Minnesota embarks on $190 million facilities development plan

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Minnesota’s legendary Williams Arena — known as just “The Barn” to most — was built back in 1928, and is in dire need of a face-lift. It has the history and nostalgic memories that most college basketball gyms don’t have, but improvements are needed to keep pace with the times. Don’t get excited just yet thinking that “The Barn” will see renovations in the very near future, as those won’t come until phase two of the development plan which, according to athletic director Norwood Teague, is ” even further off in the horizon.”

According to Teague, it’s imperative that Minnesota makes upgrades to their athletic facilities as fellow Big Ten schools have already passed them by, namely Nebraska who has very little basketball history to speak of:

Most of our Big Ten competitors are ahead of us. Nebraska has done a phenomenal job of a really holistic upgrade of their facilities as it relates to the training table and academic facility and weight rooms, things like that. They’re new to our league, but they’re a great example. They’re not far from us/ We need these facilities in order to really compete head-to-head, especially in a handful of sports that are behind.’

As you might expect, much of the $190 million is being dispersed to other plans on Minnesota’s campus aside from athletic needs. According to the article from the Associated Press:

But this is an ambitious project, which also includes new academic, dining and nutrition areas for athletes, an upgraded football practice facility and new space for the women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and wrestling teams. This is only the first phase of the plan, with a completion target of six to eight years.

While “The Barn” won’t be a part of the initial developments and renovations, head coach Rick Pitino Jr. will see improvements to basketball facilities. Currently, “The Barn” and the adjacent Sports Pavilion host games and practices for not just basketball, but several other sports, as well. The facilities are overcrowded, and upgrading the practice facilities is on the top of the list for the first stage of the development plan.

If you recall, a new practice facility for basketball was something that former head coach Tubby Smith clamored about for years. In the spring of 2011, he explained his disappointment in the antiquated facilities: “I’d like to see something done to help basketball. We’ve done our part. We need to get that done because there really hasn’t been anything done for basketball since I’ve been here in a major way.”

How long will a major project like this take to execute? Said Teague: ”Am I guaranteeing that all this will be done in eight years? ‘No. But that’s our goal.”

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.