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

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

Rubber Match

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

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

Three Is the Key

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

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

Final Vote: Rodney's Best Dunk of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

Observations from Saturday's 81-69 Win Against Nebraska

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BTN.com's Rodney Williams/Blake Griffin Comparison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnstorming with Grimm: The Locker Room

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

Part Two: Rodney Williams Best Dunks of 2011-12

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

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

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


Part Two: Which of these five Rodney Williams dunks is your favorite?
  

Feature: "Gopher Bloodlines"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rodney Williams' Best Dunks of 2011-12, Part One

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VOTE FOR PART TWO HERE

Gopher power forward Rodney Williams has enjoyed a stellar junior season in 2011-12, leading the Gophers in numerous categories, including points (10.7/game), rebounds (5.3), blocks (1.4) and steals (1.4).
Go Gophers! Rodney
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

But even in the midst of a good all-around year, anyone who has ever watched Williams play knows he "rises above" his peers in one area in particular: Raw dunking ability. Slam, jam, throw-down, high percentage bucket -- however you want to say it, Rodney does it better than almost anyone else in college basketball.

According to Gopher basketball communications director Matt Slieter's "Dunk-O-Meter," Rodney has amassed 91 dunks during his Gopher career, including a whopping 41 in 2011-12 alone (through Tuesday).

As we near the end of the basketball season, we're asking Gopher fans -- what was your favorite Rodney dunk of 2011-12? We've collected highlights from 10 of Rodney's best, and want YOU to decided the ultimate champion. We'll reveal five dunks today (Wednesday, Feb. 29), five more tomorrow (Thursday, March 1) and then pit the top two vote-getters against each other Friday and Saturday (March 2-3), and announce our winner on Sunday (March 4).

So watch the videos and vote for your favorite, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next round of voting!

Which of these five Rodney Williams dunks is your favorite?
  

Observations from Tuesday's 52-45 Loss at No. 14/15 Wisconsin

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Hollins vs. Wisconsin
Andre Hollins scored 38 points in the Gophers' two games against Wisconsin this year. He set a career high with 20 against the Badgers at Williams Arena, and he again led the team in scoring at the Kohl Center with 18 tonight. Hollins scored eight of Minnesota's first 13 points, including two three-pointers. Later in the half, he was fouled by Jordan Taylor shooting a three, and made all three free throws. The freshman point guard outscored Wisconsin's senior point guard, 13-5, in the first half.
Go Gophers! RS3
Go Gophers!
Sampson is the 37th Gopher to reach 1,000 career points.
Go Gophers!

Join the Club
With eight points tonight, Ralph Sampson III added his name to a small list of Golden Gophers who have amassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 150 blocks over their careers. Mychal Thompson, Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer, and Michael Bauer are the others to reach those numbers.

Sampson's career totals now stand at 1,004 points, 625 rebounds, and 201 blocks heading into his final regular season game as a Gopher. His 1,000th point came on a free throw in the second half. Sampson is just the third Gopher to reach 200 blocks, which he eclipsed by swatting away five shot attempts today.

Minnesota Misers
Although Minnesota did not compile large point totals in either half, the Gopher defense was even stingier than the Badgers' in the first. Minnesota tied its lowest point total allowed in a half by limiting Wisconsin to 16 points in the first, tying the season mark they set against USC in December.

Hot and Cold
Neither team shot well tonight, and the Badgers did not make a single field goal for the last 12:32 of the half. They went on a six-plus minute scoring drought during that time, from the 8:27 mark to the 2:08 mark. When the scoring drought began, it was 13-13. During the scoring drought, the Gophers scored 10 points, including eight free throws.

Minnesota went on a drought of its own, stretching from the 3:08 mark of the first to the 16:55 mark of the second half. That drought helped the Badgers to tie the game at 25 early in the second.  Each team held a 10-point lead at one point in the game.

Behind the Scenes in Golden Gopher Basketball

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Managers
The final buzzer sounds, the score of the game goes final, and the band plays one last fight song as the crowd begins filing out of the arena. Many fans will spend the rest of the night winding down, but for those involved in the basketball program, there is still work left to do. Steps to wrap up this game and get ready for the next one begin immediately after the game clocks hit zero.

