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.

view larger photos


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."

  • related content

  • Scoggins: Gophers gamble freshman Hollins can do job

    Saturday October 15, 2011

    The U's season collapsed last year because of a lack of a point guard. Can true freshman Andre Hollins breathe life into a deflated program?

  • UM Gophers basketball team opened their season with a skills and scrim...


    Exhibition opener: 7 p.m. Nov. 1 vs. Bemidji State • Season opener: 7 p.m. Nov. 11 vs. Bucknell

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 3rd Qtr 0:13
New Orleans 87
LA Lakers 88 4th Qtr 1:53
Miami 91
Philadelphia 104 4th Qtr 1:02
Oklahoma City 110
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 61 4th Qtr
San Antonio 85
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd 4:37
Detroit 1
Pittsburgh 0 1st Prd 13:25
Colorado 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 15:14
Anaheim 0
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
TCU 36 2nd Half 13:49
Oklahoma State 54
Cincinnati 35 2nd Half 12:44
Tulsa 31
USC 48 2nd Half 13:31
Miss State 42 2nd Half 10:55
Vanderbilt 46
Utah State 47 2nd Half 9:21
Wyoming 65
St Johns 37 2nd Half 18:17
Marquette 30
SIU Edwardsville 26 2nd Half
Eastern Ill 30
Air Force 10 1st Half 11:34
Fresno State 13
Nebraska 9 1st Half 14:12
Illinois 7
Colorado State 15 1st Half 11:43
Nevada 10
Boise State 3 1st Half 18:11
San Jose St 2
San Diego St 10:00 PM
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question