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!!!
The social media world was buzzing yesterday with the University of Minnesota's impending hire of Richard Pitino as the Gophers' new head men's basketball coach. We've collected some of the notable Tweets and Facebook posts from yesterday's eventful day:
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.
Florida Preview 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
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,
Florida is a
team that is a serious contender for the Final Four if they are hitting on all
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Our game ended up starting even later than planned when the Florida-Northwestern State game ran longer than expected. After getting to Austin on Wednesday afternoon, late Friday was a long time to wait to play. It was great to finally tip off at 9:22 p.m.
It was also great to see the Gophers take an early lead. Things got a little tense (for me, anyway) when UCLA chipped away at that lead at the beginning of the second half. And then it was hard not to start cheering on the sidelines when the Gophers pulled away again. After the 83-63 score went final, Tubby Smith and Dre Hollins did some on-court interviews. Smiley Dre got a lot of cheers going back to the locker room.
After media obligations, we finally got back to the hotel around 12:30. The spirit squads and band again were very supportive, forming a tunnel for the team to go through as they went inside for the postgame meal.
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.
Wearing my Minnesota shirt for the walk appears to have paid off. A nice man at the stadium told me he only let me in because he liked Tubby. On my way back to the Frank Erwin Center, someone said, "Go, Gophs!" to me out of a car window.
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
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 20 - 7:30 p.m.
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.
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
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.
The Gopher men's basketball team is feeling the urgency to get a few more wins to hopefully solidify their NCAA tournament fate as they enter the B1G Basketball Tournament later this weekend in Chicago (Gophers play Illinois Thursday at 11 a.m.).
The year has moved quickly with the team experiencing a wide range of emotions this season. Starting guard Austin Hollins says the team just needs to win.
Trevor Mbakwe and the ninth-seeded Gophers will take on eighth-seeded Illinois Thursday in the opening round of the B1G Tournament.
"The season has flown by so fast so its come down to this and you know we got to win out, that's our goal right now," Hollins said. "(When we) get to the Big Ten Tournament, we need to win the Big Ten Tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament, so you know we got our goals set still. We're still trying to achieve those (goals) so it's just a matter of taking care of business."
The Gophers have built their case to be in the NCAA Tourney. With quality wins over Stanford, Memphis, Richmond, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the Gophers have put themselves in the discussion for an at large berth.
Minnesota also has a myriad of other factors in their favor. Their strength of schedule is second in the nation and their opponents' strength of schedule is tops in the nation.
The Gophers RPI is also among the top 20 in the nation. The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is important, because it measures a team's strength of schedule and the records of the teams in which they play as well.
The Gophers also are 13-9 against opponents with an RPI in the top 100 in the nation.
With the tournament season upon them, head coach Tubby Smith says Minnesota needs to remain focused.
"We know we've got a chance to get to the post-season and play in the NCAAs, but we've got a lot of work to do and I think our guys have to stay hungry and focused and take it one day at a time and one game at a time, then everything else will take care of itself if we do that," Smith said.
"We've shown we can play with anyone... We expected to be better in the Big 10, but we've beaten Michigan State, Wisconsin and others. We've beaten some good teams and with Indiana, we've competed with some good teams in the top 20 and top 100. We have the toughest schedule in college basketball, so we know what we're capable of."
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Many Gopher Basketball fans are still on Cloud Nine after the Gophers' incredible upset of No. 1-ranked Indiana Tuesday at the Barn, Minnesota's first victory over a No. 1 team since 1989 (Illinois).
Gopher head coach Tubby Smith and his staff are busy preparing for Saturday's home final vs. Penn State, but Coach has taken some time to address the local media over the past couple of days to reflect on the victory. Above, GopherSports.com has exclusive video of Coach's post game address to his players in the locker room directly following the game -- it's not quite as hip-shaking as his post-Wisconsin speech, but still worth watching!
Coach also spoke with the media during a special availability on Wednesday. Watch highlights from that interview below:
In addition, the Big Ten Network was kind enough to share with us Coach Smith's post game on-court interview with Ann Carroll directly following the win. Take a look below:
It was one of the most memorable games in recent Gopher basketball history -- Tubby Smith's squad took down No. 1-ranked Indiana last night in dramatic fashion, and it was followed by an epic court storming by the Maroon and Gold faithful at the Barn, all in front of a national TV audience on ESPN.
Watch this video feature on Gopher men's basketball guard Maverick Ahanmisi. The junior and Santa Clarita, Calif. native has provided a spark off the bench for the Gophers in 2012-13, playing in all 26 games (through Feb. 20) and shooting a team-best 42 percent from behind the three-point line.
Through Feb. 20, Ahanmisi is averaging 3.7 points and 9.9 minutes per game. His 16 three-pointers (in 38 attempts) has already set a career high.
Feature originally aired during "Gopher Basketball with Tubby Smith" which can be seen Fridays on Fox Sports North. Check your local listing for exact times and dates.