University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the oldest and
largest part of the University of Minnesota school system.
Its student body is the second-largest in the United States
according to autumn 2005 statistics, with 51,175 students.
The University was originally built in 1851 and was
located about a mile upstream of the Mississippi river
from where it stands today. The school had to shut down
following a financial crisis during the American Civil
War, but reopened in 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory
school to a college in 1869.
Today's campus has buildings on both banks of the river,
but the East Bank is the main portion of the campus
and covers 307 acres. The West Bank of the campus has
been growing rapidly, first seeing major development
in the 1960s. The West Bank covers 53 acres and is home
to many arts buildings and the business school.
teams associated with the University of Minnesota Twin
Cities campus go by the Golden Gophers moniker. The
Gopher mascot is a tradition as old as the state. Minnesota
was tabbed the “Gopher State” in 1857 and
the University appropriately adopted the animal as its
mascot. However, the “Golden” adjective
has not always been a part of the Gopher nickname. During
the 1930s, the Gophers wore gold jerseys and pants.
Legendary KSTP-AM radio announcer Halsey Hall coined
the term “Golden Gophers” in reference to
the team’s all-gold attire on the field. The term
stuck and the University amended their formal moniker
to the Golden Gophers. Despite the golden term, the
teams’ colors include maroon, white and gold.
The Gopher Mens Basketball team is a member of the Big
Ten Conference in the NCAA. The team plays their home
games at Williams Arena located on the East Bank of
the Minneapolis campus. The arena is nicknamed “The
Barn” for its wide open spaces thanks to its barrel-vaulted
roof and VIP loft style seating. Williams Arena can
seat 14,000 fans and is often packed full of maroon
and gold fans.
The Minnesota Golden Gopher Mens Basketball team has
won the National Invitation tournament held in New York
City twice; in 1993 and 1998. The team has yet to win
an NCAA Championship, but was in the prestigious Final
Four of the tournament in 1997.
Unfortunately, the honor was not fully enjoyed due to
the academic fraud that engulfed the mens basketball
team in the years to come. In fact, not one of the five
starters on the 1997 team went on to graduate from the
University. Clem Haskins, once thought to be one of
the best basketball coaches the university ever had,
came under great scrutiny for the means he used to keep
his players academically eligible. Haskins was accused
of having a tutor write papers for his players to insure
their grades did not fall below the NCAA requirements.
The University received much shame from the mens basketball
academic scandal and the NCAA slapped the team with
four years probation and the loss of five scholarships
over three years. The Big Ten stripped the University
of the conference title that year due to the scandal.
The University of Minnesota Mens basketball program
has produced many
superstar players including NBA legends like Lou Hudson,
Mark Olberding, Kevin McHale, Flip Saunders, Bobby Jackson,
Voshon Leonard, Quincy Lewis and Joel Pryzbilla. Kevin
McHale played for Minnesota from 1976 through 1980.
He averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, second
in the schools record books. McHale was also awarded
the top overall player in history for the University
of Minnesota. He went on to play for the Boston Celtics
for 13 seasons and is a member of the Basketball Hall
of Fame. McHale returned to Minnesota as the VP of operations
for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coaching legend, Flip Saunders played at Minnesota
before beginning his illustrious coaching career. Together
with McHale, Flip led the Gophers to a school-best 24-3
record. Flip went on to coach at several colleges including
Minnesota and also coached the Minnesota Timberwolves
for ten years in the NBA. He guided the Timberwolves
to their first-ever playoff berth in the 1996-97 season,
his first full season as an NBA head coach, and to a
franchise-record 50 victories in 1999-2000 which was
duplicated in 2001-2002.
Despite any controversies surrounding the Gophers Mens
basketball team, the team is moving forward and doing
things the right way. Current coach Dan Monson is working
toward improving the talent level and keeping the team
in the hunt for the Big Ten title and placing his team
in the NCAA Tournament.
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is an enormous
school in a huge market, so Golden Gophers Basketball
tickets are exceptionally hot. Fans are constantly clamoring
for the chance to see a fast-paced game at Williams
arena and the Gophers Mens Basketball program has what
it takes to put on a great show!