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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Tubby Smith wants an up-tempo offense

Tubby Smith says he was bored with last season's slow pace of Golden Gophers basketball. The 2010 team was forced to slow it down because they didn't have great guard play. This year the plan is to increase the tempo.

Andre Hollins expected to start at point guard for Tubby's Gophers

Freshman Andre Hollins is expected to start at point guard when the Gophers open up exhibition play Tuesday night against Bemidji State. Hollins was battling junior college transfer Julian Welch for the starting job, but Welch turned his ankle over the weekend.

Tubby Smith wants a tougher Gophers team

Tubby Smith is entering what some are calling a "crossroads" year for the Golden Gophers. With the season opener Friday night against Bucknell, Smith is hoping his team shows more toughness and gets itself back "into the fight."

Tubby Smith is happy and healthy

Gophers basketball head coach Tubby Smith told reporters Thursday that he is happy, and more importantly, cancer free. Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the start of last season. Now Smith wants to work on getting a new deal, a new practice facility, and another winning season.

Smith's Gophers looking for 3-point pop on offense

At Williams Arena, the basketball Gophers finish up exhibition play tonight against Augustana. Coach Tubby Smith is looking for more outside shooting. In Minnesota’s first tune-up against Bemidji state, the Gophers were just 1 of 7 from three-point range

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Gophers athletics director Joel Maturi says negotiations will not take place for the University of Minnesota basketball coach until after the season. Tubby Smith also told the Pioneer Press that he has other things on his mind right now. Smith is coaching his fifth season of his original seven-year deal. The Gophers are 12-6, 2-4 in the Big Ten.

Andre Hollins will start season as Gophers' point guard

The Gophers freshman started both of Minnesota's exhibition games leading up to Friday's season opener against Bucknell. Tennessee's reigning Mr. Basketball will be learning a lot about playing in the Big Ten on the fly, according to coach Tubby Smith.

Tubby's team in spotlight Friday night

It's not "Midnight Madness" or "Tubby's Tipoff." This year, it's called "Gopher All-Star Friday Night," a Minnesota men's basketball event that's billed to have the look of the NBA All-Star weekend with skills competitions and a full scrimmage. Doors open at 6:30 at Williams Arena.