Hey all -- just a couple of things for you to chew on before Thursday's basketball and turkey feast. Remember, Gophers vs. DePaul is at 1:30 p.m., and it's on ESPN2. Those of you who have been suffering through limited TV in the early season should be pleased.

*Ralph Sampson III did not participate in contact drills Wednesday when the team practiced in Orlando. His status is uncertain for the tournament, though Tubby Smith is hoping to get him in for some minutes. (Tubby talks on video here, though you have to get more than a minute into it). Elliott Eliason started Monday when Sampson -- out after rolling his ankle last week -- missed the game. Smith praised Eliason after that 85-56 victory over Mount St. Mary's.

*The Old Spice Classic features a couple of unique story lines that bring Smith's career with the Gophers full-circle. First off, this is Minnesota's first appearance in this tournament since the 2006-07 season. That year, a Dan Monson-coached squad arrived in Orlando and proceeded to lose three consecutive games. A few days later, Minnesota was blown out by Clemson at Williams Arena. That was the last game coached by Monson, who was replaced on an interim basis by Jim Molinari. Minnesota embarked on a search for a permanent replacement – one that eventually and, improbably at the time, led them to Smith.

Smith, of course, was coaching at Kentucky before he left that pressure-cooker to take over the Gophers' program. The man who replaced him at Kentucky? Billy Gillispie. Of course, Gillispie only lasted two years at Kentucky -- but he, too, landed on his feet and is the new head coach at Texas Tech. If the Gophers defeat DePaul on Thursday and Gillispie's Red Raiders -- who are off to a 3-0 start -- knock off Indiana State, the Gophers will play Texas Tech in the semifinals of the Old Spice Classic on Friday. None of the history really has a bearing on this year's tournament, but it's interesting nonetheless.