May 31, 2007

Links accross Gopher Nation (and beyond)

Big Ten Coaches, South Park style - Anything Hoosier is to thank for this hilarious link. Tressell is pretty funny.

Goldy in Playboy - Now we know what that big toothy grin is for. PB: What do you do to them (other mascots)? Goldy: I lay down the law. I just took care of Bucky -- put him right through a card table.

NACDA Director's Cup has the Gophers sitting 14th overall, standings are yet to include Men's Golf and baseball, both of which should improve our standing.

Michigan State's new unis - what not green pants with green tops? Photo is courtesy of the Spartan Tailgate

Buckeye Banter's caption THIS - I think the pic must be from 2005 and these guys just finished watching Gary Russel run the Gophers into FG range.

How to be a Notre Dame fan from the 50-Yard Lion (by way of - In the spirit of full disclosure I should note that I am a closet ND fan. My path is not on the chart, but my recent interest in the Fighting Irish is due to amazing experiences in South Bend (Michigan-04, USC-05, UCLA-06).

Stocco is waiting for that Packer phone call - courtesy of Bucky's Blog

May 29, 2007

Golden Gophers at the National level...

Baseball - Time for Gopher Nation to get on a plane for San Diego. After finishing 2nd in the Big Ten regular standings then losing to Ohio State in the B10 Tournament championship game, Minnesota earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota is a #3 seed in the 4-team San Diego regional, they will face perennial power Cal-State Fullerton on Friday. This appears to be a difficult regional but the Gophers advancing to the Super Regionals is not out of the question.

  • #1-San Diego (43-16) - ranked #4 in the country according to Baseball America and is seeded 8th overall in the NCAA tournament.
  • #2-Cal State Fullerton (33-23) - finished 5th in the Big West at 10-11, but don't let that fool you as they are in a very competitive conference and this will be a good test for the Gophers. I'll look deeper into CSF with a minor preview later this week.
  • #3-Minnesota (40-16) - 2nd in the Big Ten and played in their 7th consecutive Big Ten conference Championship game.
  • #4-Fresno State (36-27) - back to back WAC Tournament Champs.
Gopher Golf in Virginia - if you can't make it to San Diego (or if you are just waiting for Omaha) you can represent Gopher Nation in Williamsburg, Virginia to watch the Golden Gopher Men's golf team compete in the NCAA Championships. After winning a playoff over Texas A&M at the regionals the golden golfers advanced to the NCAA Championships for the 27th time in team history. The 2002 NCAA Champs and after a 3rd place finish in 2006 they will have some ground to make up after finishing 10th in the regional, but stranger things have happened.

Men's and Women's Track athletes who have earned automatic berths into the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento (June 6-9). At large berths will be announces later this week...

Derek Gearman - Triple Jump
Adam Schnaible - Shot Put

Ruby Radocaj - Javelin
Heather Dornidin - 800M - set Regional record
Emily Brown - 3000M Steeplechase
Liz Podominick - Discus
Liz Alabi - Shot Put

Congrats to the Golden Gopher rowing squad for their 6th place finish at the NCAA Championships.

May 24, 2007

the NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 1

PART 1 of 8 of the New Golden Gopher Era -
What Can We Expect in 2007 - Football

Well, this is my 2nd attempt at writing Part 1. Attempt #1 turned into a lengthy 2007 Gopher Football preview. That's not exactly what I want to do with this series. I don't want this post to be about 9 returners on defense or who will be QB or breakdown the schedule game by game.

I want to take a look at what will be different from 2006 because of the new coaching staff. And will these differences really affect us in the W/L columns right away. Obviously Coach Brewster and his staff had precious little time to make a dent in recruiting for 2007 (although they seem to be working their tails off for 2008), so the 2007 Gophers will be 100% Glen Mason returners and recruits, with Clint Brewster and HS teammate Kyle Theret being the only 2 exceptions.
Here are 4 questions I'm going to attempt to answer on the 2007 season.

1. What can Brewster do to affect change right away? - Due to the timing of TB's hire, it will take him until 2008 to affect the talent level of the program. And really 2008 recruiting class won't pay dividends until 2009 or 2010. So how can TB affect change in 2007? I think the biggest thing he can do is change the mindset of the program. It has always seemed a foregone conclusion that Minnesota could hope for a 5-3 or at best a 6-2 season and maybe finish 3rd in conference. Pasadena? That's just crazy talk. Previous coaching staffs would tell you about all of the obstacles facing the program and how they made the Rose Bowl a near impossibility. We were constantly reminded how bad it used to be and we should be happy with mediocrity.

