Gophers sign new assistant coach

Dan Miller

Assistant coach Jim Molinari finished his first day in the Minnesota’s men’s basketball team office on Tuesday.

“I am just trying to be a human sponge and take in as much as I can right now,” Molinari said.

Molinari replaces Mike Petersen, who was hired as the women’s basketball head coach at Wake Forest.

After coaching 10 years at DePaul in Chicago, Molinari became the head basketball coach at Northern Illinois where he posted a record of 42-17.

After the 1991 season, he left for Bradley University, where he spent 11 years as head coach, posting a record of 176-150. The team earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 1996.

For the last two seasons, Molinari has worked as an NBA scout with the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat.

Coach Dan Monson said that Molinari is a great fit for his program. The team finished tied for last in the Big Ten last season and failed to qualify for postseason play.

The coaching staff will have a lot of work to do in the offseason after losing the team’s leading scorer and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kris Humphries to the NBA draft. Moe Hargrow, Stan Gaines, Aliou Kane and Matt Smriga also left the team this year.

Molinari said he is excited to get to work with the players he has.

“My first priority is getting to know these young men,” Molinari said. “Coaching these days is all about relationships, so I am excited to get to know the players on and off the court.”

Gophers meet Bush

The Minnesota women’s hockey team was honored for winning the 2004 NCAA Championships at the White House on Wednesday.

President George W. Bush spoke to the Gophers and the other NCAA winter sports champions, including men’s hockey champion Denver, as well as the NCAA champion men’s and women’s basketball teams from Connecticut.

“I was pleased to know that the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team’s slogan this year was ‘Get it done, and meet George.’ ” Bush said in his speech. “It’s my pleasure to meet you.”

Bush also spoke about the significance of the championship for Minnesota women’s sports.

“You beat Harvard and you became the first women’s team in school history to win a national championship,” Bush said. “And that’s got to make you feel great. Congratulations.”

Vikings pick up Hosack

Former Minnesota receiver Aaron Hosack signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings on May 13.

Hosack played for the Gophers the last two seasons after transferring from Mount San Antonio College in California.

He started all 13 games last season at wide receiver for the Gophers and led the team in receptions with 51. He finished the season with 814 yards receiving, which ranks fifth in school history.

Leopold in World Cup

Former Minnesota hockey defenseman and Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold was selected to play for the United States in the World Cup of Hockey Aug. 30 – Sept. 14.

For now, Leopold is focusing on the Stanley Cup Finals, where he and the Calgary Flames are trying to win the National Hockey League’s championship.