Basketball hopes to move past scandal, start season

Michael Dougherty

How does the Gophers men’s basketball team keep the past behind them? The team has asked the public to turn the page and move on.
But the pages that need to be turned continue to stack up like a phone book from a small suburb.
The Ganglehoff allegations surfaced. We’ve turned the page. Clem Haskins resigned. In comes Dan Monson. Page turned. Self-imposed sanctions eliminated postseason play. That page has been ripped out. Joel Przybilla was rumored to be quitting the team. The page is earmarked, but it’s been flipped over.
Today, University President Mark Yudof will decide the fate of Mark Dienhart, men’s athletics director, and McKinley Boston, vice president for student development and athletics. Highlight that page.
The team will launch its new beginning Saturday afternoon when the official Monson-era kicks off with the season opener against Texas-Arlington at Williams Arena.
Yeah, there was the European exhibition trip and the two pretend games with the Russians and the Mexicans, but this time it’s the real deal.
A Division-I school is coming to The Barn and it’s time for this team to create its own identity.
This is the first game for the Mavericks as well. Like the Gophers, Texas-Arlington roughed up a couple of traveling teams in the past 10 days.
An up-tempo team that is short on height but long on firing up the rock, the Mavericks won 96-77 against Athletes First and 118-90 against Athletes First Blue.
Texas-Arlington’s tallest player is 6-foot-8 forward Tony Lopez, a junior college transfer in his first year with the Mavericks. Coach Eddie McCarter has a small squad who likes to get out and run.
“When teams are perimeter-oriented if they’re hot and shots are going in from the outside, it could make for a long night,” Monson said. “It also creates some mismatches inside because they are smaller with more quickness. Either they’re going to have trouble guarding our bigger guys or we’re going to have trouble with their smaller guys.”
Monson said the Gophers’ biggest big guy, Przybilla, might not start Saturday. Freshman center Ryan Wildenborg practiced with the starters on Thursday and could get the nod against the Mavericks.
“Right now he missed a couple days, so he’s behind,” Monson said of Przybilla. “It depends on how much he can catch up. It’s not a punishment by any means, it’s a chemistry thing to make sure he’s back on track before we start. It’s not a big deal one way or another, and I don’t know yet.”

ù Monson said junior Kevin Nathaniel has a 50 percent chance of playing Saturday. His leg injury has limited his practice availability, but it has been rapidly improving. Nathaniel said he thinks he’ll be ready to go.
ù Forward Mike Bauer was in practice gear Thursday after finally getting rid of his crutches. Bauer sprained his left ankle during a scrimmage a couple weeks ago. Bauer said he hopes to return soon, but Monson said the freshman from Hastings is “at least a month away” from returning.
ù Junior guard Terrance Simmons played basketball with Mavericks senior guard Keith Greene in fifth grade when the pair lived in Louisiana. Simmons is from Haughton and Greene grew up in Bossier City. The two towns are only 16 miles apart.

Michael Dougherty covers basketball and football and welcomes comments at [email protected]