Tag Archives: minnesota

Minnesota’s RPI Faces SOS Challenge in 2017-18

A year ago, Minnesota’s RPI (20 on Selection Sunday) benefitted from their strong strength of schedule (as defined by the RPI – not as any rational human would define it). Their opponents’ strength of schedule (“SOS”), worth 50% of the RPI, was .5953 as the NCAA tourney field was being finalized.

The Gophers enjoyed a well-constructed schedule under which they faced a number of relative easy games against beatable competition who happened to finish the year with good win-loss records.

For example, no one was concerned about hosting Mount St. Mary’s. Minnesota won 80-56. But, for purposes of Minnesota’s Selection Sunday SOS, Mount St. Mary’s had a record of 19-14 (.5758).

Last year’s lid lifter vs. Lafayette wasn’t scary, but the Ragin’ Cajuns were 19-11 (.6333) on Selection Sunday for purposes of Minnesota’s SOS calc.

Things will not be the same in 2017-18. The Gophers SOS will be considerably weaker.

Late Night Hoops projects an SOS on Selection Sunday of just .5520, or .0433 less than 2016-17. If we adjust last year’s RPI of .6109 for only the impact of the lower SOS (e.g., 50% of .0433), the Gophers would have had a Selection Sunday RPI of 39 instead of 20.

Continue reading Minnesota’s RPI Faces SOS Challenge in 2017-18

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Regents Cry Foul, But Should They? Pitino Buyout and More

Regents Cry Foul, But Should They?

Who’s responsible for approving the Pitino extension that multiplied his buyout by more than two times, to more than $8 million?

The answer is extremely important to the story, and the mainstream media should do the work to report on it.

Ultimately, this falls on the Board of Regents and the President’s office, but the details are important.

In March 2016, certain Regents became vocal and expressed frustration over Pitino’s large buyout (which at that time had amortized to just over $7 million). Some called for more oversight and ability to approve significant contracts.

The reality, however, is that they already had the ability to do so. The Pitino contract situation illustrates the Board of Regents and President’s office not working well together.

This week a resolution will be brought forth that specifies the process on certain contracts (e.g., Board approval required for any initial appointment where an employee’s annual salary will exceed $250,000 or any employment agreement, or amendment thereto, that has at total cost to the University of $600,000 or more.)

However, in the case of Pitino and the other contracts amended in reaction to the very public and shameful resignation of Norwood Teague, the Board should have been brought into the process under existing policy. Continue reading Regents Cry Foul, But Should They? Pitino Buyout and More

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They Said It: Amy Phenix

They Said It: Amy Phenix

The Board of Regents (“Board”) effectively approved the contract extension of Richard Pitino on August 14, 2015. The Board delegated authority to the President, who delegated to his Chief of Staff, Amy Phenix. Ms. Phenix signed under the big block letters, “REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA.”

The timing of certain members of the Board voicing their concern about Pitino’s contract and their claim of a lack of a role in approving it is a topic for another day, but one which certainly is deserving of further discussion.

Now, let us move on to the topic of this article: “They Said It: Amy Phenix”

In a Star Tribune article published on March 31, 2016, Chief of Staff Amy Phenix explained, “The reality is you’re very rarely going to fire someone not for cause in year one of a contract extension,” she said. “It’s just highly unusual.

Let’s quickly explore what “the reality is.”
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#7 Minnesota – Team & Player Previews

#7 Minnesota
2013-14 Big Ten Preseason

We see teams 7 through 10 as being very close to one another. One win could mean the difference between the 10th and 7th place.

The Gophers are slotted at the top of the group thanks in large part to them returning 2 of the Big Ten’s top 3 returning offensive players. Junior Andre Hollins and criminally underrated senior Austin Hollins are difference makers that can win games for this team.
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Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA Percentage to Rise Significantly in 2013-14

August 5, 2013
Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA Percentage to Rise Significantly in 2013-14

We expect the Gophers will attempt 3-point field goals more often during 2013-14 than in any season over the past decade. The two primary reasons for this expectation are: (1) Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA percentage has historically been low and (2) the team’s roster will rely heavily on players who often utilize the 3-pointer. Those reasons sound simple, but it’s important to differentiate the real reasons from a basic “it’s because of Coach Pitino” argument.
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Recruiting: 2015 PG Jarvis Johnson

July 12, 2013
Recruiting: 2015 PG Jarvis Johnson

Marquette University’s Buzz Williams was one of many coaches watching Howard Pulley beat the Travelers 90-78 in Peach Jam play this morning.

