Game Day Tid-Bits:
The Gophers are opening up the regular season against a member of the Patriot League for the third time in the Tubby Smith era and second consecutive season (defeated Army 84-52 in Smith's inaugural game as Minnesota's head coach. Opened with a victory over Bucknell last season).
American returns three starters & nine letterwinners from last year's team that finished 20-12 and earned a bid in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament.
The Gophers went 2-0 during the exhibition portion of their schedule, defeating Minnesota State 81-56 and Southwest Baptist 86-59. Joe Coleman led the Gophers in scoring in both contests with 21 against MSU and 15 against SWB.
Minnesota has a record of 46-4 over the last 50 years in regular season home openers. The four losses occured in 1968 (Iowa State), 1969 (Notre Dame), 1987 (Drake) and 1988 (Ball State). That puts the Gophers current home opener win steak at 23. Minnesota has defeated Army (2007), Concordia-St. Paul (2008), Tennessee Tech (2009), Wofford (2010) and Bucknell (2011) to open each season of the Tubby Smith era.
The Gophers went 2-0 during the exhibition season with wins over Minnesota State (81-56), a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and Southwest Baptist (86-59), a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
Sophomore Joe Coleman led the Gophers is scoring with an average of 18 ppg. He scored 21 against Minnesota State and 15 against SW Baptist.
Senior Rodney Williams was second on the team in scoring at 10.5 ppg while Austin Hollins finished with a 9.5 ppg average and led the team in assists at 6.0 apg.
Williams led the team in rebounding at 5.5 rpg and was one of four players (Coleman, Mo Walker, Maverick Ahanmisi) to average a block per game.
Trevor Mbakwe averaged 3.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 11.0 minutes per game in his first two games since injuring his knee last season.
Walker averaged 6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 9.5 minutes in his return from injury. Walker hasn't played in a regular season game since Dec. 23, 2010.
14 of the team's 15-man roster saw action in the games. Freshman Wally Ellenson missed both games and may be out an additional couple of weeks with a broken bone in his left hand.
Tubby Heading Toward 500:
University of Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith will begin the 2012-13 season with 490 wins.
He will attempt to become just the 18th current active coach in NCAA D1 to reach the 500-win mark. Smith and three other current head coaches are within 12 games of the feat at the start of the season. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will begin the season as the all-time winningest coach with 927 career victories.
Smith became just the eighth coach in Minnesota history to win 100 games with a victory over La Salle in the opening round of the 2012 NIT. He will begin the season with 103 wins on the Gopher sideline.
Smith holds the fourth-highest winning percentage in Minnesota history.
Smith has led Minnesota to the post season in four of his five seasons.
Minnesota Coaches with 100 Wins
||250-135 (28 seasons)
||240-165 (13 seasons)
||196-156 (18 seasons)
||190-113 (11 seasons)
||147-93 (11 seasons)
||118-106 (7 seasons)
||110-105 (9 seasons)
||103-68 (5 seasons)
*includes vacated games
Minnesota Coaches Winning Percentage
||.683: 69-32 (4 seasons)
||.649: 250-135 (28 seasons)
||.627: 190-113 (11 seasons)
||.602: 103-68 (5 seasons)
Williams' Chance at History:
Senior forward Rodney Williams will begin his final collegiate campaign with career numbers of 812 points, 371 rebounds, 141 assists and 97 blocks.
Williams will have a chance to become just the third player in Gopher history to score 1,000 points, grab 500 rebounds and dish out 200 assists. The others are Sam Jacobson and Willie Burton.
Also, he could become just the sixth player to finish with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocks, joining Kevin McHale, Randy Breuer, Michael Bauer, Mychal Thompson and Ralph Sampson III.
If Williams does in fact finish with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 150 blocks he will become the first Gopher player to amass those career numbers.
With 1,000 career points, Williams would join 37 other former Gophers on the list.
Minnesota will begin the season with a pair of newcomers in freshmen Wally Ellenson and Charles Buggs. The team will also welcome back a couple of forwards in Trevor Mbakwe and Mo Walker, both returning from knee injuries.
Mbakwe suffered his injury seven games into the 2011-12 season. He was awarded a sixth season by the NCAA. At the time of the injury, Mbakwe was leading the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.1). As a junior, Mbakwe led the Big Ten Conference in rebounding at 10.5 rpg and finished with 327 total rebounds, he third-most in a single-season at Minnesota and the most since Jim Brewer collected 331 rebounds during the 1970-71 season. He averaged a double-double (13.9 pts & 10.5 rbs) on the season, making him the first Gopher player to accomplish that since Kris Humphries did so during the 2003-04 season (22.1 pts & 10.0 rbs).
Walker, a sophomore, played in 12 games as a freshman prior to the injury, establishing averages of 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds. He missed all of last season while recovering from the injury.