This wasn't just rhetoric to keep the expectations of Gopher Nation at bay, but this also had to seep into the mindset of the players. How could they not believe that we were at best a 2nd tier Big Ten team? That has been the upper limit for years, we HAVE been a middle of the road Big Ten team. But that's not good enough for TB.

I am thrilled that TB has come into Minnesota and immediately started raising the bar of expectations. His first meeting with the team he had them chanting "Rose Bowl!" He had actual turf from the Rose Bowl delivered to him and he has it on display for the team. Are these hokey? Yes. Can they be affective? I think so. Mason's teams played like they had a better shot at going to the moon then Pasadena! Brewster puts it out there front and center, this is the goal and we can get there.

The interesting thing is that TB is putting added pressure on himself. Mason managed expectations by lowering them at every turn, this added years to his tenure. If TB is able to raise expectations and he fails to live up to them he will be gone. But I respect that he seems to be putting it out there and he embraces it and believes it himself.

Now I get back to talent. Obviously the 2007 Gopher team does not have the talent to beat the Michigans and Ohio States, the talent level just isn't there. TB can't change that in the few months he's been on the job. But along with the talent level he has to change the mindset of the program. Team's that are used to losing tend to continue losing, teams that traditionally win tend to act like winners. The mindset of Gopher Nation has to change.

2. Is duplicating a Glen Mason season good enough this year? - I'm going to cop-out on this one. The answer is yes AND no.
YES - with current talent level and the schedule we have this season finishing 4-4 or even 3-5 in conference is acceptable.
NO - just winning 3 or 4 games can't simply be enough. There have to be 2 immediate changes. 1. Mason's ultimate downfall was his unique ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (TexTech-06, Wis-05, Mich-03). 2. We have to be competitive even in defeat. I don't care how good Ohio State is, losing 44-0 is unacceptable. We are a Big Ten school and we should act like it. OSU was clearly the class of the conference but it was obvious that we went into that game having already lost. Losing to Michigan State 31-18 is unacceptable. Losing to Wisconsin 48-12 is unacceptable.

So in summary duplicating Mason's end results is acceptable (it is his talent after all), but duplicating the efforts and execution of his teams is not.

3. How successful can the spread offense be with Mason's personnel? - I don't want to get into too much X's and O's discussion at this point, but I think this is a very interesting question. OC-Mike Dunbar was brought in to run his high octane, spread passing offense. Glen Mason was very good at recruiting for and then executing the most dominating run game in the country over the last several seasons. How does Dunbar flip the switch with a roster full of players suited for Mason's run game. We have an OL with players adept at pulling and downfield blocking. We have skilled RBs but inexperienced and slow WRs. We don't have an experienced QB to rely on.

I think this will be a major struggle in 2007. Who will play QB, who will catch his passes and how effective will our best offensive weapon (Pinnix) be?

QB - Brewster and Dunbar will have 1 of 2 options. First, he can go with Mortensen who has a little experience and has shown flashes of a nice arm. Or he can go with the freshman route. Start Weber or Clint Brewster now. Take our lumps in 2007 and groom either of them to be your leader for the next 3 seasons when he'll have a deeper and more talented WR core around him. This will be a TOUGH call and I don't want to touch it at this point.
RB - Pinnix could be a home run threat every time he touches the ball. A poor man's Maroney. Will he get that opportunity? Will the 2007 offense be a hybrid so we can utilize Pinnix? Then it will expand into more passing when we get the right personnel?
WR - I am a big fan of Wheelright and I think Decker is solid. But after that we have NOBODY. This will be an issue. Somebody will have to step up and have a break out season. Who will that be? Trey Herndon-he's fast but small. Mike Chambers or Jack Simmons are your only other options. None of them get me all tingly but somebody will have to step up. Wheelright is going to have a monster year but the spread offense needs several talented WRs and we just don't have that.

