Gophers' NIT run gets chatter going once again

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2012 - 12:38 AM

Three road victories have gotten the U to New York City and are generating talk about their improvement.

The Gophers' Rodney Williams (shown scoring 21 points against Miami in the NIT) has scored at least 20 points in each of his past four games.

Photo: J Pat Carter, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Kevin Lynch, a former Gophers player and current FSN Sports commentator, jokes that he likes to hear the sound of his own voice. And frankly, with his wide-ranging basketball perspective, he hears it often: at work, around town and at the gym.

So when he's warming up for a pickup game, he's learned to have answers ready for the Timberwolves questions he inevitably gets.

But in the past couple of weeks, he's had to switch gears. Intrigued sports fans, he says, want to chat about a different local basketball team: the Gophers men's squad. After rattling off three consecutive road victories and earning a trip to the NIT final four and Madison Square Garden in New York City, the local interest in the Gophers has heated up along with the team's play.

"I think there is a bit more buzz around this team because they're still playing," Lynch said. "People want to know, 'Did you watch the game last night?' And 'What do you think of Rodney Williams?' Hey, let's face it. I think it's significant what they're doing."

The Gophers have given fans a reason to be optimistic about the future -- and made them care about the NIT even with March Madness in full swing What they're doing contradicts what they've done for much of the season. In the past six games -- stretching back to the last game of the regular season against Nebraska and including the Big Ten tournament -- the Gophers have been playing with an energy rarely seen during the rest of the year. They've made every game into a track meet. They've won tight games. They've refused to back down from opponents' adjustments.

"To me, they're not necessarily a new team, but they're just playing different," said former Gopher Quincy Lewis, who still has strong ties to the school. "Tubby finally shortened his bench, where he's not playing 10, he's only playing seven. He's depending on more guys to go up and do some things. The first time you make a mistake, you're not necessarily coming out, the second time you make a mistake you're not necessarily coming out. He's letting guys play through it, and I think you see them coming together and playing."

Perhaps the most important factors to that success have been the emergence of freshman Andre Hollins as a legitimate scorer and leader, and Rodney Williams' impressive breakout -- achieving statistical heights not reached by any Gophers player in years with his four-game streak of scoring at least 20 points.

Together, the pair has changed the look of the team, and their personal success has seemed to pull out the best in other players as well.

"We've got a lot of tough, young guys that have been growing up real fast for us," Williams said after Wednesday's victory over Middle Tennessee State. "I think it's a blessing for us to get to New York and get a chance to play in the Garden."

Lynch said there is great value for a young, growing team to be able to extend its season just as players appear to be hitting their stride.

"The carry-over effect, how you finish a season can effect what happens at the beginning of the next season," he said. "And I just think this is huge. ... Every extra game that they play, every player on that team has an opportunity to break out."


    • Gophers vs. Washington, 8 p.m. Tuesday • TV: ESPN2 (1500-AM)

    • Stanford vs. Massachusetts , 6 p.m. Tuesday • TV: ESPN2

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


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 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
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




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question