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Gophers new mantra: Wait 'til next year

Loss to Badgers begins U of M planning

By Greg Johnson

Knight Ridder Newspapers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Now that the season is over, the University of Minnesota men's basketball team can focus attention on next season.

The Gophers lost 66-52 to No. 10 Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament on Friday night. Minnesota (12-18) will have to replace fifth-year seniors Michael Bauer and Ben Johnson -- and probably Kris Humphries, the first freshman to lead the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding.

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The Gophers have signed three high school players for next season: 6-foot-9 forward Spencer Tollackson of Chaska, 6-3 shooting guard Miles Webb of Park Center and 6-foot guard Enrico Tucker of San Diego. They hope to add two more junior college or international players to fill roster needs, which include perimeter scoring and quickness.

One junior college player the Gophers hope to bring in for a visit in the next 10 days is 6-4 guard Terrell Everett of Southwestern Missouri State Plains. Everett averaged 19 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season.

None are expected to have near the impact of Humphries, a prep All-American from Hopkins High School who lived up to his billing this season. The Gophers also will have redshirt freshmen Dan Coleman, who usually played the role of the opposition's best player on the scout team this season, and Kerry Wooldridge.

Humphries and his parents, William and Debra, hope to talk with Gophers coach Dan Monson in the next couple of days to discuss the possibility of putting his name into the NBA draft.

Humphries decision

Humphries, who has been rated a mid-first-round draft pick by NBADraft.net, has said he wants to play at the highest level, and after averaging 21.7 points and 10.1 rebounds, his stock is definitely on the rise.

"I love to play basketball, and to be able to play at this level with these guys has been a great experience," Humphries said. "I'm not sure (about next year). All I know right now is we have a senior banquet on Monday and we want to pay respect to those guys. This is something I have to think about."

William and Debra Humphries plan to go to College Station, Texas, where their daughter, Kaela, will be competing in the NCAA swimming championships next week.

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"We are going to try to talk to Monson before we leave," Williams Humphries said. "Then when we get back we'll really look at it a little closer, because the smoke would've cleared a little bit. Then we'll make a final decision probably after the Final Four (April 5). My wife and I agreed that we wouldn't talk NBA with Kris this season, and we haven't."

The Humphries will also consult with Trent Tucker and Chris Carr, a couple of former NBA players who have been mentors to their son. Monson has said he wants Humphries to do what's best for him.

A key season

With or without Humphries, next season will be a pivotal one for the Gophers. Finishing tied for last in the Big Ten, with a 3-13 record during the regular season, has caused rumblings among Gophers fans.

"Our foundation is in the guys who are coming back," Monson said. "We'll see what Kris' decision is. We have to get guys better. We have a lot of guys who played a lot of minutes this year who are coming back. We're going to have five newcomers that need to blend in. To me, every year springs optimism."

If Humphries leaves for professional basketball, the Gophers' top returning scorer will be junior point guard Adam Boone, who averaged 8.4 points per game and led the team in assists with 123.

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