Haskins looks for assistant

Todd Zolecki

The phone in Clem Haskins’ office hasn’t stopped ringing since Milt Barnes announced on Sept. 23 that he accepted the head coaching job at Eastern Michigan.
Haskins credited his former head assistant as a key reason why the Gophers men’s basketball program has made a turnaround since Haskins arrived 11 years ago as head coach.
Barnes had been with the program since 1986. He left Minnesota in 1988 to coach at Albion (Mich.) High School but returned to the Gophers in 1991.
Since the announcement Haskins has been looking for a replacement.
“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said. “We’ve had about 300 or 400 calls, but I’ve got about four of five people I’m looking at, and I’ll choose from those.”
He said a decision will be made in the next two weeks. The Gophers start practice Oct. 15.
Haskins is excited about the upcoming season. The Gophers are expected to be a strong contender for the Big Ten championship as five starters return to the lineup.
Minnesota loses Hosea Crittenden and David Grim, who used up their eligibility, and Mark Jones, who transferred to Central Florida in early September.
“We lose some depth with Mark gone,” Haskins said. “He wouldn’t have started for us, but he would have played.”
Although expectations are high, Haskins just wants his team to remain healthy for the entire season. Last season the Gophers were riddled with nagging injuries.
Foot injuries hindered the development of senior Bobby Jackson, and sophomores Charles Thomas and Courtney James.