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Picked to finish last in Big Ten, Gophers men’s basketball team has ‘chip on our shoulder’

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Picked to finish last in Big Ten, Gophers men’s basketball team has ‘chip on our shoulder’

Big Ten Network host Dave Revsine asked Friday how the Gophers men’s basketball team will be defined under new head coach Ben Johnson.

“I think a lot of things,” Johnson responded from Big Ten Media Days inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. “I think obviously we are all defined by winning.”

Victories are expected to be hard to come by for Johnson’s first team at Minnesota. The U is picked to finish last in the 14-team Big Ten this season, according the annual poll conducted by The Athletic and Columbus Dispatch. Twenty-eight beat reporters across the conference picked the Gophers to finish no higher than 12th.

The Gophers received  34 total votes, while Northwestern and Penn State were tied for 12th with 81. Michigan and Purdue both received 373 total votes, with the Wolverines receiving one more first-place tally.

Continuing his answer about defining traits to Revsine, Johnson laid out more: a focus on individual and team development, toughness and togetherness.

“We’ve got to be the team of all teams,” Johnson said. “That these guys are laying the foundation to, that we will be able to use as a launching pad to really take off.”

On BTN, Johnson didn’t outright address the Gophers’ projected standing in the pecking order, although he did allude to it.

“We all kind of have that chip on our shoulder, and I know we all want to do the thing that I’m sure a lot of people don’t think we can do,” Johnson said. “And that’s OK.”

The Gophers have 11 incoming transfers among its 15 players, with just one healthy scholarship player returning from last season, center Eric Curry, who has overcome multiple injuries throughout his career at the U.

Curry and guard Payton Willis, who has transferred back for his second stint at Minnesota, are the only two players who have taken the court together.

“You are really building that chemistry piece from the bottom up,” Johnson said. “What we really try to do in the recruiting process and with the (transfer) portal is if you are going to take this many transfers and new pieces, they better be like-minded. They better be like-minded on the court and off the court. If they don’t have similar values and they are not like-minded, that is when ego can come into play, that is when agendas can come into play.”

Johnson was hired in May and saw almost their entire 2020-21 roster leave before bringing guys in for his inaugural roster.

“This team has come together from a chemistry standpoint way quicker than I would have ever guessed,” Johnson said. “It started before guys even got to campus with a text chain that they got on their own. So when they got here, I think they felt like they already kind of knew each other.”

Willis said the team’s strengths are “our IQ and our unselfishness that we have and our experience, We have a handful of guys that have had success at the mid-major level, and they have chips on their shoulders that they want to prove that they can do it here, too.”

BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL

1. Michigan — 373 (13)
2. Purdue — 373 (12)
3. Illinois — 320 (3)
4. Ohio State — 316
5. Maryland — 269
6. Michigan State — 262
7. Indiana — 219
8. Rutgers — 208
9. Iowa — 150
10. Wisconsin — 149
11. Nebraska — 105
12. Northwestern — 81
12. Penn State — 81
14. Gophers — 34

Source: The Athletic and Columbus Dispatch
Note: Total points (first-place votes)

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Boston pension payouts at-a-glance

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The city’s pension payouts list police and fire commanders atop the heap with a total of 470 retirees from various departments pulling down six figures annually. Here are the annual pensions at a glance:

Top 5:

$193,570 William Gross, former police commissioner

$185,416 John McDonough, ex-school superintendent

$181,979 Lisa Holmes, past BPD superintendent

$178,086 William Ridge, past BPD superintendent

$173,278 Joseph Finn, former fire commissioner

Oldest pensions:

1956, Joseph Vogel, firefighter hurt on job, $14,446

1959, Leroy Mahoney, firefighter injured, $20,158

1964, Robert Glynn, police officer injured, $20,083

1970, James Hardaway, firefighter hurt, $19,129

1974, Frank Murano, BFD injured on job, $24,835

Miscellaneous:

$111,126, top-earning retired teacher

$108,890, top fire scuba diver

$52,673 Ray Flynn, former mayor

$33,752, tree climber

$32,562, vehicle impound specialist

$21,216, telephone operator

Go to bostonherald.com for the database listing all 12,718 city retirees.

Boston pension payouts at a glance

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Full Boston pension database: Your Tax Dollars at Work

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Full Boston pension database: Your Tax Dollars at Work

For the first time, here are the 12,700 City of Boston retirees listed by name, annual pension, date of retirement and last job.

To search on this database, click the magnifying glass icon (at right) and enter names and more. Use the scroll bar at bottom to move the data over to the right to sort by highest to lowest. Send any tips or questions to [email protected] See other payroll databases here. Follow the Watchdog newsletter for related coverage.

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Geoff Diehl demands Charlie Baker veto coronavirus spending bill over inadequate unemployment funding

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Geoff Diehl demands Charlie Baker veto coronavirus spending bill over inadequate unemployment funding

The sole major Republican candidate for governor in next year’s election is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to veto a $4 billion coronavirus relief spending bill he says saddles billions of dollars of unemployment debt on the backs of businesses.

“There is a clear and present need to protect Massachusetts businesses — and through them, the workers they employ — from the imminent threat of higher taxes,” said Geoff Diehl, a former Whitman state representative. “For our state to allocate recently received federal funding without adequately protecting our state’s economy from potential disaster is irresponsible and must be corrected.”

Lawmakers agreed to funnel $500 million to help pay back what could amount to up to $7 billion in debt after the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund paid out a historic number of claims amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Business industry leaders have said a minimum contribution of $2 billion from the state is needed to relieve the burden on businesses that fund the UI account through a payroll tax.

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