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Reusse: Tubby Smith using Sampson as scapegoat

Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse says frustrated Gophers coach Tubby Smith wants Ralph Sampson III to go strong to the basket and not settle for jumpers -- even though that's never been his game.
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Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse says frustrated Gophers coach Tubby Smith wants Ralph Sampson III to go strong to the basket and not settle for jumpers -- even though that's never been his game.

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Smith calls on Sampson, Hollins to step up

With No. 6 Michigan State in town -- and a three-game losing streak threatening to sink the season -- Gophers coach Tubby Smith is asking veterans Ralph Sampson III and Andre Hollins to take more of a leadership role.

Gophers could be without Sampson

The Gophers could be without starting big man Ralph Sampson III against Northwestern in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. Sampson injured his knee two days ago and hasn't practice since.

Sampson's ankle feeling better

It's still unclear if Ralph Sampson III will play Tuesday night when the Gophers host Appalachian State, but he was moving around much better during Monday's practice. The 6-foot-11 senior center has missed the last two games.

Tubby Smith won't use Mbakwe's injury as a scapegoat to another rough season

The Gophers have lost five in a row and six of seven in Big Ten play, but head coach Tubby Smith won't be blaming the struggles on the absence of injured star Trevor Mbakwe. Instead, Smith believes his team is struggling psychologically. He says he needs to find a way to boost the players' confidence, and that playing at Wisconsin on Tuesday will be a real test of character.

Tubby Smith: It's 'crunch time'

Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith knows good teams across the country "come up with the wins and big plays" this time of year that are needed to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. Smith also says he doesn't like being under .500 in the Big Ten -- something he hopes to change Thursday night against Wisconsin.

Is it time to show Tubby Smith the door?

It'll take a minor miracle for the basketball Gophers to make the NCAA basketball tournament this year, which has many wondering if coach Tubby Smith should be replaced.

Sampson starting for Gophers tonight

Ralph Sampson III is back in the starting lineup tonight as the Gophers host Appalachian State in non-conference play at Williams Arena. Sampson missed the previous two games because of a turned ankle. Andre Hollins is also starting despite turning an ankle in Saturday's win over USC.

Tubby Smith tables contract extension discussions

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.