Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dawger vs. Intelligence (Baseball-Related)

Friday, February 27, 2009

I have no idea what's going on here

I received this post from Super Sioux Fan, and apparently she teamed up with somebody who I don't know who it is to write something about hockey. I couldn't be bothered to read it because I'm currently laughing my ass off at Zack & Miri Make a Porno, which might be the greatest movie of all time.

So, whatever. Here you go. I'm sure this is as awesome as it is lucid.


Gopher weekend Preview(Epic Guy)

Big series against UMD this weekend for my beloved Gophers; they seem to be suffering from the same ailment that all Minnesota teams have right now. Presently they sit in 7th place with 24 points, a sweep would catapault the Gophs into 5th place.
Kangas has gone from our lord and savior to...well...garbage. The goals he has been letting in have been extremely soft. Granted he is getting zero help from the defensemen. The Gopher's defensive efforts have been downright awful and any high school JV team could score a couple goals on them (see St. Cloud State).
The only Gopher defensemen that has impressed lately has been Aaron Ness. Cade Fairchild should focus more on D and less on shooting the puck into traffic and creating odd man rushes.

Bottom line is the Gophers need to stop trying to make the perfect pass and put a couple bodies in front of the net and get some garbage goals. They have the speed and skill to be the top team in the WCHA but have been lacking any sort of consistency. My prediction? Gophers split with the Bulldogs.

Siouxper Sioux Fan

Nice Epic guy.....WOW finally someone with some knowledge. Epic guy works with me and Snake....he loves the gophers, recently went on a 15 day argyle wearing streak, and has blonde very spiky hair. He is Legit.

So UND play CC this weekend and things are going just as I predicted. Anyone who seriously thought that the beginning of the season set our fate, is clearly an idiot. Granted I am not proud of the BS way we seem to always start out the season but it is our "thing" and whatever works I guess. We are currently in a deadlock for 1st place in the WCHA with Denver, I believe we do have 1 more game then them so we should be in the clear.
Our rookie goalie has really come through here for us as of late and it is like a 10 ton weight taken off of our shoulders (imagine WWWWW sitting on top of your shoulders......ouch)
The whole Siouxper Sioux Fan family will be heading to the final 5 this year. It is like our super bowl and we love it. I am going to be bold and say that we are going to sweep this weekend, I am also going to be obvious and say that the gophers are going to be eating broomstick.
That is just my predicition.


Kangas=Hot Garbage

I'm Lazy Today

In lieu in posting anything else, including an opinion on the Vikes trade for Sage Rosenfels (opinion = "meh"), here's a red band (that means naughty) trailer for the new movie from the director of the best movie ever, Superbad. It looks awesome. And I think I'm developing a crush on Kristen Stewart. I can't get the embed thing to work, so we're going to have to do it this way:


Posted using ShareThis

(I may still post something later tonight if I get drunk and bored, both good possibilities)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gopher/Illinois Game Blog

Yippee skippee. I feel sick before this game even starts, and it it's not from the Cheeseburger Ranch Hamburger Helper (made with Turkey) we had for dinner. It's also not from drinking, because I'm not.....oh wait. Hello Cranberry & Vodka (with Lime). How did you get in my hand? Weird.

Hopefully I'm wrong and the Gophers, at the very least, acquit themselves nicely here, if not squeak out a win. Gophers need to play tough man-to-man defense, and get into the lane on offense in order to win. On to the game, Illinois favored by eight, I have no money on the game.

- I really hope the bad Illinois shows up tonight. And the good Gophers I suppose as well.

- Good start - two handed slam by DJ on a nice feed from Ralph. Points in the paint - good trend.

- They are continuing to attack inside and have a 5-2 lead with 17:30 left and haven't shot a three yet. I would be just fine if they don't shoot a three ball all game.

- Twins are 2-0 this spring after thumping the Reds 10-4 today. And who needs Joe Crede? In the two games, Twins third basemen (Brendan Harris, Luke "the future" Hughes, Brian Buscher, Danny "the other future" Valencia, and someone named Deibinson Romero) have combined to go 8-11 with two doubles and four runs scored. I say we trade Crede now for bullpen depth. Or make him play shortstop.

- DJ with an incredible stretch, scoring a fast break layup then getting a steal for a dunk to stretch the lead to 9-2. I am really like how this is shaping up so far, on both ends. Although it is still very early and things could fall apart in a hurry.

- God damn it, three straight turnovers - a blocked shot, a steal, and then Nolen drives and loses it out of bounds. Suddenly it's 9-7, momentum Illini.

- Wow, Tubby definitely reads my blog. Gophers really attacking in the paint right now and just killing Illinois with it. Not to mention absolutely crashing the offensive boards - and another layup for DJ as we speak, who has 12 of the Gophers 15 right now. I couldn't have scripted this much better.

- In other good news, I just completed a trade in our keeper fantasy football league for Dwayne "The Show" Bowe. The downside is that I had to give up the #2 overall pick in the rookie draft. I hope Michael Crabtree is a bust.

- Why is Travis Busch in the game? Not only does he completely suck on defense, but he's undermining everything they're trying to do on offense right now. It's clear that the focus of the offense is to get the ball inside to a big guy on the block and let him go to work. Well, Busch isn't an offensive threat even a little bit, and when he gets the ball the Illini defense just laughs. It just makes zero sense.

- Illinois on a 9-0 run with Busch in the game.

- I also want to note that the Gophers are 0-8 from three. STOP.

- Halftime, Illinois leads 28-23. Positives are the Gophers seem to have a plan in attacking the basket from the paint, hitting the boards hard on both ends, and they are forcing the Illini to settle for jump shots. Negatives are they still will chuck a stupid three far too often instead of getting it inside, are turning the ball over way, way too often, and the continued regression of Al Nolen. Despite some negatives, I still very much feel like the Gophers are in this and have a decent shot at pulling it out.

- People not named Damian Johnson are shooting 4-21 at the half for the Gophers. Oof.

- Right off the bat the Illini dump it inside to Tisdale. He missed, but I definitely like it better when Illinois was doing their Gopher impression and refusing to get closer than 15 feet from the hoop.

- A couple Illinois jumpers and it's suddenly 32-23. It's getting very nervous in here.

- Don't you miss The Bear? I do. I emailed him to make sure he wasn't dead, and he isn't, and he claims he still reads all the time but he hasn't left a comment in months. Hopefully baseball season and Dawger's insanely idiotic comments and his Jack Cust love and draw him out of his cave of hibernation.

- Damian Johnson is utterly and completely unstoppable on either end. He's like the new JaJuan Johnson who is the new Hakim Warrick who is the new KG.

- Oh good, Travis Busch is in. That makes sense.

- Trent Meachem takes it right at Busch who is camped in the lane and Busch can do nothing but Greg Paulus flop. Running tally is now 11-0 Illinois with Busch in the game.

- Fine, he hit a three pointer. Congratulations. Even better, announcer guy just said Busch is playing a very good game. Um, it's Illini 11, Minnesota 3 when he's in the game. His reason: good energy. Seriously, anybody can come in the game and run around like a god damned retard wearing a helmet at Christmas-time. But when your team gets outscored while you try to see how many times you can fall on the floor, you're not doing anyone any good. Why are people so dumb? Why do they always buy into the scrappy, hustle-y white guy thing? I want to blame David Eckstein, but it's been around way longer than that. Read this. Know it. Live it. Love it.

- Iverson might have the worst hands since Bogart's guy Troy Williamson. Or Randy Carter.

- Suddenly the Gophers are winning thanks to Damian Johnson just stealing and/or blocking everything. Oh, not any more thanks to a lob pass right over that midget Busch's head.

- Seriously, if the Gophers could hit anything from the outside at all they'd have this one in hand. But, well, they can't.

- Where's Ralph?

- Seriously, they called a moving pick on the Gophers? John Thompson would be happy. (One time Thompson was doing commentary on a game on ESPN, and he spent pretty much the whole game complaining about all the moving screens. It was awesome).

- Tubby's tie is hilarious. It's gold and maroon striped, but as Mrs. W just said, , "it looks like it's from Harry Potter." Zing.

- There's Ralph. Dominating. 42-41 Illinois, 6 minutes to go. Come on you stupid jerks.

- You know what? When Demetri McCamey has the ball at the three point line all alone, somebody should probably go and try to guard him. He got the ball, hesitated, and when nobody bothered to guard him he shot and made it. I rewound the play, and Snake's guy Westbrook was the closest to him, but just stood there like a fat lazy slug who doesn't give a crap. God that's just so frustrating.

- and then on offense he gets the ball in the corner and just holds it for the last five seconds before the shot clock runs out, and the Gophers don't get a shot. 45-41 Illini with 4 and a half to go, but I'm more than a little bit afraid this one's over. Especially since Westbrook is still in there, trying to lose. Expect him to hand the ball directly to McCamey at some point.

- What the hell happened to getting the ball into the post? And what ever happened to Hoffarber's jump shot? This whole team is one big regression line.

- Game over, Illinois wins 52 to 41. My head says the Gophers played a good game and what more can you really ask for going into Champaign. My heart says screw this shit, I'm done with this after they fell completely apart in the last five minutes by playing like idiots. We'll see who wins.

Gopher/Illinois Preview

I don't really want to preview this game, mostly because the two teams are pretty much unpredictable and wildly inconsistent. I read the previews at From the Barn and The Fourth Strike (newer Blogger who tackles the Twins and Gophers - big fan) and neither of them inspired me much for the same reason - nobody has a clue what is going to happen tonight.

I won't go into the Gopher inconsistencies, as I'm sure you are all too familiar with them, but instead take a quick look at the Illini.

