On-campus football stadium might help basketball recruiting

Zach Eisendrath

>Monson talked about how a successful football program can make a basketball coach’s life easier in terms of recruiting.

He pointed out Wisconsin and Ohio State as two places that have an advantage over other schools in the conference, because of the environment their football teams provide for the overall college experience a student athlete wants to partake in.

Monson thinks the Gophers’ new stadium, TCF Bank Stadium will help recruit basketball players to the University because of the appeal it will have to the players, who, after all, are college students looking for the entire collegiate experience when choosing a school.

One thing the Gophers have done to try and counter such accommodations is make some of their own. Last year, the team renovated its locker room into a state-of-the-art facility. Additions at Williams Arena include a new team lounge, a theater-style film room, coaches’ strategy room and a kitchen.

Still, Monson said he is looking forward to the help the new on-campus stadium will provide his team.

“If you get a basketball player right now to a Wisconsin football game, you’ve got a huge advantage,” he said.

“I think our stadium will help us as much as anything will in terms of (recruiting).”

A big deal

Despite not being at media day, Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden was the talk of the event.

Oden had screws removed from his surgically-repaired right wrist last week and is expected to be out until January, just in time for the Big Ten slate of the Buckeyes’ schedule.

The seven-foot, 250-pounder would have been the consensus No. 1 draft pick in last June’s NBA Draft, had he been eligible.

But, under the new age minimum in the NBA, players wishing to enter the draft must be at least 19 years old.

Certainly, Buckeyes coach Thad Matta should have no problem with the rule that allowed him to secure Oden.

With Oden leading the way, Matta has secured one of the best freshmen classes in the country, which is why Ohio State is ranked No. 4 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and is considered by many to be the team to beat in the Big Ten.

Oden’s high school teammate at Lawrence North in Indianapolis, Ind., guard Mike Conley Jr., along with guards David Lighty and Daequan Cook, round out the talented recruiting class.

Matta said he believes freshmen are more ready than ever to make strong contributions to their teams right away because of the number of Amateur Athletic Union events they play during their prep careers.

Monson said the Gophers are fortunate they only have to play the Buckeyes once this season, on Feb. 3, because, in his eyes, Oden is the complete package.

“The hype for him is justified,” Monson said. “Sometimes kids have that chink in the armor. He’s a quality person, he’s a quality individual and has a quality work ethic.

“For an opponent, that’s a bad combination when you have that talent level and that ability at seven feet tall. I think he’s a tremendous prospect.”