Monday, September 21, 2015

Welcome Aboard, Amir Coffey!!

I'm currently on a plane, drinking Woodford Reserve because why wouldn't I, and I have a really horrible internet connection but it appears that twitter says Amir Coffey committed to the University of Minnesota and holy shit dude.  Not since the Rodney/Royce double pick up year has the U gotten a guy like this.  ESPN ranks him as the 33rd best recruit in the entire country for 2016 and 247 Sports composite puts him at #45.  That's a big deal! Dude had offers from tons of blue chippers like Arizona, Michigan State, and Texas but bam, sorry losers we got him.

The writing was pretty much on the wall that he would be a Gopher after his official visit back on September 3.  He tweeted pictures of him and his dad (Richard, duh) at Williams Arena, reports came out that he kept going back for unofficials to hang with the players, and he canceled an official visit to Texas.  It was still terrifying of course since, Minnesota sports, and I am glad I was on a plane and unable to load up anything to see who he chose until well after the fact, but it happened and we got him.

Coffey is a 6-7 guard, yes a 6-7 guard, and everything about him sounds awesome.  They say he can play all three perimeter positions.  He's smart, a good ball-handler and passer, and can hit from the perimeter or get to the rim.  He can defend already.  I mean everything sounds good.  His negatives are he needs to build up more strength, very common for a freshman, and he could be a more vocal leader.  That's all they could come up with.  ESPN calls him a special player with upside off the charts and even compared him to Jalen Rose.  Just the fact that he'll be able to come in and start and can already shoot and play defense puts him ahead of most freshman.  This is just awesome.

None of that is even the most important part though.  With Jarvis Johnson, Michael Hurt, and now Coffey Pitino has started to close the borders.  This is good, but I also must clarify.  The reason closing the borders is good is not because you get all the Minnesota players and if you think that way I bet you love P.A. too.  The reason closing the borders is good is because when you do have an instate awesome player his thought process STARTS with I'm going to be a Gopher.  It's not going to result in landing every stud, but that as the default is a much better way to start than "hey where should I go?"  Pitino is on a good run right now.

The other super awesome thing is that Coffey is besties with Eric Curry.  Curry is a power forward from Arkansas who visited the same time Amir did.  He's not ranked as highly as Amir, but he's the 106th ranked player by 247 composite and #22 power forward and that's still pretty damn awesome.  I won't get into talking too much about his abilities and what not since he hasn't committed here and may not, but it's looking better than ever right now.  You know Amir is on snapchat or periscope or whatever kids use recruiting him.

In short - hell yes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Best Gophers of the Tubby Era: #11-#15

Throughout the summer I'll be writing up each of the 34 players who played for the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith.  Why Tubby?  Because it's the most recent era that's over.  If this goes well perhaps I'll go back and do Monson as well.  I'll be looking at any player who played at Minnesota under Tubby at some point, even if it was just a year.  And I will be considering their entire Gopher career, so guys who started under Monson or finished under Pitino will have their whole career considered, but anyone who transferred in or out is only evaluated on their Gopher stats.  With me?  Here we go:

#34 to #31 can be found here.
#26-#30 can be found here.
#21-#25 are here
Here's #16-#20

15.  Julian Welch (2011-2013).
-  This feels high for Welch considering he was a two year player whose playing time dramatically shrunk in his second year, but Welch somehow managed to rank top 10 in assists, three pointers, and steals among all Gophers in this countdown.  I don't remember him as a particularly great shooter or passer, but I remember the steals simply because of the difference between his hand speed and foot speed.  He had, without question, the fastest hands of any Gopher I can recall.  He also was essentially a lawn gnome when he tried to guard anyone trying to get to the lane.  I legitimately loved watching him simply because of those two things.

