Gophers one win away from the Big Apple

by Adam Fink

Despite only playing one game, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team already has a short-term goal: earn a trip to New York.

If the Gophers (1-0) beat Utah tonight in Salt Lake City, Minnesota will advance to the preseason NIT Final Four next week in the Big Apple.

Minnesota defeated Missouri-Kansas City 78-67 Monday night behind freshman Kris Humphries’ 26 points and 15 rebounds.

“It’s a good test,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “They take away your strengths and give you your weaknesses.”

Standing in their way is a Utes team led by a former local star.

Utah senior Nick Jacobson, who attended Roseville High School for his senior year, averaged 13.4 points per game last season for Utah.

Jacobson and Gophers guard Adam Boone played against each other when both were in their teens. While they haven’t talked in a while, Boone said he is excited to see Jacobson.

“Nick’s a good guy,” Boone said. “I want to say hello and see how he is doing.”

In addition, Utah (1-0) has a stellar freshman of its own. Forward Andrew Bogut scored 15 points and added 16 rebounds in the Utes’ 46-38 win over Georgia State. Bogut, a native of Australia, is 6-foot-10 and has international playing experience.

The game starts today at 9:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2. The winner will play Nov. 26 at Madison Square Garden.

Men’s hockey inks five

Minnesota’s men’s hockey team signed five top recruits for the 2004-05 season, the team announced Tuesday. Defensemen Nate Hagemo and Derek Peltier and forwards Brent Borgen, Ben Gordon and Mike Howe have all signed national letters of intent.

Gordon was the top high school scorer in Minnesota last season, and as a left-handed shot, he can play either left wing or center.

“He’ll be better in the middle, though, because he can really distribute the puck,” Lucia said.

Borgen is also a left shot, and with right-handed Howe will contribute on the wings next year, Lucia said.

Lucia also said the two defensemen are similar players, good skaters, great puck-movers and similarly sized.

As a 16-year-old, Hagemo verbally committed to play for Wisconsin. But he visited Minnesota again this year, Lucia said, and

his father called two weeks ago and asked if Minnesota was still interested.

“It’s just an example of a kid making a decision at 16 without looking anywhere else,” Lucia said. “Hey, we’ll happily have him back.”

– Lou Raguse