The Tubby Smith effect was felt early in the 2007-08 season as the Gophers completed the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 10-2 record. Minnesota would go on to record eight victories during the Big Ten Conference schedule and earn the No. 6 seed for the Big Ten Tournament. A pair of victories in the tournament put the Gophers at 20-13 on the season and the NIT folks rewarded the team with a bid to the prestigious tournament.
Minnesota dropped the opening round NIT game to Maryland but the end result was a 20-14 overall record, which is an 11-game improvement over the 2006-07 Gophers and is a tie for the second biggest turnaround in Division I this season.
The 2007-08 Gophers were only the eighth team in school history to win 20 games and the first to do so since the 2004-05 team finished 21-11.
TWENTY FOR TUBBY
With the win over Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, Tubby Smith secured his 15th straight 20-win season, the longest active streak in the nation and the third longest streak in NCAA history. Smith’s streak began in 1994 and has stretched across four institutions (Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota). Smith has never had a losing season and his teams have reached the postseason every year since 1994.
GOPHERS AND TWENTY WINS
Minnesota reached the 20-win plateau for just the second time since 1993 with its victory over Indiana in the Big Ten semifinals. Not including vacated seasons, it marks just the eighth time Minnesota has earned 20 victories in a season.
MINNESOTA 20-WIN SEASONS
Season Record Coach
1972-73 21-5 Musselman
1976-77 24-3 Dutcher
1979-80 21-11 Dutcher
1981-82 23-6 Dutcher
1989-90 23-9 Haskins
1992-93 22-10 Haskins
2004-05 21-11 Monson
2007-08 20-14 Smith
THE TUBBY EFFECT
Coaching apparently makes a difference. Tubby Smith took over a club that finished the 2006-07 season with a record of 9-22, including 3-13 within the Big Ten Conference. The 11-game change is the largest season turnaround in school history and is tied for the second-best turnaround in Division I this season. With eight wins in conference play, the Gophers tied Purdue for the biggest conference turnaround.
COMPARING SCHOOL RECORDS
University Change Coach
2007-08 from 2006-07 +11 wins Smith
1979-80 from 1978-79 +10 wins Dutcher
2004-05 from 2003-04 +9 wins Monson
COMPARING NATIONAL RECORDS
University 06-07 07-08 Change
Arizona State 8-22 21-12 +13
UNC Wilmington 7-22 20-13 +13
Minnesota 9-22 20-14 +11
Cleveland State 10-21 21-13 +11
Miami (Fla.) 12-20 23-11 +11
UNC Asheville 12-19 23-10 +11
Iona 2-28 12-20 +10
Northern Colorado 4-24 13-16 +9
Delaware 5-26 14-17 +9
Tennessee Martin 8-23 17-16 +9
Head Coach Tubby Smith has had great success in conference tournament action. He holds a 30-11 (.732) all-time mark in tourney play. He has won five conference tournaments, all at Kentucky (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004). He has won at least one game in 13 of 15 conference tournaments. His Kentucky Wildcats did not win a game in 2000 and 2002.
GOPHERS MAKE NIT APPEARANCE
After the 11-win turnaround from a year ago, Minnesota was rewarded with a berth in the NIT as a No. 4 seed. The Gophers dropped the game to the University of Maryland 68-58 in what was their 13th appearance in the NIT (1996 and 1998 appearances were later vacated) and the fifth NIT berth since 2001.
In 2003, the Gophers advanced to the Final Four in New York before falling to Georgetown in the semifinals. The Gophers last appeared in 2006, defeating Wake Forest in the first round before losing at Cincinnati in the second round. Overall, Minnesota has an 18-10 all-time record in the NIT (not including vacated games).
Minnesota has a history of success in the NIT, winning the 1993 championship, beating Georgetown in the title game. The Gophers captured the 1998 title but it was later vacated due to NCAA violations.
The Big Ten Conference announced March 10 that senior Lawrence McKenzie was named Third Team All-Big Ten by the coaches. Also, fellow senior Dan Coleman was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by the coaches. Both players were named honorable mention by the media.
Coleman was also named to 2007-08 NABC All-District First Team. The last Gopher to make NABC All-District first team honors was Vincent Grier in 2005. Coleman is the 14th Gopher to earn First Team honors since the NABC went to separate teams in 1958 and just the seventh since 1990. Coleman joined Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), Drew Neitzel (Michigan State), Dominic James (Marquette) and Brian Butch (Wisconsin).
Minnesota recorded 298 steals on the season, which broke the team record of 292 that was set in 2004-05. Al Nolen finished fifth in season steals all-time with 64. His 32 steals in conference play ties him with Quincy Lewis for seventh all-time. Damian Johnson had 34 thefts in conference action, which ranks sixth all-time. His total of 59 for the season ranks eighth all-time.
The Gophers also dished out 515 assists, which ranks fourth all-time in school history. The record of 558 was set in 1989-90. Nolen tied for ninth all-time with Kevin Burleson (2001-02) and Arriel McDonald (1991-92) with 68 assists in Big Ten play this season.
