Scoops: March 1, 2013
During Thursday morning's media gathering with "U" athletic director Norwood Teague, the topic of private money for a basketball practice facility came up.
"I feel like we're in good shape there," Teague said. "But it's not easy and it's not going to just be a matter of calling people on the phone. It's a matter of cultivating and selling what we're doing. Fundraising takes time. I feel good about where we are."
A Gophers source tells "The Scoops" that Teague had a productive meeting last weekend in Arizona with potential big-time donor T. Denny Sanford.
He's the billionaire who pledged $6 million in 2009 to helped build TCF Bank Stadium.
Years prior, the 1958 Minnesota graduate tried to make a much larger contribution, but negotiations fell through.
If Teague gets his way, Sanford will soon be cutting a very large check.
• While in Arizona, Teague and associate athletic director David Benedict watched the Gophers men's golf team for a round in the Snowman Invitational. Tom Lehman and multimillionaire Gophers booster Harvey Mackay were also around Teague, Benedict and the golf team last weekend.
• Teague acknowledged on Thursday that he hasn't begun talks with football coach Jerry Kill's agent, The Legacy Agency's Jordan Bazant, about a raise. But expect that to happen soon. Kill won't be the lowest paid coach in the Big Ten Conference for long.
• According to Gophers Athletics Chief Financial Officer Tom McGinnis, the university paid ex-coaches Dan Monson, Tim Brewster and Glen Mason lump sums that totaled $6,556,752. As of June 30, the University still had $2.9 million to replenish -- essentially, placing the money back into a school account. Since the university has large cash reserves, according to McGinnis, they borrowed from that to pay off the coaches immediately. The last two years, the athletic department has paid the account $400,000. At that rate, they'll have that $2.9 million paid off in approximately seven years.
• A potential soft landing spot for Gophers basketball assistant coach Saul Smith after the season: working as an associate head coach under his brother, G.G. Smith. That's if G.G. lands the Maryland-Baltimore job -- which is a definite possibility. G.G. is currently an assistant coach at Loyola in Maryland.
• Among the 18 NBA teams that scouted Tuesday night's Gophers-Hoosiers game was the San Antonio Spurs. Representing them was director of college scouting George Felton. He's one of coach Tubby Smith's best friends. Smith worked for Felton at South Carolina in the late 80s. Years later, Felton worked for Smith at Kentucky.
• Smith spent Wednesday afternoon watching recruit Tyus Jones' practice at Apple Valley High School.
• No surprise, but the Gophers' No. 1 strength of schedule will fall a few spots after they play lowly Penn State on Saturday.
• Strategic changes implemented by Smith and his staff on Tuesday night: playing guard Andre Hollins off the ball a lot more with Austin Hollins initiating the offense, emphasizing shooting with 8 or more seconds on the shot clock and switching all ball screens on guards and forwards.
• Gophers wide receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts tweaked his hamstring yet again last weekend in the Big Ten indoor track and field championships. However, by Wednesday afternoon, "Everything feels good," he said. Crawford-Tufts, with the blessing of Kill, is running the 60 and 200 meters events for track coach Steve Plasencia. Asked what's standing out in captain's practices, he said, quarterback Philip Nelson "has really tried to take over as the leader."
• Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will spend most of March and early April in Phoenix working out at Athletes Performance in Phoenix.
• The Vikings have not expressed any interest in defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, an Eagles cap casualty earlier in the week. Jenkins is meeting with the Giants on Friday.
• Local trainer Bill Welle helped train Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner before this week's NFL scouting combine. The result: 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash, the second-fastest time among defensive backs. Milliner is expected to be a top-10 pick.
• Word has it Wolves coach Rick Adelman's wife, Mary Kay, received encouraging news last week in her fight against seizures. Insiders expect Adelman to return for a third season with the team.
• One source close to a player involved in the near-trade ex-Wolves forward Lou Amundson mentioned in a FoxSports.com interview: "Not true." According to Amundson, the Wolves nixed a Luke Ridnour-and-Amundson-for-Sixers center Spencer Hawes deal. As previously reported in this space, the Wolves and Sixers talked about deals involving Ridnour and another guard, J.J. Barea.
• Since the Wolves so heavily shopped Ridnour and Barea, it's obvious one is going somewhere this summer.
• One league source said to expect Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn to pursue Clippers wing Caron Butler in a trade this offseason. According to reports, the Clippers' front office had a trade worked out at the deadline to send Butler to Washington for forward Trevor Ariza, but owner Donald Sterling said no at the last second.
• A team source said Kahn recently told forward Kevin Love he needs to sit behind the bench more.
• A league source said it'll be a shock if Wolves European prospect Nemanja Bjelica, a 6-foot-9 small forward, isn't in the NBA next year.
• A Twins source, when asked if there's a chance free-agent slugger Jim Thome is again a possibility: "You believe everything you hear and read?" That being said, the Twins did talk with his agent, Pat Rooney, a few weeks ago. The belief: manager Ron Gardenhire wants him, while the front office is offering the resistance.
• A Twins source, when asked about their interest in Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz: "(The price is) still too high."
• Local sports psychologist Dr. Rick Aberman leaves this weekend to work with the Twins in Fort Myers.