Junior forward Rodney Williams is one of the featured individuals on the most recent episode of BTN's documentary series "Big Ten Basketball: The Journey." The episode made its debut during a special Saturday night time, and will re-air Monday at 5:30 p.m. CT. Williams talked about not just his dunks, but also about his all-around game. Trevor Mbakwe also made appearances on the show for the feature. Bonus video from BTN's interview with Williams is embedded above.
This 23-point win was the Gophers' most decisive conference win of the season. Minnesota had not defeated a conference opponent by 20 or more points since the 2010 Big Ten Tournament, where the Gophers dominated Purdue, 69-42. Their last regular season Big Ten win by 20 or more was that season, too. They beat Iowa, 88-53 on senior day.
Home Sweet Home
Before today, it had been almost a year since Minnesota's last Big Ten victory at Williams Arena. The opponent on Jan. 26, 2011 was Northwestern. Today, the Gophers snapped a seven-game conference home losing streak by defeating the Wildcats again.
Welch's 14 points helped the Gophers to their first home Big Ten win since 2011.
While the Gopher bench made meaningful contributions, the starters definitely carried the Gophers in the scoring department today. All five members of the starting lineup scored in double figures, with Joe Coleman (16) leading the way. Coleman is averaging 15.3 points in four games as a starter, and has shot 29-of-35 from the free throw line in those games.
Cold Start for the 'Cats
For nearly the first eight minutes of the game, the basket appeared to have a lid on it for Northwestern. The Wildcats started out shooting 0-for-14 before Davide Curletti scored at the 12:11 mark. For the rest of the half, Northwestern shot 9-of-16. The Wildcats ended up at 18-of-55 from the field on the game.
Dozens of Gopher basketball alumni took in the action at Williams Arena today. Randy Chall, a 2004 graduate, started things off by singing the national anthem before the game. Former players, coaches, and managers from each decade going back to the 1950s
were honored on the court at halftime.
Coming into this season, Walker and the staff were uncertain about whether or not he would play during his true sophomore year. He continued to rehab his knee, and had worked his way back to near full participation in team practices. Walker even suited up for a handful of games.
Walker will be a redshirt sophomore in 2012-13.
"We were just kind of playing it by ear, day by day, to see how my knee was recovering and how it was doing strength-wise," Walker said. "(The trainers and coaches) just don't feel like it's ready yet. They want to wait until I'm 100 percent before I play again."
Walker, who gave the Gophers quality minutes off the bench last season, would have been nice to have this year, especially with senior forward Trevor Mbakwe out with an ACL tear. Smith said that Walker likely would have been ready for the beginning of Big Ten play had he not suffered a minor setback in rehab during November.
But after being forced to tone down the intensity of his workouts for several weeks back in the beginning of non-conference play, Smith said Walker was not close enough to being ready to play until about this point in the season. Already a third of the way through the conference schedule, Walker and the staff felt it would be, as Smith put it, "a waste of a year to play him."
"It's the best thing to do, and I think he has accepted it well," Smith said. "He's working extremely hard with (strength & conditioning coach) Kevin Kocos and (athletic trainer) Roger Schipper."
As for his knee, Walker said, "It feels good right now, but there are still some strength issues, and still slight pain at times." He has tried to maintain a positive attitude about the rehab process, although it is difficult to just sit and watch. There are times when he wishes he could be on the court, but he has accepted the decision to redshirt.
"I feel like I could help, but there's nothing I can really do about it except for encourage my teammates and try to pick them up," he said.
Mbakwe update: Trevor Mbakwe is also going through the rehab process, for a more recent knee injury suffered in Novemeber. He is enrolled in spring classes and is still cheering on his teammates at games. He has not yet told the coaching staff what he plans to do next year. Mbakwe has the option of petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
"He probably needs (the petition) done now so he can determine what he needs to do," Smith said.
If a sixth year is granted, Mbakwe will still have time to decide whether he wants to accept it or explore his options of a post-collegiate basketball career.
Not everyone can coach a Division I college basketball team, but this week's episode of "Barnstorming with Grimm" gives the rest of us a chance to at least see what a coach's work space looks like. Play-by-play man Mike Grimm goes behind the scenes in Williams Arena to show us the coaches' locker room and head coach Tubby Smith's office. Stick around after the tour for an update on Joe Coleman and the Golden Gophers' upcoming schedule.
As a freshman in 2010-11, Maverick Ahanmisi was thrown into the spotlight after the Golden Gophers' senior point guard, Al Nolen, suffered an ankle injury. The experience he gained last year has helped Ahanmisi to be a bigger contributor as a sophomore. Get to know the Minnesota guard better in this video and Q&A. Ahanmisi talks about his freshman year, his California roots, and more.
