Gary "Cookie" Holmes, a 6-foot-10 co-captain of the University of Minnesota men's basketball team that won the 1982 Big Ten championship under coach Jim Dutcher, said this season's Gophers can win the Big Ten title.

"They're pretty close to us," Holmes said. "But we had 7-foot Randy Breuer (actually 7-3), so that makes it really hard to compare. We were just as athletic -- we had shooting, we had quickness and we had size."

Holmes, a Delta Air Lines airplane liaison for eight NBA teams and the Minnesota Twins, lives in Woodbury and follows his alma mater closely. He said coach Tubby Smith's current Gophers, compared to his team, "are very athletic and have good guard play."

The 1982 Gophers had Trent Tucker, Darryl Mitchell and Tommy Davis at guards, Holmes and Zebedee Howell at forwards among their core, with Breuer at center. Breuer, who led the Gophers in scoring (16.6-point average) and rebounding (7.2 average) and averaged 2.6 blocks per game, would be the major difference between the 1982 Gophers and the current Gophers.

The current Gophers, Holmes said, "are still figuring out how to be big in the middle. Trevor (6-foot-8 Mbakwe) uses his athletic ability a lot, but we had Randy, and it becomes a problem when you run into another team that has a 7-foot guy."