Gopher hoops: Tubby promises to pick up the pace

The 2011-12 Golden Gopher men's basketball season gets under way tonight with an exhibition game against Bemidji State. New faces are expected to provide energy to a team that might be on the brink of doing good things this season.

Tubby Smith enters his fifth season as head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Tuesday night with an exhibition game against Bemidji State. Unfortunately, the University of Minnesota isn't getting much respect in the Big Ten's pre-season poll.

Despite the low ranking in the pre-season poll, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo says the Gophers could finish near the top of the Big Ten if they get better play at guard this season.

Help at guard could be coming in the form of true freshman Andre Hollins. This Tennessee Mr. Basketball winner is expected to start at point guard in the exhibition opener against Bemidji State.

Making the transition from high school to the Big Ten could come easier for Hollins if Trevor Mbakwe plays the way the rest of the country expects him to.

Regardless of who's on the court, Tubby Smith plans on picking up the pace this season. He was bored with last year's slow pace of play and doesn't expect guard play to hamper his team this season.

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