Gophers celebrate NCAA news in muted way

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2013 - 11:30 PM

For many teams, one short clip says it all.

An official entry to the NCAA tournament, especially for a team on the bubble, is a momentous event, and often a raucous occasion. Throughout the NCAA selection show on Sunday, short videos of teams in that position flashed across the screen as their squad names were called. Fingers crossed, players crouched before the television screens and breathlessly awaited the announcements. And then, after getting a bid, an explosion of happiness that brings the anointed from their seats.

But that wasn’t the scene at Williams Arena on Sunday, at least publicly. Perhaps that’s because while Minnesota — which was chosen as an No. 11 seed and will face sixth-seeded UCLA in the first round of the South Region on Friday in Austin, Texas — was teetering at the edge of the bubble, the Gophers had fallen there, rather than climbed.

When team captains Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams filed into the media room immediately after the announcement, it was hard to tell from their weary faces that they had reached the accomplishment at all.

“I think everyone was happy, as they should be,” Hollins said, downplaying the duo’s demeanor and noting there was private jubilation. “We’re happy to be here, we’re excited, but we know there is more work to be done. We’ve had our ups and downs through the season, but that’s behind us now.”

The Gophers finished only 8-11 against conference foes this season, including an 0-2 final stretch and a loss to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

“We certainly know how tough it is,” Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. “It’s a real grind in this league, and I think everybody that competes in it as a coach or as a player understands how tough it is. That’s the respect that the Big Ten has around the country — by getting seven teams in the tournament.”

Master scheduler

Before the Gophers’ embarked on their trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas in November — the first of the Gophers’ five games away from Williams Arena during the nonconference schedule — Smith lamented the travel schedule as something that could wear out his players.

But in retrospect, the Gophers’ nonconference schedule, coordinated by assistant coach Joe Esposito, is really where the Gophers secured their NCAA standing. Esposito selected a number of opponents that, while they didn’t particularly prove challenging for the Gophers, did quite well in their respective leagues, boosting Minnesota’s overall Ratings Percentage Index.

Additionally, the Gophers scheduled some bigger names. They played in what was heralded as the best nonconference tournament in the Battle 4 Atlantis — playing Duke, Memphis and Stanford — and traveled to Florida State and USC, picking up victories at both schools. That early foundation kept the Gophers’ RPI in the top 40 even as they struggled in Big Ten play.

“I just believe you’ve got to measure your team early, test where you are,” Smith said. “We’ve done that. Unfortunately this year, all the things we found out about ourselves, we didn’t seem to carry it over as well as we’d like into conference play.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 69 4th Qtr 8:45
Utah 82
Denver 53 3rd Qtr
Portland 58
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 3rd Prd 11:01
Colorado 5
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 17:44
Vancouver 1
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite team in the NCAA men's hockey tournament?

Weekly Question