Monday, January 7, 2008

Well that was Closer than I Thought

I wasn't able to watch the Gophers' Big Ten opener live, seeing as I was too busy pissing all my money away to the assholes at the Casino, but I did get a chance to watch it via the wonderful magic of TiVo and the fact that I get the Big Ten Network at home. Thank you DirectTV. Anyway, watching it using fast forward at the slow parts and in a few different seatings left me with some impressions:

1. Obviously, it was a hell of a game. As I said in my game preview, I was expecting a 25 point blowout win for the Spartans. I really underestimated how far the Gopher defense and intensity has come since Tubby took over. They looked like a completely different team compared to the FSU game. I'm just hopeful they can keep it up the rest of the season, and that this was a trend, not an aberration. Easily the best game I've seen them play in two years, maybe longer.

2. Gopher offense still needs a lot of work, but not sure the right players are in place on this roster to make it happen. Tollackson seemed to be the focal point of the offense Saturday, and his role should be complementary. Ended up 5-14, with several of his shots blocked. I like Tollackson as a rebounder, dirty work doer, and dropping in some shots when they're there. I don't like him as a main offensive component, taking fade away twelve footers.

3. Is this what we can expect from Dan Coleman? He's the leading scorer on the team, but against the three best teams the Gophers have faced he's scored 7, 10, and 6 points. We've seen him have good games against good teams in the past, but maybe the problem is McKenzie has seemingly stopped scoring this season. He's on pace to take almost a hundred less shots this season compared to last. I was hoping he'd be more in control this year, and force less bad shots, but I didn't want him to lose his edge completely. Hopefully he can get more aggressive, and hopefully Coleman's game will improve with another scorer on the court.

4. Travis Busch played three minutes in the first half. I don't know why. He looked like a little kid. He'd didn't do anything glaringly wrong (that I noticed), but physically he looks like he's the ball boy.

5. Al Nolen had his ups and downs, but overall for a freshman point guard playing his first Big Ten game, on the road no less, I was very impressed. 7 assists, 1 turnover, and four steals is a hell of a game. He made some mistakes, and took at least one blazingly stupid shot, but going into next season with him our #1 point guard is no longer a worry.

6. The lack of winning experience amongst the Gopher players was obvious at the end of the game. They had it down to a point deficit, and made huge mistakes to let their chance slip away. Turnovers, dumb shots, and giving up easy baskets to the Spartans was pretty much all that happened in the last few minutes. And not fouling down six with twenty seconds left, instead letting MSU dribble out fourteen seconds and them giving up an uncontested layup. That wasn't good.

7. Overall, awesome game. I couldn't be happier. If they can play like that the entire Big Ten Season, they might steal some games.

8. Illinois sucks bad.

9. Raymar Morgan is awesome. Additionally, both freshmen Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers look to be very good.

Colorado -3.5 vs. Tulsa
Manhattan +8 @ Marist
North Texas -9.5 vs. UL-Monroe
Loyola-Chicago +12.5 vs. Butler

Weekend: 10-6
Season: 191-161

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