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With Gophers in 5-game skid, Monson quits

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published December 1, 2006


MINNEAPOLIS - Dan Monson resigned as the coach at Minnesota on Thursday, one day after the Golden Gophers' fifth straight defeat left them with their longest losing streak in more than 40 years.

Assistant Jim Molinari will take over as interim coach.

The Gophers fell to 2-5 with a 90-68 home loss to Clemson on Wednesday night. Minnesota's skid is its worst in non-Big Ten play since a six-game slide during the 1962-63 season.

Monson, who got a $1.1-million buyout from the university, said "a new voice" was needed.

"I think at the end of the day as a coach, if you're not putting the players first, if you're not putting the university first, you're not doing the job. And I'm trying to do my job here."

"The program's not in the position we want it to be in," athletic director Joel Maturi said.

Monson had come under increasing fire to turn around a once-proud program brought low by an academic fraud scandal under former coach Clem Haskins in the late 1990s.

The Gophers emerged from NCAA sanctions in Monson's tenure, but by his eighth season, fans wanted more.

Under Monson, 118-106 overall but 44-68 in the Big Ten, "The Barn" went from one of the most raucous, difficult places to play in the conference to a dormant arena with thousands of empty seats.

Two seasons ago Monson, who was hired away from Gonzaga, led the team to the NCAA Tournament after a 21-11 season. But that quickly faded as the Gophers went 5-11 in the Big Ten last season.

The problems began in the preseason when the Gophers lost to Division II Winona State at home. That carried over into the regular season with losses to Marist and Montana in a Florida tournament last weekend and Wednesday night's blowout loss at Williams Arena.

KANSAS: Coach Bill Self got a five-year contract extension that bumps up his annual pay to about $1.375-million.

Under the deal, which began retroactively on April 1 and goes through March 2011, Self will make $220,000 in salary with additional payments for professional services, public relations and promotional duties. He could make an additional $350,000 per year if he meets certain incentives.

Top 25

NO. 22 GONZAGA 69, PORTLAND ST. 51: Derek Raivio scored 20 and the Bulldogs extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 44. Josh Heytvelt had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Sean Mallon scored 14 for Gonzaga (7-1), which improved to 32-0 at the 3-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center despite being held 13 points below its average.

SEC

AUBURN 81, LA.-MONROE 60: Frank Tolbert and Rasheem Barrett scored 14 each for the host Tigers (6-2), who hit a season high 11 3-pointers.

OLE MISS 85, NEW ORLEANS 77: Eniel Polynice's 3-point shot with 6:09 left gave the host Rebels the lead for good. Mississippi (7-1) is off to its best start since 2000, when it began 11-0 en route to an SEC West Division title.

Big East

VILLANOVA 72, STONY BROOK 44: Shane Clark hit consecutive 3s to cap a game-opening 15-2 run for the host Wildcats (5-1), who led 42-18 at halftime.

State

BELMONT 87, N. FLORIDA 32: The host Bruins led 45-18 at halftime and hit 13 3-pointers to cruise past the Ospreys (1-6).

Nation

FORDHAM 70, MANHATTAN 66: Brenton Butler scored a game-high 18 for the host Rams, who broke a five-game losing streak to the Jaspers in a rivalry that started in the 1911-12 season.

Women: UConn beats fellow Top 10 team

STORRS, Conn. - Connecticut faced its first test of the season and passed.

Renee Montgomery matched her career high with 26 points and No. 7 Connecticut beat No. 9 Purdue 66-55.

Montgomery scored 16 in the first half to help the Huskies build a 15-point halftime lead.

NO. 2 UNC 103, UNC GREENSBORO 48: The host Tar Heels got all the scoring they needed in the first half with a 57-15 lead.

NO. 6 OHIO ST. 68, LONGWOOD 33: Marscilla Packer and Brandie Hoskins scored 15 apiece for the host Buckeyes, who opened with a 17-4 run.

NO. 12 VANDERBILT 85, UAB 63: Carla Thomas had 32 points and 11 rebounds for the visiting Commodores.

NO. 19 LOUISVILLE 63, XAVIER 59: Angel McCoughtry had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the visiting Cardinals.