Like many of you I imagine, I've been waiting for the start of Tubby Smith's second year manning the raised floor at Williams Arena since the Gophers 2007-08 season ended in anti-climatic fashion. You surely remember Blake Hoffarber heave pumping life into the program.
And then, almost as quickly as we were inflated, that annoying nemesis from Champaign beat the Gophers for what seemed like the 50th straight time. As the Gophers limped into the NIT wounded, physically and emotionally, the Terps from Maryland ended a season that could be seen as nothing other than a step in the right direction--no matter what Patrick Reusse will probably write in the weeks ahead, and then later half-heartedly apologize for.
Now, a new season is around the corner. In fact, it begins Friday night when historic Williams Arena hosts an evening session with the public. By early November, the Gophers will host two exhibition games, during which we will see Minnesota's best recuiring class in more than a decade on the court for the first time. By mid-November, the Gophers will host the NABC Classic and Minnesota's quest to go dancing in March will finally begin.
Between now and the start of the non-conference season, GN and I plan to diligently role out a preview of the upcoming season. We'll breakdown each returning player (I'll hype up Damian Johnson), speculate on the rotation (I care more about the five at the end of the game than the starting five), preview the Big Ten race, discuss Tubby's tactics, give official predictions for the season and talk about what we expect from the incoming class.
The simple fact that I'm previewing our basketball preview should give you some indication that we're more than a little excited to get the new basketball season underway. Because I, for one, feel that the days are upon us that Williams Arena will return to its rightful place as one of the most frenzied atmospheres in college basketball. We have one of the best coaches in the Big Ten, if not the nation. We have a nice core returning. And we have an infusion of talent.