Gopher roundup: Dome troubles for Mason's squad?

Why are Marion Barber III and his pals hanging on the results of next week's MLB All-Star Game? And where has ex-Gopher hoops star Quincy Lewis surfaced?

The perils of playing their home games in a multipurpose stadium could haunt the Gopher football team this fall.

As reported in the Star Tribune, the Twins have priority over any October dates in the Metrodome, and if they qualify for the postseason this fall, the Gopher football team could lose home dates with Michigan and Michigan State.

For the second straight year, Homecoming could be disrupted. The Oct. 18 game against Michigan State is in jeopardy, as that's also the scheduled date of Game 1 of the World Series.

Of course, the way the Twins are playing right now, it doesn't look like Glen Mason and Co. have much to worry about. However, a final decision on where to play that game, as well as the Oct. 11 tilt versus Michigan, must be made by Sept. 1. That leaves athletic director Joel Maturi in a bind.

"The thing that scares me the most is that we play the game in Michigan and the Twins aren't in the playoffs. Then the Metrodome would be empty, and we'd be flying to Michigan," Maturi told the Star Tribune.

Last season, Twins games pushed Gophers contests against Illinois and Northwestern back to Thursday nights. The Gophers won both games, but the crowds were paltry and they lost a ton of money in the process.

This time around, the Wolverines and Spartans have informed Minnesota that a weeknight date is not an option. The Gophers' choices appear to be bad or worse -- either play at a neutral site such as Detroit's Ford Field, or give Michigan and Michigan State home games.

That would be patently unfair to a team that's pegged to challenge for the Big Ten title for the first time in years. Giving up two home conference games would be a serious blow to those hopes.

Maturi is negotiating with Major League Baseball and the Twins to work out a compromise that would allow the Gophers to hang onto those home dates and play earlier or later in the day.

One conflict could be avoided depending on the results of next Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game. If the National League wins the game, it will host Game 1 of the World Series, and the Oct. 18 date against Michigan State would be spared.

But if you think the Gophers want to give up a gate for a game with Michigan -- traditionally one of the best draws in the Big Ten -- and give the Wolverines homefield advantage, you haven't been following Gopher football for the past 30 years.

Stay tuned to as we monitor this developing situation.

Meanwhile, on the hoops side, Strib columnist Dan Barreiro sat down with former Gopher star Quincy Lewis, a candidate to make the Timberwolves' roster this fall if he has a strong showing in this weekend's summer league skirmish in Orlando, Fla.

Lewis spent last year playing in Israel, and had his share of harrowing moments in the strife-torn Middle East, like the time when he and his teammates were issued gas masks.

"That kind of shakes you up a little bit, but there never was a time where I really felt threatened," Lewis told Barreiro "And the team is very good about saying that if you ever felt uncomfortable, you can leave."

Lewis scored 11 points in 19 minutes Wednesday as the Wolves beat Milwaukee 98-78. He scored 9 points in Minnesota's two-point win over Detroit in the summer league opener on Tuesday.

Former Gophers Kevin Burleson and Rick Rickert also are part of the Timberwolves' summer roster. Meanwhile, Jerry Holman will play for the Atlanta Hawks in the 2003 Reebok Pro Summer League July 14-20 in Boston.

On the volleyball front, the Gophers -- who finished No. 11 in the country last year -- announced their schedule this week. They open play Aug. 29 in a tournament in Honolulu, where they'll play host Hawaii, UCLA and Louisville. Their first home action of the season will be the Nike Invitational at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 5-6 against Kansas, Marquette and Dayton.

Big Ten action begins on Sept. 26 when coach Mike Hebert's squad travels to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers.

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