Saturday, January 3, 2009
And, more importantly, the Gophers knocked off the #24 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 68-59, assuring that they won't start the Big Ten 0-2, will probably keep right around their current ranking of 21st, and I will still go to the games this year.
In case you missed it, the aforementioned Hill decided that although his team was getting it's doors blown off this afternoon he'd take it upon himself to trash talk one Mr. Lawrence Westbrook, a guy who I wouldn't fight if I was offered a million dollars and given a gun. He even took the douchiness to a special level usually reserved for guys who put their sunglasses backwards on their heads and wear bluetooth ear pieces everywhere they go by standing next to Westbrook on the free throw line after L-Dub was fouled an about to shoot, woofing at him the whole way until the refs made little P.J. move - Minnesota was up like 8 at this time with under a minute left. He then continued yapping even after Westbrook made the free throws, after the final buzzer sounded (and his team lost), in the handshake line (which almost led to an altercation), and from the entry to his team's tunnel while the Gophers were singing the rouser (along with Will Buford, who Jon Diebler eventually pushed to get him to get down in the tunnel).
I don't have a lot of rules in life - ok, that's not true, I have a ton of rules and most people constantly break them and piss me off - but this one is a biggie: when you aren't very good at basketball, and your career high in points is seven, and you managed all of three on that day, and the guy you want to trash talk scored fifteen and averages over 10 times as many points per game as you, and your team just got worked, you keep your god damned mouth shut you stupid douchebag, or you just look like even more of a jackaas than you already do with your wanna-be a broke ass Troy Hudson dreads. I hope he dies.
Anyway, the game was awesome. With Al Nolen in foul trouble very early, like before we even got to our seats, running the offense for the majority of the first half fell to Devoe Joseph, and he answered the call in a huge way, leading the Gophers to a 34-24 halftime lead with his scoring and, more importantly, some stellar point guard play, including breaking a Buckeye press with the dribble and finding Shamala cutting from the corner with a pretty pass that would have been a monster dunk by pretty much anyone else on the team other than Hoff or Busch. Joseph's numbers actually ended up pretty pedestrian, 7 points on 3-9 shooting, four assists and two turnovers, but unlike it baseball the numbers can't and don't tell the whole story here. If Joseph can't step in like he did, Westbrook would have had to give it a go, and that's not a good look. Absolutely the player of the game in my book.
Although it is very hard to overlook what Damian Johnson did out there today. This statline is just sick: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks with zero turnovers. A completely dominating performance without actually being dominating. What can't this guy do? Well, he can't hit a jumper beyond about fifteen feet, but that's ok. And I think he's starting to realize that himself, so that's even better. PJS over at the Daily Gopher is falling more and more in love with him each game DJ plays, and has even started lobbying for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year consideration. And you know what? I completely agree.
Overall it was a very enjoyable game, and it was awesome to see a game where the Gophers were much more talented than a Buckeye team. A couple of short thoughts on some other players:
- Ralph Sampson III is probably my second favorite Gopher behind Joseph, and he looked to be on track for a nice offensive game after scoring a couple of early buckets. Tubby pulled his playing time however, opting for a smaller, more athletic lineup and RSIII ended up with just those four points in 17 minutes, but finished tied for second on the Gophers with five boards. Call me crazy, but I know Snake will agree, I think Sampson has the potential to be an absolute star by the end of his stake here.
- The guy who tied Sampson with five boards was Paul Carter, who looked good today and helped the Gophers outrebound the Bucks 35-27, a nice change from the Michigan State game (although let's not compared the two opponents, let's just be happy with this result). I'm not really sure what to make of Carter. At one point today I joked he was Quincy Lewis without the scoring, which is funny because that's all Lewis did. I think Carter can follow in DJ's footsteps eventually. I don't expect him to a major scoring threat at any point, but he could easily develop into something approaching DJ's all around game.
- Travis Busch and Jonathan Williams only played 3 minutes each, none of them in the second half - and the Gophers won. Not a coincidence.
- I think I still believe in Devron Bostick, but I'm starting to wonder if he's nothing more than a more athletic Hoffbauer. Nearly half his shot attempts are from three. Of course, the Hoff is at over 70%, so maybe not quite. (NOTE: Not a rip on Hoff. I love what he gives this team).
- Jon Diebler for the Buckeyes is at over 75%, and that's before today's game where he chucked up 13 shots, 11 of them from beyond the arc. Although "chucked" seems to invoke visions of poor shots, and since he was 5-11, I'll withdraw my adjective.
- Lastly, B.J. Mullens is very, very good. I don't know why he doesn't get more touches, but I'm glad for the Gophers and the rest of the Big Ten. He only took two shots today, but made them both and they were both impressive. The first was a really smooth jump hook from about 12 feet, and with his seven foot frame was pretty much unstoppable. The second was even more impressive, getting it on the block and using a combo shot fake-drop step-duck under to go right around Colt Iverson like he was Felton Spencer for the easy lay-in. The kid is very smooth, and has very good footwork. Once he gets a little more confidence and with it more aggressiveness it's going to be trouble. Although I'm still pretty sure RSIII can take him.
Also P.J. Hill is a douche (not the Badger running back).