Golden Gopher Basketball’s All-Decade Team

Gopher Basketball

By Mike Gallagher

When a decade includes a season in which your team possessed the Big Ten player of the year, Big Ten coach of the year, Big Ten defensive player of the year, and 31 wins, you’d think you would at least have a NCAA tournament appearance to show for that year.

That is true in any case except for scandal-ridden squads, such as the Golden Gopher basketball team of 1996-97.  Since Clem Haskins allowed a widespread academic scandal to occur under his tenure as Gophers head coach, the Gophers officially have zero wins from 1993-94 through 1998-99.

Obviously, after the 90’s, there was nowhere to go but up.

Thankfully for this program, recruits were not scared off, as a talented class came in to try and get Minnesota basketball back to prominence.

That was way back at the beginning of this decade, and now the 2000’s are wrapping up.  Did anyone from that incoming class make the Gophers All-Decade Team?  How formidable is this star-studded group?  You need not look far for answers…

FIRST TEAM:

Guards:  Vincent Grier, SG, 2004-2006. A transfer from Dixie State Junior College, Grier immediately came in and made an impact for the Gophers.   Truly a complete player, his junior year Grier led the Big Ten in steals, was 13th in rebounding and third in scoring.  He set himself apart from other guards of this decade because he could take over the game and win it practically by himself, evidenced by the game against Wisconsin his junior year when he scored 26 points in the second half.  He was last seen in the preseason with the Washington Wizards.

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Lawrence Mckenzie, CG, 2006-2008.  Guards were the strong point of this decade for the Gophers, and Mckenzie was far and away the second best one for the squad.  He led the team in scoring both years with the Gophers, and set a school record and then broke it the next year, for threes in a season.  Honorable-mention All Big Ten his junior season and All Big Ten third team his senior year.  Last seen with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D League.

Forwards:  Dan Coleman, SF, 2004-2008. Never a flashy player, but consistency was the name of the game for Coleman.  A four year starter, he especially took initiative his junior and senior season, ranking second on the Gophers in scoring while leading the team in rebounding.  Last seen in France playing for Bourge en-Breese France.

Dusty Rychart, PF, 1998-2002.  Rychart was a full-time starter for three years, but since this is a decade team, will only get credit for the last two.  That being said, they were a very good two years.  He averaged over 13 points/gm both years while leading the team in rebounding and shooting above 50% from the field both years.  Rychart was a force inside, and was the only man from that first recruiting class to make this list.  He has made a name for himself in Australia, where he currently is still playing pro ball for the Cairns Taipins.

Center:  Kris Humphries, PF/C, 2003-04 season. Painful for most Gophers fans, as Humphries big timed the program on as well as off the court, but truly there’s no other way to go at this spot.  The most decorated season for any Gopher this decade, and it’s not close.  The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, as well as an Honorable Mention All-American by the AP and All Big-Ten First Team recipient.  Averaged a double-double in his only season with the team and was the first freshman ever to lead the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding in the same season.  Currently on the active roster for the Dallas Mavericks.

SECOND TEAM:
Guards:  Maurice Hargrow, SG, 2001-2003, 2005-06 season:  An odd journey for Hargrow, who played two and a half seasons at Minnesota, then halfway through the 2003-04 season transferred to Arkansas, only to transfer back after that same season to Minnesota and redshirt the next year.  When he was at Minnesota, he was very good, top three on the team in scoring three different years.  Last seen playing for Al-Arabi in Asia.

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Adam Boone, PG, 2003-2006:  Only played two years after transferring from North Carolina and redshirting a year for medical reasons.  The only true point guard on this roster, he averaged 10 points/gm his senior season and over four assists both years with the Gophers.  Last seen in Austria playing for BSC Raiffeisen Furstenfeld Panthers.

Forwards:  Rick Rickert, SF, 2001-2003.  Another two-year player, was convinced after averaging over 14 points and five rebounds/gm he would be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.  But the former Big Ten Freshman of the Year (first ever at Minnesota) and preseason third team All-American slipped to the 55th overall pick and had a cup of coffee in the NBA for the Timberwolves and Pistons.  Currently plays in Australia for the New Zealand Breakers.

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Michael Bauer, SF, 2000-2004. Injury prone, but one of the best three point shooters the program has seen and gave four solid years to Dan Monson.  Last heard from in the Belgium First Division playing for Base BC Oostende.

Center:  Jeff Hagen, C, 2000-2005. Redshirted after his freshman year, but the only true center in this group started contributing in a big way his senior year.  He’s a tough nosed guy who really was big on the defensive side of the court.  Averaged 11 points, six boards, and a big ten leading 2.12 blocks/gm his senior year.  Spent time in the D-League, now a financial advisor for the Minneapolis Financial Group.

Just Missed the Cut:  Spencer Tollackson, C, 2004-2008.
Al Nolen, PG, 2007-present.
Lawrence Westbrook, SG, 2006-present.
Jerry Holman, F/C, 2001-2003.

University of Minnesota Football’s All-Decade Team

gophers

By Mike Gallagher

It seems like just yesterday the ball was dropping to culminate the new millennium.  Y2K was about to strike the world and there was supposed to be mass chaos, riots, and darkness everywhere because computers would malfunction, all because of a few digit changes.

