D.J. Newbill-15.8 ppg, Jermaine Marshall-15.0 ppg, Sasa Borovnjak-6.9 ppg, Ross Travis-6.5 ppg, Brandon Taylor-5.7 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Ross Travis-7.2 rpg, D.J. Newbill-5.6 rpg, Jermaine Marshall-4.5 rpg, Brandon Taylor-3.5 rpg, Sasa Borovnjak-3.4 rpg.
Notable wins: Michigan, Providence, Bucknell, Army
Penn State has had its struggles, but a win over no. 4 ranked Michigan may have this team finally turning the corner. Head Coach Patrick Chambers has had a tough time in the Big Ten in his second season. At one point, Penn State lost 18 straight conference games dating back to last season, but the Nittany Lions will be coming in with some confidence after the first Big Ten win of the season.
Penn State suffered a big blow just a few games into its season. All Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier ruptured his Achilles tendon in its loss to Akron. He's out for the year. He led Penn State last season in all of the major categories. He is a "Mr. Do Everything" for the Nittany Lions and is obviously missed.
Fortunately for Penn State, the backcourt is still their strength, even without Frazier. Sophomore D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Miss has stepped up in his absence and is leading the team in scoring and second in rebounds. Junior Jermaine Marshall has also upped his game and provided much needed leadership on the court.
In a tough Big Ten conference where there are plenty of big men to throw the basketball to, that's where Penn State needs help. The tallest player playing consistent minutes is 6'9" junior Sasa Borovnjak. He's averaging six points and three rebounds a game. Chaska native Ross Travis leads this team in rebounding at 7.2 boards per game.
Penn State has had its struggles this season, but a few more wins to end the year could build some confidence as the Nittany Lions look toward next season.