Per Gophers men's basketball team policy, the team's true freshmen are off-limits to the media from media day (mid-October) until the start of the Big Ten season. With Minnesota set to face Illinois on Tuesday, freshmen Joe Coleman and Andre Hollins spoke with members of the media on Monday for the first time in more than two months. Neither had anything earth-shattering to say, but here are a few excerpts:


  • Coleman, on adjusting to the college game: "I’ve learned a different way of teaching things. It’s not anything I haven’t heard before, it’s just adjusting to the different ways Coach (Tubby) Smith wants things done. … Playing at Hopkins (in high school), we had pressure on us every night, so it’s nothing new. I feel comfortable when I’m out there. But it’s definitely different. Players are bigger, stronger and faster."
  • Coleman, on the Gophers playing their first true road game of the season Tuesday: "Going on the road, they’ll have the sixth man. We just have to come in, play the way we’re supposed to and hopefully we beat those teams and learn from those two big games coming up."
  • Coleman on the impact of Julian Welch: "After (the tournament in) Orlando, you could just tell his role on the team exploded. He’s been a big leader for us. I wouldn’t say it’s surprising. We knew he was capable of that. But we’ve been happy to see it."
  • Hollins on team chemistry: "We’re a silly team. We’re really close. Everybody is close, and I think that’s going to transfer over to the games. It’s a tight-knit group. I really love my teammates. Everybody is like brothers."
  • Hollins on coming off the bench instead of starting, essentially swapping roles with Maverick Ahanmisi: "Whatever Coach gives me, I’m going to take the opportunity and try to do my best. It’s what happens. Somebody gets hurt. It’s fine, and he’s been doing a great job. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we’re doing our best."

A few other notes from access:

  • Ralph Sampson III said his ankle is improving. "I'm as close to 100 percent as I'm going to be," Sampson said. He said missing time was frustrating, but he said it was ultimately the right move. "When I first hurt the ankle, I didn’t think it was that bad. I thought I’d be able to come back and play right away. But I hurt it worse than I thought I did. Seeing the team go through the battles and not be able to be with them was definitely frustrating. It makes you want to rush things, but you don’t want to re-injure it and have to sit out even longer."
  • Hollins also said his ankle injury has improved considerably.
  • Tubby Smith said attitude was a big reason Ahanmisi has earned a starting spot. "He does what every player has to do. He had to prove it in practice and be ready when you get the opportunity. He had the opportunity when Andre Hollins went down. It depends on the attitude. If he’s over there sulking, wondering ‘why am I not playing, why is coach not playing me?’ … but he’s always had a great attitude. That’s been the key to his resurgence and being a confident player. It depends on attitude. He’s always been a team player, and I’ve always appreciated that."
  • Smith added that Hollins will continue to play a lot in his new role. "If Andre has a good attitude, he’ll be fine. And I know he’s the type of guy who is going to raise his level of play. That’s why we recruited him. … He can score, and he’s an excellent shooter. We can use him in a lot of different ways. He’ll probably get the same amount of minutes he did before."

Amelia will have all your coverage tomorrow live from Illinois. Remember, it's a 6:30 p.m. start and it is televised on BTN.