Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview with Al Nolen “Gopher PG from 2007-2011”

We here at S.T.O.B. are huge College basketball fans. Two of us are huge Gopher fans. That is why we jumped at the chance to have a quick interview with one of the best PG’s in Men’s Gopher Basketball history. His name is Al Nolen. Al was a fan favorite at the barn and you could hear chants from the Barnyard of “Nolen…Nolen Nolen Nolen…Nolen, Nolen” every time he would be introduced as the starting PG at home games.

Al and the Gophers went into his senior season with big expectations. They were returning 4 starters, Nolen, Blake, Rodney and Ralph. They started off the season on fire beating high quality teams like West Virginia and North Carolina on their way to becoming the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Champions.

With that, the Gophers were ranked as high as 13th in some polls. However, things took a turn for the worst. Once Nolen went down, it seemed like the Gopher season went with him. Al hurt is foot against Michigan on January 22nd and would not return. Once Al went down, the Gophers record was 2-10. It was obvious the Gophers were missing their leader.

We haven’t heard from Al in awhile and we know he is still a fan favorite. That is why we reached out and asked him for an interview. Being the great guy that he is, he agreed. So, we won’t keep you waiting any longer, here is the interview:

S.T.O.B. : First off Al, we want to thank you for taking the time to give us an interview. Have you had a chance to go onto our blog, Sports Tears in Our Beers? If so, what do you think?

Al Nolen: No problem its a pleasure, I have not heard about your blog but will for sure be checking it out from now on.

S.T.O.B.: So, I’m sure everyone wants to know, how is the foot doing?

Al Nolen: Well the foot is doing better still some pains I actually figured I would be 100 percent by now but I still am not. Doctors tell me it is because of the scar tissue in my foot not being used to the screw. I am still trying to figure out ways to work that out but it is a slow progress and I just have to been patient with it.

S.T.O.B.: It must have been painful, both physically and mentally, to watch your team struggle the way it did down the stretch, knowing there was nothing you could do to help.

Al Nolen: Yes it was very tough to watch those guys because I knew how good we could be, really the whole country saw how good of a team at full strength we were. With it being my senior year it really bruised me mentally it was really hard to watch and still is till this day when I watch old film just having all the what if’s.

S.T.O.B.: Alright, your Gopher Basketball career ended on March 10th 2011. What would you say is the best memory you have of playing on the team the past 4 years?

Al Nolen: My best memory well I cannot single out one so I will give 3. One was beating IU with Blake hitting the game winning buzzer beater that was really amazing and something you only see maybe every ten years. With Blake I guess every other year. My second would have to be winning the Puerto Rico tip off after having to sit out last year for being academically ineligible which I still am very apologic for to my family, teamates and all the fans. Coming back and winning that tournament really helped me feel like a huge part of the team again and it was a great accomplishment for our team and coaching staff. My last but not least has to be playing in march madness for the first time it was a great experience. Also beating the BADgers can not leave that out.

S.T.O.B.: Is there anyone on the team that you know you will stay life long friends with?

Al Nolen: You know I would have to say everyone in my four years. I have talked to all my teamates since my freshmen year about different things and we all help each other out. I talk to my teamates about life after college and ask them for advice and help so everybody. One thing about us is we were a close nit team every year I was here.

S.T.O.B.: A lot of fans wonder, what was it like playing for Coach Smith. We have met him a few times and he has been great. But, with transfers that happened during your time there, some fans began to wonder if Coach Smith was too hard on players. What are your thoughts?

Al Nolen: Coach smith is a good coach and means well he is just an old school hard nose coach. I think in this day in age alot of coaches are more players coaches. Also elders feel that the kids are getting soft this day and age but times are changing. I think the adjustment from high school to working with Coach Smith is hard for alot of players with him being so old school. I know it was extremely!!! hard for me but once you understand him and how to deal with him and his coaching style you will get a little more comfortable. At the same time some people just do not mesh at all and that probably was the case for some of the transfer players.

S.T.O.B.: Do you have any plans to play professional basketball? If so, where? If not, where can fans of Al Nolen find you?

Al Nolen: I have plans on playing professional. My dream is to make it in the NBA and if that does not happen to try and play overseas. Right now I have that all on hold. I still am finishing up summer classes to get my degree this summer. I do not want to run off with out finishing school so everything else comes second right now.

S.T.O.B.: Well, we don’t want to take up any more of your time, so we will end with this. What can you say to the Gopher Basketball fans out there about the team that will be on the court this season?

Al Nolen: I can say that you have a good group of guys who work hard with no ego’s that just want to win and listen very well. With a year under their belt and having Trevor returning and Ralph I think they will be primed and ready to make some noise.

S.T.O.B.: Thanks Al, we really do appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. We wish you nothing but the best in your future adventures and we look forward to talking again soon. Thanks.

Al Nolen: Thanks for having me GO! Gophers!


  1. Al Nolen is a stud.

    Wish we could watch him one more year

  2. This is a very impressive interview. Al seems to have been very comfortable and therefore open with you. Very timely as well.

  3. what a nice kid, very level headed...