Well that was pretty ugly. 23 turnovers against Fairfield certainily isn't going to warm the cockles of my black heart, but at least the Gophers won. And, in a very weird way, they also impressed me which is probably like me being a serial killer's mom and being impressed because that one time he didn't kill someone, but nevertheless, they did impress me with this win. Fairfield is a good, well an ok, team, and on a day when the Gophers offense was completely terrible they were able to use some good defense, a trap that they FINALLY broke out, and some absolutely insane free throw shooting, to grind out a win that looked far easier than it really was.
The most impressive stat, I think in the history of ever, was the Gophers shooting 27-31 from the free throw line and outscoring the Stags in that regard by 12 points. If the Gophers shoot their usual 60%, this is a 1-point game which, obviously, could end up going either way, so you really can't down play the significance of that performance which I'm going to assume is a school record. Now, Trevor Mbakwe and Andre Hollins were 25-27 of that so it's not like the whole team magically got better, but hey, it's a win.
- Tubby finally pressed, even if it was mostly the man press where you get the dribbler to turn his back and then double when he can't see it coming. Even though it worked a couple of times I'd still really like to see some kind of diamond trap or half-court trap or something like that. The team is allegedly athletic enough where they should be able to pull it off. At least there's some progress here.
- Ralph Sampson was simply dreadful on the offensive end. I think the last person who had that many balls go through their hands in one night was Jenna Jameson. That being said, it was very positive to see him continue to work hard and hustle on defense when he wasn't getting burnt. So yeah, overall I thought this was a pretty rough game by Ralph, but I'm encouraged because he never seemed to go into a funk and disappear - you knew there was a 7-footer out there the whole time. Baby steps, to be sure, but he's doin' the work.
- Rodney had one absolutely gorgeous offensive highlight reel dunk, and one spectacular blocked shot. Which, it could be said, is his season average. One amazing play on each end of the court surrounded by a whole lot of filler. The fact that he doesn't even bother to look for his shot anymore tells me all I need to know.
- Andre Hollins showed some flashes of potential again, and getting to the line 9 times is a definite positive, but he's still a little too out of control at times which is a bit surprising since he's a coach's kid. Still though, he has an awful lot of Russell Westbrook in him, which is fantastic if harnessed properly and Rico Tuckeresque if it's not. I'm betting on the former. In any case, this point guard mess doesn't look like it's sorting itself out, because.....
- Maverick Ahanmisi is the best pure point guard on this team. That doesn't mean he ranks high in the pure point guard ratings of the world or anything and I'm still not sure he could even score on a date with your mom with a box of wine and a Blu-ray copy of The Notebook, but he has some court vision - something that I haven't really seen too much of from either of the other two guards just yet other than a couple of isolated incidents. Mav had two excellent passes, one one a break that bounced off Ralph Sampson's hands like it was toxic, and another pass on a pick-and-roll where he did that thing you see nba guards do all the time where they throw the bounce pass to the roller - between the two defenders - before the guy is even 100% open and hasn't even turned around yet. Consider my interest level in young Maverick tweaked.
- Julian Welch had a play that absolutely, completely summed up his defensive abilities of quick hands/slow feet. At one point he knocked the ball away from his man, nearly picking him clean but simply knocking it away and making the dude run back to the halfcourt line to recover the ball. After picking the ball up, his man proceeded to blow right past Welch and into the lane. Super quick hands, really slow feet. It'll be interesting to see how that all plays out.
- Oto Osenieks was probably my favorite player last night, simply because he finally showed why he's known as a shooter. I said after one or more of the other games that if you're a "shooter" you need to "shoot" whenever you have an opening, and Oto was deferring too much. Finally, last night, he didn't do that and he asserted himself and hit a couple of big threes. Of course, he didn't bother with a heat check, which is really lame and dumb because anytime somebody makes two straight threes they owe it to themselves, their teammates, and the fans to chuck it up the next time they have even the smallest opening. Silly freshman. Next time Oto, chuck away.
- Obviously Trevor was the star, and Austin Hollins played with his usual quiet efficiency (although the four turnovers are a bit troubling). Chip was too quiet, Elliason was meaningless and slow, Ingram still has potential, and Joe Coleman is an absolutely terrible defender. None of these things are different than any other game (except that one decent game Chipper had), so they aren't really worth elaborating on. And neither is the next game against Mt. St. Mary's, because the final score is going to be like 95-8.