Your Minnesota Golden Gopher Hoops Team
Fellas - It's time to take a moment and reflect on the first half of the season for your Minnesota Gopher basketball team. I know I know...they've started strong before and completely collapsed, capped by a 1st round NCAA loss, or worse yet, an NIT bid. This team feels different, though...after all, they just went into the "Champaign room" and beat a top 15 Illini team (who is vastly overrated, but still a quality win). That's just their 3rd win there in literally 25+ years.
To recap, the Gophers are ranked in the top 10. I repeat, the Gophers are ranked in the TOP FREAKING TEN in the country! Their only loss is to MCA's Blue Devils, who, by the way, are the #1 team in the nation and undefeated. I had become somewhat of a Tubby doubter, but maybe, just maybe, he needed 5 years to get all of his own players into the program. They lead the nation in Offensive Rebounding and are playing defense with their hair on fire so far. Rodney Williams has become a well-rounded player, Mbakwe is an absolute beast in the paint (and a double-double machine), and the Hollins "twins" provide the strong backcourt the team has been lacking in previous years (especially with Al Nolen's problems). Throw in Hopkins Royal Joe Coleman and you've got a rugged starting 5. The bench is serviceable, with several veteran guys who can play good minutes if needed. Dre Hollins seems to be the default "go to" guy, but it's the type of team where a different guy steps up every night (see Coleman's 29 points at Illinois). At this point, if they stay healthy and don't tire out down the stretch, this is at least a Sweet 16 team, if not Elite 8.
To carry on a prior thread...this was seriously one of the best Holiday Seasons in MN sports history (and yes, the NU bowl win was fantastic). Even the football Gophers exceeded expectations and had Texas Tech on the ropes! Great to see the Hockey Gophers return to their rightful place at the top.