Gophers men's basketball team shows off athleticism, skills

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2011 - 12:49 AM

Fans got their first look at an intriguing collection of basketball players hoping to erase the sour memory of last year, and optimism was rampant at Williams Arena.

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Talent and athleticism were on full display at Gopher All-Star Friday Night, and given the opportunity, the crowd played right along with the grinning optimism coming from the court.

Six-foot-11 center Ralph Sampson III crushed the three-point contest, and cheers erupted. Andre Hollins, a freshman who could start at point guard, impressively matched Sampson shot for shot for a while. Rodney Williams leaped over people in chicken and pig mascot suits to score. Freshman Joe Coleman took the dunk title after nailing a 360-degree spin dunk. Maverick Ahanmisi sealed the maroon team's 33-27 scrimmage victory with a three-point shot, something the Gophers greatly missed last season.

"I think we could be a really good team this year," Williams said a day earlier, at Media Day. "We've got a lot of new faces, and I think a lot of teams are going to sleep on us this year. I think we're going to shock a whole lot of people."

While the Gophers enter the new season with fresh faces and upbeat attitudes, they have yet to truly leave behind the sour taste left from a subpar 2010-11 version, which finished on a 1-10 stretch and included no postseason tournament invitation.

But on a night when a collection of alumni from successful seasons past relit winning memories with their presence on the court, the Gophers looked plenty apt themselves.

Through the three main events -- the three-point competition, the dunk contest and the scrimmage -- the Gophers often looked like a band of boys just enjoying playing basketball.

As they piled onto the court for introductions, they laughed and joked. Coach Tubby Smith sauntered out in a boxing outfit and bobbed and weaved across the court. In every event, high-fives were rampant.

A new year brought new excitement for a team ready to separate itself from the past, but for now that's exactly what it is: the energy of a new season granting a suspension of disbelief. The question that lingers, of course -- as every year, at this time -- is whether the Gophers can take the on-paper talent and turn it into on-court victories.

The stars from Friday night have much more to show.

Williams long has been saddled with a reputation for great potential but has yet to show that in the form of a big season. Trevor Mbakwe is supposed to be the anchor of this team, but his past couple of seasons have been interrupted by off-court legal drama. Sampson can put up numbers but was inconsistent last year. Coleman and Hollins still are very raw.

But with a season ahead, and a hope to put last year's collapse to bed, the Gophers found plenty of positives Friday.

"I think it's a great, really tight-knit group of guys that always want to be around each other, that enjoy being around each other," redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason said. "And I think that's going to work to our advantage, even though we are a little young this year."

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 14 1st Qtr 4:01
Dallas 0
Seattle 7:30 PM
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Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
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Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
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Minnesota
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Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
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ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 44 2nd Half 11:36
Georgetown 52
FIU 32 2nd Half 8:35
USC Upstate 46
Long Island 31 2nd Half
Stony Brook 36
San Diego 24 1st Half 4:51
Xavier 27
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
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Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
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North Carolina
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Georgia Tech
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Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
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Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
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(6) TCU 6:30 PM
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(19) Marshall
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(17) Missouri
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(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
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Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
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TX-San Antonio
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Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
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(24) Louisville
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(23) Clemson
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Iowa State
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(7) Ohio State
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Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
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Boston College
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Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
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Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
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Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
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(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
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Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
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(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
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Washington St
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UNLV
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Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
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Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 49 2nd Half 8:59
Washington 64
Wichita State 22 2nd Half 8:46
Fla Gulf Coast 50
Wisconsin 18 2nd Half
(1) South Carolina 31
BYU 5:00 PM
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Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
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(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
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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.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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