4. Finally, what is a successful season? - I think 4 things will define Brewster's initial season.

  1. This is the obvious and tangible one. Record. We have 4 non-conference games that are all must wins. Don't give me rhetoric that Miami(Ohio) or Bowling Green are two of the best in the MAC. They are in the MAC and there is no reason you should not beat them. Win those games then you have to win a few in the Big Ten.
    • 9-3 would make Gopher Nation ecstatic, but don't hold your collective breath
    • 8-4 is doable
    • 7-5 is realistic
    • 6-6 is OK but we'll need to see something next year
    • 5-7 means a 1-7 Big Ten season and that will be very disappointing
    • 4-8 is a disaster and inexcusable, we are not devoid of any talent.
  2. A less tangible but recognizable goal is to be competitive. Don't get blown out. At Michigan looms as a blow out game, but have some pride and put up a fight. We won there in 2005, I don't hold out hope for this upset but show that you are willing to play with them. OSU is going to be down from 2006 and you have them at home, put up a fight. Wisconsin and Iowa are your rivals and you better go into it believing you can win. The rest are winnable.
  3. Get better. Mason's teams seemed to slide into week 12. Look back and you'll see plenty of 5-0 or 6-1 starts that end with 1-4 finishes. I don't care who you are playing, get better throughout the season.
  4. And the least tangible, but maybe the most telling if Brewster's message is getting through is play with some toughness. Have some pride. You aren't going to dominate the Big Ten, but seize this opportunity to be part of the building blocks. Put up a fight on every play, don't get torched for ungodly amounts of yards and don't blow massive leads that are ALMOST certain victories.
All in all this will be an intriguing season. Gopher Nation is excited and more interested in May recruiting then I've ever noticed. We believe we are the cusp of something bigger then we've seen in our lifetimes. I don't expect we'll see tangible results for a couple years but lets keep our eye on the building blocks in 2007. I'll give Mason credit for taking us from abysmal to mediocre. But that's not enough. I believe Brewster is the guy who can take us from mediocre to competitive and from competitive to the top.

May 21, 2007

Gopher Recruiting 2008

Here is a list of 2008 Gopher basketball recruits. I'm pretty confident that this is a solid and accurate list based on the info I have available to me. After the small 2007 recruiting class and the several seniors graduating, Tubby has 5 scholarships that he can offer for the 2008 class.


  • PG Nathen Garth (6'3") - Discussed HERE. 18 pts, 8 ast and 3 steals as a junior. Garth seems to be a solid recruit who will be called upon to be the on floor coach. Hard worker and possibly still growing into a 6'4" PG. Expect Saul Smith to groom Garth. Received offers from UTEP, Ole Miss, Santa Clara and unconfirmed offer from Cal.
  • PF Andrew Brommer (6'8") - in state PF who has been discussed VERY LITTLE here (or anywhere for that matter). Brommer plays for Rosemount High School and Cris Carr's AAU program 43 Hoops. Brommer was a Monson recruit that Tubby is currently still giving a scholarship to. But I would guess that if some of the bigger names below want to sign with the U, then Tubby might convince Brommer that he'll be better off somewhere else. As I said before I know very little about Brommer so I can't accurately comment on whether or not he is a Big Ten PF or not. He did receive interest from Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia and N.Iowa.
  • SG Iman Shumpert (6'4") - #41 overall, Rivals 4-star from Oak Park,Ill. Shumpert is a newer name on my radar but Rivals states that he may be the 4-star recruit playing the best basketball right now. Offers from Clem, GTech, Tenn, Wis and handful of Mid-Majors. Interest from schools like Duke, Ill, Notre Dame, Cal, AZ St, Marq and Mich.
  • PF Draymond Green (6'7") - #79 overall, Rivals 4-star recruit from the state of Michigan. Green appears to be the most likely 4-star recruit to end up at Minnesota in this class. He is a former Kentucky commit who has since backed down from that verbal (not sure who's decision that was though). Green is supposed to be an outstanding rebounder with an offensive game that needs improving. Indiana, Dayton and Xavier have offered as well. Michigan and Michigan State have both shown interest.
  • SG Devoe Joseph (6'2") - #101 overall, Rivals 3-star from Ontario, Canada. Nearly a top 100 kid, but Joseph is not receiving many offers from major conference schools with the excpetion of Minnesota and Washington State. Duquesne, Santa Clara, Loyola and Fairfield are the other schools currently offering to Joseph.
VERY INTERESTED - not yet offered
  • PF/C Stan Simpson (6'9") - #83 overall, Rivals 4-star from Chicago. Simpson is an AAU teammate of Shumpert so maybe we can get these guys as a package. Rivals analysis of Simpson is that he is best in the paint on offense and has shot blocking ability on the other end. He lists his top 5 schools as Illinois, UConn, Minnesota, Ohio State and Virginia. He has offers from Indiana and Virginia.
  • C Ralph Sampson III (6'10") - has as #22 among Centers, Rivals 3-star who has taken an unofficial visit to campus. RSIII is an intriguing prospect. He seems to be a very hard working kid who has improved over the last year. I would expect that you'll see him move up recruiting lists in the near future. He currently has interest from Alabama, Cal, Indiana, NC State and his AAU coach tells Rivals that Georgia has offered. I would personally like to see Tubby land Sampson.
With our 3 remaining scholarships my top 3 to land would be Shumpert, Green and Sampson. I think that would give us a solid class to start building the program. I would view it as a talented SG (Shumpert) and PF (Green), hard working and improving PG (Garth) and C (RSIII), and a red shirt project at PF (Brommer). Then land the 2 Minnesota big names from the 09 class and I think you have a competitive team in just a couple years.