After a road game, managers Adam Bates, Tony Clemons, Tony Emanuel, Aaron Katsuma, Eric Lutz, Tom Giesen, and Dan Kurtzweil collect everything they brought with them to the arena--from laundry to dry-erase boards to chairs. They make sure it is all there, pack it up, and load it on the team bus to go to the airport. After loading and unloading the plane and bus and finally returning to Minneapolis, they ensure that everything makes it to its proper place back in Williams Arena.

There are a few different things to take care of after home games, but no packing and unpacking. Managers will likely leave Williams Arena an hour to an hour and a half after the game ends. They must clean up the bench areas, the locker rooms--including the officials' locker room--and the water coolers. And, of course, they must collect the laundry and take down the team's filming equipment.

Even for televised games, the team films each game on its own, too. It is video coordinator Bryan Bender's job to deal with all the footage. Before he gets to the team's version, he first makes DVD copies of the TV version right after the game and distributes them to the opposing team and to the Gopher coaches and players. Then the Gopher staff has a meeting to discuss not only the game that just ended, but also the upcoming schedule of games, practices, and meetings.

Go Gophers! Bender
Go Gophers!
Video coordinator Bryan Bender prepares all the film the Gophers watch.
Go Gophers!
Next, Bender goes back to the team's video. He uploads it onto a server and spends a few hours working on it--still on game day. Using a program called XOS Thunder, he breaks it down by possession and by personnel and cuts out the dead time between plays. The program allows Bender and anyone else watching the film to sort clips by situation, play, and player. For example, Rodney Williams could watch all the plays in which he drove down the baseline and scored.

Bender also obtains film of Minnesota's future opponents. For most Big Ten teams, this is fairly easy because the games are usually televised and Bender can record them. He also uses Synergy Sports Technology's online database of televised games. Like the Gophers' film Bender has broken down, the games in the database can be sorted. This digital filtering technology is a major step up from the VHS tapes the Gophers used when Bender started six years ago.

The most difficult time to find copies of opponents' games is the non-conference season. Some of the smaller schools rarely (if ever) play on TV. Bender may trade for film if other teams agree to it. Early-season tournaments present another challenge. The Gophers do not know who they will play each round, so they have to prepare for all possible teams. This means Bender had to find film of all seven teams in this season's Old Spice Classic, and prepare multiple scout tapes for one day.

During the Big Ten season, the schedule is set and film is easier to find. Even before the Gophers face a conference opponent they have already played during the year, Bender still gives the coaches copies of that team's last few games.

"We kind of know what they're going to do, but it's still good to see new things that they're doing," he said.

The day after, the team usually watches at least portions of last night's game to see what did and did not work. Players can also decide to go in on their own and watch clips of only their playing time. Once they have watched their last game, they move on to their next opponent. Bender makes a scout tape with a summary and highlights of each opposing player, one of the assistant coaches writes a scouting report, and the team does on-floor scouting of what the opponent does and what the Gophers can do to stop it.

"The guys have three ways of learning: It's on paper for them, we watch it on video, and we actually do it on the court," Bender said. "We cover all the different learning styles."

On those practice days, head manager Bates and his fellow managers usually stay at the Barn for five to seven hours. Bates was there for 13 hours two days before the Ohio State game because the team practiced twice that day. During practice, the managers help with the clock and drills and keeping things running smoothly. Afterwards, they put away all the equipment and do more laundry. After a few days of practice, it will be time to set up for the next game.

"Getting ready for a home game isn't really hard because everything's here, and if we don't have anything ready, we can go find it," Bates said. "But for road games, we have to make sure that we have everything. We'll double-check the players' bags and the bags that have all the gear in them. We have a big checklist to go through. We always pack extras of everything just in case someone needs something. That's definitely the most important part."

Soon the next game is over, and they all repeat the cycle again--more meetings, film sessions, clean-ups, and practices. Bender and the managers spend a lot of time and energy doing work that might not be recognized by those outside the program. But they see payoffs in their jobs that make it all worth it.

"Seeing something on film, we implement it on the floor, and you see it happen in the game--that's kind of the most rewarding thing," Bender said. "You can see some applied knowledge from what you do in what they are doing on the floor."

