Men’s hoops take on Mankato

Anthony Maggio

After nearly a month of practice, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team finally gets a chance to measure its progress on Friday.

The Gophers square off with Minnesota State, Mankato at Williams Arena in their first of two scheduled exhibition games. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“These exhibition games are good because you get a chance to beat up on somebody or just make sure you’re playing well – get your game plan underway,” forward Michael Bauer said. “It’s good just to get your confidence underway right before you actually start your real games.”

Coach Dan Monson plans on starting Kevin Burleson and Ben Johnson in the backcourt, with Bauer, Rick Rickert, and Jerry Holman down low.

“That’s kind of our veteran crew we want to look at first,” Monson said.

These veterans undoubtedly remember last season’s exhibition games, when Minnesota lost 79-70 to the Harlem Globetrotters, and then struggled to beat Minnesota-Duluth 67-59.

“It opened up a lot of eyes that we had a lot to work on and we weren’t as good as we thought,” guard Maurice Hargrow said. “So hopefully the guys that were here last year learned from that.”

But Monson isn’t concerned with wins and losses in the preseason. Instead, he wants to discover where exactly his team is at in preparation for the regular season.

Monson will keep a particularly close eye on his defense, because the Gophers have worked extensively on improving their defense thus far in practice.

In Minnesota’s last intra-squad scrimmage, both teams scored over 100 points. But Monson said it’s difficult to gauge his defense since the team is playing against itself.

“An exhibition game to me is just a better indicator than a scrimmage,” Monson said. “It gives us a different barometer. You get tired of beating on yourself, and there are no excuses.”

The Mavericks are led by senior forward Jermaine Brown, who averaged 18.8 points a game last season. But with no one taller than 6-foot-7 in its starting lineup, Minnesota State, Mankato will likely experience trouble in the frontcourt.

ï Junior-college transfer Kris Collins, who has been restricted in practice because of an injured shoulder, will suit up, but see limited playing time.

Michigan penalized

the University of Michigan announced on Thursday it would self-impose sanctions on the men’s basketball team as a result of improper monetary loans made by retired autoworker Ed Martin to four former Wolverine players.

Investigators ruled $616,000 in loans were made in the 1990s by Martin to former Michigan basketball players Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock.

According to a release by the school, Michigan will not be allowed to participate in the 2003 NCAA or NIT tournaments. The University will also forfeit all games won while the four players were ineligible, including the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, the entire 1992-93 season, and all the seasons from fall 1995 through spring of 1999.

The basketball program will be on probation for two seasons, and the university will repay the NCAA about $450,000 it received for postseason play with those ineligible players.

Anthony Maggio covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]