The blog formerly about a daily dose of mostly Minnesota sports rants and raves with a sprinkling of general sports commentary and a pinch of jaded-malaise regarding the world around us

January 11, 2013

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.


Blogger BG said...

P.S. Not to sound like some old bag from St. Louis Park calling into Sid Hartman's radio show, but it's also worth noting that 3 of the starting 5 are MN guys. Just sayin'...

January 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Blogger Jan said...

The loss to Indiana was almost a bad one but we showed tons of heart making it close. I agree, this team could go deep come tourney time. Sad thing is that whenever we beat a big ten team that's been good for the past 20 years there are stats like one on versus Illinois you mentioned. I mean us beating MSU to start the year was one of those milestones. I think Michigan is next at the barn, I smell upset.

January 13, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Blogger BG said...

Echo your sentiment, Jan. They had a 5% chance of winning that game at Bloomington, so to see them rally back to within 3 points late in the 2nd half was impressive. First half defense was ugly, but again, Indiana shot the lights out and was rolling on the fast break.

Bummed that Michigan lost yesterday as they would have been the new #1 team (sorry MCA), which would have made this week's game even bigger. I smell upset too...

January 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Blogger MCA said...

Couple notes:

1. That was a foul on Zellar. Might not have mattered, but dayum, call the game at the end, refs.

2. That little Hulls fucker annoys me, not because he's a white dude living the dream or whatever. It's the sideburns and the fact that he shoots from the side of his head like a 12-year-old who hasn't learned proper technique yet and people aren't viciously rejecting his 3 point attempts solely because his teammates are good enough at collapsing defenses that he gets wide open looks all game. Also, he appears to be a choker based on Saturday's game.

3. Valiant fight to get back in that game. IU's for real, and per my f-i-l, that was the best half of basketball he's ever seen any Hoosiers team play. If the Gophs had hung onto the danged ball, they wouldn't have been down an insurmountable number by the half. Remarkably, they actually blew a couple chances to steal it at the end, too, with Dre missing the first of three free throws, someone not boxing out the shooter when Hulls missed both in the double bonus, and Rodney missing a bunny (if memory serves) in the last minute or so.

4. I'm glad Michigan's no longer undefeated, and the shine's off them a little bit. They've been playing with too much confidence, and I want them questioning themselves a little bit when the Gophers punch them in the mouth at Williams Arena.

5. I can't quite figure out the Big Ten right now. Illinois hammers Ohio State, we manhandle Illinois on the road, Ohio State goes and beats Michigan. And of course, you-know-f'ing-who is 3-0 after clobbering Illinois, and in the most ridiculous (yet completely unsurprising) bit of fortuitous scheduling, has both Michigan AND Indiana only once. If Michigan wins Thursday, I'd say they've still established themselves as the team to beat, having the best road win in the conference. But Indiana hasn't played anyone on the road yet and should be 8-0 before their schedule gets a lot harder the second half.

6. Worth noting that the Gophers knocked off IU in Bloomington last year, so that extra motivation was one more degree of difficulty added to pulling off the same trick this year.

7. I guess NC State does want to reach its potential, after all. And that Ryan Kelly's a bigger factor for Duke than people give him credit for. Not that y'all care.

January 14, 2013 at 2:38 PM


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