The debate as to where Lou Hudson ranks among those who wore a Gophers uniform can continue. But as far as Flip Saunders is concerned, you would have to look hard to find a player more influential than Hudson.

"I tell people he's one of the most influential people ever in Minnesota," said Saunders, the former Gophers point guard and now the president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves. "That team they had there, with Archie [Clark], that was the team that started boosting the whole basketball program."

Kevin McHale, in town to coach the Houston Rockets against the Wolves on Friday night at Target Center, shook his head when he heard the news. "Sweet Lou," he said. "Jump-shooting Lou. Lou could really shoot the ball. Great guy, great shooter. Every time I saw him we talked a little bit of Gophers basketball."

Wolves coach Rick Adelman remembered Hudson from his playing days. "Great player," Adelman said. "He could really shoot the ball. A really good offensive player."

Said Saunders: "You know, he and I share something in common. We were the last two people to wear No. 14 at Minnesota. They retired it, but not because of me."

Kent Youngblood