Much the Gophers, part of the Illini's issues stem from an offensively challenged point guard, in this case Chester Frazier. He handles the point guard duties just fine, running the offense, getting his teammates the ball (leads the Big Ten at 5.4 assists per game), and taking care of the basketball (respectable 2.5-1 assist/to ratio). He just struggles with the scoring of the basketball. He shoots just 45% from the field and 38% from three, and even sadder, those are career bests. He's a steady point guard and is tough to keep from getting into the lane, but if the Gophers can limit his ability to find his teammates and force him to become a big part of the offense, it will go a long way towards a win.

Of course, Frazier doesn't score much because he doesn't need to. The Illini have four players averaging in double figures, and they do it from the outside (Demetri McCamey 11.9, Trent Meachem 10.2) and the inside (Mike Davis 11.0, Mike Tisdale 10.9). The Gophers were able to hold Illinois to just 36 points in their last meeting due to some tenacious defense. Sampson and Iverson out muscled the Illini big men all game, which led to a 40-26 rebounding advantage and Tisdale/Davis combining for just four points on 2-11 shooting. The held Illinois on the perimeter (McCamey/Meachem 13 points on 5-16 shooting) by playing tough, hard-nosed, no frills, big pressure defense. They were up in the Illini's shorts all game, in one of the most impressive defensive games I've seen out of any body.

Of course, that defense has seemingly disappeared since that game. Sure, the defensive effort against Northwestern was solid, but that's a whole different team. If they want a chance to win, they will need to at least come close to replicating that kind of defensive game, because chances are Illinois won't let them score too many points.

Oh yeah, besides all that offensive firepower (when it shows up) the Illini are the 6th best defensive team in the country based on defensive efficiency. They also only let their opposition shoot 29% from three point land, which is fifth in the nation, and just 44% from 2, also in the top 100.

Can the Gophers win? Yes. Two things need to happen:

1. Defensive effort. It's been missing since the last time these two teams played, but we know the Gophers are capable of it. I'm not saying they need to hold Illinois to under 30% shooting and majorly outrebound them again, although that would be nice, but the effort has to be there. From the previous Gopher game and the Penn State game, we know the Illini can be held down. Forget the press (their guards are too good anyway), forget the zone, just hard-nosed, tough man-to-man. Of course, in the game the Gophers won, they had only 10 total fouls called on them despite playing the in-you-face pressure man-to-man - I don't the refs are that forgiving in Champaign.

2. Forget the damn three pointer. Unless you're wide open. Stop with the passing around the perimeter all day long. Illinois is way too good of a defensive team to lose against the offense the Gophers have been running the last few games. Things were looking better against Northwestern, but that same aggressiveness has to continue through to this game. As your girlfriend said to me last night, "Penetration is the key."

So that's what needs to happen, but it won't. Even if they break out the pressure man-to-man, the refs are going to end up hamstringing them since they're the road team. And I have no confidence that will happen at all. McCamey and Meachem both get hot, and Tisdale kills inside. Illinois 73, Minnesota 55.

Get your golf fix here.

OK so I have been on a bit of a hiatus but the action has not taken a break. I figured no one really pays attention to golf until the Masters and I am really too lazy, I mean busy, to consistently get stuff in here but now Tiger is back and all of a sudden the office, coffee shop and even the grocery store was a buzz with Tiger talk so I thought I would wait till after the 1st round to post some quick comments about the match play and recap the year so far.

Ogilvy smoked the field at the Mercedes, it wasn’t even close, four rounds in the 60’s and top 10 in putting, driving accuracy and greens in regulation. At the Sony Zach Johnson decided to show up and also post four straight rounds in the 60’s and top 15 in putting, driving accuracy and greens in regulation.

The next week Pat Perez bettered them both by having 5 rounds in the 60’s and navigated his way through tornado like winds in the final round as well as four days playing with rich hack amateurs to take down the Hope, there was some serious golf being played by the pros over the course of 5 days. The field averaged a half a stroke under 69 and most guys lit it up, everyone except Steve Stricker on the final day. Stricker took the lead into the final round after posting 62 and 63 in the 3rd and 4th rounds then proceeded to throw up a 77 on day 5. Dude choked harder than a porn star at the million man march, it was really depressing to watch. Perez, more known for his temper and party mentality took a break from the whiskey and club breaking to play some great golf and in the end finished like a champion. Side note, George Lopez who had hosted the Hope the last 3-5 years was kicked out of the host seat in favor of Arnie Palmer in the end its sad that even in today’s progressive society minorities still get ousted for the old white guard. Sad but true. Lopez still played showing he is just as classy as ever. This PSA was brought to you by Dockers, if you're not wearing Dockers....

Kenny Perry managed to keep the crowds at bay at the FBR to win. The FBR is a crazy place its like golf on acid. If you ever get the chance to go to Phoenix and watch, take the opportunity. The drunken co-eds from ASU walking around half dressed is reason enough but the sheer pandemonium of the event is also worth the plane ticket, lodging expense and 6 dollar beers.

Nick Watney took down the Buick, Dustin Johnson won at Pebble and Phil finally broke through in the Tiger-less knee surgery era for back to back Nissan opens. Once again Stricker has the lead, this time at the Nissan, all he needs to do is par the last and wait in the lavish Riviera clubhouse, but noooo he bogeys the last and Phil birdies two out of three to take it down. Phil really never grabbed the opportunity to shine while Tiger was gone and he will go down as being the rival that never was.

Now that leads us into the match play. Tiger is back and I admit I don’t think he could have picked a better event to make his return. Match play is such a unique format, it is much more forgiving than the traditional stroke play event. Tiger will be able to have some if not a lot of rust show and it may not hurt him. He will have Tim Clark for his 2nd round opponent, he may best Clark but he will not get by the winner of Mahan/Mcllroy match. I may end up eating crow by week’s end but I think Tiger just will not have enough to win 5 straight matches, two on Saturday, but I applaud his decision to return this week.

If you were like me and filled out a bracket or have in the past you know that this is some of the toughest shit to predict, if you thought handicapping hockey games was difficult then predicting match play golf is like describing what a derivative is and how it lead to the fall of the US economy. Yeah that tough. So for every easy pick like Kim, Villegas and Poulter there were just as many head scratchers Schwartzel, Goggin and Peter Hanson, who, no shit who. Listen this event produces upset after upset and close match after close match if you filled out the bracket and its all chalk well you my friend have no idea what you are doing. There are four rounds left, two matches to win on Saturday and a lot of big names still in the field. Look for guys that have been there before like Ogilvy, guys that are running hot like Kim or Villeges but also look at guys that could just keep surprising people like Weekley or Perez. My pick is Ogilvy, he always plays well in this event and his game fits this format and whenever Geoff wins he is the guy that no one is talking about, ding ding, no one is talking about him book it.

Since you don’t care I will not even mention the Mayacoba golf classic played opposite this tournament in Mexico. Just know that the winner takes home 63 billion pesos and a 1989 Nova.

News and Notes

Michelle Wie choked away her first chance at a win as a full member of the LPGA tour. Something called Ryo Ishikawa made his tour debut, this guy is supposed to be the next great thing except for the fact that he is from Japan, if he ends up better than Shigeki Maruyama he will be the most prolific golfer ever from Japan. Doesn't seem like a reach but Japs don't seem to make it on the PGA Tour. Reigning US AM champ Danny Lee won a pro event as an Amateur and did it impressively by making birdies on 3 of his last 4, like I mentioned last year when he won the AM this kid is for real. This was a Euro event but they had big names in the field, Anthony Kim being one of the biggest, Lee bested them all.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Some Things

A few things from last night:

Ohio State 73, Penn State 59.
This doesn’t quite kill PSU’s NCAA hopes, but they are in some serious trouble now. This one hurts a bit extra because the Nittany Lions had a lead in the second half, but the Buckeyes scored 25 of the game’s last 35 points. Jeremie Simmons came up huge for Ohio State, scoring 17 points and hitting four threes on a night where Evan Turner scored just six points and inexplicably took just four shots. Also of note: PJ Hill is still a douche.

Providence 81, Pitt 73.
In a win bigger than Kim Kardashian’s ass, the Friars knocked off #1 Pitt in Providence to give their NCAA hopes a huge boost, nearly as huge as Kim Kardashian’s ass. An absolute must win for Providence to keep their hopes alive, and they got it. The Friars instantly go from the wrong side of the bubble to right smack dab in the middle of it. With two road games left, the Friars need to win at Rutgers on Sunday or the final Big East game at Villanova becomes another must win.

Stephon Marbury will finally have to play for pay. Point guard and noted glory hog retard Marbury was cut by the Knicks yesterday, and is reportedly on his way to a no-doubt tearful reunion with KG on the Celtics. Marbury hasn’t played in a game since January 11, 2008, but was still collecting his $20 million a season salary to not to anything much at all. He agreed to a buyout with the Knicks and will reportedly sign with the Celtics for the league minimum, since he clearly doesn’t need any more money unless he spends it like Kenny Anderson. Verdict: Pretty much a lose/lose here. Marbury will probably cry about not being the #1 option on the Celts after a week, and now he has to actually do some work to get paid a lot less. I don’t know about you, but sitting around on the couch playing x-box, drinking forties and smoking the dope all while getting paid $20 mil a year sounds pretty good to me.

Erik Bedard is getting better. The Mariners’ Bedard, recovering from shoulder surgery, pitched to live batters in Spring Training yesterday, the first time since the surgery to remove cysts and tissue in his pitching shoulder. I’m sure the Mariners are a bit miffed and all, since they gave a boatload of prospects to get him from the Orioles last year, but I’d start him against dead batters instead. Even Matt Guerrier can get out most dead batters (ERA just 3.50 vs. Zombies). Seriously though Seattle fans, at least you got Bedard instead of Kris Benson and his highly irritating, though hot, gloryhog on a Marbury-level former stripper of a wife Anna (pictured above).

Marvin Harrison has officially been released. It will be interesting to see what happens. The Colts will be fine, Gonzalez looks like the real deal and with the weapons they have this wasn’t a tough call once he wouldn’t restructure. As for Marvin, one possible landing spot would be Philly, which is funny because my junior year of college I played a dynasty on Madden and drafted a receiver named Pete Harrison out of Syracuse and pretended he was Marvin’s brother and he was awesome. I’m like some kind of Nostradamus..

