Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Minnesota Gophers 83, St. Joseph's Hawks 73

Well it wasn't exactly pretty and didn't really cement the Gophers as a top 25 team, but a win is a win, a road win is always good, and not losing to a terrible terrible terrible team is even better.  St. Joe's hit 9 threes to stay in the game, which is too high, but shot just 31% because they had to hoist 29 attempts just to make those 9 trey-balls.  A cynic would say that St. Joe's really should have made more because they kept getting open look after open look, but are just a poor shooting team.  And that's exactly what I say.  The perimeter defense is still terrible, but at least they got a win.  I'm going to just jump ahead to the player-by-player comments here before I get way too negative after a win.  And yes, I was the kind of sucker who paid cash money so I could watch this game.

Devoe Joseph (19 pts, 3 assists, 4-6 on threes):   Those of you out there who complain about him not moving the ball enough or trying to do too much on his own, I'm very sorry to tell you this, but you are idiots.  He's not a point guard, he's a shooting guard being forced to play point, so naturally he's not going to be a elite distributor.  He's a pure scorer, and he hit a couple of huge threes down the stretch to make sure the Gophers didn't lose this game.  Once again, stop complaining about him.  If you don't I will come to your house hit you in the balls with a tiny hammer.

Ralph Sampson (10 pts, 5 rebs):  Pretty ugly overall for Ralph, whether because CJ Aiken is a good defender or because his dad was in attendance and sending weird satan vibes his way I couldn't tell you, but he did seem to perk up in the second half of the second half, and just in time.  He hit a couple of very nice buckets late right as St. Joe's was attempting to make a run, and he still looks so insanely smooth (think Rob Thomas featuring Santana) out there, but this tendency to shrink when he finds resistance is troubling.  As a freshman it's almost expected, but as a junior I'm a little bit irritated. 

Rodney Williams (2 pts, 1 reb):  Maybe the worst game he's played.  Got in foul trouble early and ended up playing just 8 minutes.  Let's move on.

Blake Hoffarber (14 pts, 3 assists, 4-6 on threes):  He still leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive end - both on and off the ball - but when he came up limping after hitting a three-pointer in the first half you can bet I was holding my breath in horror (just like at the end of the Blair Witch Project, which I don't care who you are if you didn't think that was scary in the theater you're either a liar or a moron).  He's just such a steadying influence on this team, not to mention he's shooting out of his head this year, and for him that's saying something.  I can't get over how much he means to this team.  I never, ever imagined myself saying that.     

Trevor Mbakwe (12 points, 16 rebounds):  Player of the game, which is something I have a feeling we're going to be saying a lot.  He nearly had a double-double at half time and kind of faded a bit, and he shot a brutal 16-footer early in the game that reminded everyone why he shouldn't be wandering outside of the paint very often, but he's just such a POWER FORWARD.  I love it.  It's like a regular player ate one of those magic mushrooms from Mario Brothers, he's just a beast.  Here's an awesome summary from the game play-by-play:
Awesome.  It would have been better if he scored instead of turned the ball over, of course, but still awesome.

Maurice Walker (10 points, 5 rebs, 4 assists):  The night belonged to Mo, who not only put up some excellent numbers but displayed enthusiasm and emotion (and effort) he hadn't really shown yet this year.  He was demanding the ball in the post, scoring when it was there and finding open teammates when it wasn't, and then yelling, chest-pounding, and generally whooping it up out there.  It was unreal from somebody who seemed disinterested a large chunk of the year thus far.  Seriously it was like Taco Bell announced they were going to an all-you-can-eat business model.

Chip Armelin (4 points, 4 rebs):  Not to overstate things, but this guy is amazing to watch.  He never, ever stops moving, and when the Gopher offense does that stupid crap when it stagnates and everybody looks lost having a guy who likes to run from baseline-to-baseline for fun can be a major asset, and that's what he did when St. Joe's went zone.  His numbers don't look all that great, but he is a major component of this team and a huge part of how well the offense plays on any given night.

