A look back at the last decade of Gopher hoops is certainly a fun endeavor. What was essentially the last four seasons of Tubby Smith and the first six of Richard Pitino’s turns out to be slightly more successful than the previous decade.
Basing my numbers off of the 2009-10 season through the end of last season, the Gophers ended each decade with the same number of losses but 27 more wins.
- 2010s - 194-148 (.567), 2 NCAA Tournament wins, 4 NCAA appearances
- 2000s - 167-148 (.530), 0 NCAA Tournament wins, 2 NCAA appearances
Not a dramatic improvement but an improvement. Where things really look better is when you take a look at what the TDG staff has compiled as the Gopher Hoops All-Decade team. When this was done 10 years ago the team looked like this.
But we are moving on to the most recent decade’s best players. Those of us who write for TDG came up with this through conversation rather than straight voting. Some will disagree, some put a stake in the ground with comments like, “If Sampson is first team all decade I’m leaving this blog.” While others felt he deserved more for longevity and consistency.
Let’s get to the teams.
1st Team All-Decade
- PG - Nate Mason - Arguably the player of the decade, Mason was an easy choice for the decade’s best point. A great scorer and facilitator but Mason was also a great leader.
- SG - Austin Hollins - Some debate over who should be the first team shooting guard, but Hollins was an excellent all around player. He was one of the better defenders (on and off the ball) of the decade while being very consistent on the offensive end for 10-12 points per game.
- SF - Amir Coffey - Started all 87 games he played in over his career and would have likely been a 1st team All-Big Ten as a senior. Unfortunately for the program, Coffey left a year early but had a great 3-year career as a Gopher.
- PF - Jordan Murphy - The other side of the player of the decade debate, Murphy was a 2nd team All-Big Ten selection as a senior and has his name all over the Gopher record books.
- C - Daniel Oturu - 1st team? For a guy who has essentially only played one season in this decade? Well, center was pretty weak for the Gophers in this decade. Oturu was very good as a true freshman and has been outstanding in the 12 games he has played this season (technically this decade). Maybe a stretch, but when he becomes a 1st round draft pick he’ll have legitimized this (kind of?).
2nd Team All-Decade
- PG - Andre Hollins - One of the early recruits under Tubby Smith that Gopher fans were very excited about and Hollins had a really good career. A 13-14 point scorer for his final three seasons, won an NCAA Tournament game as a sophomore and won the NIT as junior. A fan favorite with that massive smile and would have been 1st team on last decade’s team.
- SG - Blake Hoffarber - Shooting guard was a tough one and all three names on this list were rather close. Hoffarber was also a fan favorite, nailed that incredible Big Ten Tourney game winner over Indiana and is one of the best pure shooters we’ve ever seen in a Gopher uniform.
- SF - Rodney Williams - Incredibly athletic, very talented and so frustrating. Longevity puts him above Akeem Springs here but Williams never really became the 4-star stud we had hoped. He was a senior on Tubby’s final team what beat UCLA in the NCAA Tournament before dropping to Florida and ending that particular coaching tenure.
- PF - Trevor Mbakwe - Also a senior on that 2013 team but Mbakwe was a beast. I loved watching him dominate the glass. Career 10 points and 8 rebounds, he and Murphy make for two outstanding power forwards over this past decade.
- C - Ralph Sampson II - Career consistency and longevity but not exactly a 4-year career that would scream dominance. His junior season was his strongest, averaging 10 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
3rd Team All-Decade
- PG - DeAndre Mathieu - To be honest I forgot Mathieu even played for the Gophers but upon review he had a solid career. The Moorehead St transfer averaged over 10 points and 4 assists per game in his two years as a Gopher.
- SG - Dupree McBrayer - Really had an up and down career as a Gopher that culminated in a senior season where he lost his mother at the beginning of the season and finished his career with an NCAA Tournament upset win over Louisville. 97 games started as a Gopher and a career 9 point scorer.
- SF - Akeem Springs - Just one season as a Gopher but he was incredibly valuable to that 2016-17 team. His injury in the Big Ten Tournament was a huge hit to that team’s NCAA Tournament chances. His 9.5 ppg and 39% shooting from three, mostly off the bench, were just what that team needed.
- PF - Joey King - 2nd leading scorer as a senior and a productive, if not unspectacular, four years as a Gopher. A very different kind of forward than Mbakwe and Murphy but King carved out a nice career as a Gopher after transferring from Drake for his final three years, especially as a 40% shooter from three.
- C - Maurice Walker - A promising early part of his career that was halted by injury. But Walker rebounded playing in 32 games as a junior and starting 31 as a senior where he averaged nearly 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Looking forward to the next decade of Gopher hoops!