PG - Garth
SG - Shumpert / Rodney Williams
SF - Royce White
PF - Green / Brommer
C - Sampson

Really, who knows how good these guys can be but it is a very interesting recruiting season to say the least. Get some of these guys, improve then start landing top 40 guys on a regular basis and make this program a perennial Big Ten power!

Gopher Baseball to Ann Arbor

The Golden Gopher baseball team's regular season is officially over, but their 2nd season is hopefully just beginning. The conference tournament is set and Minnesota has a bye and is the #2 seed set to face the highest remaining seed after Wednesdays first round games.

1. Michigan (bye and host)
2. Minnesota (bye)
3. Penn State
4. Iowa
5. Illinois
6. Ohio State

Personally I feel fortunate that we are guranteed to not face Ohio State in our first game. I like their chances to upset Penn State in round 1 as they will put Cory Luebke (7-1, 1.94 ERA) on the mound. It'd be nice if they could throw Luebke again to face Michigan in round 2, but let's take this 1 round at a time.

I like our chances against Iowa or Illinois (assuming my OSU upset), getting that first win on Thursday looks to loom large. If you drop that game you are forced to 2 games just to get back to the Championship game where you have to beat the undefeated team twice. Even losing Friday isn't quite as daunting. Win Thursday then let's have fun taking on Michigan for a Championship game birth.

Good luck to Coach Anderson and all of his boys. We have a 6 year Championship game streak on the line so lets take care of business, get to the Championship game then win it and take the Omaha trip out of the committee's hands.

May 20, 2007

2007 turning point for Gopher football and basketball. Question? or Statement!

There are 2 things that I KNOW about Gopher athletics.

  1. Over the last couple decades the minor sports at the U have been very successful while the traditional money sports have struggled for a LONG time. Wrestling, Hockey (minor by national standards) and Men's Golf have all won national championships in recent years. Baseball, Track, Swimming/Diving and Gymnastics have all been fixtures at or near the top of the Big Ten. BUT football and basketball have become irrelevant.
  2. There is a LOT of excitement in Gopher Nation for the football and basketball programs. The hiring of 2 new coaches has re-energized Gopher Nation (heck it created GN). A relative unknown (and by relative I mean, everyone reacted with a "WHO?!?") was hired to lead the mediocre football program and one of the biggest names in college basketball left one of the biggest programs in college basketball to coach the inept gopher hoopsters. Both have done a fantastic job of selling tickets, hitting the recruiting trail HARD and getting people excited for the futures of football and basketball in Minnesota.
While they have made good moves and said the right things to this point they have not accomplished ANYTHING on the playing field. I sense excitement but I still have so many questions. Are we going to look back in 3 years and be debating if coach Brewster should be fired or will we be upset that he is leaving us for Texas? Will Kentucky fans be missing the Tubby era or will they be telling us "I told you so" when he is unable to bring in the talent needed to meet expectations. I want to dig into these questions and cover the following...
  • What can we expect in 2007-08?
  • What can we define as success?
  • How quickly can either of these programs win a Big Ten title?
  • What are the long term expectations of success?
That is a lot to cover but I plan to tackle these in my 8 part series of the New Golden Gopher Era!

stay tuned...

