P.J.R.: McHale on second team with these all-time Gophers greats
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Bobby Jackson was officially announced as a member of Rick Adelman's staff with the Timberwolves earlier this week. This caused some action in Tweetland and I was moved to make this suggestion:
Jackson was the Gophers' best-ever basketball player for a season in 1996-97.
As happens in the world of 140 characters, this led to more electronic conversation. I was moved to offer my starting lineup of greatest Gophers:
C-Mychal Thompson (1974-78). F-Lou Hudson (1963-66) and Willie Burton (1986-90). G-Bobby Jackson (1995-97) and Ray Williams (1975-77).
My main criterion was what the players brought to a game when it was on the line. These were the five dynamic and clutch players I would want on the floor to win a college game any time in the past 50 years.
Immediately, there were comments on the absence of Kevin McHale from the starting five. For sure, Big Mac was the greatest ever Gopher on the next stage - the NBA.
I disagreed vociferously when a vote of fans named McHale as the Gophers' greatest all-time player a number of years ago. Randy Breuer was every bit the player that was McHale during Kevin's four seasons with the Gophers. The discussion of McHale on Twitter did cause me to offer a second team:
C-Randy Breuer (1979-83). F-Kevin McHale (1976-80) and Jim Brewer (1970-73). G-Archie Clark (1963-66) and Trent Tucker (1978-82).
The absences of Voshon Lenard, the Gophers' all-time leading scorer, and Sam Jacobson, the very popular local lad on the '97 Final Four team, were noted in the reactions to the second five.
Lenard could shoot, but not from as long range as Tucker. Jacobson was a dynamic dunker and productive in his four Minnesota seasons, but Sam probably wouldn't make my third five, if I got around to offering one.
Hudson and Clark were the best of John Kundla's players when the program basically was integrated with their arrival (along with guard Don Yates) in the fall of 1962. Freshmen were not eligible for varsity competition, so Hudson and Clark played three seasons.
Hudson played much of his senior season left-handed, after breaking his shooting right hand. To me, he's the greatest Gopher for a career.
That's about as far back as I'm willing to go with this personal evaluation of Gophers. There were outstanding players in the 1950s - Whitey Skoog, Dick Garmaker, Chuck Mencel, George Kline - but the exposure to these guys was minimal stuck away in the prairie of southwest Minnesota.
There was an additional brief Twitter question on my all-time Gophers team: "Coach?''
Answer: Clem Haskins. Slam dunk.
--PATRICK JAMES REUSSE.