Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Mathieu joining list of elite Gophers JUCOs

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 13, 2014 - 12:22 PM

My faithful attention to Gophers basketball didn’t really start until the winter of 1963-64, when Lou Hudson, Archie Clark and Don Yates arrived off the freshman squad, brought true integration to the program, along with true hope for glory.

The Gophers finished 10-4 in the Big Ten and 17-7 overall with Hudson, Clark and Yates as sophomores. They were 11-3 and 19-5 as juniors in 1964-65, and finished rated No. 7 in the country.

There was optimism and enthusiasm as they looked forward to a senior season. And then Yates was declared academically ineligible before the season -- a more common occurrence back when athletes weren’t hand-carried through classes by intense tutoring and academic counseling as is the case today.

And then Hudson suffered a broken right wrist. He played the bulk of the season with a cast on his natural shooting hand; handling the ball and shooting left-handed.

Gophers basketball returned to the backburner of the local sports scene after that season, until the arrival of Bill Musselman for the 1971-72 season.

Still, I take credit for a half-century as a follower, and it’s my belief that DeAndre Mathieu is the smallest regular I’ve seen in the Gophers lineup in that time.

Mathieu is listed at 5-foot-9. I’m guessing that’s generous by 1½ inches.

So far, he’s been the catalyst in giving Rich Pitino a competitive start to his Minnesota tenure. When have the Gophers had a flat-out faster guy on the court than Mathieu? I’m not sure.

To me, with junior Andre Hollins and senior Austin Hollins being more erratic in game-to-game performances than anticipated, Mathieu has been the Gophers’ most valuable player.

Yes, Mathieu’s going to throw it away on occasion, but when he’s the one being asked to push the Gophers to the fast pace his coach wants to play, turnovers are going to happen.

Mathieu is shooting 49 percent and averaging 11.4 points, with 38 turnovers, 74 assists and a team-leading 32 steals. On Saturday, Mathieu got to the basket for a game-tying layup in the final second, and if it had been in Minneapolis and not East Lansing, he might have been shooting a free throw to win the game.

The Gophers disappeared in overtime, but it certainly was the best you could feel about Pitino’s club in the first four Big Ten games – preceded by a home loss to an injured Michigan team, and unimpressive victories against Purdue and Penn State.

Pitino was able to come in late and land Mathieu out of Central Arizona junior college. The point guard was a first team JUCO All-America and had good offers elsewhere. If Mathieu had taken one of those, this Gophers team would be completely out of luck.

Mathieu’s success in the first half of the schedule got me wondering: Does he have a chance to be part of the Gophers’ all-time team for junior college transfers?

There hasn’t been one named, so I decided to give a try. The trouble with lists, of course, is that you miss people … and this group is more off the top of head than based on exhaustive research.

It takes some manipulation of positions (where they could’ve played rather than where they spent most of their time on the court) to come up with a starting five for greatest Gophers JUCOs:

G-Bobby Jackson, Western Nebraska (1995). The star of the Gophers’ Final Four team in 1997 and, to me, second on my list of greatest of all Gophers only to Lou Hudson.

G-Dick Garmaker, Hibbing J.C. (1952). I only remember Garmaker vaguely, but he was good enough to be a consensus All-America in 1956 along with legends Bill Russell, Tom Gola and SiHugo Green.

F-Ray Williams, San Jacinto, Texas (1975). He was 6-foot-2 and started at small forward on the greatest Minnesota team ever – the 24-3 club of 1976-77 that entered the season ineligible for the NCAA tournament. In small games, Sugar Ray was casual; in big games, he was gigantic.

F-Vincent Grier, Dixie State, Utah (2003). The 6-foot-5 Grier was a light-it-up shooter when he got on a roll. He was responsible for Dan Monson’s only trip to the NCAA tournament at Minnesota in 2005. I ran across this quote from the UNC-Greensboro coach that season:

"I think Vincent Grier just totally dominated the game. When he's making jumpers, he's virtually impossible to stop. You look to try to contain him in the open floor. You try to limit what he can do by what you do on offense ... [to limit] his number of transition opportunities."

The source was Fran McCaffrey, now the very colorful coach at Iowa.

C-Ron Behagen, Southern Idaho (1971). He was 6-foot-9, maybe 6-10, and could play anywhere on the court. He's most notorious for his role in the Ohio State brawl in January 1972, but Behagen was a fantastic talent and the seventh overall selection in the 1973 NBA Draft.

The rest of an eight-man rotation for Gophers JUCOs would be Trevor Mbakwe and Clyde Turner up front and Bobby Nix in the backcourt. Mbakwe’s knee injury in December 2011 cost him what seemed a place in the first round of the NBA Draft. He remained a tremendous rebounder.

Turner and Nix came in with Behagen as JUCO transfers in 1971. They were not sucked into the fallout from the brawl, and helped lead the Gophers to the Big Ten title in that winter of 1972.

And now I’m nine deep in my JUCO rotation with DeAndre Mathieu. Who am I missing as an outstanding JUCO with the Gophers? Let me know.

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Houston 0 1st Qtr 10:58
Pittsburgh 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 67 3rd Qtr 3:30
Cleveland 76
New Orleans 64 3rd Qtr 3:05
Washington 44
Milwaukee 56 2nd Qtr 1:00
New York 55
Philadelphia 41 2nd Qtr 1:25
Brooklyn 46
Charlotte 43 3rd Qtr
Atlanta 58
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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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 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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