May 16, 2007

Gopher Basketball Recruiting

Tubby has a verbal from his first gopher recruit!

Nathen Garth - PG (6'3") from Dallas - Garth has never visit Minnesota (with a 10 hour airport layover being the exception), but says he is coming here because of Tubby Smith. Garth averaged 18 points, 8 assists and 3 steals per game as a Jr. for Woodrow Wilson HS in Dallas, TX. He had offers from Cal, Miss, UTEP and Santa Clara. Word has it that he is adept at getting by defenders with both hands and is a smart, hard working PG.

Quotes from Garth...

"His (Tubby) résumé is incredible. He wins." - Star Tribune

"I know what Tubby is capable of and what he can do for a program. No knock on Dan Monson, but Tubby's going to get high major players. With the work ethic he has, he's going to turn things around quickly." - Pioneer Press

"I plan to bring a winning attitude and I'm going to be a leader," Garth said. "I want to be that point guard you can count on in the crunch time and I want to bring NCAA Tournaments and a National title." - (requires membership)

We'll just have to wait and see how many banners Garth brings us. This appears to be a good recruit, but not exactly someone to turn and then build your program around. I think that in Tubby's system you need a solid PG in the classic sense of a PG (think Stockton not Marbury), Garth may be that guy. Not much is known about him but he appears to be a hard working kid who can provide some on court leadership.

The guys with the potential to bring banners to the Barn are Royce White and Rodney Williams! These guys seem to be moving up everyone's list at light speed. Both are sophs (going to be jrs within days) and are turning into MUST HAVES for Tubby and his staff. recently updated their top 40 for 2009 and both players are up there. Let's stop for a min here, can you imagine a gopher recruiting class with 2 top 40 players!! Anyway here is some info on the MN kids of 2009 and their overall rank within their class...

#17 Royce White, 6'7" DeLeSalle - making national news with his play in recent AAU tournaments including an MVP award at the recent Sabes Invitational Tournament where he averaged 16.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg. He has been getting more offers in the last few days including Michigan State and Illinois (to along with Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa State). It's way too early to say who has the advantage, but Minnesota obviously holds the home-team advantage," White told Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press

#37 Rodney Williams, 6'5" Robbinsdale Cooper - Williams is also moving up lists faster than expected and has become a 4-star recruit. Athletic wing player who appears to be interested in attending the same school as White, getting both as a package would be a great start to this recruiting class. Currently has offers from Minnesota and Iowa State with interest from Kansas and Wisconsin.

FINALLY, Tubby is one step closer to completing his coaching staff and it seems like a very good hire. In fact I'm more excited by this hire than by Jirsa or Saul. Anyway, Tubby has lured Vince Taylor away the Timberwolves staff. Taylor has a lot of experience at the college level and is known as a good recruiter with stops at Wyoming, Pitt and 4 years under Pitino at Louisville. Taylor has experience recruiting, player development and has the NBA on his resume. All of that will be attractive to recruits and I think this will be a productive hire for Tubby.'s Extra Innings interview with John Anderson.

I'm learning a lot about Gopher baseball these last couple months so this is all new to me, but Coach Anderson was a player on the 1977 National Championship team. He started the season as a pitcher but was injured, became student manager and soaked up everything he could from then coach Dick "Cheif" Seibert. This is what led to his coaching career but here is a rather interesting story from the Q & A.

Coach Anderson:
In fact, interesting story, we were coming back from Iowa after winning the Big 10 on the last weekend of the season and I'm in the back of the bus playing cards and Chief calls me up to the front of the bus. He tells me that we have to have a vote for the team MVP. So he has me hand out slips of paper to everybody on the bus. I go back and collect them and hand them to Chief. A few minutes later he stands up in front of everybody and says, "Dammit, you guys get serious here! You just voted our student manager as MVP. Quit screwing around and vote again." So I passed the pieces of paper out again, they all voted and I got one more vote that time than I did before.

Coach Anderson stats of note...

942 careers wins
17th among active coaches
1 season of fewer than 30 wins (his 2nd season with 27 wins)
6 straight Big Ten title game appearances

May 15, 2007 at the Gopher/Buckeye baseball game

Eric Sorenson of made a stop at Seibert Field over the weekend. HERE is what he had to say about the Gophers, the Buckeyes, Minneapolis/Minnesota and Northwest Airlines.