Playing alongside 2014 phenom Tyus Jones, rising junior guard Jarvis Johnson (DeLaSalle HS, Minneapolis, Minn.) took on a scoring role with 22 points on 7/11 shooting and didn’t turn the ball over in 28 minutes played. Johnson knocked down 4 of his 5 3-point attempts, bringing his effective field goal percent for the game to 81.8%.
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Game Preview: Gophers vs. Tennessee State 11/15/12

Tennessee State Tigers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Thursday, November 15, 2012 | 7pm CT | TV/Online: ESPN3

Tennessee State comes to Minneapolis with a record of 0-2, having lost on the road to BYU and South Dakota State. The Tigers were picked to finish second in the East division of the Ohio Valley behind conference newcomer Belmont. Murray State and their returning star Isaiah Cannon were the top pick on the West side of the conference.

The Gophers will not have the only NBA prospects on the floor at Williams Arena Thursday night. Tennessee State’s versatile senior forward Robert Covington was superb last year and has continued to progress during his three seasons in Nashville.

Head coach Travis Williams took over for John Cooper who left for the top job at Miami (OH) in April. Williams worked as an assistant under Cooper for the past three seasons and takes over for a team that returns four starters and has a roster with a lot of Chicagoland talent.

Minnesota comes into the game 2-0 after winning their first two by a combined 62 points. It’s difficult to be critical of their play after two dominant performances, but there are areas that need improvement.

Minnesota turned the ball over 19 times against Toledo, including 12 turnovers from starting guards Andre Hollins (4) and Joe Coleman (8). Giving up the ball has been an issue for the Gophers in recent years, but they’ll try to buck that trend against a Tiger defense that is good at creating turnovers.

Another area Tubby Smith’s team will try to address is allowing their opponents to earn trips to the line. Both American and Toledo were given 23 free throw attempts.

If Covington gets loose for 30 points, which is possible, Tennessee State could make a game of this one. More likely, however, the Gophers cruise to 3-0.

Below you’ll find a PLAYERS TO WATCH section highlighting specific Tigers. For additional information on the Gophers and Big Ten basketball, go to LateNightHoops.com.


#33 Robert Covington (17.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg in 2011-12) is a long and versatile 6’9” senior forward from the Chicago area and a threat from anywhere on the floor, with or without the ball. He’s a great shooter, defender and rebounder who is a cut above anyone Minnesota has seen so far this season.

Covington was very efficient with the ball a year ago and shot extremely well both inside the arc (57.0%) and behind it (65/145 for 44.8%). Defending Covington will be a nice test for Rodney Williams and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two going up against each other again next July in the NBA’s summer league.

Strong point guard #2 Patrick Miller (10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg) stands 6’1”, 189 pounds and has been credited with a total of 19 assists in the Tigers’ first two games.   Prior to this year, Miller has shot infrequently and poorly from 3-point range (41/139 for 29.5%; 2.2 3FA/game), but has taken 9 attempts behind the arc already this year and made 3.

Miller is a better scorer when he gets close to the bucket and is a fairly strong guard who does draw contact. Minnesota would prefer the junior to continue shooting out on the perimeter as compared to him dishing to Covington or other open Tigers.

#1 Kellen Thornton (9.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg) played at Hillcrest (Ill.) and Brewster Academy (N.H.) in high school and began his college days at Illinois State. Now a senior and a big 6’8”, 243 pounds, Thornton is another good scoring option and a solid rebounder.

Others to mention:

  • Senior guard #45 Jordan Cyphers (8.0 ppg; 36.4% 3FG) started out at Utah before transferring two years ago.  He’ll likely come off the bench looking to fire away from long range.
  • #3 Kharon Butcher (1.9 ppg) is another reserve who is willing to try from 3-point range. He only went 8/28 3FG for 28.6% as a freshman, but he can hit from outside.
  • Redshirt sophomore #4 M.J. Rhett (3.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has added size to his 6’8” frame and helps inside with rebounding.

