Andre Hollins sat in Minnesota’s locker room with a smile draped across his face as he took questions from the media following the Gophers’ third conference victory of the season on Saturday. And why shouldn’t he be smiling? Hollins has performed phenomenally over the past five contests — scoring more than 21 points per game.
Though the temperatures in Minneapolis dipped this weekend, the cold air didn’t seem to cool down the red-hot Gophers. Off to one of their best starts in the last five years, the Gophers emerged victorious against all three of their opponents this weekend to claim their fourth, fifth and sixth victories this season. “It’s a lot of tennis,” head coach Geoff Young said. “I thought the guys are playing better and better.”
Don’t look now, Gophers fans, but the Minnesota men’s basketball team won two of its last three games in conference play following a 0-5 start in Big Ten play. Beginning with Wednesday’s matchup at Penn State, the next three games for the Gophers will be incredibly winnable and of dire importance. After this stretch of matchups, Minnesota goes on the road for four of its next five games. Those matchups include Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
When it rains, it pours. But in the case of the Minnesota men’s hockey team, it has reached the point where players and coaches need to start building an ark. It might already be too late for that. Amid a season in which fans have watched their beloved team go from No. 1 to unranked, different reasons have been thrown out to try to diagnose the problem ailing the 11-9-2 Gophers. Puck movement? Spacing? Scoring? Coaching? Defense?
The Minnesota men’s and women’s tennis teams went up against top competition at the ITA Kick-Off over the weekend in the hope of extending their undefeated records to open their 2015 campaigns. Save for a men’s vicotry against Michigan, the teams seemingly couldn’t keep up with their talented opponents. The women’s team opened its weekend against No. 3 North Carolina, losing the competition by a final score of 4-0.
It’s been more than a decade since the Gophers women’s basketball team sprinted to center court and began to sing, “We beat the Dukies.” Lindsay Whalen, the maestro who helped lead the upset victory over the Blue Devils to advance the Gophers to the Final Four, has since gone on to win two WNBA championships.
When Maxx Williams announced he would enter the 2015 NFL Draft earlier this month, the young tight end made one of the best decisions of his career. After winning the Big Ten Tight End of the Year Award and being named a Second Team All-American, Williams certainly leaves his time at Minnesota on a high note. He also walks away from a Gophers’ offense that could be downright disastrous in 2015.
The Gophers men’s hockey team has brought both brilliance and disappointment this season with the 14 games it has played. Minnesota averages 3.43 goals per game and holds the best power-play percentage in the country. But it’s shown flaws in its performance, such as its defense, that are troubling. “Our special teams have been good. That’s been a real shining spot,” head coach Don Lucia told reporters after Saturday’s tie against Michigan State.
In just four seasons, head coach Jerry Kill has turned the football program in a new direction. Last week, he won Big Ten Coach of the Year for his efforts. Though the Gophers probably should have played in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game rather than act as spectators, Kill more than earned the honor as the conference’s best coach. Still, many pundits said Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was more deserving.
Grant Potulny wasn’t Minnesota’s strongest skater. He wasn’t its best scorer. And he wasn’t its craftiest stickhandler. But with an inexhaustible work ethic and uncanny leadership skills, Potulny helped rebuild a once-great Gophers hockey program in the early 2000s. Now he’s attempting to do the same as an assistant coach. In the 2002 national title game, Potulny scored Minnesota’s game-winning goal against Maine. He still remembers the moment vividly.
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