He mentions an interview with coach John Anderson, when he posts that I'll be sure to link you.

May 14, 2007

Gopher Basketball tidbits

Star Tribune with a nice article on Tubby enhancing the brand awareness of the University of Minnesota. Having Tubby Smith as your head coach makes kids listen to your pitch. It was kind of late in the game to really affect the 2007 recruiting class but I'm anxious to see what kind of talent Tubby can bring in starting in 2008. He has 2 difficult tasks, in my opinion.

    • Keep the best MN kids in MN. This one will get easier if he can show any kind of success on the court and reenergize The Barn. The results of this will have to wait as the best 2007 and 2008 kids have already committed. Getting White and Williams from the class of 2009 will be an interesting story to watch.
    • Get top notch players from outside the state! This was much tougher for previous coaching staffs, they had to get good players that they "hoped" would become great (see Rico Tucker). Tubby has the street cred that he can get kids to come up here.
    I think Tubby can do it, in Kentucky getting talent wasn't a problem it was living up to UK expectations. In Minnesota if he gets talented kids and makes this program competitive, people will be happy (for now).
    "The one thing Tubby did was get top-100 players, players who would fit into his system," Telep said. "What the rabid Kentucky fans wanted him to do was be in with every elite player. What was important to Tubby Smith and what was important to Joe Kentucky Fan didn't match."
Ast. Coach Saul Smith as interviewed by I'm not completely sold on Saul, I'm afraid that he is going to be "groomed" as Tubby's replacement in the future when he is far too young to know if he can succeed at this level. But time will tell. If he gets his name attached to a big recruit coming in or if we see a noticable improvement in the guard play over the next year or 2 then I'll start giving him a bit more respect. Tubby has it, Saul has to earn it. He took a LOT of heat in Kentucky and seemed to handle that well so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

Recruiting News
    • Ralph Sampson III - 6'10" son of NBA great Ralph Sampson. RSIII was on campus this weekend for an unofficial visit. Currently #22 overall C on's list. Other than local media talking about his visit I do not see much giving me a gauge on his interest, but we will need frontcourt help and RSIII is a big kid with a pedigree. Add him to the list!

Gopher Baseball

This was a weekend of good news / bad news for gopher baseball.

Good new was that Michigan lost 3 of 4 to Penn State, the bad news was that we managed a 2-2 split with Ohio State. (TNABACG reactions to the game)
Good news is that we are only 1.5 out of first place, bad news is that there are only 4 games remaining and making up 2 games will be tough to do.
Good news is that we play Indiana (6-21), bad news is that we are on the road.

Here is the skinny....

6 teams make the Big Ten Tournament (check)
2 teams get a 1st round bye (currently in 2nd and up 1.5 gms over Penn State)
Big Ten Regular season champ is the host school (down 1.5 to Michigan)

  • Michigan travels to 4th place Iowa - a split is possible
  • Minnesota travels to 9th place Indiana - a sweep is a MUST if you want a shot at the title and a split is needed to maintian the bye.
Things are rather tight but MN is sitting in a nice position to make a tournament run even if it is in Ann Arbor.

May 11, 2007

Baseball - Minnesota vs. Ohio State

After a disappointing split with Big Ten cellar dweller Northwestern last weekend, the Golden Gophers take on Ohio State at home this weekend. Prior to the Big Ten season, Ohio State was widely considered to be the clear #2 team in the conference. Since the injury to pitcher Dan DeLucia they have floundered to 12-8 in conference play but this will no doubt be an important series for Big Ten tourney seedings. Here is what little info I can muster up on this weekend's series.

Game 1 Friday Night - Ohio State is very good on Friday nights going 4-1 losing only to Michigan in extra innings. They will put one of the Big Ten's best pitchers on the mound in Cory Luebke who is 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA. Minnesota's Friday night pitcher will be sophomore Tom Buske (1-2, 3.13 ERA). This looks to be a bad matchup and we'll rely on the bats to get to Luebke which appears to be a difficult task.

Game 2 - MN will put out Jr. Gary Perinar who has been solid leading the gophers to 4 straight Game 2 wins. Ohio State will pitch Jake Hale (1-2, 5.45 ERA and 10 saves). This is should be our best opportunity for a W.

