Minnesota Sports Briefs: Gophers gear up for Big Ten tourneyMinnesota Sports
-- University of Minnesota men's basketball coach Tubby Smith is putting his team through two workouts each day leading up to Thursday's first-round match-up against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament.
MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota men's basketball coach Tubby Smith is putting his team through two workouts each day leading up to Thursday's first-round match-up against Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament.
Smith is having his guys come in early in the morning to get extra shooting practice before having their usual afternoon workout each day. Smith says his team had been struggling with shooting down the stretch and he wants them to refine their touch. The Gophers need to win the Big Ten Tourney in order to secure an NCAA Tournament berth. A win or two in the event would solidify a possible invitation to the NIT, as well. Thursday's game begins at 4:30 p.m. in Indianapolis.
Here is Thursday's slate of first-round games at the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana (team's seeding in parenthesis):
Thursday - Iowa (8) vs. Illinois (9), 10:30am - winner takes on Michigan State
Thursday - Indiana (5) vs. Penn State (12), 1 p.m. - winner takes on Wisconsin
Thursday - Minnesota (10) vs. Northwestern (7), 4:30 p.m. - winner takes on Ohio State
Thursday - Purdue (6) vs. Nebraska (11), 7 p.m - winner takes on Michigan
Note - Michigan State (1), Michigan (2), Ohio State (3), and Wisconsin (4) each received first-round byes.
No Golden Gopher men's basketball players received all-Big Ten recognition, but there was some Minnesota flavor to the honor team announced yesterday. Bloomington native Jordan Taylor, a point guard for Wisconsin, was named to the first-team all-Big Ten team by the league's coaches and to the second-team by the league's media. Princeton native Jared Berggren, also a Badger, was named to the Honorable Mention team by both the coaches and media. Michigan State forward Draymond Green was named the league's Player of the Year, while his coach Tom Izzo was the conference's Coach of the Year.
South Dakota State defeated Southern Utah 63-47 last night in Sioux Falls to advance to the Summit League championship game this evening. The Jackrabbits were led by St. Cloud native Nate Wolters, who scored 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds. In the other semifinal, Western Illinois defeated Oral Roberts, 54-53 The Jacks' will take on the Leathernecks in Sioux Falls tonight. Western Illinois is coached by former Gopher interim head coach Jim Molinari.
The Minnesota Wild wrap up a home-and-home set with the Colorado Avalanche this evening at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Avs beat the Wild 2-0 on Sunday at The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Minnesota has dropped four games in-a-row to fall to 28-28-10 on the season.
Here is this week's schedule of first-round games in the 2012 Minnesota Boys' State High School Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul:
Wednesday (Class 1-A) - St. Thomas Academy vs. Little Falls, 11am
Wednesday (Class 1-A) - Breck School vs. Duluth Marshall, 1pm
Wednesday (Class 1-A) - Hermantown vs. Rochester Lourdes, 6pm
Wednesday (Class 1-A) - Thief River Falls vs. New Ulm, 8pm
Thursday (Class 2-A) - Maple Grove vs. Hill-Murray, 11am
Thursday (Class 2-A) - Eagan vs. Moorhead, 1pm
Thursday (Class 2-A) - Duluth East vs. Lakeville South, 6pm
Thursday (Class 2-A) - Edina vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's, 8pm
The men's and women's hockey Players of the Week in the MIAC have been announced. Gustavus Adolphus freshman goaltender John Mclean of Eagan is the men's honoree after helping the Gusties qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament by winning the MIAC postseason tourney. And, Gustavus Adolphus' Mollie Carroll of Eagan is the women's winner. She helped the Gusties win their ninth consecutive MIAC postseason tourney and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Four teams from the MIAC will be part of the NCAA Division III men's and women's hockey tournaments. Both the Gustavus Adolphus men's and women's team qualified with MIAC postseason tournament titles, while the St. Thomas men's team and the Concordia-Moorhead women's team are in the postseason national tournament. The Gustie men's team will host Milwaukee School of Engineering tomorrow night, while the Tommies will play at St. Norbert tomorrow. The Gustavus women will host UW-River Falls on Saturday, while the Cobbers play at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Saturday.
University of Minnesota infielder Kaitlyn Richardson of Phoenix is the Big Ten Freshman of the Week in softball. She batted .500 in helping the Golden Gophers to four wins in a tournament in Georgia over the weekend. She hit a pair of solo home runs, scored six times, and drew eight walks at the plate. This is the first weekly honor of her young career.