Andre Hollins Excels at Freebies:
Andre Hollins led the Big Ten Conference last season with a .904 (85-94) free throw percentage.
Hollins also led the Big Ten Conference with a .923 (36-39) FT percentage in conference games.
Hollins finished the season by converting 28-of-31 shots from the line in postseason play, including games of 7-of-7 against Michigan in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, 8-of-8 against Middle Tennessee State in the third round of the NIT and 7-of-7 against Washington in the NIT semifinals.
His percentage as a freshman is currently the best single-season effort in the history of the program, besting Terrance Woods (1986-87) percentage of .882 (45-51).
The Gophers had six players last season that shot above .700 from the line and three players that shot above .800.
Looking Back at 2011-12:
The Gophers finished the season with 23 wins, the most at Minnesota since the 1989-90 team also won 23 games (not including vacated seasons - Minnesota won 31 games in 1996-97).
Minnesota led the Big Ten Conference in blocked shots with a total of 186 this season, the fourth-most in program history. The Gophers have now led the conference in blocks the last four seasons, including four of the top five season block totals in the history of the Gopher program: a program leading 201 in 2008-09, 199 in 2009-10 & 169 in 2010-11.
Minnesota finished the season with 573 assists - an average of 15.1 apg which was third in the conference. The total is second all-time in program history.
Minnesota finished the season with 1325 rebounds, the most in the history of Minnesota basketball.
Rodney Williams Jr. was named to All-NIT Tournament Team (19.2 ppg., 5.6 rpg., 1.0 bpg - all team highs). He led the team in scoring (12.2 ppg), rebounding (5.6 rpg), blocked shots (1.4 bpg) & steals (1.3 spg), all career highs.
Andre Hollins was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament Team (23.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 3.0 apg.) and the All-NIT Tournament Team (15.0 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 2.8 apg.). He averaged 16.8 ppg over the final nine games of the season. He led he Big Ten Conference in free throw percentage (.904), the highest single-season free throw percentage in program history.
Gophers Against Top 10 Teams:
The win over No. 8 Purdue on Jan. 13, 2011 at Williams arena was Minnesota's fifth victory over a top 10 ranked team under Tubby Smith.
The Gophers defeated No. 8 North Carolina in the second round of the 2010 Puerto rico Tip-Off on Nov. 19.
The Gophers beat No. 6 Purdue and No. 10 Butler during the 2009-10 season and No. 9 Louisville during the 2008-9 season.
Prior to Smith's arrival, the Gophers hadn't defeated a top 10 team since February 9, 2000 when Minnesota beat No. 9 Indiana 77-75.
Gophers in the Polls:
The Gophers will begin the season just outside the Preseason Top-25 polls. Minnesota is in the receiving votes category: No. 30 in the AP Poll & No. 34 in the Coaches Poll.
Minnesota's No. 13 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today poll on Dec. 27, 2010 matched the highest ranking in the Tubby Smith era. The Gophers were also No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today poll on Nov. 29, 2010.
The Gophers were ranked for 12-consecutive weeks during the 2010-11 season, the longest streak for Minnesota in the Tubby Smith era and the longest since the Gophers were ranked for the entire 1996-97 season, reaching as high as #2. That season has since been vacated.
Minnesota spent seven weeks in the AP Top 25 during the 2008-09 season, reaching as high as No. 17 in the poll following its victory over Louisville at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Minnesota freshman Wally Ellenson may make his Gopher basketball debut on Nov. 9 against American but later in the year he may also make his debut as a member of the Minnesota Track & Field Team.
Ellenson came to Minnesota with an impression resume on the court, compiling 1,356 points in three seasons.
His resume is just as impressive on the track. He finished his scholastic career as the two-time Wisconsin Division 1 state champion in the high jump
His state-record jump of seven feet, one inch in the 2012 regional meet was the nation's best by a high school athlete, and only two inches shy of an Olympic Trials qualifier
He also owns Rice Lake school records in long jump (22-6) and triple jump (44-2).
Upgrades at Williams Arena:
As the season gets underway, the basketball program will be showing off several improvements to Williams Arena.
The Williams Arena improvements are in the form of a new center-hung LED scoreboard, LED fascia boards around the bottom of the upper deck and a new sound system.
The scoreboards and fascia boards were built and installed by Daktronics, Inc., while Minnesota-based Parsons Electric installed the new sound system at "The Barn".
The university also added a state-of-the-art control room in TCF Bank Stadium. The control room, designed and installed by Minnesota based Alpha Video, will run the new technology.
Tubby Smith Trends:
In five seasons under Tubby Smith, Minnesota has followed some pretty significant winning trends:
92-11 when leading with 5:00 remaining
82-42 when bench outscores opponents bench
85-13 when leading at the half
59-15 with fewer turnovers than opponent
69-6 when scoring 70 points or more
66-23 at Williams arena
74-29 when outrebounding its opponent
72-16 when attempting more free throws than its opponent
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