Tubby's cupboard is full
While the Gopher women (please see below) have found a more apt fitting for the Cinderella slipper in this year's NCAAs, the G-Men undoubtedly have a wealth of potential and possibility to look forward to next season. Although, if the Big Ten Conference has anything to say about it, success won't be determined by talent alone, and the 2010 path won't be lined with unencumbered rainbows and callow hopscotch.
Next year's Gopher men's team will be stacked and experienced - but so will the wealth of conference competition.
Hopefully the Gopher hoopsters took something positive from last Thursday's 76-62 smackdown at the horns of Texas in round one of the NCAA's East Regional. For, that knowledge and taste of March Madness will belong to a 2010 Minnesota club that returns it's top nine scorers, it's top eights rebounders, and it's top eight minute men. Among those, surely junior-guards-to-be Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber need to exhibit a boatload of offseason growth. The incentive for such ascension is not a product of sophomore-slumpage alone as, according to Rivals.com, the Gophers' sport the nation's #22 recruiting class for next season (3rd in the Big Ten), led by former Henry Sibley and St. Bernard's bulky standout Trevor Mbakwe (currently starring at Miami Dade JUCO), Robbinsdale Cooper forward Rodney Williams, and, most notably, Hopkins forward Royce White. White is ranked by Rivals as the #2 small forward recruit in the nation.
Tubby has had fine success in his respective year number three of coaching at both Tulsa and Kentucky: each club won at least one NCAA game in that year under his guidance. Yet, such fruits will first need to be labored through a gritty Big Ten Conference season. Of the media's three all-Big Ten teams, only four of the 15 players were seniors, and the first-team was composed entirely of sophmores, No Gophers were included on any team. On the coaches' all-Big Ten freshman team, no Gophers were included there either. A weak NBA draft class behooves the Gophers chances of seeing a few such underclassmen - Kalin Lucas, Manny Harris, Evan Turner - perhaps opt to go pro, a conference thinning that could see Minnesota's chances rapidly enhanced for a league title.
But while the men look to next season, big kudos go out to the Gopher women for rolling into South Bend, Ind. over the weekend and handling Notre Dame with aplomb on the Irish home court in a 79-71, round one victory. Senior guard Emily Fox led the way with 23 points and four assists while Katie Ohm dropped in five three's. They play again tonight at 6 p.m. CST (on ESPN2) against #2 seed Texas A&M for a crack at the Sweet 16.
A brief notice, gentle readers, that Twins baseball coverage will begin herein next week. Many thanks, as always, for your readership and Comments. The hardball season should prove quite juicy, so please check back for the onset of these articles.