14.  Elliott Eliason (2011-2015).
-  This is a tough career to try to sum up, but you could probably do it best just by looking at his minutes per game each year:  15.0, 13.7 (regression), 21.9 (big leap forward!), 11.2 (ugh).  That's about right.  He had that one stretch of brilliance his junior season where he put up double doubles in four of eight games with two other near misses, and that stretch included five Big Ten games, where it looked like he might be becoming something, but alas, it wasn't meant to be and his career kind of spiraled to an underwhelming conclusion.  However it's almost impossible to look back on this guy with any kind of bad feelings.  He was a guy who came and gave it everything he had whenever he was on the court, and never let playing time get to him in any way you could see or hear about it.  Good dude.

13.  Lawrence McKenzie (2006-2008).
-  McKenzie ranks high because even though he was only a Gopher for two years he was pretty much the man both of those years, averaging 13.3 points per game, and led the Gophers to the NIT in Tubby's first year which seemed like an impossibility following the disaster that was the final Monson/Molinari year and suddenly everything seemed possible and we were on our way and we could build this dream together standing strong forever nothing's gonna stop us now.  Or whatever.

12.  Maurice Walker (2010-2015).
-  Walker played for 17 years as a Gopher, and that kind of time is tough to forget.  I also think he might have lost some weight once Pitino came in, but I'm not sure I thought I heard that somewhere though.  Seriously though, the first time I saw Walker play as a freshman I could tell right away he had a great feel for the game.  You know how a lot of big men get the ball on the block and go right into score mode?  Walker didn't, he saw the court amazingly well, although it's not backed up by his assist numbers I stand by what I saw.  Injuries and weight issues (perhaps related) robbed him of some athleticism and explosiveness, and who knows what might have been?  He was clearly a hard worker, just looking at his weight loss and free throws, and I believe he could have developed an outside shot at some point.  This would be a good guy to take a do over on, if you could do such as that.

11.  Spencer Tollackson (2004-2008).
-  No bonus points for being the radio guy for the Gophers, though not because I dislike him or anything - I actually like when he weights in from the player's perspective on things, even if he's behind only Paul Allen on the homer list.  That actually kind of sums up his playing career - a little bit annoying and a little bit likable.  Similar to Walker, he was clearly a hard worker who wanted to win.  I remember him completely revamping his free throw form to try to fix that issue (didn't work) and going from a garbage man to someone with a variety of moves.  Unfortunately, all that hard work to develop those moves didn't really work because he didn't have the natural talent to finish.  Clearly worked at it though, which is cool.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gophers of the Tubby Era Countdown: #16-#20

Throughout the summer I'll be writing up each of the 34 players who played for the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith.  Why Tubby?  Because it's the most recent era that's over.  If this goes well perhaps I'll go back and do Monson as well.  I'll be looking at any player who played at Minnesota under Tubby at some point, even if it was just a year.  And I will be considering their entire Gopher career, so guys who started under Monson or finished under Pitino will have their whole career considered, but anyone who transferred in or out is only evaluated on their Gopher stats.  With me?  Here we go:

#34 to #31 can be found here.
#26-#30 can be found here.
#21-#25 are here

#20.  MAVERICK AHANMISI (2010-2014).
-  Stuck around all four years, which is a positive, but never really developed into a third string point guard.  Probably took more heat than anyone on this list, but you can't blame him too much because he basically got forced into more playing time than he had the talent to play.  He did see his playing time dwindle from 13.3 minutes per game in his sophomore year to 10.5 as a junior and 9.6 as a senior.  He ended his career shooting under 40% from the floor and with a 1.1 to 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.  He was a late spring desperation signing and he generally played like it.  But at least he tried and wasn't a whiner.

#19.  JOE COLEMAN (2011-2013).
-  He was a pretty important piece on Tubby's last two teams before transferring to St. Mary's when Richard Pitino came in despite having a game that would thrive in his system.  He never developed an outside shot, but he excelled at getting to the rim and finding ways to score despite standing just 6-4.  His amazing 29 point outburst at Illinois showed his potential, but he wasn't able to harness that consistently and now he's off to the Gaels.  He played in one game last season before an injury knocked him out for the year.