Game 3 - Sr. Marcus McKenzie will take his 7-0 record (5.44 ERA) against the Buckeyes in this big game 3. This appears to be the most closely matched pitching matchup as Ohio State goes with reigning Big Ten Freshman of the year JB Shuck (3-2, 4.19 ERA). Minnesota is undefeated this Big Ten season in Game 3s (5-0).

Sunday Game 4 - Jr. Dustin Brabender (5-1, 4.53 ERA) will throw for the gophers and I'm guessing this will be to take 3 of 4 or split (if we lose).

Hitters of note...

Mike Mee is putting up some of the best numbers in the Big Ten hitting .423, 42 RBIs and 4 HRs. He'll need to keep a hot bat and let others use it this weekend.

JB Shuck (gm 3 starter) is also very good at the plate (.415, 31 RBIs, 1 HR).

This weekend Michigan is taking on a decent Penn State team. If Minnesota wants any chance of a Big Ten title they have to sweep Ohio State and hope for some help. Michigan losing 3 games over the next 2 weekends isn't too far fetched to believe, but that means Minnesota has to go 8-0. Should be a fun weekend and great weather to get Gopher Nation out to Seibert Field for the last home stand of the season.

May 10, 2007

Recruiting News

Football - ESPN Recruiting Insider does not have their official top 150 list up yet, BUT they have at least identified the players who are in the running for the top 150. Minnesota is currently listed as in the running for 13 of these players. 2006-07 we landed 1 top 150 player and that was of course Clint Brewster. Maybe I'm still stuck in the quagmire of low standards but imagine landing even just 3 or 4 of these kids? Here are the 13 that we are zeroing in on (in order of Minnesota's consideration priority)...

  • Mike Floyd, WR - 1. Minnesota 2. NotreDame 3. Ohio State - have to get Floyd
  • Willie Mobley, DE - 1. Minnesota 2. Ohio State 3. Iowa
  • Jewhan Edwards, DT - 1. Syracuse 2. Minnesota 3. PennSt
  • Joe Adams, Ath - 1. TexTech 2. OK 3. Minnesota
  • Brandon Green, WR - 1. Ill 2. Wis 3. Minnesota
  • Quinten Williams, TE - 1. WVirginia 2. Wis 3. Minnesota
  • Ryan Bass, RB - 1. AZ 2. Miss 3. Lou'ville 4. Minnesota
  • Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE - 1. Tex A&M 2. OK 3. NotreDame 4. Minnesota
  • Cordale Scott, WR - 1. Ohio State 2. Wis 3. Ill 4. Minnesota
  • Keanon Cooper, OLB - 1. TexTech 2. Miss 3. Wis 4. Purd 5. Minnesota
  • Jonas Gray, RB - 1. Flor 2. MichSt 3. Col 4. Mich 5. Minnesota
  • Dion Jordan, TE - 1. AZ 2. AZ St 3. UCLA 4. Oregon 5. Minnesota
  • Scott Vallone, DE - 1. Rutgers 2. Maryland 3. Syracuse 4. BC 5. Minnesota
Mobley and Floyd are the only 2 prospects from the state of Minnesota that are on the ESPN 150 Watch List.

Basketball - There really isn't any new news on the basketball recruiting front. Tubby was unable to lure a last min recruit to the U for this fall, but he is already working on future classes. Here is a solid article in the Star Trib about 2 of Minnesota's outstanding high school sophomores (soon to be juniors) Royce White of DeLeSalle and Rodney Williams of Robbinsdale Cooper. Both are playing very well for their Howard Pulley 17 under AAU team and 2 local kids that Tubby has to prove he can keep in state.