LSU continued to be the dominant power of the SEC.
The Tigers knocked off the Gators, 81-75. It brings the Tigers to 12-1 in the conference, and is their ninth straight win. LSU really isn't a great team, but the SEC is really down this year, which seems bizarre considering they might have been the best conference for a stretch not too long ago, but now they are this year's version of the Big Ten.

Last but not least, Spring Training games start today! The Twins take on the Red Sox at 6:05 tonight. You know what they say, when your bench players take on another team's bench players in the Spring Training opener, you can pretty much see how the season will play out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Almost Gophers

I've been meaning to do this since like, midseason, but never got around to it. Since I'm bored, I'm going to give it a shot right now.

Here is a look at the various first year division I players this year who were linked to the Gophers at one point, either through getting an offer, or rumored interest on one side or the other, alphabetically because I don't know how else to do it. (NOTE: The "Bummer?" category assumes the Gophers could sign the player without giving up anybody else from the 2008 class - not realistic but makes more sense to do it that way).


From: Paris, TX
Position: Center
Size: 6-11, 267
Credentials: #55 on Rivals list of top JuCo players (he's a sophomore), 2 stars from scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Oklahoma (had originally signed with Seton Hall before attending Juco)
Minutes per game: 5.5
Highlights: 2.5 points, 1.0 rebs per game...Season highs 10 points and 5 boards against UM-Eastern Shore
Would have been: No better than third on the center depth chart
Bummer?: Minorly, maybe.


From: Plymouth, MN
Position: Small Forward
Size: 6-7, 185
Credentials: 2 stars from Scout, 3 from Rivals
Gophers level of interest: Minimal
Signed with: Tulsa
Minutes per game: 0.0
Highlights: Looking like a redshirt
Would have been: Probably better than Travis Busch
Bummer?: Not at all


From: Princeton, MN
Position: Center
Size: 6-10, 235
Credentials: #74 on Rivals150, #15 center on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Wisconsin
Minutes per game: 0.0
Highlights: Looking like a redshirt
Would have been: Likely a clone of Colt Iverson
Bummer?: A little, but not much

From: Rosemount, MN
Position: Power Forward/Center
Size: 6-9, 235
Credentials: 2 stars from Rivals, #38 center on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Not much
Signed with: Iowa
Minutes per game: 9.0
Highlights: 1.2 points, 1.2 rebs per high of five points against West Virginia...5-22 on free throws this season
Would have been: Bench fodder
Bummer?: Not in the least, dude sucks

From: Chicago, IL
Position: Power Forward/Center
Size: 6-8, 260
Credentials: #38 PF on Rivals, #30 Center on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Oregon
Minutes per game: 14.7
Highlights: 3.1 points, 3.0 rebs per game...10 points vs. Oregon State...8 pts & 9 rebs vs. Wash State
Would have been: Probably in the mix somewhere, ahead of Busch if nothing else
Bummer?: Kind of

From: Kansas City, MO
Position: Shooting Guard
Size: 6-3, 185
Credentials: #150 on Rivals150, #33 SG on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Minimal
Signed with: Missouri
Minutes per game: 17.5
Highlights: 7.3 points, 2.4 rebs per game...Double digit points 9 high 16 vs. Iowa State
Would have been: A definite contributor
Bummer?: With the difficulty the Gophers have had on offense, most definitely


From: Killdeer, ND
Position: Power Forward
Size: 6-8, 210
Credentials: #35 PF on Scout, 3-stars on Rivals
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Colorado
Minutes per game: 32.0
Highlights: 9.2 points, 4.0 rebs per game...Double digit points 12 high 21 points vs. UL-Monroe...played 42 minutes in OT loss to Texas
Would have been: In the mix with Carter, Bostick, and Busch
Bummer?: Numbers a bit inflated by playing so many minutes for a bad team, but he's a versatile scorer who will only get better. Definite bummer.

From: Palmdale, CA
Position: Center
Size: 6-11, 265
Credentials: #22 center on Rivals, #36 center on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: DePaul
Minutes per game: 8.4
Highlights: 1.9 points, 1.8 rebs per game...Career high 11 points against Providence...appeared in all but three games this season
Would have been: The third big man
Bummer?: Maybe a little, but if can't be a big contributor for a crap team like DePaul, it's unlikely he could do much for the Gophers


From: Montgomery, AL
Position: Point Guard
Size: 5-10, 175
Credentials: #60 on Rivals150, #9 PG on Scout
Gophers level of interest: High (but never offered)
Signed with: Arkansas
Minutes per game: 32.5
Highlights: 14.6 points, 5.5 rebs, 6.2 assists per game...Second in the SEC in assists...Good chance to be SEC newcomer of the year...Triple double (20/10/11) against NC Central...double figure points in all but three games
Would have been: Might be a starter, given Westbrook and Nolen's recent troubles
Bummer?: More than I can possibly articulate


From: Memphis, TN
Position: Point Guard
Size: 6-3, 180
Credentials: Three stars on Rivals, 2 on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Originally signed with Gophers before Tubby changed his mind
Signed with: New Mexico
Minutes per game: 18.9
Highlights: 4.7 points, 3.5 assists per game...12 points vs. VCU...10 assists vs. Ole Miss...1.7-1.0 assist/turnover ratio
Would have been: Probable backup point guard (with Devoe moving to backup SG full-time)
Bummer?: Yes, would take a lot of worry away from hoping Justin Cobbs is good next year

From: Chicago, IL
Position: Center
Size: 6-10, 250
Credentials: #27 center on Rivals, not ranked on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Medium (no offer)
Signed with: Maryland
Minutes per game: 3.0
Highlights: 0.5 points, 1.0 rebs per highs are 1 point and 2 rebounds...played in only four best 6 minutes played vs. Youngstown
Would have been: Behind Jon Williams on the depth chart
Bummer?: Not one bit

From: Saginaw, MI
Position: Power Forward
Size: 6-6, 235
Credentials: #122 on Rivals150, #26 PF on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Michigan State
Minutes per game: 9.2
Highlights: 2.4 points, 2.8 rebs per game...15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Indiana...10 points and 7 rebounds vs. Alcorn State...53% field goal shooter
Would have been: Good chance at starting
Bummer?: Absolutely

From: Jackson, MS
Position: Shooting Guard
Size: 6-4, 215
Credentials: #38 SG on Scout, 3 stars on Rivals
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: UCONN
Minutes per game: 3.9
Highlights: 0.9 points per game...played in just 10 games...scored 6 points vs. Delaware State
Would have been: Hard to say, but probably competing for Shamala's minutes
Bummer?: He's supposedly a shooter, and the Gophers could use more of them, but not really

From: Champaign, IL
Position: Point Guard
Size: 6-5, 176
Credentials: #126 on Rivals150, #32 PG on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Indiana
Minutes per game: 27.6
Highlights: 9.8 points, 3.4 assists per game...started 20 games...18 points and 7 assists vs. Minnesota...13 pts, 7 rebs, 6 assists vs. Michigan
Would have been: Likely backup point guard (again, moving Devoe to full-time backup SG)
Bummer?: Turns the ball over too much, but would definitely help when Nolen and Westbrook struggle. I'll say a reluctant yes.


From: Decatur, GA
Position: Small Forward
Size: 6-4, 195
Credentials: #116 on Rivals150, #23 SF on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Medium (never offered)
Signed with: Georgia
Minutes per game: 14.3
Highlights: 6.3 points, 3.9 rebs per game...scored 23 points vs. Loyola-Chicago...19 points and 8 rebounds vs. Tex A&M-CC
Would have been: Likely behind Bostick
Bummer?: Not really.


From: Clearwater, FL
Position: Point Guard
Size: 6-5, 205
Credentials: #86 on Rivals150, #22 PG on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Medium (never offered)
Signed with: Florida State
Minutes per game: 19.0
Highlights: 3.7 points, 2.3 assists per game...14 points and 6 assists vs. Coastal Carolina...played in every FSU game this season
Would have been: Another backup PG candidate
Bummer?: A 6-5 point guard contributing nightly on a NCAA tournament bound team? Oh yeah, most definitely a bummer.

From: Chicago, IL
Position: Power Forward/Center
Size: 6-9, 220
Credentials: #22 Center on Scout, 3-stars on Rivals
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Illinois
Minutes per game: 0.0
Highlights: Redshirting
Would have been: Tough to say with no minutes under his belt this year
Bummer?: Minimally

From: St. Louis Park, MN
Position: Point Guard
Size: 6-1, 190
Credentials: #124 on Rivals150, #30 PG on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Wisconsin
Minutes per game: 12.7
Highlights: 1.6 points, 1.0 assists per game...10 points scored vs. Iowa...25% shooting, 15% from three
Would have been: Behind Devoe
Bummer?: I hate his game, so not at all for me, despite the need for better guard play on the team

From: Miami, FL
Position: Power Forward
Size: 6-8, 255
Credentials: #16 on Rivals JuCo rating, 3 stars on Scout
Gophers level of interest: Offered
Signed with: Cincinnati
Minutes per game: 16.3
Highlights: 4.0 points, 3.9 rebounds per game...14 points and 9 rebounds vs. Ark-Pine Bluff...57% shooter from the floor
Would have been: Ahead of J-Will
Bummer?: Wouldn't have been more than a backup, so not really


From: Minnetonka, MN
Position: Point Guard
Size: 6-4, 200
Credentials: #33 PG on Scout, 3 stars on Rivals
Gophers level of interest: Minimal
Signed with: Iowa
Minutes per game: 21.1
Highlights: 10.4 points, 3.0 rebounds per game...24 points vs. West Virginia...43% from three...multiple suspensions, including the entire second semester
Would have been: Arrested or, more likely, suspended
Bummer?: On the court yes. Off the court no. Overall, no.

