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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.