#18.  JAMAL ABU SHAMALA (2005-2009).
-  One of the harder players to rank.  He wasn't very good, but he played four years and had his moments, generally behind the 3-point line because he basically didn't do anything else.  It was a special moment whenever he found himself with an open three and you just didn't care if it went in because if he was in the game when it mattered it was when the Gophers were terrible and if he was in when they were decent the game was probably out of hand already.  Completely unfair to him, but for whatever reason he represents the failure of the Monson/Molinari years to me.  Probably because he was actually starting at one point when things were pretty much completely off the rails.  Now I can appreciate who he was, at pretty much right in the middle of this countdown seems about right.

#17.  COLTON IVERSON (2008-2011).
-  If you had to make a poster for guys who never developed under Tubby Smith, it would have to be a pretty big poster.  But if you wanted to narrow down to two guys, Iverson is one of them.  He was a so so post player for the Gophers, but once he transferred to Colorado State he turned into a monster who got himself drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft.  Don't remember he became a monster because he played in a smaller conference way out west?  Well he averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds a game his senior year.  Those are amazing numbers.  Could he have put that up in the Big Ten?  Most likely not, but it's clear he was underutilized his three years as a Gopher.

#16.  DEVOE JOSEPH (2008-2011).
-  One of the most disappointing players of the era for me, I really thought Joseph was going to be a lights out scorer.  There were times where he looked so good, but he and Tubby clearly didn't get along, both on the court (Joseph could get lost out there at times) and off (weed).  Then, 8 games into his junior year he bolted after being suspended twice for an undisclosed reason (weed), apparently complaining about not getting enough playing time and shot attempts which was ridiculous.  Al Nolen would get hurt later that season, which would have given Joseph all the playing time he could handle.  By then he was already at Oregon, and, rather than sit out a full year to maximize his playing time, he joined the ducks for the second semester of the 2011-2012 year, which meant that in his final two years he played a grand total of just 36 games.  Yeah, he ended up developing into that scorer I thought he would (averaged 16.7 points per game), but a series of poor decisions cost him a lot.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Is Eddie Rosario, like, Good?

As you are probably aware, the Twins are fighting for a playoff spot while at the same time showing us a glimpse of their future with a whole lot of younger players up and making contributions.  One of these is Eddie Rosario, who has used a good mix of hitting, fielding, and base running to end up ranked 4th on the team in WAR.  You may now be asking yourself why I would question if he is, like, good in that case.  Well, unfortunately there are some red flags.  They might not necessarily mean much or call him out as a fluke, but there are some things to worry about.

Rosario has put up a slash line of .274/.296/.452 so far this season.  Two of those numbers are respectable, but that awful OBP is bad enough to drag his OPS down to almost exactly the league average.  That's his red flag #1 - horrendous strike zone management.

He has 87 strikeouts this season against just 11 walks, which is pretty staggering.  His walk rate of 3.2% is the 6th worst in baseball among batters with at least 300 plate appearances, while his strikeout rate of 25.1% is the 34th worst.  The spread of nearly 22 percentage points is monstrous.  I could only find a few instances of other players with a similar spread, and they were either slap hitters (Chris Owings) or only ended up with that kind of spread because they strike out an absolute ridiculous amount (Randal Grichuk).  The good news is that both his rates are worse than what he put up in his minor league career so although he's always going to be a free swinger these extremes may just be growing pains.

His swing rate is the worst on the team (outside of Oswaldo Arcia), but his contact rates are ok - not great, but ok.  Interestingly it turns out major league teams aren't dumb, because less than half the pitches he sees are inside the strike zone and his percentage is the lowest on the team other than Kennys Vargas and Jorge Polanco.  Basically teams are throwing him bad pitches, he's swinging at those pitches, and he's missing those pitches.  Until he reigns in his hacking a bit that'll continue, and although you can have success being a free swinger it's much more difficult when you aren't getting anything to hit.  Keep an eye on this.