From: Plantation, FL
Position: Power Forward
Size: 6-10, 215
Credentials: #26 on Rivals150, #12 PF on Scout
Gophers level of interest: High (never offered)
Signed with: FLorida
Minutes per game: 3.1
Highlights: 0.7 points, 0.7 rebounds per game...played in just 7 games with a high of 8 minutes...0-8 on Field Goals this year
Would have been: No clue. Turned out to be a total project.
Bummer?: Initially, yes. After this season, not so much

From: Aston, PA
Position: Small Forward
Size: 6-6, 225
Credentials: 3 stars on Rivals, 2 on scout
Gophers level of interest: Medium (never offered)
Signed with: No where (signed with Louisville as a HS freshman, then de-committed and never ended up landing anywhere - I can't find any info on why)
Minutes per game: 0.0
Highlights: I have no god damn idea
Would have been: Probably better than Shamala
Bummer?: Impossible to say

Juco PF Keith Ramsey is in the rotation for Missouri, PG Jorge Gutierrez is doing a good job as backup PG for Cal, SG Kendall Durant never ended up enrolling at Virginia Tech and has disappeared, PF Jarrod Jones is starring for Ball State, and SG Shaquille Johnson is starting for Marshall.

So there you have it. Really, the only guy I really wish was here is Fortson, but I'm not sure I'd trade any of the five guys Tubby brought in for him. Maybe Bostick, just because there really aren't minutes available for him where as Fortson could contribute immediately, but overall: Bravo Tubby, bravo.

Weekend Review

I certainly can't say the Gophers are awesome after that horrid showing against Michigan, but I also can't say the sucked since the did everything I could have asked against Northwestern. More on the games here and here.


1. Siena. The Saints went out and did what the needed to do, beating Northern Iowa in their bracket buster game 81-75 in Albany. It ended up looking less impressive than it started out, as Siena took a 40-19 lead into the half, only to let Northern Iowa make a game of it in the second half, but it’s a win, and a big win at that. UNI isn’t an elite opponent, but they are close to the same level as Siena, and their RPI of 88 makes them the second best win the Saints had in non-conference, and just their fourth win over a top 100 opponent.

The Saints have dominated their conference, at 15-1, and played a good non-conference schedule, which ranked the 24th toughest in the nation thanks to games against Tennessee and Oklahoma State at a neutral site, and games at Pitt and Kansas. That’s pretty much all you can do, short of winning the conference tournament. They’ve already wrapped up the MAAC regular season crown, and if they can get to the finals of the conference tourney, they should be in. With Kenny Hasbrouck and the rest of the crew back from the team that upset Vandy in the first round last year, they could do even more damage this time around.

2. Florida State. The Seminoles may have just guaranteed themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament this week, going 2-0 with wins at home over Miami and on the road at Virginia Tech. Those two wins moved them to 8-4 in the ACC, tied for second just a game behind North Carolina. Toss in non-conference wins at Cincinnati, at Cal, and home over Florida, and they are suddenly a surprising lock for the dance.

Interestingly, they’ve done it through defense. Old school FSU teams, going back to the Cassell and Bobby Sura days even, relied more on offensive fire-power to win, but this year’s version play tough defense (ranked 11th in the country in defensive efficiency) and relies on the senior leadership of point guard Toney Douglas. He leads the team at 20.5 points per game, second in the ACC and the only double figure scorer on the Seminoles, and also leads the team in assists and steals. Not only all that, but he hasn’t committed a turnover in the team’s last three games.

The last four aren’t particularly easy, with home games against Clemson and Virginia Tech and road games versus Duke and Boston College, but they likely need to win only one of those to go dancing, and might not even need that.

3. DeJuan Blair. Ok, fine, you want me to say it? I will: Pitt is for real this year. But it has nothing to do with the eternally overrated LeVance Fields, it’s all about that incredible front line for the Panthers. Tyrell Biggs and Sam Young are awesome as well, but Blair has established himself as one of the best players in the country.

This season the sophomore is averaging 15.7 points and 12.8 rebounds (leads Big East, fourth in the nation) and is still getting better. In Pitt’s games this week, he put up 22 points and 23 rebounds in their 76-68 win in Storrs. And these numbers came against Hasheem Thabeet, a guy I touted on here as a Dikembe Mutombo clone. He just attacked and attacked and I don’t think Thabeet was used to it, as he ended up in foul trouble the whole game and finished with just five points and four boards. And just in case that wasn’t enough, he followed up Saturday with 20 and 18 in the team’s 80-61 win over DePaul. Kind of a tweener, so who knows what his NBA future might hold, but for now, he might be Big East Player of the Year.

4. Phoenix Suns. I know they lost to Boston on Sunday, and I don’t really care. They fired some guy as coach and let some other guy coach instead (and I’d love to tell you their names but it’s the NBA so I don’t’ know) and now sine they aren’t under the restraints of guy #1 the team is going crazy to Mike D’Antoni levels. They scored 140+ in three straight games, which is unheard of since 1989 Loyola Marymount (RIP Hank Gathers.) And also went 3-0 in those games, so it’s not like we’re talking the mid nineties Nuggets here (I heart Michael Adams).

Nash is back, with 10-12-8-11 assists in their last four games versus a season average of 9. Three players hit twenty points in game 1, Stoudemire hit 42 in game 2, Barbosa hit 41 in game 3, and, well, game 4 (vs. Celts) didn’t go so well as they gave up 63% shooting to Boston. But who cares, a team who scores that much is just plain old fun.

5. Bill Smith. The Twins’ GM has quickly changed my mind about him – well, not completely, but I feel a lot better than I did a week ago, when I had the team in the “who sucked” category.

It’s not only the signing of Crede that made this an awesome weekend, but the fact that Smith managed to sign him for just $2.5 million guaranteed (with incentives that could push to $7 mil) when it was reported that Crede wanted $7 mil guaranteed (with incentives to $11). I wanted him at $7, and to get him at $2.5 is nothing short of brilliant. Yeah, he doesn’t walk much or hit for a very high average, and in fact, if I was starting a team from scratch I would want nothing to do with him, but he brings a skill sorely lacking on the Twins’ roster – power. He can slug, and if he’s healthy he will bring another dangerous power bat to the team.

Additionally, it’s now being reported that the Twins have officially made an offer to reliever Juan Cruz, who would instantly become their top setup man if it works out. If an agreement is struck, they would have to work out a trade with the Diamondbacks to make it happen, due to MLB rules and their desire to not give up a number one draft pick.

Finally, it’s also being reported that the Twins are watching reliever Chad Cordero, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and is a free agent. Cordero saved over 100 games in three seasons for the Nationals as an elite closer from 2005-2007, but hurt his shoulder early last season and hasn’t pitched since April of last year. He’s still not at 100% yet, but he had a bullpen session that the Twins were reported to have watched with interest on Friday. If he looks like he’s recovered, and they can get him cheap, he would be another way to upgrade the bullpen in a hurry.

Crede, Cruz, and Cordero? No complaints here.


1. Davidson. The Wildcats have no officially put themselves in a bad position, losing to Butler in their bracket buster game on Saturday which followed up a loss to Citadel earlier in the week, giving them two losses in the SoCon and six for the season. The Butler game might hurt the most, since it was not only at home, but Stephen Curry had returned and was fully healthy and it was Davidson’s last chance to get a second win over a top 75 team (Butler’s RPI is 28th). Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Curry decided to suck once again against a good team, shooting 6-23 for the game, including 2-13 from three, and turning it over 7 times.

In his games against teams in the RPI top 120 (Oklahoma, NC State, West Virginia, Purdue, Duke, Butler, and Charleston x 2) he has shot 70-208 (34%) including 23-100 from three (23%), with a 47-44 assist to turnover ratio. Meanwhile, in his other games, he has shot 174-324 (54%) including 79-163 (48%) from three, and has a 105-47 assist to turnover ratio. Read that again. Thank god Blake Griffin is having the season he has had, otherwise this pretender might win player of the year. What a joke.

Feel free to pick Davidson to upset somebody in the first round (if they make it), because it ain’t happening this year.

2. Utah State. Looks like DWG Jinx is alive and well, as Utah State has been on the skids since I praised them after attending their game against Louisiana Tech. Since then, they lost their first conference game of the season, at Boise State, and then lost their bracket buster game to a Patty Mills-less St Mary’s team 75-64, the combination of the two may be enough to keep the Aggies from an at-large bid if they don’t win the WAC tournament – not an easy thing to do in Reno. Their best win is over #9 RPI Utah, and that I sone that will still hold up, but other than that the resume is pretty sparse, wins over Boise State (#86) and Nevada (#90) are the only other top 100 wins here. Combine that with a strength of schedule that ranks 179th, and USU is on shaky ground. I would think the WAC should be a two-bid conference, but there have been plenty of other years with just one. They would be wise to win the tournament.

Oh, and remember how I said Utah State had the quality inside guys to give Blake Griffin some difficulty? I take it all back, as they got shredded by Diamon Simpson (18 and 7) and Omar Samhan (17 and 12) of St. Mary’s who shot 15-22 between them; good players, but not Blake Griffin. Oklahoma would kill these guys worse than Michigan State against the Gophers. I’m such an idiot.

3. Ohio State. Did the Buckeyes just play their way out of the tournament this week? Could be, with losses at Northwestern at vs. Illinois at home. They are still on the bubble, but rather than being at the top – which is where they were prior to this week – they are now squarely in the same mix as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State, all just behind the Gophers. With such a tight race and comparable resumes amongst the middle tier teams in the conference you can’t afford to lose winnable games, which includes any home game, even against Illinois, and even though going into Northwestern is tougher this year, you still need to walk out of Evanston with a win if you’re in the Buckeye’s situation.

Despite all that, Ohio State is still in pretty good shape thanks to how the schedule lines up. They probably only need two more wins to get themselves in, and have two home games left against Penn State and Northwestern. If they falter in one of those, they still have a road game at Iowa (and one at Purdue) to make up for it. In short, OSU is probably in pretty good shape, but they are making this a lot tougher than it needs to be.