Q: How important was it for you to gain point guard experience in the Big Ten as a freshman?
A: It was very important, because now I know what to expect, and things that I didn't know last year are going to really help me this year throughout the season.
Q: Are you okay with playing both guard positions?
A: Definitely. I feel like I can play point guard or shooting guard, whatever Coach would want me to play.
Q: Are there any particular opponents you are looking forward to facing?
A: Ohio State. They're always a competitive team. Purdue. Just everybody in the Big Ten, really.
Q: What are some of your favorite drills to do in practice?
A: My favorite drill would probably be shooting on the perimeter with the point guards, where Coach splits us up into guards and post moves. We'll start down low and pass it up top, and then we'll curl. First we'll shoot twos, then threes, then fade and curl, and things like that. That's my favorite drill.
Q: Does anyone ever tell you that you have the coolest name on the team?
A: Yeah, a lot of people say that all the time, actually.
Q: Do you know what you are going to major in yet?
A: I'm undecided right now, but it's probably somewhere in business and marketing.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do with your teammates outside of basketball?
A: It's been a recurring thing--we always try to find scary movies that come out, and we always go as a team and watch it.
Q: What is the scariest movie you have seen?
A: "Paranormal Activity 3."
Q: Did any of your teammates scream?
A: Yeah, Andre Ingram screamed.
Joe Coleman led the Gophers with a career-high 23 points Sunday at Penn State.
Sampson now has 191 career blocks.
At Hopkins High School, Joe Coleman often played in pressure-filled games, including in the state championship. Now a Golden Gopher, Coleman has already found himself in pressure situations as a freshman. He made four straight free throws in crunch time in Minnesota's road victory over No. 7/8 Indiana.
Q: You have been around the U for quite awhile, with your uncle and brother playing here, but have you noticed anything new around campus since you enrolled?
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?
Playing Division I basketball is already a great accomplishment, but some college athletes even have the chance to pursue the sport as a career. The Golden Gopher basketball program has a history of players being drafted in the NBA. This week in "Barnstorming," Grimm shows us the place in Williams Arena where these talented Gophers--from Kevin McHale to Mychal Thompson to Trent Tucker--are honored.
This cold January weather is a little different from what Tennessee native Andre Hollins is used to experiencing. But the Gophers' freshman guard has learned to make himself at home in Minnesota. Learn more about Hollins in the video above and in this written Q&A:
Q: How much does it help you to have an experienced junior guard like Julian Welch on the team?
A: It's a great help. I get to learn from him, because I haven't played college basketball, and he has. The way you get to learn, and pick up new things, and battle each other in practices--that's a great help.
Q: Talk a little bit about your state championship you won in high school.
A: It was one of the greatest feelings I've ever had. It was a magical run. It definitely boosted everyone's confidence on the team. We kind of got better after that. We made it to three state championships. My senior year we made it to the state tournament. We lost in the semifinals to the eventual state champions. It was a good tradition at White Station. I think that's part of the reason I'm here, because it was such a great tradition, playing with great people and a great coach.
Q: What did it mean to you to be named Tennessee's Mr. Basketball?
A: It was great. It was a great honor. Even though we didn't win the state championship, (the award) kind of took the sting off the loss a little bit, being named as one of the best players in Tennessee. I just take that as an honor. It kind of made me even hungrier to come into college and do better, because it's just a testament to what I can do. I just need to continue to work hard.
Q: Your fellow freshman Joe Coleman is also a state champion and Mr. Basketball. Talk a little about your similar backgrounds.
A: I think our state championships and our two Mr. Basketballs, that shows what kind of people we are. We work hard, and that's why Coach Smith recruited us. I think that brings a lot to the team.
Q: Gopher fans know that you and Austin Hollins are not related, but how often do other people get confused about you two?
A: Now that we play on TV, the announcers say that we're not related. So I think people know now, but there are still a few people who are confused.
Q: Are you and Austin close enough that you feel like you could be brothers?
A: Yeah, we're close enough to be brothers. We got really close in the summertime. It's like we're brothers now.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the state of Minnesota?
A: It would have to be the summertime. I love the lakes, going out on boats. And everybody's nice here. I'm enjoying it.
This week in "Barnstorming with Grimm," play-by-play man Mike Grimm explores the game room at Williams Arena. When the Gophers are not on the court, in the weight room, or in the video room, sometimes they just need time to relax. The game room is one place for them to do so.
To watch previous episodes of "Barnstorming," follow this link.
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