Gopher Nation from The Daily Gopher is another participant in Myron Medcalf's Big 10 Power Poll for startibune.com, and he sent out 5 questions to all the voters. Check TDG on Monday for his recap of everybody's answers, mine are below with his questions in bold:
1 - The Gophers endured probably the most difficult start to the Big Ten season that one could imagine. On the road against three of the league's best all resulted in a loss, though two of those games were one possessions games with under a minute to go. Now is the left against an upper-tier Big Ten team, but what about the other road games? What road game against a mid or lower tier team concerns you the most and why?
Every single one. But, if I'm forced to pick just a single game I'll take the game at Iowa on February 13th. Penn State is an obvious choice, but by the time the Gophers head to their place PSU might not be considered a lower tier team anymore, and there are a couple things going against the Gophers when they head to Iowa. First, that would be the most damaging game to lose in terms of an NCAA Tournament resume, so that right there has me half convinced they're going to lose. A bigger worry is a look at exactly when they head to Iowa - it's right after home games against Ohio State and Illinois. Can you see the Gophers getting one or two very big, nice home wins and then going and laying an egg the next time out in Iowa City? Of course you can, you're a Gopher fan. You've been here before.
2 - The short bench and minutes played by starters has been a hot topic lately. To me there are two angles to this topic. First of all this means we are forced to rely on a few true freshmen in the backcourt for the rest of the Big Ten season. By the time we get to the Big Ten tournament which of the freshmen will step up (if any) and be a consistent factor off the bench. Secondly, can the current starters (plus Iverson) continue to play the extended minutes they are playing for the remaining schedule? Will they be able to apply pressure defense and play transition offense without wearing down?
It's definitely not a positive. I still think Hollins and Armelin have good potential (and Walker, but he's out for the year) but they certainly aren't ready to play heavy minutes yet, so what choice does Tubby really have? Those two are capable of giving the team a combined 25-30 minutes each game, slanted towards whichever one seems to have his head on straight that game, and I think I could handle Ahanmisi for about 10 minutes. Which means Rodney, Nolen, and Hoffarber have to play about 28 minutes or so apiece each night. With Nolen and Blake getting more like 30-32, that means Rodney needs to play just 22-25 each night, and Mbakwe, Sampson, and Iverson need to play right around 28 per game as well. That's a lot of minutes for the six main guys, but I don't see any choice. If Ohio State can do it, why not the Gophers?
3 - The Gophers haven’t won a Big Ten title, officially, since 1982. Even if you include the vacated Big Ten title in 1997, this program has finished top three in the Big Ten two times since the 1980-81 season. “What will it take for this program to make the strides necessary to compete for Big Ten titles in basketball?”
Talent. Talent wins out. Good coaches can coach lesser players up, but in order to really compete at the top of the basketball world you need talent and that comes from recruiting. Whether it's getting the highly rated prospects or identifying future stars that aren't as nationally recognized, the talent needs to get better. Tubby has certainly upgraded the level of player coming here since he took over, but right now the program is at a "compete for a B10 title every 4 years or so when a really good class are seniors" and not in the class of the perennial contenders in the conference.
4 - Let's move on to some Big Ten talk. We've all been participating in the power poll and Ohio State has been the near unanimous #1 all season. It would be hard to argue that anyone else will win the league but when all is said and done who will be the second best team in the conference and why?
Wow, that is tough to say because every team is flawed. Purdue and Wisconsin are both completely reliant on their duos. Michigan State might be the most talented on paper but they are a mess right now. The Gophers are still the Gophers. I'd have to go with Illinois by default. They're a good, but not great, team and have enough talent spread out amongst all their players to be a threat on any given night, so I'd expect they'll end up finishing second when the season schedule is through. They'll also lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and that's a guarantee.
5 - The Barn...stand up or sit down? Here is your opportunity to rant...
I will never, ever understand why people think they have the right to tell other people how to cheer for their favorite team. Not everybody is a yeller, and guess what? I think when you yell instructions to the players or refer to them by their first names that makes you an idiot with more than a touch of delusion. How do you like that? Stand if you want, sit if you want. Nobody should be able to make you sit down if you want to stand, and nobody should try to make you stand up if you want to sit. Seriously, just leave people alone, weirdos.