Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Links Around Gopher Nation

** Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse notes the peculiar hire of Joe Esposito as the Gophers men's basketball director of operation. Esposito was the coach of The Villages High School in Florida last year. Yes, that's right, a high school coach. A year prior, Angelo coached Angelo State in Texas, but Reusee reports he resigned with four games left in the year with a worrisome 8-16 record. Esposito met Tubby Smith, Reusee continues, as an assistant at Tennessee State in 1995. Reusee finds the hire curious.

"My relationship with Tubby Smith began when I picked him up at the airport in Nashville and I played with him in a golf tournament," Esposito said. "We struck up a friendship ..."

Isn't it interesting that a guy who served as Tubby's go-fer at a charity golf tournament a dozen years ago lands with the Gophers as a choice over numerous Minnesota high school coaches who might have actually helped the new coach in keeping the best of the locals at home?

Now, this position isn't one that is front line on the recruiting trail. This is what he told the local paper covering his high school squad.

“I’m basically in charge of a variety of everything,” Esposito said, “things like the team’s travel itinerary, meals, practice plans, office personnel. The only thing I won’t be doing is recruiting, which is perfect for me because it means I’ll still have time to spend with my family instead of being on the road like a traditional D-I coach.”
Our View: The hiring is questionable. It had also been widely reported that Tubby Smith would offer this position to the high school coach of Draymond Green, a prep standout that had committed to Smith at Kentucky, but has taken a step back after Smith landed in Minnesota.

** The Associated Press headline is pretty blunt. "Lickliter Recruits in Tubby Smith Territory." Minnetonka shooting guard Anthony Tucker, a rising junior, has verbally committed to play in Iowa. Scout.com's profile of Tucker suggests that his best attribuite is his outside shooting. Scout ranks him as a 3-star guard.

An Iowa newspaper reports that Tucker wasn't widely pursued. He also had offers from Wisconsin Green-Bay, Utah State and Western Michigan. That would seem to indicate big-time programs, or even mid-level programs, weren't hot on Tucker's trail.

Our View: The AP's headline is sensational. Tubby has offered scholarships to players with more potential and who are ranked higher by scouting services. Time will tell if Tubby has a better eye for talent then his Kentucky detractors would insist. It would seem Lickliter signed a guard that Tubby and every other coach in a BCS school didn't want.

** Minnesota blogger Down With Goldy brings readers a lengthy YouTube clip of Minnesota recruit Nathan Garth. A 6-4 junior from Dallas, Tx., Garth orally committed to Tubby last month. He's ranked as a 3-star guard by Rivals.

Our View: Garth looks good in the video. He has a smooth outside stroke and can slash into the lane. His ball handling looks OK, but will need to significantly improve against rough Big Ten defenses. He seems to have good vision and knows where his teammates are on the floor. Garth seems to be a guard who isn't afraid to put the ball on the floor and take it to the hoop.


Anonymous said...

Having watched a little Minnetonka basketball this year, I think the gophers did the right thing by not offering Tucker. He's a solid player. But Big Ten caliber is a different level. Gopher fans shouldn't worry.