For Bates, the role of manager offers a chance to gain valuable experience and connections that could help him reach his future goal of becoming a high school athletic director. But more simply, it offers an opportunity to be involved in something big.

"Personally, the most rewarding thing is just being a part of the team when you win," he said. "Once you don't play (varsity) sports anymore...it's cool to still be a part of the team even though we're not out there playing. All of the managers, we take pride in being a part of the team."

Jim Brewer, 1972 U.S. Olympic Teammates to Reunite This August

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Forty years after suffering a heartbreaking and controversial loss to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game of the Olympics, the 1972 U.S.A. basketball team will reunite to commemorate its accomplishments. Former Golden Gopher forward/center Jim Brewer played on that team and is expected to attend the reunion activities.
Go Gophers! Brewer
Go Gophers!
Minnesota retired Brewer's No. 52 jersey in 1973.
Go Gophers!

In three varsity seasons at Minnesota (1970-73), Brewer scored 1,009 points and pulled down 907 rebounds. He led the team in rebounding in each of his three seasons. Brewer was a member of the "Iron Five" lineup that led the 1971-72 Gophers to a Big Ten title. Following his time at Minnesota, Brewer played nine years in the NBA, ending his career with a championship for the 1982 Los Angeles Lakers.

A release about plans for the reunion is provided below, courtesy of Amy Dedman of Preston-Obsorne.

GEORGETOWN, Ky.
--Thursday, members of a planning committee gathered in Davis-Reid Alumni Gymnasium on the campus of Georgetown College to announce the reunion of the players of the 1972 Men's National Basketball Team during a celebratory weekend this August.

The celebratory event will take place Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 23-26 in Central Kentucky and include both public and private events.

"Those of us alive in 1972 will remember the significant impact that the controversial men's basketball gold medal game had (and continues to have) on international competition," said Billy Reed, executive scholar in residence at Georgetown College and founding member of the planning committee. "As our world witnessed the first act of terrorism in the modern era with the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the hands of Palestinian gunmen, the courage of these 12 young men's convictions in Munich does not go unnoticed."
Go Gophers! Brewer
Go Gophers!
Brewer and his 1972 U.S.A. teammates have never accepted their silver medals after the controversial loss.
Go Gophers!

The planning committee is working closely with Kenny Davis, captain of the 1972 team and Georgetown College alumnus, to coordinate the event. Currently, Davis is an account executive at Converse, the founding sponsor of the anniversary celebration.

"I look forward to reuniting with my entire 1972 team for the first time this August," said Davis. "It'll be nice to share all that Kentucky has to offer with my teammates, and in turn, share my teammates with the people of Kentucky."

On Friday, Aug. 24, the public will be invited to Georgetown College for a series of academic seminars and panel discussions focused on the historic impact of the 1972 Games and more specifically, the men's basketball gold medal game. All members of the team will be participating.

"Georgetown College has the privilege of calling Kenny Davis one of our own," said Dr. Bill Crouch, president of Georgetown College. "We're honored to host Kenny and his teammates for this reunion event."

The capstone event will occur on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Griffin Gate Marriott after the players take in the sights and sounds of the area. They will join other notables and appear at a public banquet dinner benefiting Georgetown's Academy for Character in Sport.

"Converse is honored to be a sponsor of this extraordinary event," said David Allen, vice president and general manager for North America at Converse. "Kenny [Davis] has been with Converse since 1972, and we are proud to pay tribute to such a dedicated member of the Converse family and his teammates."

Gov. Steve Beshear was unable to attend the press conference, but sent the following statement:

With the rich history of basketball success associated with this state, Kentucky is an appropriate backdrop for an event of this magnitude. On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth, we are proud to host and honor such a special group of men on the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Games. We look forward to welcoming this outstanding group in August and celebrating the courage they displayed in Munich.
Mayor Jim Gray agreed. "Central Kentucky is rich in educational opportunities, and we can always count on Georgetown College to expand our horizons," Gray said. "Congratulations to Dr. Crouch and his colleagues on a thought-provoking program."

For more information about the reunion event, visit www.Courage in Munich.com.