Ralph Sampson III has the advantage of having a fabulous personal coach in his father, one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.

The 7-4 Ralph Sampson was a three-time College Player of the Year at Virginia and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft by Houston. He played 10 NBA seasons with four teams.

Now retired, the elder Sampson watches every Gophers game, either in person or on television, and spends time on the telephone pointing out the good and the bad about his son's performance.

"After the game he always calls me and tells me what I could have done better, or what I did good," Sampson III said of his father. "He tries to give me feedback.

"He'll critique, like, every move. Every post move I did, I should have went baseline this move, I should have gone there, I should have shot this shot or should have pump-faked and drove, shoot a hook shot, that one move I did in that game would be a good move to do and if I keep that up, I'll be a very good player."

Sampson III said his father told him, "I don't realize my potential yet, but he sees it in me, and he'll say that I'll become a good player."

Sampson III, a 6-11 freshman, scored 10 points, including 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, and pulled down seven rebounds in Thursday night's 59-36 victory over No. 19 Illinois. Illini coach Bruce Weber praised Sampson after the game, saying he had a tremendous future.

Naturally, Sampson III's ultimate career goal is to play in the NBA.

While a junior and senior in high school, he worked with his dad a lot, and he plans to do that again next summer.

"I was here last summer and so I didn't really have time to work with him," Sampson III said. "I spent the summer here in summer school and lifting weights. I had to go back home for a little bit, and I was home conditioning myself and lifting weights trying to get ready for the season."

The elder Sampson is often at Williams Arena for home games, and he will continue to do so the rest of the season, his son said.

It was great for the Gophers that coach Tubby Smith was able to outrecruit about 50 schools and land Sampson III, who has unlimited potential and has made tremendous improvement as a freshman.

Low endowment at U

The Minnesota Daily, citing a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, reported that the Gophers athletics endowment of about $25 million a year is the lowest of any of the Big Ten's 10 public schools.

According to the newspaper, Ohio State and Penn State lead with some $50 million, followed by Indiana at $42.4 million, Illinois $34.3, Purdue $33.7, Wisconsin $33.6, Iowa $31.5, Michigan $30 million, Michigan State $26.5 and Minnesota $25.4. Northwestern did not disclose its figure because it is a private university.

Endowments help athletics departments cover the cost of scholarships. Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi told the Daily that endowments are the "life blood" of athletics programs but said one of the reasons for the university's low figure was because getting TCF Bank Stadium built has been the athletic department's major focus over the past three years.

The Gophers endowment has grown from $13 million in 2003. The cost of scholarships for Gophers athletes to the athletics department is $8.8 million annually, the newspaper reported.


Vikings coach Brad Childress said he hasn't started making calls to hire a special teams coach to replace Paul Ferraro, who joined the St. Louis Rams as a defensive assistant. But Childress would consider assistant special teams coach Brian Murphy. ... The entire Vikings football staff is meeting every day discussing all subjects about the future of the team.

Gophers running backs coach Thomas Hammock tried hard to persuade his brother TyQuan, a great running back from Fort Wayne, Ind., to change his mind about enrolling at Michigan State instead of Minnesota, but he didn't succeed.

"It was real tough, not just Minnesota, but Indiana as well," TyQuan Hammock told ESPN.com. "It was a real tough decision to make, but with Minnesota a little more having my brother there."

People close to Mike Shanahan don't believe there is any chance the former Denver Broncos coach will take the Kansas City Chiefs coaching job.

Gophers men's hockey coach Don Lucia is done with receiving daily intravenous therapy steroid treatment and now just does once-a-week IV at University of Minnesota Hospital to clear up the inflammation that has been bothering him for some time.

The Wild plays at Edmonton tonight, where goalie Niklas Backstrom is 10-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in 12 games. The Wild also plays at Edmonton at the end of February and March after not having visited the Oilers all season. ... Wild winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored two goals and added an assist against Toronto on Tuesday. Last year, Bouchard had three goals and 18 assists and 21 points after the All-Star break, so hopefully that game Tuesday will get him going; after finishing with 63 points (13 goals, 50 assists) last season, he has only 26 (10 goals, 16 assists) this season.

Former Tartan standout Urule Igbavboa is leading Valparaiso in scoring and rebounding. The 6-9 senior forward averages 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Crusaders. ... Former Hopkins High School athlete Andrew Henke, a 6-6 senior swingman with Air Force, is third on the Falcons in scoring (11.3 points per game), second in rebounding (4.1 per game) and first in assists (2.4).

The Houston Astros signed former Twins outfielder Jason Tyner to a minor league contract last week. Tyner began last season with Class AAA Buffalo, was called up briefly by Cleveland in May but then quickly sent back down and was released in July. He wound up with Charlotte, the Class AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com