MAC BREAKS HIS OWN MARK
Lawrence McKenzie surpassed his own record for three-pointers in a season. With three treys against Illinois in the Big Ten semifinals, McKenzie finished with 79 for the season, passing the 78 he drained in 2006-07. He shot the ball much more efficiently as well, hitting 42.9 percent of his threes in 2007-08 after hitting 37.7 percent a year ago.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT WRAP-UP
The Gophers are 8-11 all-time in Big Ten Tournament play.
Minnesota reached the Big Ten semifinals for the third time and the first since 2005.
Minnesota’s win over Indiana in the semis ended a 10-game losing streak against ranked opponents. Minnesota is 2-0 against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament
The Gophers defeated Northwestern in the opening round, improving to 2-1 against the Wildcats.
Lawrence McKenzie led Minnesota with 41 points in three games (13.7 ppg) while hitting 8-15 three-pointers.
Minnesota out-rebounded its opponents by four boards a game (32.3-28.3).
Damian Johnson was Minnesota’s leading rebounder at 4.7 boards per game.
Minnesota had only played in three games decided by five points or less entering the Big Ten Tournament. All three of the Gophers were decided by less than three at the Tournament. They were decided by a combined eight points.
BLAKE’S BIG SHOTS
Just three years after freshman Blake Hoffarber earned the 2005 ESPY for the “Best Play”, he has added to his career resume of miraculous game-winning shots. Down 58-57 to Indiana with 1.5 seconds remaining in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, Hoffarber caught a three-quarter court pass from Travis Busch in traffic, spun and nailed an 18-footer as time expired to send Minnesota to the semifinals with one of the most thrilling victories in recent history.
In 2005, Hoffarber earned the ESPY after swishing a basket while sitting on the floor as regulation time expired. The shot sent Hopkins High School to overtime where the Royals ended up capturing the state title. Hoffarber became the first high school athlete to win an ESPY.
Blake Hoffarber finished his freshman season with the seventh-highest three-point field accuracy in Big Ten Conference at .427 (70-164), and finished nine shy of teammate Lawrence McKenzie’s record for three point field goals in a season (79) set this season. His 70 3’s ranks fourth all-time.
In 2007-08, Hoffarber broke the Gophers’ mark for three-pointers by a freshman, which was set by Voshon Lenard (51) in 1991-92.
THREE-POINTERS BY A GOPHER FRESHMAN
Player (Season) 3FGM
Blake Hoffarber (2007-08) 70
Voshon Lenard (1991-92) 51
Kevin Burleson (1999-00) 44
Michael Bauer (2000-01) 34
Quincy Lewis (1995-96) 26
COLEMAN ON THE CHARTS
Senior Dan Coleman became just the 34th player in school history to record 1,000 career points, thanks to a 22-point effort in the Gophers 91-74 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 8. Coleman added 309 points since and finished his Gopher career in 15th place on the career points list with 1,317. Mychal Thompson (1974-78) sits atop the list with 1,992 career points. Also, with 14 rebounds vs. Northwestern (1/9) Coleman become just the 17th Gopher player with 1,000 points and 500 boards in a career. Michael Bauer was the last Gopher to join the club, reaching the milestone in 2004. With his one blocked shot against Maryland on March 18, Coleman finished with 114 career blocks, eighth most in school history. Coleman also played in 127 career games, tied with Quincy Lewis (1996-99) for the second most in team history. Sam Jacobson (1995-98) tops the list with 130 games played.
BIG CROWDS AT THE BARN
The Barn was packed to the limit for a fourth straight game Feb. 9 against Wisconsin, as a sellout crowd of 14,625 was announced. Williams Arena also saw sellouts against Indiana on Jan. 17, against Michigan State on Jan. 20 and against Wisconsin on Feb. 3. The crowd that packed the Barn to see the Gophers/Indiana tilt was the first sellout since Feb. 5, 2005 against Wisconsin. Minnesota averaged 12,988 fans per game this season, the highest per game average since 1999-2000 when an average of 13,767 attended Gopher games. Minnesota averaged over 2,000 more fans per game this season than in 2006-07.
BIG WINS IN 2007-08
Minnesota racked up three 30+ point victories and one of the school’s most dominating victories to date, a 45-point win over Nicholls State,during the 2007-08 season. The last time Minnesota won four games by 30 or more points in a season was 1991-92 when the Gophers posted five 30+ point wins. The 45-point victory vs. NSU is the largest since a 116-48 drubbing of Rider on January 3, 1990.
Also, with a 37-point victory over UC Riverside on Dec. 1 and a 38-point win over North Dakota State on Dec. 3, the Gophers won consecutive games by more than 30 points for the first time since 1991 when Minnesota posted a 95-54 win over Howard on Nov. 30 and a 98-59 win over Youngstown State on Dec. 2.
Minnesota has relied heavily on its two freshmen, Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber this season.
