Following Friday morning's media session with the Gophers men's basketball team, we went up to the Williams Arena club room, where Tubby Smith spoke with reporters.

Smith's not the type of coach to throw out great compliments about players, especially those who haven't proven anything yet. But he spoke at length about his team's depth and the opportunity for success this season.
He said he's excited about the incoming recruits and said he believes he has four guys who can all contribute this year.

Smith said Rodney Williams Jr. has the potential to start for the Gophers. He also said he won’t redshirt him.
He made general comments about most of the returning players, but he was more specific when he talked about junior point guard Al Nolen.
Smith said Nolen has to be a more "innovative" player this year. I think he’s really looking for Nolen to take that next step. For Nolen, I think that progression would involve more consistency and poise, two must-haves for that position.
During the Q&A session, Smith said sophomore Devoe Joseph's good enough to start at shooting guard or point guard. And he praised the game-readiness of freshman Justin Cobbs.
I really think the point guard spot is Nolen's to lose. Smith made it clear, however, that there's enough talent behind him if he struggles.
I asked Smith about the team's nonconference home schedule, which features numerous teams that didn’t end the 2008-09 season in the top 100 of the RPI.
Someone in the back of the room laughed. And Smith chuckled a bit, too.
He said he didn't want to create a schedule that would affect Minnesota's NCAA tourney hopes. He also said he believes in assembling a schedule that builds a team up.
This year's schedule tests the Gophers early with the 76 Classic and a road game against Miami, but it doesn't get any tougher until Big Ten play begins in late December.
Smith added that a tough schedule doesn't always help a team in the long run. He cited Minnesota's win over Louisville last season and its lopsided loss against Michigan State at home just over a week later.
The third-year coach also spoke about Trevor Mbakwe's current legal situation. He said he was happy with the way the junior's handled everything.
Smith also said that Maturi didn't give him any insight about his pending decision on Mbakwe's playing status.
Check of Part 3 of this post Thursday afternoon.
-One Gophers insider told me that Royce White looks very good so far in practice. The source also praised the team's big men, Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III for the way they've competed.
-A Hartford Courant writer speculates that an aunt in Connecticut might influence Cory Joseph's school choice. He recently visited UConn and will travel to Minnesota, where his brother Devoe plays for the Gophers, for an Oct. 30 visit.


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This is going to be an interesting year for the Gophers Part 1

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This is going to be an interesting year for the Gophers Part 3