His second red flag, although not as big of one in my opinion, is his BABIP of .347, a generally unsustainable number.  Unlike last year's fluke Danny Santana, however, it's not that huge of an outlier based on his past.  His minor league BABIPs were almost always over .300 and he put up a few seasons in the .350 range, so though .347 is probably high it's not ridiculously high.  His line drive percentage isn't great and he pops up too much, but he has an excellent hard hit percentage which can help account for a greater than it should be BABIP.

Overall, Rosario is going to be a quality player.  The value he adds with his defense alone makes him a plus player, and advanced metrics (and the eye test) mark him as an excellent fielder both in terms of range and arm.  He's fast and a good base runner (base runs mark him as 2nd on the team behind Brian Dozier at things like taking the extra base) and his stolen base mark should get better with more experience.  How good he's going to be is going to depend on his bat, and that's going to depend on learning a bit more plate discipline.  I think he'll adjust in Year 2+, and he's going to be a fixture in the outfield for a long time.

Or at least I hope.  Wow.  Optimism.  Feels weird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What the Hell are the Twins gonna do at Shortstop?

The Twins hit the back stretch of the season, somewhat limping and hovering around .500 and 2.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot.  There are two ways to look at this season.  The first is that the team overachieved and could never have sustained their early season success, but a .500ish year and semi-meaningful games with an outside shot at a surprise playoff appearance a year ahead of schedule (a .500 would clear their Vegas over/under on wins by 12 games) is pretty damn neato.  The second is to say that the Twins were running away with the division and collapsed, and the season is a failure.  Obviously, the first way is correct and the second way is for morons.

The other success of this season is you can see the future starting to take shape.  Not so much the pitching side which has too many questions for even me to try to answer, but the position players?  It's happening.

There's little doubt that the opening day outfield next year will be Byron Buxton, Aaron Hicks, and Eddie Rosario (and that should be a damn good fielding unit).  Miguel Sano will have third locked down, and Brian Dozier is going to be at second for a while.  1B/DH is going to be some combination of Joe Mauer, because we're stuck with him, Trevor Plouffe, if they keep him around - he has value and they control him for two more years but he's getting spendy, and Kennys Vargas, if he remembers how to hit.  Ideally Oswaldo Arcia does the same and becomes the fourth outfielder with some DH time as well.  Catcher goes to Kurt Suzuki unfortunately for another year, and then the hope is either Josmil Pinto or Chris Herrmann step up.  It's a nice solid start to team.  But what the hell are they gonna do at shortstop?

They have three current options - Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, and Eduardo Nunez.  They're all young and under team control so they'll probably get plenty of chances, but I don't see a full time shortstop here anywhere.  Santana flashed a solid rookie year, finishing 7th in AL Rookie of the Year voting, but had all the warning signs of a fluke which came to fruition this year.  In his 256 plate appearances in the majors this year he OPSed just .541, 3rd worst in all the majors, and rocked a 66-5 strikeout to walk ratio.  I covered Escobar here, coming to the conclusion that his upside, last year, was adequate at best, and his downside, this year, is a crappy utility guy.  Nunez seems to have moved into the starters role by default, but there's nothing there to suggest he's anything other than a replacement level utility guy, which he has been for his six big league seasons.

So what's next?  Look at any Twins' top prospect list and you'll see two names, and only two names - Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco.  Gordon was picked just last year out of high school so he's probably not going to be ready until 2018 at the earliest, so it's Polanco or bust.  And I'm really not sure how to feel about that.

He's certainly looked good in his limited time in the majors, slashing .313/.450/.500 with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts in 20 plate appearances and Fangraphs has him as a better than average defensive shortstop.  All positive signs.  His career line of .288/.349/.406 in the minors is alright, but more impressive is his 269 strikeouts to 182 walks, which shows that unlike a lot of shortstops he's not a complete hacker up there.

So what's the problem?  No power at all.  Zero.  None.  That .406 slugging over his minor league career would be one of the lower numbers in the majors this year, and if you look at his ISO, which strips out a high average influencing from influencing slugging, he's put up Ben Revere type numbers each of the last two seasons, only without the speed.