Nolen averaged 4.3 points, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 22.6 minutes per game this season. He tied for or led the Gophers in assists in 20 of the 33 games he played in, including a career-high eight Feb. 9 vs. Iowa. He recorded 64 steals (1.9 spg), which ranked him second overall in the Big Ten and also ranked seventh in the Big Ten in assists at 3.5 per game and fifth in the conference with a 1.93 assist/turnover ratio.
Hoffarber averaged 8.4 points for the Gophers this season and shot .436 (96-220) from the floor, including .427 (70-164) from behind the arc, the seventh highest percentage in the Big Ten Conference. He scored a season-high 21 points, hitting 6-of-11 three pointers, off the bench Dec. 8 against Colorado State. Hoffarber also came off the bench to contribute 13 points Dec. 1 against UC Riverside, 10 points against North Dakota State on Dec. 3, nine points Dec. 12 against South Dakota State and 13, 10 and 13 points, respectively during the three-game Duel in the Desert after Christmas. He chipped in with five points off the bench in the Gophers conference opener Jan. 5 at Michigan State, scored 15 points in the Gophers conference home opener on Jan. 9 vs. Northwestern, 19 at Penn State on Jan. 12, 15 points in the first start of his Gopher career on Feb. 6 at Northwestern, eight points in another start vs. Iowa on Feb. 9, 10 in a win over Ohio State (3/1) and had 14 points to go along with six rebounds at Illinois (3/8).
FRESHMAN RANKINGS WITHIN THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
Assists Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Michael Thompson, NU 4.3 (3)
2. Kalin Lucas, MSU 3.8 (5)
3. Al Nolen, MINN 3.5 (7)
4. Demetri McCamey, ILL 3.3 (10)
5. Talor Battle, PSU 3.2 (11)
Steals Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Al Nolen, MINN 1.9 (2)
2. Manny Harris, MICH 1.4 (8)
3. Eric Gordon, IND 1.2 (9)
4. Robbie Hummel, PUR 1.3 (T10)
5. Talor Battle, PSU 1.2 (12)
3-Point FG % Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Robbie Hummel, PUR .447 (2)
2. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR .434 (4)
3. Michael Thompson, NU .433 (5)
4. Blake Hoffarber, MINN .427 (7)
5. Chris Allen, MSU .370 (15)
3-Point FG Made Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Eric Gordon, IND 2.32(7)
2. Blake Hoffarber, MINN 2.1 (10)
3. E’ Twaun Moore, PUR 1.9 (11)
4. Talor Battle, PSU 1.6 (13)
5. Michael Thompson, NU 1.5 (14)
Assist/Turnover Ratio Average (Big Ten Ranking)
1. Michael Thompson, NU 1.97 (4)
2. Al Nolen, MINN 1.93 (5)
3. Kalin Lucas, MSU 1.87 (7)
4. Talor Battle, PSU 1.41 (11)
5. Demetri McCamey, ILL 1.32 (12)
6. Jeff Peterson, IOWA 0.98 (13)
STAT SHEET FILLER
Minnesota forward Damian Johnson filled up the stat sheet all season. The sophomore from Thibodaux, La. started the regular season with a bang, as he came off the bench to score 12 points, grab eight rebounds, block four shots while also stealing four balls, all career highs at the time. He tied a career-high in points on Dec. 1 against UC Riverside while also grabbing seven rebounds, blocking three shots and stealing three balls. Johnson dished out a career-high five assists and tied a career-high with five steals against Ohio State on Jan. 26. He also contributed eight points and six rebounds. Johnson established a new career-high with five blocks against Wisconsin to go along with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal while playing a career-high 34 minutes.
Against Iowa on Feb. 9, Johnson played 31 minutes off the bench and scored nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and also contributed a team-high seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and an assist. He grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive, against Illinois on Feb. 12 while also scoring nine points, swiping four balls and blocking a shot. Also, Johnson contributed five points, six rebounds and a steal against Wisconsin (2/16). He guided the Gophers to a win over Indiana in the Big Ten quarterfinals, scoring a team-high 17 points and grabbing six rebounds. In the season finale against Maryland, Johnson came off the bench to record his first career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He also contributed four steals, four blocks and four assists.
Johnson finished the season sixth on the team in scoring at 7.1 ppg, second on the team in rebounding at 4.7 rpg, led the team in blocks with 46 (1.4 bpg) and had the second most steals (59, 1.7 spg), which was fifth-most in the conference.
Johnson helped limit Indiana’s Eric Gordon to 12 points on Jan. 17. Gordon managed just 3-for-8 shooting on the night. It was Gordon’s second lowest total this year, and lowest in Big Ten play. The three field goals were also tied for his second-lowest total of the season. He came into the Jan. 17 contest averaging 23.0 points per game. Johnson forced seven Gordon turnovers, while racking up five steals, three blocks and scored eight points. He harassed Gordon into just 4-13 shooting and five turnovers in the Big Ten quarterfinals as well.