Smith has done a remarkable turnaround job. The Gophers are preparing for a huge Feb. 4 game at first place Michigan State. Minnesota is 18-3 and fresh off an impressive 23-point smothering of Illinois, in which the Gophers picked apart the Illini defensively.
As jobs around the country open up, Smith's name inevitably is the first to surface. It has already happened at Alabama and Georgia, since Smith was once very comfortable in the SEC as Kentucky's head coach. Then there are intriguing possibilities like Arizona, which is still searching for a long-term replacement to Lute Olson.
For now, though, Smith is comfortable in the Twin Cities. And he is growing tired of the constant rumors and speculation.
"I know there's a lot of speculation — Internet, media — about my status," he said. "I'm happy here in Minnesota. I'm not looking for any other jobs. We've got a great recruiting class coming in. I'm excited about where the Gopher program is, and I'm not a candidate for any jobs. So you know up front, so we don't have any more questions about it."
IN FOCUS: The Gophers opened the conference season against Michigan State on New Year's Eve and lost by 12. They get the rematch in East Lansing. It's a huge game for the Gophers, who trail MSU by two games in the loss column and can ill-afford to drop to three games back at this point. It also begins a stretch of four of the next five games away from Williams Arena.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters — G Lawrence Westbrook, G Al Nolen, F Damian Johnson, F Ralph Sampson III, C Colton Iverson. Key Subs — G Blake Hoffarber, F Paul Carter, F Jamal Abu-Shamala, G/F Travis Busch, G Devoe Joseph, G Devron Bostick.
Purdue 70, Minnesota 62
Minnesota 67, Indiana 63
Minnesota 59, Illinois 36
at Michigan State, Wednesday, Feb. 4
at Ohio State, Saturday, Feb. 7
vs. Indiana, Tuesday, Feb. 10
at Penn State, Saturday, Feb. 14