Austin Hollins (6 pts, 4 assists, 4 steals):  Steady.  Guy is just steady, which is a major compliment for a freshman.  Other than a semi-flashy steal late and perhaps one of the worst air-balled wide open three-pointers in the history of basketball he pretty much went unnoticed.  Maybe it's his play, or maybe it's because I was watching a crappy internet feed while holding a screaming baby and trying to get WonderbabyTM to stop throwing Teddy Grahams at the dragons on the TV, but I just don't take much notice of him.  Much like that baby I just mentioned.  Dude is just steady.  Like Eddie.

Colton Iverson (0 pts, 3 rebs):  Outside of those statues on Easter Island that were obviously put there by aliens or time travelers, I've never seen anybody or anything so effective at just taking up space.  There will be teams he just can't play against due to his physical limitations (which would be moving at relatively the same speed as those same statues), but St. Joe's ain't one of 'em.

Maverick Ahanmisi (6 pts):  This is way up on the list of things I wasn't expecting to say at any point in the next four years, but Mav looked quite good out there today.  Not that this is a huge bar here, but I think he already looks like a better player than Justin Cobbs.  Now, we haven't gotten into conference play yet so things can change, but swapping Cobbsy for Maverick looks pretty good to me right now.

Lastly, here is the link to this week's Star Tribune Big 10 Power Poll as presented by Myron P. Medcalf.  Check it out for the overall rankings.

Here is the ballot I submitted (remember this is through Tuesday's games):

1.  Ohio State Buckeyes - They haven't played since the last poll, but nobody can convince me there's a better Big Ten team.

2.  Michigan State Spartans -  Definitely in the upper tier with Ohio State, but if this was anybody other than the Spartans with their reputation for slow starts and runs in March, I'd be very concerned with their inability to beat any top-flight teams.

3.  Illiinois Fighting Illini - A very nice win over Gonzaga shows the Illini's early season struggles are behind them, they are deep and are seemingly getting better every time out - a scary proposition.

4.  Purdue Boilermakers - It feels like they're struggling, but really the loss to Richmond is the only blip on their schedule.  Wins last week at Virginia Tech and vs. Alabama might not be exactly marquee, but they are quality.

5.  Wisconsin Badgers - It might have been a fluke, but NC State should be a bubble team at worst this year and Wisconsin throttled them by 40.  Jon Leuer might very well be the best player in the conference.

6.  Northwestern Wildcats - The only undefeated team in the conference other than Ohio State, Northwestern has handled their business against inferior opponents.  Unfortunately the schedule is empty as can be until Big Ten play starts, so we won't really be able to get a handle on how good Northwestern is until then.

7.  Minnesota Gophers - The loss to Virginia and narrow win over Cornell exposed some pretty big weaknesses in the Gophers.  It's tough to say how things would look if Al Nolen wasn't hurt,

8.  Michigan Wolverines - I still think people are sleeping on the Wolverines a bit.  That win over Clemson is a good one, and .  Darius Morris is the real deal, if they get anything out of their front court (and Jordan Morgan suddenly looks interesting) they could shock a team or two.

9.  Indiana Hoosiers -The record looks nice at 7-1, but those seven wins were against teams with a combined 12 wins against Division I teams combined - not exactly murderer's row.  Let's see how they fare against Kentucky on Saturday, that will let us know if we need to pay attention or not.

10.  Penn State Nittany Lions -  Saturday's win over Duquesne is decent, but the Nittany Lions still need to get a big win - they've whiffed against Ole Miss and Maryland so far.  Sunday's game against Virginia Tech is their last chance before conference play, but getting taken to the wire by Mount St. Mary's doesn't bode well for their chances..

11.  Iowa Hawkeyes -  The win over Northern Iowa pulls them closer to leaving the cellar.  Too bad UNI is way down this year.

Actually I'm kind of thinking this is separating itself into tiers pretty clearly.  You have the Spartans and Buckeyes in a class by themselves at the top, with Illinois a half-step below.  Then Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern in another tier.  Below them is Michigan and Indiana, and then in a final, sad tier is Penn State and Iowa.  Obviously there could be some shifting here and there, but it's pretty clear to me where the teams separate themselves from each other.

Did you know mannequins don't have a weiner?


joey said...

Colton lays an egg the week after Dawger picked him up on his fantasy Bit Ten team. Coincidence?

dawg said...

Colt45 was dropped before this week so he can't blame his egg laying on me.