Gophers BB Moves to Next Stage

With the search for the Gophers' next head coach underway and many returning players, the 2007-2008 season will feature something new and something old.

The season began sluggishly, which resulted in the head coach's firing in late November.

The season ended with a nine-game losing streak, which enabled Minnesota to set a school record with 22 defeats.

Aside from those minor issues, everything went swimmingly for the Gophers in 2006-07 as they prepare to turn the page to a new era.

Interim coach Jim Molinari did the best he could to build his youthful roster toward a better future, but athletic director Joel Maturi soon will announce his search for the guy who can fill Williams Arena and turn the Gophers into a consistent NCAA Tournament team.

"I completely trust the leadership at Minnesota that they'll benefit from this, and next year will be better," Molinari said.

Minnesotans want local hero Flip Saunders to ditch the NBA's Detroit Pistons and rescue his alma mater, but a more realistic solution might be a young gun with Midwestern roots like Washington State's Tony Bennett or Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery.

Whoever gets the job has an intriguing rebuilding process ahead. The Gophers didn't have any seniors on their roster this year, but the new coach will have one immediate scholarship to give because junior point guard Limar Wilson left the team in the final weeks.

Seniors-to-be Dan Coleman, Lawrence McKenzie and Spencer Tollackson provide a solid base, but the underclassmen need significant work — at least the ones who'll be asked to stay.

"They've got to have some growth and probably some additions," Molinari said. "Maybe some subtractions."

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