Listen up, Williams Arena student section. Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith has a message for you.
"The spirit you bring to the Barnyard pumps up our student-athletes and gives our team a
competitive edge," Smith said in an e-mail sent to student season ticket holders Tuesday morning. "We are incredibly appreciative of your support, but I must express my disappointment of the vulgar language directed at the Ohio State team."
When Minnesota hosted then-No. 1 Ohio State on Feb. 6, students chanted "F--- the Buckeyes" and repeatedly called freshman Jared Sullinger a vulgar term for coward.
"We want Williams Arena to be a tough place for visiting teams to play," Smith wrote. "However, such chants as 'F--- Ohio State' and singling out players don't belong in the college game." The student section directed the same term at Illinois standout guard Demetri McCamey on Feb. 10 when he went down with a brief injury.
"Adding vulgarity to our cheers does little to intimidate the opponent; it only reflects poorly on us."
The Gophers lost the matchup with the Buckeyes 82-69 and have lost five of their last six games. Three of their final four games are at The Barn.
"My request of you is to continue to bring your game — be spirited, be loud, be creative, be clever — and be respectful," Smith said. "Let's make the Barn a place where families, visiting fans and TV viewers see the way we support our Golden Gophers by cheering with class.
"I promise to bring our A-game to the remaining three games at the Barn, and I know you’ll bring you’re A-game too!"
Minnesota hosts Michigan State at 8 p.m. tonight.