4. Michigan. The win they picked up over the Gophers earlier this week was huge, but they erased that and then some losing to Iowa on Sunday. The big wins against UCLA and Duke will still hold up, but the Wolverines are on their last legs by continuing to struggle in Big Ten play. With just a home game against Purdue and two roadies at Wisconsin and Minnesota left, things look bleak considering there’s a good chance the Wolverines have to win all three. At a minimum they have to win 2, and then do some good in the Big Ten tournament.

5. Top NFL Prospects at the Combine. The NFL combine was this weekend, and all kinds of weird stuff happened with three of the top prospects: WRs Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, and OT Andre Smith.

First, likely top five pick and top receiver prospect Michael Crabtree was examined by doctors at the combine, who discovered he had a stress fracture in his foot that he apparently has had for a year. According to reports, rather than have surgery immediately, Crabtree plans to run a forty at the Texas Tech Pro Day on March 26th, and then have the corrective surgery that would keep him out of action for 10 weeks. That would keep him out until June or July, right up to the beginning of training camp. This means whichever team takes him in April’s draft will be taking him without really knowing how he’s recovering from surgery, which may cause Crabtree to fall (and probably be a bargain for somebody).

Of course, he may still end up being the first receiver picked, as there was some weird injury news that came out about 2nd ranked WR prospect Jeremy Maclin out of Missouri. While running a route in a drill, Maclin tripped and wend down hard – and didn’t get up. He was helped off the field and brought to a training table, and it was reported he wouldn’t be finishing his drills, fueling speculation on the extent of the injury, especially since he had blown out his knee previously in 2006. Of course, it turned out to be nothing more than a bruise, and Maclin ended up finishing the same drills it was reported he wouldn’t be able to get back to. Wrong again, liberal media.

Lastly, and most bizarrely, was OT Andre Smith out of Alabama. He is the top tackle prospect in the draft, but has had some questions surface about his character after being suspended for the Sugar Bowl after having improper talks with an agent, which sounds kind of sexy but really isn’t. He certainly didn’t answer the character questions, as instead of working out at the combine as scheduled he instead decided to fly home, and didn’t bother to inform anyone. He was supposed to work out on Saturday, but was completely MIA and wasn’t located until 30 minutes prior to his work out time. By then, he was already at home in Atlanta, claiming he decided he would rather just try to get back into shape by his pro day on March 11th, saying that he wasn’t in shape. So what amounts to basically your biggest job interview either, and not only are you not prepared, but you decide to just bail? Almost sounds like another Dimentrius Underwood here. Hell, let somebody else draft him, I wouldn’t touch him anywhere near the first round.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gophers/Northwestern Game Blog

Absolute must win here for the Gophers. They probably need to win three of the last four to feel good about their NCAA bid chances, and this is the easiest of the bunch. Easiest on paper of course, ignoring Northwestern's earlier ass-whooping of the Gophers. And don't forget they went into East Lansing and beat the Spartans, so they aren't just a home threat.

A couple of keys before we get started:

1. Gophers offense. Stagnant, lazy, perimeter oriented, and it needs to get healthy while going against it's absolute nemesis - the Northwestern 1-3-1. The one, and only, shred of good news on this front is that the Gophers showed they have the ability to go against a 1-3-1 in the opening minutes against Michigan, where they attacked and penetrated and got good shots. Of course, the bad news is that they quickly abandoned that strategy to swing the ball around the perimeter and take bad shots.

2. Gophers defense. Lazy and not smart lately. Giving up a lot of open shots, and Northwestern has the shooters to knock them down. They can't give up as many wide-open looks as they did against the Wolverines, or this one will be over quickly.

Anyway, on to the game:

- God damn overtime in the stupid Iowa/Michigan game, as if anybody cares about that. Meaning, of course, that we won't get to the Gopher game until, like, the 12 minute time out. Which, I suppose, makes it just like pretty much every other Gopher home game.

- Ooh, live look split screen style at the Gopher tip off with Iowa up by 10 and up less than a minute left. Hello NIT Wolverines, enjoy yourselves.

- We're here, 17:45 left and Northwestern up 3-0. I'm going to assume the Gophers let the Wildcats have a wide open three. It's just what they do.

- Wide open NU layup as Sampson and DJ get confused on a screen, followed by an Al Nolen airball from three. I kind of want to turn this off already.

- Northwestern is in a man-to-man. I repeat, Northwestern is in a man-to-man. This makes zero sense. You don't need to play mind games and try to mix things up when the other team can't handle your base defense. This would be like having the spread gun in Contra but deciding, you know what, I'm going to go with the Laser instead.

- Defense looking very tough and very aggressive, creating turnovers and transition opportunities. Plus Devron Bostick just scored. Things starting to look a little more positive.

- Joseph fouled on a three point attempt about a foot behind the three point line. Of course, whoever the dumb announcer is says, "that's well outside Devoe Joseph's range." the way he's been shooting lately, I'm pretty sure if he's inside the half court line, he's in range. Watch a game once in a while, ass. 2-3 for Joseph, 11-5 Gophers.

- Defense looking even better. Northwestern is, at this point, chucking up threes but they aren't open. Generally they are a foot or two behind the line, and there's a Gopher flying out in the shooter's face each time. I am encouraged.

- Hugh Jackman is hosting the Academy Awards? What the F?

- I've thought about it, and I'm now convinced that Travis Busch is the worst player in the country averaging more than 12 minutes a game. And I'm including those guys on NJIT and other joke schools.

- My wife has really bad strep throat, and tylenol isn't helping, so we dug out some old Percoset she had from after she gave birth to WonderbabyTM. She's now wandering around the house saying, "this feels really good" and "I really like this." I'm concerned. And yet, the Gophers interest me more. Seems like they are dominating the game, but their only up seven (with 7 minutes left). Bostick looking great though with seven points already and a lot of PT. Maybe he won't transfer after all. I'm still hoping he doesn't, at least.

- And HERE'S the 1-3-1. This will tell the tale of the game right here. And they never cross the three point line, settling for a Westbrook heave with 3 left on the shot clock. I am now worried. Also worried about Mrs. W, who is now yelling at her Mac & Cheese for having clumps in the sauce.

- Announcer guy: "I think Minnesota sometimes struggles when their guards overhandle the ball, and they don't feed the big guys." Ok, so maybe he does watch the games sometimes.

- Halftime, Gophers lead 36-18 and are looking very good doing it. A very aggressive, high-pressure defense is forcing Northwestern into bad shots, and despite a lack of turnovers, they are able to get out and run thanks to a lot of missed Wildcat shots. In the halfcourt offense, they have for the most part utilized both dribble penetration as well as finding the big man on the block in order to get inside, not to mention attacking the 1-3-1 from the high post well enough to get NU to abandon playing that defense (although Paul Carter is far superior to DJ in that high post position). The Gophers have been helped by some cold Northwestern shooting, as they had some wide open shots they've missed, but overall it's their defense, reminiscent of the Illinois game, that's forcing the Wildcats to look bad. Excellent half.

- Player of the Half = Devron Bostick, with 9 points and, aside from one blown defensive assignment, has looked great and basically kept Hoffarber on the bench. Interestingly, it's also his birthday today. Happy birthday Devron, please keep this shit up in the second half.

- Mrs. W is now accusing me of deleting all the playlists off her Ipod, despite the fact that I've never used it and have my own synced to a completely different computer.

- Hm, the halftime summary thing is trying to tell me that Lawrence Westbrook has 11 points to lead the team, but I'm having trouble buying that.

- Northwestern going with that hell of a 1-3-1 to start the half. Gophers need to keep attacking and not try to sit on their 18 point lead. Also I just ordered Baseball Prospectus Guide for 2009. And Ralph made 2 free throws to stretch the lead to 20. Life is good.

- A Northwestern 3, followed by a shot clock violation after Nolen passed up an open three with about 4-5 on the clock. I feel less good. Kind of like before was eating fire sauce on a Taco Bell taco and it feels so good, but now it's kind of like about a half hour after that, when it feels like that alien from that movie about an alien is trying to burst out.

- Another shot clock violation, but the Gophers still lead by 20 because Northwestern is so awful. I think Northwestern vs. Kerwin Fleming, Kevin Payton, Travis Busch, Zach Puchtel, and Steve Esselink would be a pretty damn good game.

- "Colton Iverson playing like Allen Iverson." Ugh. How do these guys get jobs? Still up 19.

- Busch with a breakaway due to playing suckhole aka Spehar style, goes up for a layup and is "flagrantly" fouled by Nash, who was almost my new hero when it looked for a moment like Busch was injured. I know it's not very classy to hope for an injury, but.....well.....I got nothin' here.

- Al Nolen's new nickname is, "I suck at basketball"

- I dislike most of the fans who dress up like idiots because it's stupid, but the dude in the Paul Carter jersey with the Flava Flav clock that says "Tubby Time" is money.

- Mrs. W now talking about our Vegas trip in May with Snacks and his wife, Optimator and his wife, and two randoms including some chick who made out with Grand Slam at Snacks' wedding. Nothing particularly funny about it this time, but it did get me fired up for Vegas.

- 62-37 with 5 minutes left after an excellent pass from Hoffarber to set up Paul Carter for a three point play. I'm going to go ahead and say that's pretty much an allegory for the season. Hoffarber has two sides to him: the one dimensional shooter who doesn't do much else, and the all-around good player who can put it on the floor and do some things. I don't remember where I was going with this but your mother's a whore.

- 67-40 with four minutes left. I'm calling this one. Excellent win for the Gophers, and if they can figure out a way to play like this all the time there's no doubt the NCAA tournament is in their future. Let's hope they keep this up for the next three. And I'll close with yet another picture of WonderbabyTM. This is her climbing her walker thing while I watch the Northwestern/Michigan game. It would be pretty easy for her to tip that over and hurt herself, but on the other hand it looks cute and in order to stop her I'd have to stand up, so, you know.

