Rumors irk Tubby, but he'd still listen

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2011 - 7:53 AM

The Gophers basketball coach says he hasn't been contacted about the Arkansas coaching opening.

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Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith said he hasn't been contacted by Arkansas about their coaching opening.

He said he is sick and tired of rumors that have him leaving Minnesota to go to different schools.

However, despite the fact Smith doesn't have any plans to move, he said he would listen to Arkansas if they called.

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said nobody from Arkansas has called for permission to talk to Smith, but he added that most athletic directors don't extend that courtesy any more.

Smith did say Arkansas is building a modern basketball building that will be completed in 16 months.

One reason Arkansas might be interested in Smith is because when he was at Kentucky, Smith completely dominated the Razorbacks with a 12-3 record.

No doubt Smith is a little frustrated at Gophers officials because of the delay in extending his contract and the lack of movement to build a new basketball practice facility.

Smith said he believes the Gophers need the basketball facility to help recruiting, develop a better team and consistently win.

On another subject, Smith said he would have accepted an invitation to the NIT had it had been offered.

I can't agree with the critics of Smith, who a year ago coached the Gophers into the finals of the Big Ten tournament before losing to Ohio State.

True, this year was rough, with the team losing 10 of its last 11 games. However, in basketball, when you don't have guards, you don't win. And the loss of Al Nolen because of a broken foot and the decision of Devoe Joseph to transfer to Oregon, plus the season-ending knee injury to promising freshman Maurice Walker, left the Gophers with eight scholarship players, including three inexperienced freshmen.

It was one of those years where everything went wrong.

Believe me, Smith can coach with the best, and if he left the basketball program, the Gophers would not only lose a great coach but a lot of the program's prestige.

Twins roster battle

Twins General Manager Bill Smith said there is a big battle for the Twins' 25 roster spots.

"We've got some good battles going in the bullpen and in the middle infield," Smith said. "Luke Hughes has done a good job, he's hit [four] home runs and driven in some runs. He's battling Matt Tolbert and Trevor Plouffe for that utility spot. Dusty Hughes has been impressive in the bullpen. He hasn't given up a run yet.

"So we've got [Jose] Mijares and Hughes and Scott Diamond and Glen Perkins all in a battle on the left side in the bullpen. Jim Hoey has thrown the ball very hard, as we knew, we knew he ran it up there. He's been a little bit inconsistent. He had a very good inning yesterday over in Jupiter against the Cardinals.

"We've got some good battles going in the bullpen. We've got about 11 guys battling for seven spots."

Wilf ranked 27th

In a Sports Illustrated package headlined "The Gross Football Product," a graphic listed the net worth of the Vikings' Zygi Wilf at $310 million, ranking him 27th among league owners. Seahawks owner Paul Allen is first at $12.9 billion.

Also in that package was a list of the 11 new NFL stadiums built in the past decade, and the percentage of the total cost paid by the owners. The list, beginning with the most recently built stadium, included: New York Giants and Jets, opened in 2010, 100 percent of $1.6 billion; Cowboys, 2009, 56 percent of $1.15 billion; Colts, 2008, 13 percent of $780 million; Cardinals, 2006, 32 percent of $493 million; Eagles, 2003, 65 percent of $588 million; Lions, 2002, 49 percent of $504 million; Patriots, 2002, 100 percent of $373 million; Texans, 2002, 39 percent of $526 million; Seahawks, 2002, 29 percent of $422 million; Broncos, 2001, 39 percent of $683 million; and Steelers, 2001, 16 percent of $312 million.

Jottings

Mike Nowakowski of Ticket King reports that the Twins' sold-out Opening Day ticket is such a hot item that people will pay $100 for a $11 season ticket. One way Nowakowski gets tickets is to purchase them from season ticket holders, who this season are allowed to buy eight tickets to any one game of their choice. Nowakowski said that even though the Timberwolves are having a poor year, some NBA fans will pay as much as $600 a ticket for front-row tickets at mid-court. And finally, Nowakowski said the Gophers football team is fortunate to being playing Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium next fall because loyal fans for these three teams will pay big money for good seats.

Gophers guard Blake Hoffarber is on the alternate invitational list of the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament, a NBA tryout tournament for future draft choices on April 6-9. ... The Gophers basketball team signed its final scholarship player for this year when they added guard Julian Welch of Yuba (Calif.) Community College. They have only three scholarships fo next year.

Gophers junior hockey defenseman Aaron Ness has decided to forgo his senior year and signed with the New York Islanders. ... Chris Berenguer, son of former Twins reliever Juan Berenguer and MIAC Hockey Player of the Year while playing for Hamline, has signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils' ECHL affiliate, the Trenton Devils.

Former Vikings coach Brad Childress is going to spend some time doing football clinics, with the first one being at Akron University on April 2.

In 16 career games against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Wolves' opponent Friday, center Darko Milicic has average more points (9.0), rebounds (6.9) and assists (1.8) than he has against any other team in the league. Milicic had 23 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and six blocks when the Wolves played the Lakers on Nov. 19. ... The Wolves' Wes Johnson has already hit 84 three-pointers this season, second most by a Timberwolves rookie to Stephon Marbury, who hit 102 in 1996-97. By continuing to average 1.29 threes per game, Johnson is on pace to tie Marbury's record during the season finale in Houston on April 13. ... Kevin Love established a new Wolves franchise record for offensive rebounds in a season last week, surpassing the previous mark of 308 held by Al Jefferson (2007-2008). ... At his current pace of 15.7 rebounds per game, Love will beat Kevin Garnett's 2003-04 mark for total rebounds in a season, 1,139, next Friday.

Jon Leuer of Orono and Jordan Taylor of Benilde-St. Margaret's, both starters for Wisconsin, made the final cut of 20 for the John Wooden National Player of the Year award.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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