“DeAndre is the type of player that fits our style of play, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “He is an up-tempo point guard that does just about everything on the court.”
Pitino said the Gophers were fortunate to sign Mathieu because he was set to enroll at Memphis, but the Tigers recruited another point guard before Mathieu made his decision.
With the Gophers sitting at 16-8 overall, they are probably four victories away from getting a berth in the NCAA tournament. They have home games with Illinois (Feb. 19), Iowa (Feb. 25) and Penn State (March 8) left, and road games at Wisconsin (Thursday), Northwestern (Sunday), Ohio State (Feb. 22) and Michigan (March 1).
Mathieu will have to keep up his great play for the Gophers to get to 20 victories in a surprising and already successful regular season.
McHale has best squad
Former Timberwolves general manager and coach Kevin McHale comes to town Monday with the Houston Rockets. This is McHale’s third season in Houston and he has the best squad he’s ever coached. The Rockets are 34-17 and in fifth place in the Western Conference.
McHale got a chance this year to work with big man Dwight Howard after the Rockets signed the All-Star center in free agency. Howard is averaging 18.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. The Rockets are also led by James Harden, who is eighth in the league in scoring at 23.7 points per game.
McHale has posted a 113-86 record for a .568 winning percentage in his third season leading the Rockets. Even though Houston has yet to make the playoffs under McHale’s leadership, that should end this year. Compare that to the Wolves, who are 81-118 for a .407 winning percentage over the same time span.
Jim Dutcher, the former Gophers coach of McHale and Wolves boss Flip Saunders, made this remark: “Maybe as it worked out, McHale is a better coach than he was a general manager with the Wolves and Saunders is a better general manager than coach.”
• Don’t be surprised if linebacker Erin Henderson, who was released by the Vikings after twice being charged for drunken driving in a six-week span, winds up playing for ex-Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, now the defensive coordinator for Tampa Bay.
• Former Gophers wide receiver Derrick Engel has hired Minneapolis-based agents James Selmer and Shawn Stuckey in preparation for the NFL draft. Engel, who led the Gophers in receiving yards before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November, is training with former Vikings strength and conditioning coach Mark Ellis.
• Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal reports that Viking tackle Matt Kalil is the local franchisee for Pieology Pizzeria for the state of Minnesota and plans to make this area his year-round home with his involvement in the operation of several locations.
• Gustavus graduate Jack Breckner, who previously played with the Iowa Barnstomers of the Arena Football League and other arena teams, has signed as a free agent tackle with the Colts.
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