I'm not saying he's terrible or can't develop into more of an all around player.  He hit very well in rookie and A ball, with some power, and he's only 21 and already at AAA with two flashes in the big leagues and he's pretty much hit for a high average everywhere.  I'm fully rooting for him, it's just amazing to me that all the eggs have to be in this basket, but there's nobody else.  Levi Michael was supposed to be the shortstop of the future, but he was drafted out of college in 2011 and is still stuck at AA so I don't think we can really count on him any more, especially since he has less power than Polanco.

Considering the free agent market looks pretty bare at the position for the next couple years we should all be huge Jorge Polanco fans and hope he gets to the majors, for good, sooner rather than later.  Help us, Jorge Polanco, you're our only hope.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Is Eduardo Escobar, like, good?

I was hoping the Twins would do something at the trade deadline, and they did.  I was hoping they'd get bullpen help, and they did.  So I suppose I'm happy with what they did.  They couldn't really have done much more without gutting the future, and considering their performance since the trade deadline it looks like an every better decision to mostly stand pat.  I was hoping they'd find a way to upgrade shortstop, but the two instant starters who may have been available are both expensive and have question marks (Jose Reyes and Starlin Castro) so whatevs.  With Danny Santana back in the minors, it looks like Eduardo Escobar is the new shortstop, and may be for a while considering there's no readily available replacement unless Santana turns it around.  So is Eduardo Escobar, like, good?

Current slash line:  .239/.270/.380.  Yikes.  Down considerably from last year's decent .275/.315/.406.  His OPS of .651 ranks him 19th in the majors among shortstops with at least 250 plate appearances - better than I would have guessed (and better than Castro).  Considering Santana ranked dead last, that's manageable.  Both his walk and strikeout rates are career worsts this year, and this approach change probably also accounts for his dip in BABIP from a career number .308 to .294 (it was .336 last year) and his line drive rate has plummeted from 24% to 17.8%.  Both numbers are considerably worse than his career numbers, so we can hope he's just having a bad year.

One thing I've always liked about his bat is he's got some pop compared to your average shortstop.  He ranks 8th in ISO (slg-avg) among shortstops with 250+ PAs, and that number has increased each of the last two years.  He's also 16th in extra base hits, despite having a hundred plate appearances fewer than almost every shortstop ahead of him.  Overall, he's a complete free swinger who refuses to walk and has a little bit of pop for his position.  He's only 26, so his bat probably gets a passing grade, though it would be nice if he could revert back to last year's version.

He's a horrendous base stealer.  He's gone 6 for 12 in his career and 2 for 5 this year, and it's probably best for everyone at this point if he just stops doing it.  Though that would probably give Dan Gladden a heart attack.  Seriously you ever listen to this guy on the radio?  He's completely obsessed with the running game.  It's maddening.  Speaking of, Escobar is a pretty good base runner outside of not being able to steal base if a small child was catching.  Well, actually this year he rates dead average, but last year he was slightly goodish.  This is according to UBR at Fangraphs which takes note of such things as going from 1st to 3rd on a single or scoring from 1st on a double and stuff like that.  Makes sense.  Yet another regression from Escobar.

Last season, Escobar's fielding (at shortstop) was above average according to Ultimate Zone Rating.  This year, however, like everything else it's plummeted to terrible.  Granted defensive metrics aren't perfect, but considering he's on pace to make about 40% more errors than last season I can buy it.  This year his UZR ranks 36th out of 40 shortstops with at least 210 innings played at SS (just ahead of Danny Santana).  Last year he ranked 14th.

So what do we have?  A player who would have been a competent starter last season who has been pretty rough this year.  Add it all up and he's gone from 2.5 WAR last year down to -0.7 this year.  Considering Santana is -1.2 he's an upgrade, but a disappointment at the same time.  Last year WAR put him as the #14 shortstop in the majors.  This year he's at the bottom, ahead of only Santana and Castro.  Yuck.

Considering he's 26 years old and under team control through 2018 there's considerable reason for the Twins to hope he can be the new shortstop of the future.  Not to mention the free agent market for shortstops is garbage.  Last year he looked like he had a chance.  This year, however?  No, he's not good.  Hopefully they don't rush Jorge Polanco.