Minnesota Golden Gophers Nike Vault Maroon Legacy91 Retro Logo Swoosh Flex Hat

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Game Preview: Gophers vs. Toledo 11/12/12


Toledo Rockets at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Monday, November 12, 2012 | 7pm CT | TV/Online: Gopher All Access (Online)

Toledo scored the final 10 points Friday night at Loyola Chicago, but the run only made the scoreboard look a little bit better in a 62-50 loss.

This season the Rockets are playing for pride and with only one senior, the future. Due to APR scores from academic years prior to current head coach Tod Kowalczyk’s arrival, the team is banned from NCAA postseason play.  Nonetheless, they are picked to win the MAC’s west division this year (it’s fair to note that half of the division’s teams are directional schools in Michigan).

Kowlacyzk, a Minnesota-Duluth alumnus (1989), is in his third year at Toledo after eight years as head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Previous stops include an assistant coaching stint at Marquette while Dwyane Wade was at the school.

Despite being a small team that will play three guards most of the night, Toledo won’t be an especially heavy 3-point shooting team this year. However, just about everyone on the floor is willing to take advantage of an open look if it’s there.

Minnesota will look to come out and frustrate the Rockets early and often as they did to American Friday night. On paper, Toledo is not as good as American and this looks like the Gophers’ second easiest game on the schedule (Lafayette on December 22 takes the honors).

The Gophers were excellent in their season opening 72-36 victory over American. It’s difficult to critique such a dominating performance, but two areas Minnesota will want to improve on against Toledo are limiting the Rockets’ free throw attempts and second chances.

Below you’ll find a PLAYERS TO WATCH section highlighting specific Rockets and an OTHER NOTES section that touches on miscellaneous items of interest. For additional information on Gopher and Big Ten basketball, go to LateNightHoops.com.


Running the point is sophomore #20 Julius Brown (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) from the fine Chicagoland high school Hillcrest. “Juice” Brown was the MAC’s freshman of the year and posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.6 to 1, but he’s undersized and will likely face a lot of pressure from the Gophers.

#5 Rian Pearson (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg)  a 6’4” junior guard, followed Kowalczyk from UWGB and can rebound and score inside despite his size. Pearson isn’t much of a 3-point threat (8/31 for 25.8% in 2011-12), but he’ll try his best to take on Minnesota’s defenders in the paint. A test for the Gophers will be keeping him (and Brown) off the line.

Another guard expected to start is former Iowa State Cyclone (yes, they also have transfers out of that program) #1 Dominique Buckley (9.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg), a solid 6’2” senior. He’s a career 40.4% 3-point shooter and is the guy the Gophers should be most concerned about from deep.

Others to mention:

  • Freshman center #53 Nathan Boothe is a big kid at 6’9”, 250 pounds. Can hit an outside shot. As the only Rocket with much size, the hope for Toledo is that he’ll stay out of early foul trouble. We don’t think that will be easy for him to do, however.
  • #32 Reese Holliday (7.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) will likely come off the bench, but get 20+ minutes. Just 6’4”, had to play inside a lot last year, but should play more on the wing with Boothe’s arrival. In addition to an impressive defensive rebounding percentage , Holliday shot well in 2011-12.
  • Sliding over to power forward from center is #43 Matt Smith (8.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg), another UWGB transfer. Smith shot the ball well last year, but at 6’7” and only 225 pounds, he’ll struggle defending inside.


  • Gophers forward Oto Osenieks was recruited by coach Kowalczyk at both UWGB and Toledo.
  • American’s 26.3% effective field goal percentage Friday night was the lowest Minnesota has held an opponent in any game this century (beginning with the 2000-01 season), per Late Night Hoops research.
  • The announced attendance of 10,172 for Minnesota’s home opener was 1,804 or 15% less than last year’s. Also, the attendance for Friday’s opener was the smallest Williams Arena crowd for any regular season game in the Tubby Smith era.
  • Tremendous ticket deals are available at www.GopherSports.com including $10 tickets and $15 packages that include a ticket and $5 concession voucher.
  • J.D. Weatherspoon transferred to Toledo from Ohio State and expects to be eligible to play for two years beginning in 2013-14. Weatherspoon starred at Northland (OH) high school with fellow 2010 graduate Jared Sullinger and their younger point guard Trey Burke.
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