The Gophers men's basketball entered competition looking like contenders, but issues off the court have hurt.
A year ago the Gophers men's basketball team finished with a 22-11 record.
They won a game in the Big Ten tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Texas 76-62 in the first round.
The future for this team looked great with a recruiting class that included All-America junior college player Trevor Mbakwe and Minnesota's Mr. Basketball, Royce White of Hopkins.
But Mbakwe and White never played because of legal troubles, and then the team lost junior guard Al Nolen because of academic ineligibility.
On the court, they had trouble holding leads, and have lost to two of the conference's top teams at home because of that issue.
On Jan. 23, they lost to Michigan State 65-64 at Williams Arena. The Spartans are currently No. 14 in the country.
On Wednesday night, No. 3 Purdue beat the Gophers 59-58 at Williams. The Gophers had a great chance to win, but Devoe Joseph missed a short jump shot at the buzzer. It's another in a long line of things that have gone wrong this season.
The Gophers didn't have Ralph Sampson III when they lost 79-60 at Purdue in early January. On Wednesday night, he scored 21 points.
He couldn't do it alone, however. The Gophers' top two scorers, Lawrence Westbrook and Blake Hoffarber, combined for only nine points.
"I missed the first game [with Purdue] which was Jan 5, which was my birthday and I wanted to come out and play strong for this game,'' said Sampson, who added seven rebounds.
"We see that we've got the ingredients to beat them [Purdue]; we've just got to finish out," said senior Damian Johnson. "We had some costly plays at the end.
"We've still got a lot of season left. We've got three more games left and the Big Ten tournament left, so we've got a chance to make a push for the NCAA.''
Even if the Gophers win road games at Illinois and Michigan, and with the last game at home with Iowa, the chances aren't good about making the NCAA.
Too many problems off the court have kept this team from having a great year.Lofty ranking
The NCAA puts out a report on college football attendance, which it titles the "NCAA Accumulated Attendance Report or Accumulated Capacity."
The Gophers football team drew a total of 355,635 fans, based on tickets sold, which was 101.61 percent of capacity at TCF Bank Stadium. That figure was good for 11th in the country.
In the Big Ten, Michigan was first with 102.57 percent of capacity and Ohio State second at 102.87 percent of capacity.
The seven Gophers home games were all sellouts. Average attendance at TCF Stadium was 50,805, based on tickets sold. The Gophers were one of 17 NCAA teams to fill their stadium above listed capacity.
When they played at the Metrodome in 2008, the Gophers were 73rd in college football percentage of capacity.
While the football games sold out the past season, it was interesting that the University of Minnesota ran a big ad in Wednesday's Star Tribune sports section reporting that there were tickets available for the Purdue-Gophers basketball game.Jottings
Gophers quarterback Adam Weber said what he likes the offense new offensive coordinator Jeff Horton will run because the plan is to keep the offense simple and get better at a certain number of plays.
The Gophers say they believe they have their best list of walk-ons under Tim Brewster to add to the 2010 recruiting class. They include linebacker Cameron Botticelli of Marquette University High School in Milwaukee; lineman Marcus Krien of Burlington, Wis.; lineman Caleb Bak of Concordia Academy; linebacker Gabe Mezzenga of Totino Grace; linebacker Logan Lafferty of Rochester Century; and long snapper Dave Ramlet of Xavier High School in Appleton, Wis.
Ex-Gophers basketball standout Willie Burton is in school working on getting his degree. Burton played eight NBA seasons, retiring in 1999, and is second on the Gophers' all-time scoring list (1,800). Voshon Lenard is the all-time leader with 2,103.
Gophers football line coach Tim Davis was also on the Wisconsin staff with current Gophers coaches Horton and Kevin Cosgrove when the Badgers went to the Rose Bowl after the 1999 season.
Former Gophers defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg, who was on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad last year, has re-signed with the Ravens.
Bronson LaCassie and Justin Smith, former Gophers golfers, are both on the Nationwide Tour.
Local sportsman Harvey Mackay will be signing his new book, "Use Your Head To Get Your Foot in the Door," from 3-8 p.m. Thursday at Barnes and Noble at 8th and Nicollet in Minneapolis.
Corey Brewer of the Timberwolves ranks third in the NBA after hitting a three-pointer for the 23rd consecutive game Wednesday. Aaron Brooks of Houston (29) and Denver's Chauncey Billups (25) have longer current streaks. Jason Kidd of Dallas also is at 23 games.
Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list is out and four Twins prospects are on the list. Center fielder Aaron Hicks is rated 19th and catcher Wilson Ramos is No. 58. Last year's first-round draft pick, pitcher Kyle Gibson, is rated No. 61 and shortstop/third baseman Miguel Sano is No. 94.
The Gophers baseball team is ranked second in the Big Ten and 30th in the country by various websites.
Nolan Brewster, son of Gophers football coach Tim Brewster, will miss spring practice at Texas after having shoulder surgery.
One of the top Gophers' football recruits is Devon Wright of Taravella (Fla.) High School. He was named Broward County Class 6A-5A-4A Player of the Year after rushing for 1,835 yards and 18 touchdowns on 292 carries. He also had 11 catches for 216 yards and two TDs.
Former St. Thomas Academy and Gophers basketball player Bryce Webster is at Cal State-Fullerton after being out of basketball for two years. He is averaging 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game in his junior year.
Travis Busch, a member of the 2008-2009 Gopher basketball team who transferred to Colorado State, is averaging 5.1 points and 2.0 rebounds, playing 16.7 minutes per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org