Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Resurgent Gophers shocking Big Ten

Minnesota’s rise to respectability

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (16-6 overall, 6-3 in Big Ten) have out-played expectations and are currently fourth in the Big Ten standings. A combination of standout play on offense and defense and a team mentality have helped the Gophers through a very successful season thus far.

Although Vincent Grier (16.3 points per game), Jeff Hagen (12.0 points per game, 2.5 blocks per game) and Aaron Robinson (8.4 points per game, 1.6 steals per game) have provided a huge spark to the Minnesota team, head coach Dan Monson believes that the success is more about the team than any individual effort.


“The biggest surprise to me is that the plan has gelled as quickly as it is because we had so many unknowns and so many parts to put together,” Monson said. “It’s not about Jeff Hagen, it’s not about Aaron Robinson … it’s about us.”

Despite the successful season, Monson knows his team needs to stay focused and not listen to talks of a berth in the NCAA tournament.

“You’re going to walk out of this locker room and that talk’s going to start, and if you believe that, then you’re being hypocritical,” Monson said. “It’s the same people that said you weren’t going to win a game to start the year.”

Minnesota has two games this week, with matchups against Northwestern (10-11 overall, 3-6 in Big Ten) and Indiana (10-10 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten). Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody appreciates the work done in Minnesota this year.

“I know Illinois is the story of the year in this league and in the country, but I’ll tell you that the turnaround for Minnesota has been unbelievable and certainly unexpected,” Carmody said. “It’s a tribute to the whole staff there in Minnesota.”

Pierre Pierce dismissed from Hawkeyes

Pierre Pierce, currently under investigation by West Des Moines police, was dismissed from the Iowa basketball team last Wednesday. Pierce was reportedly involved in an altercation with a former girlfriend, but specific details are not available. At the time of his dismissal, Pierce was the leading scorer on the Hawkeyes and ranked third in the Big Ten at 17.8 points per game.

“He was our best defender, he was our leading scorer … he was the one guy that could create when things got stagnant,” Iowa head coach Alford said. “I think it goes without saying from a playing standpoint, he was very crucial to what we wanted to do at both ends.”

Alford was very disappointed in Pierce’s actions. He commented on Pierce ruining his second chance with the team after a prior incident and labeled this infraction a betrayal of trust.

“It wasn’t so much the betrayal of me as I think it was the betrayal of the team,” Alford said. “He was counted on greatly.”

Pierce was also involved in a conflict in the 2002 season. He redshirted that year after being charged with third-degree sexual assault before later pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

“When you’re given a second chance and you have to go through what everybody went through the first time around, I think there is a sense of trust that you build there,” Alford said.

Although the team is now without its best player, Alford believes the team can rebound from this unfortunate event.

“We’ve had four-straight years where we’ve had to endure something in January,” Alford said. “It just seems like we’re almost starting over every February, and that’s hard to do … we’ve got to persevere those times and grow and continue to move forward.”

Illinois undefeated, not feeling pressure

The Illinois Fighting Illini (24-0 overall, 10-0 in Big Ten) are the only undefeated team in the NCAA, but they are taking games in stride and not feeling pressure to be undefeated.

“We haven’t talked about [remaining undefeated] at all,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “Everything we talk about is one week at a time, one game at a time, enjoying it and not being stressed out by it. If we get to 13-0 in the league, then we’ll start talking about it.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo witnessed Illinois’ strengths when his team lost to the Illini 81-68 Feb. 1.

“If they shoot like they shot against us, I don’t think anybody can beat them,” Izzo said of the Illini. “They’re deserving of their No. 1 ranking for sure.”

Izzo thinks Illinois possesses the intangibles to be a championship team, citing tough games against Wisconsin and Iowa as examples.

“One thing I think championship teams do is win when they’re not playing as well,” Izzo said.

While the Illini have played a host of talented squads thus far, Weber believes his players thrive on the intensity of those games.

“Everyone questions about the stress and the pressure, but our kids actually enjoy the bigger games … from Gonzaga to Wake Forest to Cincinnati to Wisconsin to Michigan State … they have really played some of their best basketball in those games,” Weber said.

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