I was all set to finally make it to Williams Arena for my first game of the year, when the double whammy lightning bolt of pink eye for Wonderbaby and work blowout for Mrs. W knocked those plans out of orbit, leaving me on the couch, watching the game like the rest of you slackers. So I might as well make the most of it and write some stuff down.
20:00 - Game hasn't started yet, we're currently watching the end of the Wake Forest/Hampton game that is inexplicably going down to the wire. Seriously, that Iowa/Wake Forest matchup in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge might feature the worst team in Big Ten history vs. the worst team in ACC history. I guess that's kind of historic, in it's own retarded way.
20:00 - I did finally watch the Gopher/Wofford game and paid like, 75% attention to it. Two things stood out for me: Ralph Sampson III looking like he actually wants to dominate fools this year, and Al Nolen doing three things I didn't think he was capable of: knocking down a three and doing in confidently, penetrating into the lane and aggressively attacking the basket, and getting into the lane and knowing exactly where his teammates were for the dish. If that was for real, and I'm not betting on it, the Gophers are going to be awfully tough to beat because he's still unguardable. And also I think I love Chip Armelin like a fat kid loves cake.
19:44 - Austin Hollins starting? Interesting. And boy did he just get schooled by Clarence Jackson. Really can't let that guy get off. I hope there's nothing going on with Rodney.
19:02 - Siena going zone here, and the Gophers hit threes on their first two possessions, one by Blake and one by Hollins. Both wide open, too. I read Siena isn't maybe the strongest defensive team, so the open shots will be there, just gotta keep knockin' 'em down. Siena has answered with a couple of threes of their own and leads 8-6, but neither of those were due to a defensive breakdown by the Gophers, so I'm not concerned yet.
17:33 - Beautiful move and reverse lay-in by Hollins. Boy does that kid look good. He might be better than Rodney Williams already.
16:37 - Hoffarber answers a Siena three-pointer (wide open) with one of his own (wide open). Not a ton of defense being played here.
15:58 - Al Nolen just hit a shake-and-bake step back jumper. I feel like I'm in bizarro world with Kevin, Gener, Feldman, and Fargas. Next thing you know I'm gonna get yelled at for eatin' olives.
15:43 - Another god damn three-pointer by Siena, and the Saints lead 18-13. The defense isn't even that bad, they're just hitting tough shots. Can't last, right?
15:10 - Nolen dribbles into the lane and picks up his dribble with no idea what he's going to do with the ball. Sigh.
14:29 - Rodney is in, and just passed up a jumper so he could throw the ball into the crowd instead. I wonder if Hollins has just straight up outplayed Williams to the point where he's earned the start. Wouldn't shock me.
13:44 - Siena goes man-to-man, forces Rodney into another turnover after trapping him in the corner. Siena leads 22-15, and I don't want to say I'm getting nervous, so I just won't say anything at all.
13:09 - Rodney drives to the hole. Shot got blocked, which obviously isn't ideal, but it's good to see him try to make that play. And then Jackson hits another three-pointer. Dude is out of his mind right now, with 14 points on 6-6 shooting. Also Siena as a team is shooting 10-12. Yes, that's 10-12. Remember in my preview how I said Jackson was the kind of guy who could single-handedly win this for Siena? Yeah, it's like that.
12:05 - Just saw that Georgia Tech is losing by ten to Kennesaw State late in the second half. The bottom of the ACC this year is just brutal. Like, I think the bottom of the Big Ten might end up being better.
10:22 - Rossiter finally gets on the board, going right by Sampson as if he was standing still. I gotta say man, right now Siena looks like they're playing on a whole different level than the Gophers. Not like the Gophers are playing poorly, but Siena just looks out of their mind good. You may consider me nervous.
9:34 - Nolen clangs a three.
8:50 - Very quick four straight for Sampson, boosted by a good steal, good rebound off his own miss, and good pass by the Hoff. Ok, I'm just going to say it. Blake should play every minute of every game this year. He's not the most talented player on the team, but he's their best player. Of course, as I'm typing that Jackson completely loses him around a couple of screens leading to a shooting foul, and reminding me why Blake can't play every minute of every game. If I had to sum up his offensive contributions vs. his defensive shortcomings in picture form, it would look like this:
7:06 - God Rodney Williams drives me crazy. He's now developed a sideways float on his jump shot, meaning that of the two things he did well last year, he no longer does one of them. He also just got schooled by a UTEP two-step by a white dude. I still have faith. But it's more like my faith that the Loch Ness Monster is real than my faith in gravity still working tomorrow.
5:56 - Georgia Tech is about to lose to Kennesaw. Really a banner season so far for the ACC.
3:26 - This game needs more Mbakwe.
