Hopkins won the Class 4A boys' basketball title Saturday by beating Osseo 69-59, but coach Ken Novak Jr. said it's been a hard year because he has been accused of recruiting players such as Gophers recruit Royce White to make the Royals into a powerhouse.

Novak's Hopkins teams also won state titles in 2002, 2005 and 2006.

"You know, very honestly, I've not been pleased. It's been a hard year in that way because people kind of have come after us," Novak said Sunday. "And, I think, very unjustly.

"So we're living in a different society. Every school all over the place has got kids coming in. I don't think people like to admit the ones that have transferred in. Our kids, besides Royce, have all come in the normal way. We only have two starters that are open- enrolled in.

"They both came in like eighth grade, so they've been in there as long as a lot of [students in] private schools, like a Benilde[-St. Margaret's] or Cretin[-Derham Hall]. They've been here a long time. They came in before anybody knew who they were. Mike Broghammer came in, and he'll tell you himself that he was just a very OK player that really developed."

Novak said the criticism has been unfair to the kids.

"It's taken a little bit away for what they've done and how they've grown," Novak said. "But you've got to take the criticism. I'm amazed at the hostility, though, that some people do have about the topic."

Four Royals starters have received Division I scholarships, and the fifth -- point guard Marcus Williams, who has been trying to decide if he should play basketball or football in college -- probably will get one, too.

White, who led all scorers with 20 points in the championship game against Osseo, is going to Minnesota. Broghammer, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds against Osseo, is headed for Notre Dame. Trent Lockett will be attending Arizona State, and Raymond Cowels is going to Santa Clara.

Novak thinks this group could play with any team in the country. He pointed out that they had Thomas Jefferson High, the No. 2-ranked team in New York, down 18-2 before beating them 79-65. The Royals also watched New York's No. 1 team, and Novak said he thought they could have handled them, too.

Even though all five starters are graduating, Novak is convinced the Royals will be competitive next year.

"We've got a lot of young kids coming back," he said. "We're not feeling bad about what's going on. A little bit of change, but change sometimes is good."

Among those returning is sophomore center Joe Coleman, brother of former Gophers forward Dan, who also played at Hopkins.

Jottings

A well-known professional sports executive who lives in the same block with a big University of Virginia booster phoned Sunday with the news that wealthy supporters of Virginia basketball still have hopes of luring Tubby Smith from Minnesota. My source said he talked to this rabid Virginia supporter on Saturday. However, in a long conversation early last week, the Gophers basketball coach insisted he has no interest in leaving Minnesota, and Tubby is a man you can believe.

Dave Metzen, a former Gophers hockey captain in 1963-64 and a two-term University of Minnesota regent, has been appointed director of the Office of Higher Education by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Metzen's absence from the Board of Regents removes maybe the biggest supporter the Gophers athletic department has ever had on the board.

Guard/forward Travis Busch, who was an important contributor to the Gophers basketball team this season, is telling his friends he might not come back for his fifth year of basketball competition next season. Junior guard Kevin Payton, who was briefly suspended for academic reasons this past season, also might not return.

The Minnesota Football Coaches Association announced it will award eight scholarships to 2009 Minnesota high school football graduates. The scholarships are named after coaches who have made great contributions to the game, including Tom Mahoney, Steve Silianoff, Don Swanson, Dave Nigon, Al Siegle, Les Drechsel, Dave Hylla and Andy Nelson. ... The coaches association also announced its 2009 Hall of Fame inductees: Hylla, DeWayne Johnson, Mike Mahlen and Roger French.

Former Twins catcher Javier Valentin was reassigned by the Nationals on Saturday but opted out to become a free agent instead. Valentin played in 141 games for the Twins between 1997 and 2002 and had spent the past five seasons with the Reds before joining Washington on Feb. 3 as a nonroster invitee. He had been mostly catching with Washington this spring after spending most of his time at first and third base with Cincinnati last year. ... Former Twins righthander Mike Lincoln has a 1.69 ERA in 10 appearances this spring for the Reds. The 34-year-old Lincoln, who made the Reds roster last season after three years out of baseball, has pitched twice this spring against the Twins, the team that drafted him in the 13th round of the 1996 draft.

Former Twins infielder Luis Rodriguez appears set to be the Opening Day shortstop for the Padres, who traded Khalil Greene to the Cardinals in the offseason. "We think Luis Rodriguez is very capable at shortstop," San Diego manager Bud Black told the Sporting News. "He's a little different type of hitter than Khalil. We think Luis is a winning player."

Former Gophers winger Erik Westrum is the second- leading scorer for Ambri- Piotta of the Swiss-A League with 21 goals and 18 goals in 32 games. ... Former Gopher Jordan Leopold has only one goal in 12 games since being reacquired by the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline after scoring six goals and 14 assists in 64 games for Colorado.

Bobby Knight says he would like to see better officiating in college basketball games. "I'd like to see that the direction from the NCAA improve officiating by sticking with the rules or changing the rules of the game, i.e. something like walking," he said. "That's just gotten out of hand. And there are some things that have gone without being called over the years that I think have really affected the defensive part of basketball. Walking is one; carrying the ball and changing direction with the ball is another one. A third one is offensive play in the post; it's a lot like guys blocking and tackling in football, instead of being regulated according to the rules. I think the rules are great if they're just followed, and that has not been the case for several years. I think it's really hurt the game of basketball as it was intended to be played."

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com