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.
Learn more about Minnesota's 2011 Mr. Basketball winner in this Q&A and video. We asked him about his successful high school career, his older brother Dan (a Gopher from 2004-08), and more.
Q: With all your history at the University of Minnesota, did you ever really consider going anywhere else?
A: When I was younger, I never really thought about it, because I was still so young. I thought I'd probably go somewhere different. I never really thought about it. But after going other places, visiting other campuses, I really liked the feel here a lot better than other places, and that's when I realized I wanted to come here.
Q: Who wins in one-on-one, you or Dan?
A: Oh, that's me. Every time. Sometimes he'll get lucky, but other than that, it's definitely me.
Q: What does winning Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year mean to you?
A: They mean a lot, but without my team and without the success that my team had, I wouldn't have been able to get those. It's a personal award, but it also comes with your team, and your team helps you earn it. I appreciate that my team helped me out with everything.
Q: What is it like playing with another Mr. Basketball, Andre Hollins?
A: It's good. He's a top competitor. He knows what it takes to be a winner. It's fun to be with a great teammate.
Q: What are some of your favorite high school basketball memories?
A: Beating Eden Prairie in the state championship, that's probably one of my greatest moments. Or junior year when we won in double overtime against Henry Sibley.
Q: Talk about the first time you dunked.
A: The first time, I was a freshman. In the Hopkins back gym--the old gym they used to play in back in the day--that's the first time I dunked.
Q: Was it a pretty good dunk?
A: It was a legit dunk. When I did it, I shocked myself. People were like, "Just try. Just try." I was like, "I'm not going to be able to do it." And when I did, I shocked myself. I never really thought I could do it, but I was able to.
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?
A: Obviously, TCF Bank Stadium, and a lot of the new apartments, like 412, FloCo, and Sydney Hall. None of that stuff was here when my brother played here, so it's nice to see something a little different.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
A: I put my left sock on first and my left shoe on first. That's about it.
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?
A: That's a tough one. "Love and Basketball," I think that's pretty good. It's really all about sports, but that's a good one. Or "Hoosiers."
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.
Next up in our "Get to Know Your Gophers" interview series is sophomore guard Chip Armelin. The Sulphur, La., native provides a spark for the Gophers off the bench. He is averaging 5.9 points per game in 14.8 minutes per game this season. To learn more about Armelin, watch the video above and read the Q&A below from earlier this season.
Q: How was your experience playing in the Big Ten as a freshman? A: It was a great experience. With Blake (Hoffarber) and Al (Nolen) and where I play, I was able to learn from them and gain good experience. That helped me out to take me into my sophomore year, and I'm doing pretty well, working hard.
Q: How do you and the other returning sophomore guards (Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi) work together? What do you guys do to help each other out? A: After practice, we talk about what we need to do to become better guards, as far as our shooting, passing, defensive skills, stuff like that. We also like to talk about how we can come together and make things better.
Q: How do you think you have improved your shooting compared to last year? A: I'm very confident, compared to my freshman year. Last year I was trying to gain experience, trying to get used to playing in the Big Ten and playing in college overall, but I've been able to take that into my sophomore year and lock down shots. During the summer, I worked on my shooting back home and in the gym here. It's been helping me.
Q: Do you have any goals for this season? A: My goals for this season are to help the team win some games, get to the Big Ten championship, and hopefully make a big run in the [NCAA] tourney. Q: Who is your favorite opponent to face? A: My favorite opponent right now I would have to say is Ohio State, because they're a top-10 team in the Big Ten. I'm looking forward to playing them and trying to upset them.
Q: What are some of your favorite drills to do in practice? A: I would have to say shooting drills. That's my best drill in practice because it helps me with my shooting and becoming better at all areas.
Q: You had a career-high game against Ohio State last year with 14 points off the bench. How did you feel after that game? A: It gave me a confidence boost and helped me towards the next games. It really gave me a good spark to help me be able to take it to the next level. It helped me bring it to this year and get me more confident, take the ball to the hoop, and stay aggressive.
Q: Have you decided on a major? A: Right now, I'm thinking about graphic design. If not graphic design, I'm thinking about music production.
Q: What was the most fun part about your trip to the Old Spice Classic this year? A: Going to Disneyworld. That was my first time going there, so I got to see some cool things, ride some awesome rides.
Q: You're great at providing a spark when you come into the game. How do you contribute that spark to the team? A: Coming in with tremendous energy, coming off the bench with some defensive stops, keep scoring, being aggressive. Just pumping up the crowd and getting them riled up.
Q: What's one superpower you wish you could have? A: To fly. It'd be really easy to get to places if you could fly.
Interview by Kirsten Sherwood, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
During the Golden Gophers' 13 non-conference games, junior forward Rodney Williams dunked 23 times. Gophersports.com put together a highlight reel of some of No. 33's most exciting buckets so far this season. Click the video above to enjoy this holiday treat.
Toward the end of the non-conference season and the end of fall semester, the Minnesota basketball team had a busy schedule. But the Golden Gophers still took some time out to share some holiday spirit in the Twin Cities community. Gopher players and coaches participated in a number of charitable gestures put on by the Tubby Smith Foundation.
The Gophers drop off a donation for Coats for Kids.
Several Gophers from both the men's and women's basketball teams visited the KARE-11 "backyard" during the 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 to drop off donations for Toys for Tots. The donations were collected at Gopher sporting events, including basketball games.
The next day, Smith and a few players went to the Salvation Army bearing 100 winter coats and a check to purchase 200 more. The donations support the Salvation Army's Coats for Kids program.
Even more Gophers got in the act on Dec. 20, when the team went on a shopping trip. The Gophers took 17 families shopping for holiday gifts at Target. They enjoyed interacting with the families and helping them find the items on their wish lists.
In this week's episode of "Barnstorming with Grimm," Mike Grimm takes us inside the training room at Williams Arena. See where injured Gophers do their rehab and where athletic trainer Roger Schipper's headquarters are.
After redshirting his true freshman season, Elliott Eliason checked into his first basketball game as a Golden Gopher this fall. Eliason did not have much time to ease into Division I competition--early in the season, the Gophers needed to move him into the starting lineup after injuries thinned the roster.
Eliason started three consecutive games (against Virginia Tech, USC, and Appalachian State) and responded well to the challenge. He scored a career-high eight points against the Hokies, and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds against the Trojans. Eliason is also active without the ball, setting a lot of picks for his teammates.
Watch the video above to see the 6-11 center talk about his playing style, his Nebraska roots, and more.
In this week's episode of "Barnstorming with Grimm," radio play-by-play man Mike Grimm takes us to the press room. Located on the second floor of Williams Arena, this is where press conferences and media pre-game meals take place.