Texas Tech game could be Rickert’s last as a Gopher

Rick Rickert said Wednesday he would likely make his decision soon after the season’s end.

Anthony Maggio

With one game left, win or lose, in Minnesota’s men’s basketball team’s season, there is really only one question left to answer.

And just for the record, it’s not which team will emerge victorious in Thursday’s National Invitation Tournament consolation final between the Gophers and Texas Tech in Madison Square Garden.

The real question is: Will the 6-foot-11 sophomore from Duluth East High School remain a Gopher for his junior season or forgo his final two years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft? Well, he’ll get to that.

“Right now I’m just thinking about the Texas Tech game,” forward Rick Rickert said.

Minnesota squared off with the Red Raiders back on Dec. 28 at Williams Arena, a game the Gophers had no business even being in, but forced overtime before losing 99-89.

Center Robert Tomaszek destroyed Minnesota inside, racking up a season-high 28 points. Tomaszek averaged 8.3 points per game this season.

“We just watched film and our effort was horrible,” guard Moe Hargrow said Wednesday afternoon, as the Gophers prepared for a bus tour of New York City, including trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center. “They had way too many offensive rebounds and way too many easy lay-ups. We just have to make them work for their baskets and it should be a different outcome this time.”

Texas Tech finished with five players in double figures, while the Gophers had three. Hargrow led Minnesota with a season-high 24 points while Rickert added 22.

Speaking of Rickert, tonight might well be the last time he will be suiting up in a Minnesota jersey. Rumors have circulated since the season began about whether this would be Rickert’s last.

Rickert said Wednesday he would likely make his decision soon after the season’s end.

“(I’m thinking about) what would be the best thing to do, what would be the best option for everybody,” Rickert said. “I want some input like what do my parents think; what does my fiancee think.”

Rickert will also get input from his coach Dan Monson, who said they won’t discuss Rickert’s future until the season ends.

“(NBA Senior Vice President of Operations) Stu Jackson heads a committee called the undergraduate advisory committee,” Monson said. “You submit a form for that; we have that form. When Rick and I get back we’ll submit it.

“They’ll give him an idea of where these general managers would think he’d fall in the draft.”

Rickert was named All Big First Team by conference coaches and Second Team by the media. He led the Gophers with 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game during the regular season, improving both numbers from his freshman season.

Monson’s concern right now is getting his team ready for a game that matters to basically only those on the sidelines.

“Starting this tournament, we didn’t want our last game to end on a game like it did in the Big Ten Tournament,” Monson said. “I think our guys will be excited about playing because we don’t want this to be the mark of our last game.”

Regardless of the outcome, tonight’s game will be the last of Rickert’s season, and maybe his Minnesota career.

Anthony Maggio covers men’s basketball and

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