Hey! Shamala hit a three, good job. Announcer guy just called him a pretty good player, so I can only assume that dude will be fired by the end of tonight.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to the Team, Stud (aka OMG OMG OMG OMG)

According to my mom and nobody else, the Twins have signed Joe Crede for less than the $7 million he was asking for initially. I can't find a damn thing online right now, and there was nothing on channel 4 news, but she swears channel 11 reported that Crede is on his way here and has officially signed. On a related note, I'm sitting at home watching channel 4 news on a Friday night. Just kill me.

[EDIT: Found a link. No real details. But it's still awesome. Just like how I'm awesome for reporting this before that damnable Aaron Gleeman.]

[EDIT: After thinking about it for about five minutes, I've decided not only to purchase a Joe Crede jersey, but also buy season tickets. Home AND away.]

[EDIT: Finally watching Wednesday's Lost episode. HOLY SHIT!]

[EDIT: I bought some crazy irish vodka tonight because it was on crazy, Walmart-like sale. I figured the Irish like booze, and for some reason I associate potatoes with Ireland, so we should be good to go. Turns out, now I remember, that the reason you associate potatoes with Ireland is because of the "Great Potatoe Famine" and so they don't much have them anymore. Still good Vodka though, but that scared me for a bit.]

[EDIT: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist was a good movie. City of Ember, not so much. Too weird, even for me. And with little to no backstory, damn thing was impossible to get in to.]

[EDIT: Shooter Hunt is a sweet name]


Well I can't say I'm surprised. Hell, I damn near called the score exactly. But it's still a let down, and it's still disappointing.

Looking just at raw numbers, you'd be tempted to say that the Gophers were unlucky and caught a poor shooting team on a hot shooting night, and based on their season 3pt percentage of 32% compared to last night's 46%, that would look right. However watching the game gave a different story, and that was horrible, horrible defense.

The Wolverines made 13 three-pointers, and damn near all of them were wide open. Whether in transition, swinging the ball around the perimeter, or a penetrate and kick, Michigan could get a wide open there pointer any time they wanted. An absolute lethargic, lazy, pathetic defensive effort in every single way - with the exception of Damian Johnson doing a very good job on Manny Harris. Every other player hurt. Nobody could stop Kelvin Grady from getting into the lane. KELVIN GRADY! They let DeShawn Sims do whatever he wanted, which, thankfully, was mostly shoot jumpers. Michigan got countless open layups and dunks in transition due to lazy defenses not getting back. And they let a little white guy who does nothing but shoot threes shoot open threes whenever he wanted. They only managed to turn the Wolverines over 8 times in the entire game (5 by Harris), and they are in no way a strong team with the ball. Just pathetic.

The offense might have even been worse. After a promising start, which saw them get the ball inside against the 1-3-1, penetrating it's seams, getting open shots, and finding Ralph in the lane, it all fell apart. Michigan switched to a man-to-man, and suddenly the Gophers had no idea what to do anymore. They abandoned penetration and trying to find the big men in the lane, and fell back into the old swing it around the perimeter until the shock clock winds down and then have to force a stupid shot. At one point Westbrook had taken it into the lane and scored on three straight possessions, but, just as miraculously as that appeared, it disappeared just as quickly.

The worst part is, the offense was working when they attacked. For the game, the team ended up shooting 24% from three, but 58% from two. This team's strength clearly does not lie beyond the arc, so their reliance on it is mind-boggling. I have no idea if it's coaching or simply players unable to do what they are asked/told, but they need to concentrate on getting the ball inside one way or another. I'm starting to think this team might be as stupid as last year's, and I didn't think that was possible.

As far as the season outlook goes, normally losing four road games in a row to possible NCAA tournament teams in conference wouldn't necessarily be cause for alarm. The alarm should be ringing loud and clear due to the way they are playing.

Al Nolen has gone far past regressing, and needs a new word invented for him (Voshon Lenarding, maybe?) Westbrook shows flashes from time-to-time of the fire he seemed to once have, but might be the laziest player on the floor at others. Hoffarber does one thing right now, and isn't doing it well. Earlier in the season it looked like he might have developed a little more to his game in terms of putting the ball on the floor, but that's gone *poof* lately. Devoe Joseph has developed into a legitimate scorer, but still struggles with his ball-handling and decision making. If there was better all-around guard play that would be a great compliment, but as it stands there is really nobody you can trust with the ball - and thus the offense stagnates. The guard play that was the team's strength earlier in the season seems to have gone the way of Delmon Young's power.

There is still hope. The team has four games left, and three of them are very winnable at home. A 3-1 record to close out the season puts them at 10-8 in the big ten and gives them 22 wins. That would almost certainly put them in the tournament. Going 2-2 makes it dicey, and you would probably need a win in the Big Ten tournament to get in.

They need to give the defensive effort they gave against Illinois, and concentrate on getting more offensive opportunities for the big guys (no, that doesn't include Travis Busch who still sucks and shouldn't see the floor). Sampson, Iverson, Johnson, and Carter are all playing well. Last night the four combined for 8-11 shooting, 16 of the teams 28 rebounds, and blocked six shots. The problem? They only got 11 shots, while the perimeter guys took 41. Read that again. You just can't win that way.

The team has the players and the coaching to absolutely go 3-1 and get into the NCAA tournament. But something needs to change. Effort is #1, changing the offensive flow/philosophy is #2. I hate to say it, but these things sound a lot like coaching issues - although the players still deserve the biggest portion of the blame for what's happening. Of course, this last loss could be my fault for using the wrong picture in my preview, as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apparently the Gophers play Michigan tonight

I had completely forgotten. Good thing I heard it on the radio. I, once again, don't have time for a real in depth preview, but I at least want to put a little something down.

As I'm sure you are aware, Michigan was a great story early in the season after knocking off both Duke and UCLA and rushing to a 13-3 record, but has since collapsed on itself going 2-7 after that start before winning in overtime at Northwestern on Sunday. They are now on the outside of the bubble at 16-10 and 6-7 in the conference. A very strong strength of schedule, 18th in the country, and an ok RPI (58th) say they still have a shot. With that SOS, a 9-9 finish in the conference might be enough to get them in. They'll have to go just 3-2 to get there, but with three road games and a home game against Purdue, tonight is an absolute must win.

Michigan leads the Big Ten in 3-pointers made and attempted, but are last in 3 point shooting percentage at just 31.7% and don't have a single player who hits more than 36%. Talk about your all-time failures. Hey Beilein, I don't want to tell you how to coach but you might want to at least consider waiting on breaking out your crazy Rick Rickert-esque West Virginia "everybody shoot a three pointer every time you touch it no matter where or who you are" offense until you, you know, get some guys who can actually shoot.

Interestingly, the Gophers defend the two point shot very well, and actually are the best in the country in blocking shots, but aren't particularly stout against the three pointer, allowing opponents to shoot 34% - about the nation's average.

They will also have to worry about Michigan's killer NBA Jam tandem, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, who score almost 50% of the team's points. Harris was defending well by Westbrook last season, but L-Dub seems to have inexplicably lost the fire he seemed to have for most of his Gopher career, and almost seems to be going through the motions at this point. Sims is about 1,000 times better this year than last, so it's irrelevant to even look at his past performance. He will be a good test for Ralph and Colton, although it wouldn't surprise me to see Damian on him at times.

Defensively, Michigan is pretty much an average team for the NCAA, which means they are a poor team to Big Ten standards. Their biggest weakness would be defending the two point shot, and they are slightly better than average against the three.

Talent-wise, this should be no contest. Outside of Manny and Sims, the Wolverines are pretty bare, while the Gophers can legitimately go 9.5 deep. Even so, Michigan does have the two best players in this game, home court advantage, and desperation on their side. I would love to pick the Gophers based on what I've seen, but their last three road games have been a blowout and two would be blowouts if not for huge, fluky shooting nights from the Hoff and then Devoe.

This team gives me zero reason to believe in them. I'm terrified Al Nolen is going to turn it over 7 times, and one (or more) of those three point chucking jackass sidekicks for Michigan is going to get hot. Michigan 73, Minnesota 60 (although Sampson should have a good game).

From the Barn did a nice Q&A collaboration with the Michigan blog UM Hoops, so go read it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Greetings and Salutations from the Windy City

Yes, I am once again on the road, this time in the Greatest City in the World, the lovely Chicago. Unfortunately I am only here for tonight, and had no time to get together with Bogart (I'll see you in a month good buddy). Instead, we went to a Sports Bar called Mother Hubbards and ate some wings and played some Golden Tee. The Golden Tee was ok, I sucked the first game and rocked the second game, but the real issue I have is with the wings. Seriously, who wants their wings not separated? It's like doing minor surgery to get to any actual food. If I wanted to work this hard, I would go somewhere and get crab legs. Places that have non-separated wings seriously need to put that somewhere on the menu. Total BS. And also some weird dude next to us was playing the Tee, and he called himself "Da Govna" and tried to mack on all the waitresses and it was just brutal. I want to stab him in the face. Anyway, I have several other bones to pick with you people.

- The first thing I want to talk about is Bracket Busters, which happens this weekend. It is a pretty cool deal, there is no doubt, but in reality there is not much here that will impact the NCAA tournament. There are 51 games, and other than a few at the top, most are relatively meaningless. I mean, Georgia State (RPI rank 289) vs. Eastern Michigan (RPI #320)? What the bloody hell? There are only 343 teams in Division I. What bracket exactly is this supposed to be busting?

64 teams go to the NCAA tournament, 32 to the NIT, and 16 to the CBI. There would (theoretically, of course) have to be 3 other 64-team tournaments before either of these teams would be invited. I mean, jesus, South Dakota State is involved in this thing (RPI 275) playing the exciting 6-15 Cal Poly Schillings (RPI 285). The best though, is definitely the 6-16 Northern Illinois (RPI 323) traveling to the 2-22 Southeast Missouri State (RPI 336 - OUT OF 343!). I'm starting to think they just pick the teams out of a hat.