Guest post: Minnesota Vikings 2015 Preview

All things considered, the Minnesota Vikings had a slightly above-average season in 2014. They didn't make the playoffs, but they weren't absolutely embarrassing either. Some wondered if they were going to be able to win games without Adrian Peterson and using a rookie quarterback. Now that Peterson is back and the quarterback is more mature, can they start to think playoffs?

The Green Bay Packers are still the best team in the NFC North, but Minnesota is starting to feel a bit more confident in general. They know that the offense could be the best in quite some time for them, and it all starts with Peterson getting back on the field. People are still drafting him very highly in fantasy football mockdraft set ups despite the fact he played in just one game last year. Many are thinking he will come back refreshed since he was able to get some time off. There are some concerns about distractions and possible hatred shown towards him on the road, but players have to deal with that all the time.

Teddy Bridgewater made very nice strides during the 2014 season. It was unknown just how good he would be as a rookie for Minnesota, but the coaching staff definitely feels like they have their franchise guy for years to come. With Peterson back, that should only open things up for him more.

On defense, this team made great strides last year, so building on that is going to put them in playoff discussion. Mike Zimmer took a team over that gave up a lot of points, especially through the air, and actually made them a slightly above average unit. They aren’t perfect, but the offense won’t be forced to put up 30 points a week to win.

The schedule looks tough on paper, but Minnesota should still improve on 7-9 from a year ago. Winning one more game shows improvement, but winning two or more games puts them in the playoff discussion. They might not be getting a lot of attention right now, but they are a team to watch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Best Gophers of the Tubby Era: #25-21.

Throughout the summer I'll be writing up each of the 34 players who played for the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith.  Why Tubby?  Because it's the most recent era that's over.  If this goes well perhaps I'll go back and do Monson as well.  I'll be looking at any player who played at Minnesota under Tubby at some point, even if it was just a year.  And I will be considering their entire Gopher career, so guys who started under Monson or finished under Pitino will have their whole career considered, but anyone who transferred in or out is only evaluated on their Gopher stats.  With me?  Here we go:

#34 to #31 can be found here.
#26-#30 can be found here.

25.  TRAVIS BUSCH (2007-2009).
-  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking he should be higher based solely on his heart and his hustle and his grit.  Maybe so.  But grit and a can do it attitude can only get you so far - like a career total of 132 points in a gopher uniform.  I know you've talked yourself into remembering him as an impact player in his second year, but the fact of the matter is he only averaged 3.7 points per game that season.  I think he had a handful of good games in a row or something at one point.  Also, and I forgot this and only remembered when I was perusing my Busch archives, the team flat out decided not to renew his scholarship after his junior year.  So that's something.

24.  DEVRON BOSTICK (2008-2010).
-  Ranks up there with Antoine Broxsie as one of the most disappointing Gophers in my lifetime.  I remember reading up on him after the Gophers signed him out of JuCo and thinking damn he sounds good.  A polished scorer with two years of JuCo experience?  I figured him to come in and be instant offense at worst.  Never happened.  He averaged just 3.7 points per game in his Gopher career, and played less than 10 minutes per game his senior year.  Course, that'll happen when you shoot just 43%.  He had games where he started to look like he was putting it together, and he could certainly be a smooth offensive player at times, but time ran out before he could put it all together.

23.  CHIP ARMELIN (2010-2012).
-  Another disappointing Gopher, and other than Busch this whole post could just be labeled "The Disappointments", Armelin also never quite managed to put it all together.  He averaged 4.5 points per game in 12.5 minutes per game in his two years here, and although he certainly had some serious athletic ability it never really manifested itself.  He didn't put up good rebounding numbers, he wasn't a great defender, and he shot just 42%. He blossomed in his senior year after transferring to Mississippi State, but like I said, that means nothing here.  I initially had him below Bostick, but I forgot how ineffective Bostick actually was.  Armelin outscored him by 132 points, out-rebounded him by 32, and out-assisted him by 10.