Well folks, we survived.  Not only that, the 2000’s are almost over, and moving into a new decade makes us reminisce about the last nine-plus years.

For Minnesota Golden Gopher football, it was full of ups and downs.  Ok, more downs than ups (30-50 in the Big Ten), but there was plenty of individual talent in maroon and gold.

With 18 players that went to Minnesota currently in the NFL, and legions more former Gopher contributors out doing their 9-5 gigs, who are the best ten from the 2000s?  With much deliberating and many sleepless nights, here is your answer.

1.     Laurence Maroney, RB, 2003-2005. Maroney only started 14 games at Minnesota, but he played in 36 while splitting time with Marion Barber III and Gary Russell.  He left after his junior year and was selected 21st overall by the New England Patriots, whom he still sees significant action for.  He left Minnesota as only the third player in Big Ten history to gain over 1,000 yards three straight years, and was named an All-American in 2005 by Pro Football Weekly and Rivals.com.

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2.    Marion Barber III, RB, 2001-2004.  He had a very good freshman year, but got hurt his sophomore year and received a medical redshirt, which opened the door for Terry Jackson II to have a breakout season.  Once Barber returned, he formed an explosive tandem with Laurence Maroney.  They became the only duo in Big Ten history to rush for 1,000 yards each in back to back seasons.  Barber left after his junior year as well, and was drafted by the Cowboys in the 4th round, but has done big things since for the team.

3.    Greg Eslinger, Center, 2002-2005.  The man that blocked for Barber, Maroney, and Jackson, was a force up front.  An All-American in 2005, he also won the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and Dave Rimington trophy (best center).  He was drafted in the sixth round by the Denver Broncos and was last seen on their practice squad in 2008.

4.     Asad Abdul-Khaliq, QB, 2000-2003. This is a tough choice, as Abdul-Khaliq gets the nod over Adam Weber and Bryan Cuptio for the top QB spot on this list.  Khaliq’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but he only threw 25 interceptions in three years of starting and one year of splitting time.  Khaliq also led the Gophers to their only 10 win season in school history.  Some will say it was all due to the rushing game, but Khaliq managed games well and played within himself, something Weber struggles with.

Abdul-Khaliq

5.    Eric Decker, WR, 2006-2009. Decker contributed right away and came into a good situation, being thrust into the number one receiver’s role with the graduation of Logan Payne after 2006 and Ernie Wheelwright after 2007.  Decker topped 900 yards twice and was on pace for over 1,100 this year before an unfortunate injury.  He has 24 career touchdowns and was the weapon that held an otherwise lackluster offense together over the last three years.  Should he choose football over baseball, he will be drafted by the NFL.

6.    Mark Setterstrom, G, 2002-2005. Setterstrom was Greg Eslinger’s battery mate up front, and earned a great deal of honors himself.  While also blocking for Maroney and Barber, his senior year the line only allowed three sacks, lowest in school history.  He earned second team All-American honors his senior year and Rivals.com All-American his junior year.  He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2006 in the 7th round, and remains on the team to this point.

7.   Bryan Cupito, QB, 2003-2006. Another close call at quarterback, but Cupito combined smart play with explosiveness and improved every year, culminating with a senior season that saw 22 td’s and only nine picks.  He held every record in the book until Weber started to take them over this year.  Still, he holds the record for career TD passes.  He now coaches a 7th grade football team in Bloomington, MN.

8.   Dominique Barber, S, 2004-2007.  On a team not known for their defense throughout the decade, Barber stands out as the top performer while he was at the school.  Darrell Reid, Michael Lehan, and Anthony Montgomery will draw more attention because of their higher draft position and better pro performances, but Barber led the team in tackling his senior year and received All-Big Ten second team honors.  He was also an All Big-Ten honorable mention his junior season when he had 74 tackles and four INT’s.  He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 6th round and remains on their roster.

9.    Tellis Redmon, RB, 1998-2001.  Redmon is the name that often gets lost in the Gophers running back conversation.  Redmon had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and had a short stint in the NFL after being picked up by the Baltimore Ravens.

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10.    Adam Weber, QB, 2006-present. He has broken nearly every Gophers passing record in the books.  He put up great numbers his freshman year and was expected to do big things for the program.  He led them to a surprising start in 2008, when they got up to 18th in the nation.  But since then, things have gone the wrong way for Weber and the Gophers.  He isn’t higher on this list because of the interceptions and lack of winning.

Notables:  Ron Johnson, WR, 1998-2001: He’d be on this list had all of his years been in the 2000’s.

Terry Jackson II, Amir Pinnix, Gary Russell, Running Backs:  All had one great season, but couldn’t sustain their success.
Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht, Tight Ends:  Both great tight ends, but in the grand scheme of the offense were never huge contributors.  Utecht had a rough freshman and senior year.  Spaeth had over 300 receiving yards only once.
Tyrone Carter, S, Ben Hamilton, C:  Both didn’t play enough in the 2000’s to make this list, but were great players.

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