Hartman: New deal near, Tubby stays put

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2012 - 7:13 AM

The Gophers basketball coach acknowledged discussing the coaching vacancy at LSU, but talks didn't go too far.


Gophers coach Tubby Smith said he discussed the LSU vacancy.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith has confirmed the two website rumors, by CBSSports.com and Nola.com -- the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper's website -- that LSU did talk to him about its coaching vacancy.

In telling LSU that he didn't have any interest in talking about the job, Smith said: "I just felt like I feel good about what we have here."

However, Smith didn't want to say he turned the job down.

"We [the LSU representative and Smith] just had a mutual understanding, a mutual interest for our parties. I didn't turn anybody down, just decided what was the best for me," Smith said.

It's interesting that, despite two bad years when the Gophers were 12-24 in the Big Ten, Smith was still in demand.

Smith made it clear again, like he has when there were previous reports about him leaving here, that he definitely plans to finish his coaching career with the Gophers.

This was not the time to leave, with most of the roster returning for the 2012-13 season and a very good chance that Trevor Mbakwe, the outstanding forward who missed this season after knee surgery, likely will be coming back for a sixth year.

Apparently, Smith visited with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler when the LSU talks came up, and Kaler made it clear he wanted Smith to stay.

"I've been told that the administration is going to work on a two-year extension of my contract and do everything we can to get the basketball [practice] building built," said Smith, who believes the facility is needed if the Gophers are to compete for recruits with other Big Ten schools.

Smith said that Kaler told him that they're going to work to get that place built, "so why would you leave when you're involved with it?" Smith said.

LSU named as coach former player Johnny Jones, who has been the head coach at North Texas for the past 11 years.

Guentzel to stay at U

Mike Guentzel, who came back to the U after a three-year absence to be assistant men's hockey coach, is not interested in looking at any other head coaching job. Rumors were that he wanted the Minnesota State Mankato job, which was filled Saturday by former Gophers assistant Mike Hastings.

"I'm very happy at Minnesota and have not applied for the Mankato State job as rumored," said Guentzel, who is in New York watching his son Gabe, a former Colorado College player who signed with Syracuse of the American Hockey League and was playing in a game against the Connecticut Whale.

Span hot

Twins outfielder Denard Span, who went 3-for-5 on Saturday against the Rangers to raise his batting average to .375, has reached base via hit or walk in seven of eight games this season and nine times in his past 15 plate appearances. And he doubled for the third consecutive game and has a total of four doubles in those three games.

Span was asked if he's feeling better at the start of the year after dealing with concussion symptoms last season.

"Oh yeah, man, I'm just happy to be out there on the field and just playing baseball again," he said. "... I wasn't sure if I would be able to get back to playing at the high level that I was playing at before I got hurt."

Minnesota ties around the majors

Michael Cuddyer is off to a fast start with the Colorado Rockies, entering Saturday hitting .357 with a home run, four runs scored and a league-high five doubles. ... Jason Kubel is hitting only .208 with Arizona through seven games, and he has two RBI on five hits. ... Matt Guerrier is back pitching with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has a 0.00 ERA with two strikeouts through four innings of relief work. ... Jesse Crain has also posted a 0.00 ERA through two innings of relief with the White Sox this year, with three strikeouts.

Former Chaska standout Brad Hand is pitching with the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Class AAA affiliate of the Miami Marlins, and he has a 0.00 ERA through two starts with 17 strikeouts and only eight hits in 11 innings. ... Minneapolis native Josh Johnson is back pitching with Miami after missing most of last season because of a shoulder injury; he is 0-2 with a 8.38 ERA.

Drew Smyly made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, pitching four innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and giving up just one run with four strikeouts. Smyly might be familiar to Northwoods League fans -- he played for the Duluth Huskies in 2009.

While Johan Santana is the most noticeable former Twin on the New York Mets roster, R.A. Dickey continues to be the best former Twin on the squad. Since he signed a minor league contract with the Mets in 2010, Dickey has posted a 3.05 ERA over 396 innings pitched and is riding a streak of 14 consecutive quality starts dating to last season -- the longest such streak in the majors. He is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings this season with 10 strikeouts and five walks.

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    Saturday April 14, 2012

    • Josh Willingham is leading the American League in both batting average, at .444, and home runs with four. He and Denard Span are tied for fifth in the league...

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