Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Basketball lineage is only part of their background

  • Article by: MYRON P. MEDCALF , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 22, 2011 - 10:42 AM

No matter how hard he tries, he can't hide.

Ralph Sampson Jr.'s 7-4 frame, the one that helped him win three national player of the year awards at Virginia in the early 1980s, betrays him these days as he tries to play the role of a normal dad.

That frame also makes it difficult for Ralph Sampson III to be a normal college player with the Gophers. His famous father travels the country to see his son's games, but it is the father who remains in the spotlight, constantly entertaining interview requests, photo-ops and a stream of handshakes from admirers.

Following a father with an elite basketball legacy is a common thread for the Gophers. Freshman Austin Hollins is the son of former NBA star and current Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. Gophers assistant coach Saul Smith is the son of coach Tubby Smith and played for his father for four years at Kentucky.

The three sons share this trait: They say their fathers let them evolve into their own players.

During a Gophers victory over St. Joseph's in Philadelphia last month, Ralph Sampson Jr. tried to relax in the bleachers, but the stilts below his kneecaps towered a foot above everyone sitting in front of him. By halftime, he had on a headset during interviews with radio and TV outlets.

His stature in the basketball world virtually demands comparisons whenever his son throws up a sweet hook or blocks a shot barely leaving the floor. Still, Sampson Jr. said he allows his son to forge his own identity.

"No pressure whatsoever. We believe pressure comes from within, not from without," Sampson Jr. said last month. "He's handled it very well from a little kid until now. It's not about Dad and what Dad has done. It's about what you want to do."

Sampson III said he doesn't feel like he has to succeed his father's lineage. But like most sons, he said he loves to make Dad proud.

"Just him being there, just sitting there in the stands,'' the junior center said. "I know he's sitting there watching and critiquing, which makes me want to play up to his standards because at the end of the game, I want him just to sit there and say, 'I can't tell you anything because you've done it all.' But I haven't gotten to that point yet. After the game, he always has something to say."

Just Dad

Lionel Hollins sees some resemblances when he watches his son compete.

"He's taller than me,'' he said recently. "I know I was quicker and faster than him, but that might be debatable."

Hollins, a 6-3 guard who played in the NBA from 1975 to '85, didn't force any of his four children to play basketball. They all played, but only Austin developed a love for the game.

Although Lionel's exploits have included an NBA championship ring, All-Star appearance and lengthy coaching career, he said he didn't want basketball to define his children, having witnessed too many overbearing parents.

"I've seen it all through all of my kids' upbringing," he said. "They're on these travel teams, they spend all this money traveling around the country and the kids don't have any fun."

Austin Hollins said his exposure to basketball through his father enhanced his basketball IQ and shaped his instincts.

The latter is obvious when he finger-rolls on a fast break or intercepts a cross-court pass. But he credits his parents' emphasis on academics, not athletics, for molding him into a balanced Division I player.

"I want to do well in everything I do," he said. "It was my decision to play basketball. They didn't push me to play basketball. I just went with it and they were behind me the whole way."

T-ball to basketball

Sampson III also said he chose basketball on his own when he was a kid.

"I started off playing basketball at the YMCA," he said. "My mom signed me up for that. She also signed me up for T-ball. T-ball got a little boring for me because you're standing out there on first base and the ball would never come to me and I would just kind of stand there and get hot. I decided to make the complete switch to basketball because it was more exciting."

Saul Smith can relate to the experiences.

He withstood critics who assumed he earned his minutes because of his father. As a freshman, Saul was a point guard on the Tubby-coached 1997-98 Kentucky team that won the national championship.

The critics only inspired him to play harder, he said.

"For me, I had to deal with being a coach's son," he said. "You have a bunch of people that probably automatically think no matter what you do, it's never going to be good enough. That kind of fuels you a little bit."

Tubby Smith also coached another of his three sons, G.G., for two years at Georgia in the mid-90s. But he said his sons didn't face the comparisons that his players Sampson and Hollins have encountered.

"[G.G. and Saul] both were very capable players and understood the game extremely well," Smith said. "Those six years were probably the winningest years in my coaching career. ... It would be much tougher for a Ralph; it's much tougher on Austin. ... I wasn't any good, so my boys didn't have to live up to anything when it came to basketball. They were much better than I was. It was a big difference."

  • related content

  • 5ive Questions: Gophers v. Michigan Saturday

    Saturday January 22, 2011

    The Gophers travel to Ann Arbor, where they haven't won since Tubby Smith's first season.

  • Hardaway learned to give son space

    Saturday January 22, 2011

    The All-Star guard realized he was putting a strain on his family by putting his son's play under constant scrutiny.

  • Gophers men vs. Michigan: Gameday

    Friday January 21, 2011

    The Gophers (14-4, 3-3 Big Ten) travel to Michigan (11-8, 1-5) on Saturday trying to win on the road for the first time in conference play. They lost their first...

  • Ralph Sampson III, left, and Austin Hollins, right

  • NO. 19 MINNESOTA AT MICHIGAN 6 p.m. today at Crisler Arena • TV: BTN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees 1 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 1
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 7 3rd Qtr 3:53
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close