Now, there are some pretty solid matchups as well. The Butler/Davidson tilt is the marquee matchup, although with Curry hurt it loses some of the luster of watching Curry shoot 4-54 and still get praised. Both teams are likely already in the tournament, but this would have a good effect on seeding. Even better are the Utah State/St Mary's and Northern Iowa/Siena games. None of the four teams are a lock at this point, and all are squarely on the bubble. A win for any of them would go a long way - pretty much what I thought the point of this whole exercise was. George Mason vs. Creighton is another good one, although neither team is really on the bubble just yet, a win in this game would give that team a boost towards it - especially for Creighton. That's pretty much it for NCAA ramifications (although I find the NDSU/UW-Milwaukee game a bit intriguing).

Never fear, however, I have a solution. Open this baby up to all non-BCS conferences, bringing in the Mountain West, Conference USA, and the Atlantic 10. You know who really could use a big win? Temple (RPI 34), New Mexico (RPI 75), UAB (RPI 39), Houston (RPI 87), and Tulsa (RPI 70). According to Joe Lunardi at ESPN, none of those teams are in the tournament right now, and all are having pretty good seasons and could use a bigger chance to prove themselves against a team in a similar position rather than beating up on the dregs of their conference.

Also weird, there's not a single Sun Belt team involved here? Troy (RPI 126), Western Kentucky (RPI 65), and Little Rock (RPI 93) are all in a position where they could benefit from one of these games. Yet, there's nothing. Chalk me up as one who loves the idea, but doesn't get the execution of this event. And since I've already written 500 words on this, I'll just let it go for now.

- I'm almost positive Purdue has a direct line to the biggest floppers/can't stay on his feet ever kind of guys. First Brian Cardinal, now Chris Kramer. That has to the top two of all-time, with Greg Paulus coming in a distant third:

- Speaking of Paulus, what is it exactly that he does well? He doesn't score (6ppg), can't shoot (38%, 33% from three), and isn't a wizard with the ball (1.7 assists to 1.0 turnovers). He can't play defense, as I've more than once heard them reference "Duke having to play Nolan Smith here for defensive purposes). I mean, Wojo was annoying back in the day - as many dukie PG were, but at least he served a purpose, I think. This guy just straight up sucks. He's worse than Ron Powlus.

- Angry thing number 2 is how I heard on the radio the other day some jackass saying, "The Yankees hands down have the best rotation in baseball." What? For reals? I haven't even done any research but I bet that's not true, especially the "hands down" part. It's just more Yankee loving around the world. Makes me sick.

You have: Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Pettitte, Chamberlain. I have no quibble with Sabathia. I still think he's heading for an injury after all the innings he's piled up, but I can't assume one, so he's definitely good. I will go ahead and assume an injury for Burnett, the Fred Taylor of MLB. No way in hell this guy stays healthy for another year, especially after getting all that fat cash. Seriously, you're going to give a 32 year old that kind of money after a season where he pitched a career high in innings and was barely above league average? No wonder the Yankees are down the shitter. Wang is fine, especially as a non-ace, but he's also coming off an injury. Pettitte is like, 45, and is actually fine as a number 4 - he'll give you 200 innings but he's coming off the worst three years of his career, I have no idea how you expect that to turn around. And Chamberlain is a hell of a set-up man who they are, again, going to try to shoehorn into a starter.

I'm not saying it's a bad rotation, it's actually quite good if Sabathia, Burnett, and Wang all stay healthy (not likely) and they keep Chamberlain out of the bullpen (slightly more likely), but it's no where near the best rotation - "HANDS DOWN."

I won't even try, let's just pick a team. I'll pick the Rays. How bout Shields, Kazmir, Garza, Price, Sonnastine. Plenty of questions, but which would you take, Rays or Yankees? Hell, even the Cubs shitty rotation is on the same level: Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, Lilly, and Marshall. I'm not sure I wouldn't take the Cubs. You want young? Even beyond the Twins? How about the Reds? Harang, Volquez, Arroyo, Cuerto, and Bailey? That's pretty solid. Indians? Royals? Angels?

Point being, the Yankees are in good shape but there are a lot of teams with a rotation I would call in the same class, if not better. Hell even the Padres and Phillies are in good shape, but with a total stud who doesn't have the injury question mark of Sabathia - who, yes, hasn't had injury issues but jesus look at the dude. Call me crazy, but I'm going to go ahead and say the national media are idiots.

- Did you see how the Curse of DWG hit Thabeet in the biggest way? You might also say it said something to do with DeJuan Blair, but I prefer to blame me.

- Did you know that Dominique Keller of Illinois full name is Dominique DePaul Keller? Like, his middle name comes from the school called "DePaul" in Chicago. And yet, he chose to go to Illinois over DePaul. Wow. Even still, Krys Faber chose that dumpster school over the gophers. Good job Krys.

- Jesus Christ, professional wrestling is on ESPN Classic right now.

- So I never really gave a breakdown of my casino visit at Turtle Lake. I finished up 52 dollars, the only one to win money. Mainly thanks to stellar craps rollers like Skip to My Bones, the Golden Bear, the Milwaukee Kid, and Joe the Attorney, as well as myself and Snacks. We all did fairly well rolling, and it feels like I (we) should have been up way more, but there were a lot of really bad rollers who killed it. Especially the blonde fonzi who slid in at the very end and starting betting $100+ on the don't pass and killed the whole vibe. I bet Bogart bets the don't pass. What a dick. Yet in his defense some crazy Indian lady was there in a wheelchair and had a Cade McNown jersey on, and Bogart owns a McNown jersey, so I'm no really sure of the proper protocol here.

- You know what sucks? When you get in your cab at the airport and say "Marriott Magnificent Mile" and the dude's like, "address?" and you're like, "the Marriott on Michigan Avenue" and he's like, "I need the address" so you have to take a bunch of shit out of your bag to get the paper with the address. So you tell him and he's like, "oh yeah" and you're like "no shit, the only Marriott on Michigan ave" and then you finally get there and want to pay by credit card - which their sign says you can - and you try and he's like, "Man it will take ten minutes" so you go ahead and pay by cash and hope to god you don't lose the receipt. Then when you get to the room you realize you took your book out of your bag to get your papers you shouldn't have needed and managed to leave it in the cab. Especially when you were half way through it and even though it was a shitty stupid book "Clive cussler - shock wave" you still want to finish it and now you're going to have to re-buy it. Damn it. I mean, I have an extra book with me, of course, "Children of Hurin - Tolkein" but still.

- This basketball season seems exceptionally weird, no? BC beats Duke AND UNC, yet loses to Harvard. Arkansas beats Oklahoma and Texas, yet loses pretty much every SEC game. Michigan beats Duke and UCLA, yet is struggling in the Big Ten. And Michigan State rolls through everybody in conference, unless it's Northwestern or Penn State. And suddenly Wisconsin is relevant again and in contention for an NCAA bid, but they lost to Minnesota at home. Dogs and cats living together, I tells ya.

- I really hope Devron Bostick doesn't transfer, but hell, I can't blame him if he does. He's shown some serious talent, at least in the Wisconsin game, and I really think he needs more of a chance. I mean, seriously, we're playing Shamala and Busch over him? I don't get it. Why recruit him then? I'm not saying he's some sort of savior, but I really think he should get more time. I've seen a bit of a defensive deficiency in there, but that's kind of par for the course when it comes to JuCos, so I would assume Tubby has seen that and/or knew about it. I don't get it. I mean, the dude hasn't played more than 10 minutes since the game at Wisconsin when he played 21 and dominated. That was also the only time he played more than 19 minutes this year. He's hit double digit minutes in less than half of the games this year, and that's got to be frustrating. Wouldn't you transfer if you were him?

- I really hate to question Tubby, but at this point, I kind of have to, don't I? Since that genius weave at Wisconsin (which I was there for) I can't remember any other time I've been particularly impressed with anything he's done - save recruiting. I mean, Busch played 28 minutes against Penn State. 28 minutes. More than Bostick has played in a single game this year. MORE THAN PAUL CARTER HAS PLAYED IN A GAME THIS YEAR. I'm having trouble coming up with any situation where Busch should play over Carter, and yet, here we are. I OFFICIALLY don't get it.

- I'm depressed and I have to go to bed. Here is a picture of Wonderbaby to make it up to you:

And just in case that's not what you're looking for here's some random LSU fan for you (I still reserve the right to use this later)

- [ ed. note: ah crap, I stepped on the rare sidler post. Please still read. he's much smarter and less drunk than me. And smarter.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sure, why not sign Crede

I am ambivalent when it comes to the Twins signing Joe Crede. W seems fired up about it though and it would be nice to know that Bill Smith didn't spend the off-season ice fishing at McHale's cabin up north. I decided to look at some numbers and despite often being wrong, I figured why the hell not, let's type.

Powered by New Belgium beer, not some pansy vodka/cran...

Here are six reasons why it is a good idea to sign Crede:

1. Sideburns. He'll fit right in.
2. The Twins are under budget, so who gives an F if they overspend on a one-year deal for a small improvement.
3. It'll shut fans up for a little bit.
4. He's a different kind of hitter than pretty much everyone else in the lineup.
5. His .460 SLG would have been third on the 2008 Twins and 55 points higher than the top RH hitter, Delmon-strocity.
6. No more Buscher defense at 3B.

But here are six reasons to temper the excitement

1. The dude hits into a lot of outs--his best on-base percentage from the last four years is worse than all 2008 Twins regulars other than Carlos Gomez
2. He has back problems and has played 144 games over the last two seasons.
3. Even though it was only 47 games, his 2007 season counts and it was awful.
4. This is his age 31 season, he's going to have a hard time matching last year's numbers
5. The Harris/Buscher platoon isn't a bad option and could put up .360 OBP/.440 SLG/ .800 OPS. Crede's OPS has been over .800 once in the last four years.
6. You might still have to platoon with Crede; oddly, he has sucked against LHP the last 3 years.