22.  OTO OSENIEKS (2011-2014).
-  Another guy who never quite put it all together.  Oto had a weird career, culminating in a career ending injury until the Gophers needed another big guy and then suddenly he could play again.  His willingness to help the team is commendable, and he was maybe is a coach or grad assistant or something so that's great, but he also averaged just 3.5 points per game in his 3-year Gopher career and was a pretty god awful rebounder despite being 6-8.  I always liked Oto, and I really wanted him to succeed since it seemed to me everyone was a bit too hard on him.  Somehow, my want never made it so.

21.  PAUL CARTER (2008-2010).
-  Carter played just two years for the Gophers before transferring to UIC to be closer to his sick sister, but he ranks this highly because he's actually good.  He had the most points and second most rebounds of any player ranked so far despite just the two seasons.  Carter really made some strides between his first and second seasons and could have been a potential star, and he blossomed quite a bit once he enrolled at UIC.  It was a bummer when he left, and I'll always remember his huge block in the big comeback win in Madison which, by the way, I was in attendance for.  After the game and then after the bar we went to some pizza place and there was some punk kid there who moved our stuff and was sitting in our seat and he wouldn't move and wouldn't even look at us or acknowledge us in any way so Dawger slapped the pizza out of his stupid mouth and then we got kicked out.  Still got to take our pizza with us though.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Best Gophers of the Tubby Era: #26-30

Throughout the summer I'll be writing up each of the 34 players who played for the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith.  Why Tubby?  Because it's the most recent era that's over.  If this goes well perhaps I'll go back and do Monson as well.  I'll be looking at any player who played at Minnesota under Tubby at some point, even if it was just a year.  And I will be considering their entire Gopher career, so guys who started under Monson or finished under Pitino will have their whole career considered, but anyone who transferred in or out is only evaluated on their Gopher stats.  With me?  Here we go:

#34 to #31 can be found here.

30.  JUSTIN COBBS (2009-2010).
-  He had a completely acceptable freshman year backing up Al Nolen, averaging 2 pts and 1 assist per game in about 11 minutes, and he looked like he'd end up being a quality player.  He did, ending his playing days with career averages of 11.3 points and 4.2 assists per game including points per game averages over 15 each of his last two seasons.  The only problem is his last three years all happened at Cal after Cobbs transferred out following his first season here.  His overall career would rank him significantly higher on this list, but with only 363 of his career minutes coming as a Gopher he has to land here.

29.  KENDAL SHELL (2011-2015).
-  Significantly less minutes in his Gopher career than even Cobbs with just 86 in his four years, I put Shell here because he's just been a good Gopher - no not playing wise but you know what I mean.  There's something endearing about a guy willing to walk-on for four straight years (I know he got a stray scholarship or something at some point but the point stands).  Did you know he wore three different jersey numbers in his time as a Gopher?  Basketball Reference says, and Google Images confirms, that he wore 34, 2, and 12.  Like, last season Nate Mason came in and wanted 2, so Shell shifted to 12.  I assume the same thing happened with the switch from 34 to 2, though I can't come up with who wore 34 recently.  Probably because I'm a little drunk.  Anyway, Kendal Shell was a good soldier for four years, and I'd love to put him higher.  With 17 career points, however, I cannot.

28.  JONATHAN WILLIAMS (2004-2009).  
-  The longest tenured of anybody on this list with 5 years spent in the maroon and gold, he actually has better total numbers than a lot of people who will be ranked above him but that's a product of those five years.  He played in 107 games but never averaged more than 3 points or rebounds per game.  Basketball Reference doesn't have his minutes stats for some reason, but he finished his career with under two field goal attempts per game so it's safe to say he didn't get a lot of run (I'm struggling to clearly remember him at all).  I went back in my archives to see what I said about him and he's been tagged five times in posts.  They're, uh, not good.  I found this:

The Ugly: Jon Williams. Forced to play a lot of minutes by Tollackson's foul trouble and Wisconsin's size, and now has me praying Sampson and Iverson can play immediately. Williams was 0-5 shooting, and somehow it was even uglier than that. All five misses were from inside 3 feet, including a missed dunk. He's completely overmatched in the Big Ten, and I don't know if he's fixable at this point. 