Here is what I can gather on the 2007-08 recruiting class...
  • Tyler Zeller, PF (6'10", 185) Washington, IN - has Tyler as #25 overall in the 2008 class. Like I said above for football it is nice to have Minnesota even on the list at this point but that will be meaningless if he eventually signs elsewhere. Current list includes AZ, AZ St, GTech, Ill, Indiana, Kentucky, Notre Dame, NCarolina, Tennessee and Kansas just to name a few. This is an uphill battle but one worth keeping an eye on.
  • Draymond Green, PF (6'6", 220) Saginaw, MI - #59 on's list. I have read other places that we are a serious contender for Green. There was even rumors that Tubby was planning to hire Green's high school basketball coach which clearly would have helped a ton in recruiting him. The list of contending schools for Green includes Kentucky, Mich State, Clemson, BC, Indiana, Mich, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
  • Devoe Joseph, SG (6'3", 170) Ajax, Ontario - #82 for overall and 19th best SG. I know very little about Joseph other than he is from Canada (eh). His list is smaller but still full of good schools GTech, Kentucky, Pitt and Wash State.
  • Lewis Jackson, PG (5'8" 165) Decatur, GA - smallish PG that ESPN has ranked as the 18th best at his position. Minnesota is listed as #3 on his list behind Purdue and Indiana. Seems like he'd be a solid recruit and with this talent level (especially after this class graduates) we need anybody we can get our hands on.
  • Carrington Tankson, SF (6'5") Osseo, MN - local kid with a sweet name. This is the first I've heard his name but MN ranks 4th on his list behind Iowa State, Wisconsin and Marquette.
Ohio State basketball - Thad Motta is WAY ahead of the rest of the Big Ten. His 07 class is set and one of the best, I'm sure his '08 class is great too and '09 too for that matter. They must be because he has started signing high school freshmen (read freshMAN). Thad has signed Jared Sullinger a PF from Columbus. This really wasn't even fair cause Jared is from Columbus and his brother played at OSU, but it never hurts to land one of the best in his class and now you have the next 4 years to recruit other kids and not worry about 1 scholarship.

May 6, 2007

Big Ten Football predictions

ESPN's spring wrap up includes a VERY early prediction of Big Ten standings...

Big Ten Spring Wrap
1. Wisconsin
2. Michigan
3. Ohio State
4. Iowa
5. Penn State
6. Michigan State
7. Illinois
8. Purdue
9. Northwestern
10. Indiana
11. Minnesota

LAST in conference?!? I don't hold out any hope that Gopher Nation will be spending the New Year in Pasadena (at least not this year), but I also don't see last place as a reality. As I recall we finished ahead of 5 teams a year ago and we return 9 of 11 defensive starters, starting RB and most of our OL. We also were a pass interference call away from beating Penn State a year ago which would have lead to a .500 conference finish.

A closer look shows that we have Purdue and Illinois at home, NW and Indiana on the road. All are winnable and would put us at 4 conference wins. Remaining games are OhioState, @Michigan, @Iowa and Wisconsin. Certainly 3 losses with the hope of an upset in there. At this point I see 4-4 as a realistic conference record. Not a rosey season be certainly not last place worthy.

May 4, 2007

Gopher Baseball coach John Anderson

Star Trib interview with #14 (coach John Anderson). Here are a couple of interesting points...

  • 935 career wins and counting
  • coach Anderson talks about the coming rule changes in 2008. These rule changes should significantly help to close the gap between Northern/Midwest teams vs. Southern/West Coast teams.

May 3, 2007

File this under WTF (and that doesn't stand for Women's Track n Field)!!!

OK, so it isn't really all that big of a deal but read this headline and remember your reaction...

Two Gophers opt for NBA draft

The 2 gophers being refered to here are juniors Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman. Both names appeared on the final list of 58 college underclassmen declaring themselves eligible for the NBA draft.

BUT, they will almost certainly withdraw their names by the June 18th deadline.

Appearantly this was encouraged (or had been in the past while at UK) by coach Tubby Smith as an opportunity to get their names out there and maybe some feedback from NBA executives/coaches.

So no harm, no foul; but I about fell off my chair when I saw the headline. HERE is the StarTrib article.

Gopher Championship Weekend - minor sports edition

Last weekend was a banner week for some of the minor sports at the U. Here is a quick rundown of their successes...

Mens Golf - the mens golf team rallied from 9 strokes down in the final day to tie Michigan State and earn co-Big Ten Conference Champs, their 7th in team history. Gopher senior Brian La'Cassie needed to birdie the final hole and he came through. La'Cassie and sr. Naill Turner were named first-team All Big Ten.

Women's Rowing - In only their 7th season of competition the women's rowing squad (club, crew, ship?) won their first Big Ten Championship. This may be the 1st and only mention of rowing on my blog, but hats off to them .

Women's Track and Field (aka WTF) - an impressive performance at the Drake Relays. Only the 3rd team in the 98 year history of this event to win the Drake Relays Triple Crown (4x1600, 4x800 and Distance Medley). Also the ever popular 4x800 group set a 2006-07 world's best time and a Drake Relays record.