2:28 - One handed monster jam by Mbakwe on a run-out off a great pass in transition from Hoffarber (and great catch by Reign Man II). Seriously, I should be coaching this team. Everything I say is right.
1:55 - Armelin with a great drive to pull the Gophers to within two. I gotta say, and I know it's early, but lookin' like Tubby found a couple of gems in this class in Armelin and Hollins. Those two are looking like they are both going to be outstanding four year players.
1:15 - Mbakwe with a nice baseline spin move into a lay-up and the foul, hits the free throw to give the Gophers back the lead at 33-32. Who was it who said the Gophers needed to get the ball to Mbakwe more? Genius.
HALF - Siena goes to half with a 34-33 lead because nobody can cover Jackson. He should cool off here in the second half and the Gophers have most of the momentum and seem to be figuring this thing out, so I'm not worried anymore. Gophers will end up winning by eleven.
19:40 - Another board for Hoffarber. I honestly wouldn't be shocked if he ends up getting a triple double at some point this year. I mean, he probably won't because 10 assists in a college game is pretty damn difficult to do, but it could happen.
18:08 - Gophers clang a couple of three-pointers, while Siena scores on a couple layups. The Saints are the more aggressive team right now. It's leading to a lot of turnovers, but also too many easy buckets.
15:47 - We head to the under 16 timeout with Siena still up, but just by a count of 42-41 after Hoffarber and Hollins each hit a three-pointer. I'll tell you what's driving me nuts in this game, and that's this incredible over reliance on the three pointer for offense. I know that it's what is open, as in other than a couple I don't think most of them have been forced, but they need to be making a more concerted effort to get the ball inside. Sampson and Mbakwe have been damn near unstoppable when they get a chance, so let's do that more often. If nothing else, they're getting doubled and opening up the outside even more.
14:38 - Gophers up two, and Siena is doing everything in their power to give this game away. Time to put this baby to bed.
13:40 - God damn Clarence Jackson. Another three.
12:32 - Nobody wants to win this game. It's just a turnover-fest right now. It would be like watching Wake Forest play Iowa, but if they decided to play at faster than their usual glacial pace. And also if Teen Wolf was on one of the teams, because guess who just hit another three-pointer? Yep, Clarence "Dickface" Jackson. This is like Lazelle Durden all over again. I wonder if he's related to Tyler Durden.
10:34 - Work it inside. Reign Man II gets another dunk. Work it inside. Rodney Williams lay-up. Gophers now lead 53-48, and in case their was any doubt that I'm a god damn basketball genius, I think we can put that debate to rest.
9:30 - Work it inside, missed layup but the double team leads to a Rodney Williams tip-dunk.
8:55 - Trevor Mbakwe's head looks like his brain is on the outside. And he's got another double-double tonight. It's pretty clear the lineup should be Nolen/Hollins/Hoffarber/Mbakwe/Sampson for now, with Joseph in for Hollins when he gets back Then you have a bench of Hollins, Armelin, Iverson,
6:40 - Rodney alley-oop, Sampson lay-in, and the Gophers are suddenly up 59-49. That alley-oop to Rodney was pretty incredible. He just sort of never came down after he jumped, waited for the ball, and dunked it. Even though I think he has holes in his game you could drive a truck through it isn't hard to see why pro scouts are drooling when they watch him play. He's the next Harold Minor.
3:53 - Gophers lead by 10 into the final TV timeout, and right now Siena is a we bit lost and hasn't made an actual field goal in something like 10 game minutes, mostly due to turnovers. Well, that and piss poor shooting. I think it's in their heads because when they have the ball now they look more like a group of second graders who don't know the rules - or the Gophers usual halfcourt offense. I don't know why it's so difficult to remember to just give the ball to Jesus Shuttlesjackson and get out of his way.
2:05 - Rossiter fouls out with 8 points and can't be more than a handful of boards. Really unimpressed, and I was looking forward to seeing him play since he's supposed to be a favorite for the MAAC Player-of-the-year award. Talk about a let-down. This is just like that movie about the werewolf with the guy from that movie with Alicia Silverstone.
1:55 - Six point game and Nolen misses the front-end right after Rodney hit just 1 of 2. Let's not make this interesting here, guys. Remember, they have Kyle Watson from Above the Rim out there.
1:14 - Four point game, Nolen at the line. Rattles home the first, thank god. Misses the second, but Kickass Mbakwe grabs the offensive board. Hoff at the line and I think it's time we put a notch in the win column.
Gophers win 76-69. Good win. Not a great win, but Siena is a solid team who threw their best shot at the Gophers, and Minnesota weathered the storm, shut Siena's offense down completely, and tore them apart in the paint after spending too much of the game living on the perimeter. Nicely done.