Thursday, November 26, 2009

Suck it, Mid Major (and refs)

Now that, my friends, is a nice, nice victory.  Quite frustrating, especially with the refs seeming to call every little ticky-tack thing on the Gophers all night long, but a very nice win over a 10th ranked team, however dubious that ranking might seem after watching them play.

Make no mistake, the Gophers were clearly the better team, and were probably twenty points or so better than the Bulldogs.  It was the sheer volume of Butler free throws (36-45) that kept this game close.  It shouldn't have been a surprise, since Butler was 20th in the country in getting to the line coming into the game, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

In the first half, it was the Colton Iverson show (alternate headline:  There's a new Iverson in town - get it, Allen might be retiring).  The sophomore was absolutely everywhere, notching a double-double in the first half - his first career double-double - and playing as well as I've ever seen him.  Defensively, there isn't really much doubt that he can be a contributor (2 blocks), and his rebounding will always be a welcome addition (11 boards), but his offensive output tonight was a welcome surprise (13 points).  It wasn't always (or ever) smooth and it's not exactly like watching Hakeem the Dream out there, but his play was the biggest reason why the Gophers were up four at half.  Due to his effort tonight, I will not say a bad word about him, no matter what, until 2010 at the earliest. 

There wasn't much Colton in the second half - except for when he tossed fat ass free throw shooter with no other discernable skills unless making refs think you got fouled is considered a skill jerkass Matt Howard to the ground - but he wasn't needed.  Devoe showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit, having to take over at the point with Nolen out most of the half with four fouls thanks to a nice pele routine that earned him a tech.  He handled himself well taking care of the ball, and showed a nice ability to score inside, outside, and in transition.  Damian was the other star, showing off his newly developed well-rounded offensive game.  It's not pretty much of the time, but he looks so much smoother than he used to, and has actually developed some nice moves, including a little hook, a three-point shot, and the ability to get to the rim by putting the ball on the floor.  The more I watch him, the more I can't believe he was a Monson recruit (NOTE:  Nolen, I believe).

Speaking of Monson recruits, I should also mention Westbrook and the Hoff here.  Westbrook started the night in a fog, as he did far too often last year, but didn't stay there, really asserting himself for a short stretch late in the second half.  He not only had a huge three point dagger, but also pulled off an incredible move for a layup that was probably a travel, but since it wasn't called thanks to the refs being clueless all night, it counts as a great move.  And Hoff started the night with an airball, but then went on to make three of his other four attempts from beyond the arc, played well at the point when called upon to fill in, and played good defense in a grueling 35 minute night.  Great game for him. 

And great game for the team overall.  They dominated this game.  The score might not show it due to 8 billion free throws made by Butler, but the Gophers outclassed them in every way.  Great win, and as long as they don't lose the next two out in Anaheim we can consider this tournament a huge, huge, success. 

NEXT UP:  vs. winner of UCLA/Portland , 8:30pm, ESPNU.  I will try to put up a quick preview if I get a chance tomorrow.  Hopefully it's UCLA, and hopefully the Gophers can control the game like they did tonight, although will far, far fewer fouls and sloppy turnovers.

And hopefully we get more Rodney.

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