So there you go.  

27.  KEVIN PAYTON (2006-2009).
-  He just never developed.  I remember he was a 3-star, and at 6-6 when he was forced to play point he did it well and I was optimistic.  That was silly.  He never averaged more than the 2.2 points and 2.5 assists per game that he did as a freshman, and his numbers just kind of, trend down until he did nothing his junior year and then flat out quit playing basketball.  Still have no idea what happened here.

26.   ANDRE INGRAM (2011-2013).
-  A Minnesota kid who came to the Gophers after two years at JuCo I always liked Ingram (to be clear, it has nothing to do with him being a Minnesota kid who came home because I'm not one of those types).  He just seemed like he was trying really hard.  Unfortunately he just wasn't very good, ending up with career averages of 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. I've wrote on this blog many times that Andre Ingram was a really intriguing sophomore.  Unfortunately he was a senior.  And the NCAA has pretty strict rules around eligibility.  Fascists.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Best Gophers of the Tubby Era: #34-31

Throughout the summer I'll be writing up each of the 34 players who played for the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith.  Why Tubby?  Because it's the most recent era that's over.  If this goes well perhaps I'll go back and do Monson as well.  I'll be looking at any player who played at Minnesota under Tubby at some point, even if it was just a year.  And I will be considering their entire Gopher career, so guys who started under Monson or finished under Pitino will have their whole career considered, but anyone who transferred in or out is only evaluated on their Gopher stats.  With me?  Here we go:

34.  DOMINIQUE DAWSON (2010-2011).
-  This is the one guy I actually don't remember, perhaps because he only played in 10 games in his career totaling just 23 minutes.  Unfortunately he only managed four shot attempts and missed them all, and since he never got to the line he ended his Gopher career with 0 total points.  Following the 2011 season Dawson transferred to Division II Kentucky-Wesleyan where he averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds his senior year.  Good for him.

33.  BRYANT ALLEN (2009-2010).
-  I remember Allen, though maybe only because he was going to be a two sport star.  Unfortunately he totaled just 7 points on the basketball court (and 21 receptions on the football field) in his brief time as a Gopher.  He would then transfer to Illinois State in a recently completed trade for Reggie Lynch and Zach Lofton and drop football to concentrate on hoops.  He averaged 8.3 points per game for the Redbirds across two seasons, then was dismissed from the team because of drugs.  Well, being arrested for drugs.

32.  WALLY ELLENSON (2012-2014).
-  He has better stats than a few guys who I'm ranking above him but that's mostly because of his playing time coming from his family using his younger, better brother to hold the coaches hostage.  He played in 9 games in both of his seasons here and was terrible.  He flashed an insane amount of athleticism to be sure, but shot just 31% for his career on his way to a total of 34 points, mostly because he absolutely loved to shoot and did not care one little bit if he, or anyone else, was open.  He also only managed one career steal despite being one of the most athletic guys on the court every time he stepped out there.  Basically he was terrible, a chucker, and a whiner with a over involved meddling family and a complete waste of a scholarship.  He's at Marquette now and regains eligibility next season so that should be fun.  I wish I could rank him lower.

31.  CHRIS HALVORSEN (2011-2013).
-  I only sort of remember Halvorsen, kind of like if you go to a fourth of July cookout at your wife's friends and one of her friend's husband is there and you get introduced and you make a note that he's the douche wearing his sunglasses backwards.  He's a Minnesota kid from Henry Sibley who originally played at Valparaiso before transferring back to walk-on for the Gophers in a move that seems backwards.  He didn't play much for the Crusaders so maybe he decided well whatevs, I'd rather sit the bench for the home team which is kind of nice.  Played two years and in 16 games totaling 31 minutes, scoring a total of five points.  Seems like a good guy.