Minnesota Takes on St. Cloud State in Opener

The Minnesota Gophers will open the 2008-09 season with an exhibition game against St. Cloud State Monday. The Huskies were picked to finish fifth in the 14-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Huskies finished last season with a 17-11 overall record and 5-7 mark to finish fifth in the final season of the North Central Conference.

The Huskies must replace three-year starter David Dreas, who led the team in scoring the past three years. Dreas was second in the NCC in scoring last season. However, the Huskies have plenty of frontcourt talent and size.

Matt Schneck, a junior center from Whitefish Bay, Wis., was named a preseason Honorable Mention All-American by Street and Smith. Schneck, a two-year starter, averaged 13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. He was named to the North Central Conference All-Academic team, NCC Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll, and the ESPN The Magazine District Five All-Academic Third Team.

Schneck is joined in the middle by Ross Winnekins, a 6-foot-9 center from Wayzata. Winnekins, who transferred from South Dakota after sitting out his freshman year as a redshirt, saw action in all 28 games and started the final seven. Winnekins had 23 points and 10 rebounds for first career double-double in the final game of the regular season against his former teammates at South Dakota.

Jesse Fischer, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward from Pequot Lakes, started 13 games as a freshman and averaged 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Andrew Bernstetter, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward from Holdingford, started 17 of 27 games and averaged 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Brett Carmichael from Elk River is one of three team captains. Carmichael was a starter in 15 games last season, averaging 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and was a key defender for the team. Carmichael played at Minneapolis De La Salle as a sophomore and junior and transferred to St. Cloud Apollo for his senior season. He played one year at Notre Dame Prep and started his college career at the University of New Haven before transferring back to his homestate.

Fellow senior forward Craig Coenen is another captain. He played in 26 games and started three last season. He played a key reserve role for the Huskies the last three seasons. Coenen averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Taylor Witt, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Morris, appeared in all 28 games and averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He is expected to see more playing time with the loss of Dreas.

Six-foot-3 John Ortmann averaged 2.6 points per game as a freshman. He led Buffalo to the Class AAAA title in 2007.

The Huskies signed two freshmen, landing Theo Rothstein of St. Michael-Albertville and Brett Putz of Forest City (IA) High. Rothstein led his team to the state tournament as a senior. Putz finished as the all-time leading scorer in school history and had 50 points in a game last season.

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