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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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Smith era begins tonight with maroon and gold madness

Minnesota men’s basketball fans, tonight is for you.

The long-anticipated start to the Tubby Smith era begins tonight when the Gophers hold their first team practice of the season at 9 p.m. at Williams Arena – and you’re invited to attend.

For the first time in four years, Minnesota will take part in the college tradition of Midnight Madness. Admission is free to the event, titled “Tubby’s Tip-Off,” which will signify the beginning of a new era of Gophers basketball.

There will be a three-point contest and a slam-dunk contest, as well as an intrasquad scrimmage. Four Nintendo Wii game consoles will also be given away at the event.

Smith said fans who attend should expect to see a few surprises. Pay particular attention to what he might be wearing. At Kentucky, Smith dressed up in several costumes, including imitating Don King one year.

Zach Eisendrath

Swimmers have tough opener

Minnesota will dive right into the fray of competition this weekend as they face Florida, who finished fourth last year in the NCAA championships.

The Gophers, led by a strong cast of seniors, won the Big Ten championship and finished 10th at the NCAA championships last year, but this year Minnesota will rely on its youth to fill out events.

“We lost a ton of seniors and points, but we have a very nice class returning,” coach Dennis Dale said.

The Gophers return a number of All-Americans, notably the four captains. Seniors David Plummer, a 10-time All-American; Tyler Schmidt, a six-time All-American; and Russ Payne round out the swimming captains and junior diver Cole Young will serve as captain of the diving team.

The Gophers added three transfer students in juniors Stephen Miller, Josh Griffey and Jon Roberts. Miller and Griffey came to Minnesota after Rutgers folded their swimming and diving program. Roberts decided to leave NCAA champion Auburn for a number of reasons after he finished sixth in the 100-meter breaststroke at the NCAA championship. The three are expected to help guide the team throughout the season.

Freshmen Curt Carlson, Ivan Gutesa, Jared White and diver Andrew Brown will look to help the Gophers immediately as well.

“It will take awhile for the freshmen to compete with top college competition,” Dale admitted.

With an early test with Florida the learning curve will be steep for the freshmen.

Although Dale has a younger team than last year he said he still has high expectations with this group.

“I think we have a stronger NCAA championship team because you have to have stars and we have some. We didn’t lose individual point scorers,” he said.

Dale still has some holes to plug but feels confident in the parts he has.

“We want our relays to be tough. Our breaststroke core is as good as anybody and we’re traditionally loaded with free sprinters,” he said.

Michigan vied with Minnesota for the Big Ten championship last season and will once again challenge for the conference championship, as they did not lose any significant point winners from a year ago.

“It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re excited about it,” Dale said.

Nick Gerhardt

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