Thursday, January 21, 2010
Al Nolen has been ruled academically ineligible with a "slight glimmer of hope" that he will play again this season. Which basically means he is out for the year, which sucks. According to the report, Nolen is appealing the process due to "extenuating family circumstances" which affected his academic performance in the first semester.
As much as I bag on Nolen this is a huge blow to the Gophers. There's no doubting his defense (and the offense it creates off steals and turnovers), which I think is the best of any perimeter player in the conference, and his ability to get in the lane is a valued asset on this team (leaving aside how he seems to have no idea what to do with the ball when he gets there half the time). There are no other penetrators on this team. Westbrook is pretty much the only other guy who can get by his defender off the dribble (I'm not ready to credit Devoe with that just yet) and you know he's not exactly looking to distribute the basketball - he's a pure scorer.
You know how you get annoyed several times each time you watch the Gophers and have to watch the offense just pass the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock winds down and some poor bastard ends up chucking a 25-footer with a man all over him with :02 on the clock? Expect more of it. Who is going to run the point?
Devoe has been forced into point guard duties before, and I know he wants to play there to help any NBA aspirations he has, but he's a shooting guard at this stage of his development. He stepped up huge against Indiana and I was hoping he was finding a rhythm and was about to bust out, but if he has to play point, I'm not feeling it anymore. He just doesn't seem as comfortable.
We're going to find out in a hurry what the team has in Justin Cobbs. He's looked good in the action he's seen so far this year, but he's about to be in a whole new world. I like him, I just don't know how much faith I have in him just yet.
Either Nolen's appeal is granted, Cobbs grows up in a hurry, or Devoe magically transfroms his game (or Bryant Allen joins the team and is ssecretly an all-world point guard), or we'll get to watch someone like Illinois State or San Diego State at the Barn in March in the NIT.
You want a silver lining? The possible development of Cobbs and/or Joseph could pay dividends next year, and this lessens the amount of "line changes" we will have to see in games. If you don't, there's no doubt this season is a total mess. High hopes derailed by legal issues, a frame job by Deebo, incompetent "police" forces who take forever to investigate things, shiny and irresistible pants at Macy's, and tests that are just a little too diffiicult.