Countdown To CBB Season: 74th Reason to Be Pumped--Minnesota Golden Gophers

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IAugust 24, 2008

Every day I will give a new reason to be pumped for the upcoming college basketball season. Here's the 74th reason to be excited for college basketball season.

The Big Ten cellar has been the Golden Gophers home for a very long time, but finally that's changed, and changed in a big way.

Stud coach Tubby Smith left Kentucky at the end of 2007 season and took over a Minnesota team that's wallowed in a 1000 lakes worth of tears of pity.

But Smith came with a vision, a vision to take one of the laughing stocks of the Big 10 and turn them into winners with teamwork and tough defense.

In 2008, Minnesota had its best season since 2005, compiling a 20-14 record and a NIT berth. The Golden Gophers finished in the top 80 in offense and defense according to Ken Pomeroy's statistic website.

Coach Smith did it with a combination of senior leadership and underclassmen depth. The two leading scorers have graduated, but Minnesota returns six players who played at least 13 minutes a game.

The Golden Gophers also add new projected starter Devron Bostick, a JUCO transfer and two freshmen, Ralph Sampson and Devoe Joseph, who are expected to be two of Minnesota's top reserves.

Coach Smith also brought in two more reserve forwards, freshman Colton Iverson and JUCO transfer Paul Carter.

The most recognizable name on Tubby's squad is Blake Hoffarber. He's got two of the most memorable buzzer beaters of the 21st Century.

In high school, Hoffarber won his state championship from the seat of his pants. With time winding down, Hoffarber was on the ground when the ball found its way into his hands. Hoffarber put up a shot from his butt and hit it to win the state title.

In last year's Big 10 Tournament, Hoffarber pulled off a Christian Laettner like shot when off a long inbounds pass he drilled a game winner against Indiana.

Hoffarber and the rest of the Golden Gophers project to finish around fifth in the conference which once again means they could be close to an NCAA tournament bid.

This year's Minnesota team sits in a similar position as the 2008 Baylor team or 2008 Miami team that showed potential in the previous year and broke out to have NCAA tournament caliber seasons.

So reason 74 you should be pumped for basketball season is the steady rise of the Minnesota Golden Gophers under the tutelage of Coach Tubby Smith.