Fans and media are clamoring for Crede, but I just don't see him as a difference maker. He's not going to hurt the team's chances, though, and that's more than you can about most recent Twins free agent signings. Spending $7mil or so on a one-year deal isn't going to hurt the team's finances, so why not go for it and sign a someone-significant free agent for a change.

Besides, if all goes well with Danny Valencia at AA/AAA this year--not that he's going to be a star or anything, but he looks solid so far--the 2009 3B is likely just keeping the spot warm.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend Review


1. Hasheem Thabeet. Have you ever seen that movie called, “The Hot Chick” with the hilarious Rob Schneider, the super hot Rachel McAdams, and the even hotter Ana Faris? Well, in it, through the use of magical African Tribal earrings Schneider and McAdams switch bodies although keep their same minds. I think what happened one time was Dikembe Mutombo got a hold of these earrings, went and found some 16 year old kid named Hasheem Thabeet who had never played basketball, and took over his body. Seriously, exact same game – beast on defense, no real skill on offense other than brute force.

Thabeet joins Mutombo and Antoine Broxsie as the only guys I’ve seen be able to completely control a game with their defense alone, as he did in Wednesday’s 63-49 UCONN win over Syracuse, going for 16 rebounds and 7 blocks, while scoring just 8 points. But, just in case you wanted a little offense, he damn near got a triple double in the Huskies 62-54 win at the Hall, putting up 25 points (10-13), 20 rebounds, and 9 blocks and almost picking up his second triple double of the season after a 15/11/10 performance against Providence earlier. Even with Jerome Dyson out for the year, I still think UCONN is the favorite to win the whole thing, and Thabeet is a big part of that.

2. Blake Griffin. If you read this blog often, and god bless you, you may remember my earlier post from this year that mentioned Blake Griffin. In said post, I called him overrated and a “more talented Dusty Rychart.” Wow. Much like with JP Losman, I was WAY off. He now has something like 22 double-doubles out of the Sooners 26 games while leading Oklahoma to a 11-0 Big 12 record, the first team since Kansas in 2002 to start off that hot in the Big 12. Of course, he went and saved the best for this weekend, leading his team to a 95-74 victory over Texas Tech with a ridiculous 40 points on 23 rebounds, adding to his season averages of 23 points and 14 rebounds. Did you know his brother Taylor is actually the older one? And the crappy one too. He should probably grab Robin Lopez and they could go get a beer and drown their sorrows.

3. Devoe Joseph. Single handedly kept the Gophers in the game, although his one poor pass and poor decision on the foul helped lose it. I’m considering the incredible shooting display to be more impressive than an ill-timed pass, and one freshman (and plenty of sophomores – I’m looking at you Al Nolen), make all the time. He hit seven out of eight from beyond the arc, and his only miss was a fadeaway with a man in his face heat check – and I always support the heat check.

This isn’t the first glimpse we’ve seen, but certainly the most definitive look at why he was such a highly regarded recruit coming out of dirty Canada. Add in him being one of the few who played fairly well against Indiana, and he’s definitely this week’s most awesome Gopher, with apologies to Jesus Sampson.

4. Arizona. The Wildcats were a perfect bubble team going into this week, but after sweeping the LA schools at home they have moved themselves into pretty good position. First was an 83-76 win over USC on Thursday, a game they almost lost after coughing up an 18 point lead in the first half. They followed that up by knocking off the much better UCLA Bruins by the score of 84-72 on Saturday. The star for Arizona wasn’t inside terror Jordan Hill or silky smooth scorer Chase Budinger (although they both played well) but little 5-10 junior point guard Nic Wise.

Overlooked even last year (thanks to Jerryd Bayless), Wise was ranked #120 coming into Arizona and has played well this season despite struggling with his shot a bit. That was not a concern this week, with Wise scoring 27 on 8-11 shooting against the Trojans and 26 on 9-13 shooting against the Bruins. Arizona is certainly not off the bubble by any means, but they solidified there position in a big way, and Nic Wise might be the next Jerryd Bayless.

5. Daequan Cook. Cook won the NBAs three point contest, and that’s good enough for me since the dunk contest is for retards who like car crashes and hockey fights. I’ve always enjoyed the 3-point contest, and although Cook didn’t go out like Craig Hodges, he did outlast two time winner Jason Kapono and noted chucker Rashard Lewis for the title.

Him even being involved made me wonder what was up with Cook, since I figured by grower pro last year he had doomed himself to a few years on the bench, rather than being a star at OSU and becoming a lottery pick the next season. Well, after not doing much in his rookie year, he’s found himself a role for the Heat in year 2, playing 26 minutes a game and averaging 10 points and 3 rebounds per game, in a gunner’s role (60% of his attempts this year are from three). And winning the 3-point contest, you can’t forget that.


1. Gopher Basketball. It’s getting ugly folks. The team is now 1-3 in their last four, which includes an embarrassing blowout loss (Mich State), two other losses that were only close at all due to an incredible shooting percentage (Ohio State, Penn State), and a horribly played win by just 8 over the worst team in Big Ten history (Indiana). Still a quality defensive team, but it’s become clearer and clearer and the Gopher offense is just brutally bad. What had looked like a strength earlier in the season, the Gopher guards, has become a liability, as Nolen continues to surround his few moments of brilliance with a plethora of horrible decisions and Westbrook has seemingly disappeared and lost interest in playing at all, putting up 6, 4, 4, and 4 points during this slide. They’ve stopped with the ball movement (7 total assists against Penn State) and started turning it over like they were the Hoosiers (17 turnovers in each of the last three games).

They are still on track for a NCAA berth if they don’t trip over themselves, and that should still be considered a success this early in the Tubby era, but things are getting ugly. Something needs to change, and an easier schedule could be all that’s needed with four of the final five very winnable, but the Gophers need to be careful – there’s still time to play their way into the NIT.

2. Northwestern. Going into this week the Wildcats’ at large hopes might have already been dead, and if not they were certainly on life support, but after blowing two huge opportunities for big wins they can cross “2008-2009” off the list of potential first NW teams in the NCAA tournament. On Thursday they had Illinois on the ropes in Evanston, leading by 14 with five minutes before scoring just two points the rest of the way and pissed the lead away before falling by 2 after Demetri McCamey hit a jumper with 2 seconds left. They then completed their 0-2 week by losing to Michigan in overtime, again at home. After a reversal of fortune – NW erased a five point deficit late to push to overtime – the Wildcats ended up losing 70-67, due in part to coming out in a man defense to begin the OT despite forcing three late turnovers with that hellish 1-3-1 and also to getting the ball with five seconds left in regulation and being unable to get a shot off. Seriously, between the players and the coach this is the stupidest bunch of smart kids I’ve ever seen.

3. Florida. The Gators have a decent shot at still making the NCAA tournament, but this week won’t help after they let two winnable road games slip through their fingers at the last moment. First they lost to a reeling Kentucky Wildcat team 68-65 on a last second three pointer by Jodie Meeks, and then followed it up losing to a putrid Georgia team in the midst of an 11-game losing streak 88-86, despite both Walter Hodge and Erving Walker having makeable looks at the end that could have, at the very least, brought the game to overtime. The Kentucky game won’t make that big a mark, but the loss to Georgia will definitely hurt the profile (the Bulldogs are barely in the top 200 right now). Nick Calathes is a hell of a player and a great passer, but he’s not a point guard, yet is the only player on the roster averaging more than 2.5 assists per game (he’s at an SEC-leading 6.6). In fact, with both Hodge and Walker struggling and possibly not even being true points, the Gators have almost no hope of getting out of the first round of the tournament – if they even make it.

4. DePaul. Since there arena is without question the worst one I’ve ever seen, it gives me great pleasure to say that this team could give Indiana a run for their money as the worst major college team in the country, sitting at 8-18 overall and 0-13 in the Big East. The difference between DePaul and the Hoosiers is that DePaul actually has a couple of decent players. Dar Tucker is fifth in the Big East in scoring, Mac Koswal is fifth in rebounding, and Will Walker is a pretty decent all around player. So what’s wrong? Other than their stadium being a complete garbage dump, the suck on offense (202nd in offensive efficiency) and defense (210th), as well as not being able to shoot 27% from three (339th in the country) or defend shooting (243rd in defensive effective Field Goal percentage). Other than though, pretty good team. I hear their law school sucks though.

5. Minnesota Twins. Catchers and pitchers have reported, Spring Training officially starts tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited for all the changes the Twins have made to the roster this season in an attempt to keep up with Chicago and Cleveland. My favorite move so far has been how they haven’t even come close to addressing any of their holes from last season. Upgrade at third? Nope. Better shortstop? Nope. Sign a quality reliever? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Shortstop will be manned by Nick Punto, an excellent utility player and great fielder but not a hitter by any stretch. Third base is looking more and more like it will be manned by the same underwhelming platoon of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. And the team’s answer to the bullpen issue was to sign the middle reliever versions of Adam Everett and Mike Lamb in R.A. Dickey and Luis Ayala – who will probably end up working out just as well.

Every other team in the division is making an effort to get better and/or younger, but the Twins just sit there with their finger up their ass, refusing to take a chance on Eric Gagne, Mark DeRosa, Juan Cruz, and, currently, Joe Crede. Hell, the Indians signed Tony Graffanino to a minor league deal and it’s basically meaningless to their offseason but would have been the highlight of the winter for the Twins, and even the Royals are more exciting, trading for Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp among others, and are currently supposedly considering signing Orlando Hudson.

Joe Crede is not only what the team needs from a talent and position stand point, but he’s what the fans need to cut the apathy that has settled over not only them, but seems to have settled over the front office as well. In the immortal words of Teddy KGB, “Pay that man. Pay that man his money.”