Humphries nabs honors

by Adam Fink

When Kris Humphries joined Minnesota’s men’s basketball team last summer, he knew there would be differences between playing at the college and high school level.

While the freshman hasn’t had the team success he experienced at Hopkins High School, Humphries statistically has been nearly as dominant.

On Tuesday, Humphries was recognized as the Big Ten’s freshman of the year and was named to the All-Big Ten first team by both the media and coaches.

The Chaska, Minn., native became the first rookie to lead the league in both points (21) and rebounds (9.5) per game.

“My goals are always the highest possible,” Humphries said. “It was nice to achieve that with the help of my teammates and coaches who put me in the situation and opportunity to be successful.”

Humphries’ selection as the conference’s top rookie was never in doubt. However, the other four players selected to the All-Big Ten first team play for teams that are in sixth place or higher.

Illinois’ Deron Williams, Wisconsin’s Devin Harris and Michigan State’s Paul Davis all play for top-three teams in the conference, excluding Northwestern’s Jitim Young.

The Gophers – who play Purdue on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament – are 11-17 and 3-13 in the Big Ten. They are tied for last place in the league.

“That was my one concern,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “It is a team game.”

“It’s hard because you would rather have the team have success,” Humphries said.

Entering the year, Humphries’ primary goal was to focus on rebounding. Monson knew the 6-foot-9-inch forward would be capable of breakout scoring nights but said it is difficult for freshmen to score consistently.

Humphries scored more than 20 points 19 times this season.

“I just felt like you don’t want to give somebody too much to think about,” Monson said. “I thought rebounding was something he could consummate every game.”

Humphries is the second Gophers player to garner the freshman of the year honor, following Rick Rickert in 2002.

In addition, named Humphries its top national freshman of the year Tuesday.

Against Penn State last Saturday, fans hung up signs reading “One More Year” and “Don’t Pull a Rickert” referring to Rickert’s decision to leave the Gophers last fall for the NBA draft.

Humphries acknowledged he saw the signs but said he hasn’t started considering whether to go pro.

“I have no idea,” Humphries said. “In the past, I have never been as successful in the present when I think about the future. I’ve got to keep my mind on what we are doing.”

Other Big Ten awards

There was little surprise to the Big Ten’s announcement of Harris as player of the year.

Harris, who led Wisconsin to a 12-4 Big Ten record, averaged 20.9 points per game and was the Badgers’ go-to guy all season.

Harris was the only unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team by both the media and coaches.

Coach of the year went to Bill Carmody, who led Northwestern to a surprising 8-8 record.

Purdue’s Kenneth Lowe was named defensive player of the year for the second straight season.