Thursday, December 29, 2011

Preview: Gophers vs. Wolverines

So we move on from the disappointments of the Illinois game and up next is another road game against a slightly worse opponent in the Michigan Wolverines.  Yes, slightly worse.  Because although Michigan is ranked higher than Illinois in the polls (16 vs. 27), kenpom has Illinois a little bit better (46 vs. 52) and Illinois is significantly better in the RPI (20 vs. 59).  If you're like me and wondering why you haven't heard anything about Michigan even though they were supposed to be like so awesome its the same reason their RPI is so crappy - they haven't played anyone since December 3rd (wins over Oakland, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alabama A&M, and Bradley since then - all terrible teams).  So, again, this makes them kind of hard to evaluate.

By now you know the basic drill with a John Beilein team - shoot a ton of threes coming from every single player/position on the court, a lot of ball movement, and mediocre man-to-man defense.  This is year is no exception with one major wrinkle - the Wolverines, although still one of highest volume shooting three-point teams, have become extremely efficient on TWO pointers.  This year they are hitting at 59.2% from two, tops in the nation.  Notable in this is that all eight players who matter on this team hit at least 51% from two.  So they got that going for them.

Despite their efficiency inside the arc, Michigan still lives and dies outside of it and as such their guards are the key and they have two really, really good (but not quite great) ones in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway. 

Burke, although just a freshman, is probably the best player on the team.  He's their second leading scorer at 13 per game, leading assist guy with 5 per (ranks 3rd in b10), and chips in 3 boards and a steal per game.  His turnovers are a little high at nearly 3 per game, but that's not out of line for a freshman point guard and his nearly 2-to-1 assist ratio is a nice number.  He's an excellent penetrator (just like me, ask your mom), and can finish at the rim or kick-out to a teammate and is a solid shooter anywhere on the floor.  I wouldn't have thought it possible but he's stepped in for the departed Darius Morris and Michigan hasn't missed a beat.

Although Burke might be their best player, Hardaway is almost certainly their most important simply because he dominates the ball as much as he does.  So far this year he's done well, ranking in the top 500 in basically every advanced offensive metric other than the rebounding ones and he's mainly upped his effectiveness by shooting better from two (58% this year compared to 48% last year) and contributing more assists (2.9 vs. 1.7).   He's still a terrible chucker overall (33% from three this year, 37% last year, and leads the team in three-point attempts) but he's masked that with his ability to get to the rim and the line this year.  The Gophers would be wise to coax him into jacking up a ton of threes rather than having him gain confidence getting to the rim.  You're taking a chance that he'll put up something like the 5-9 from 3 performance he put up against Oakland, but you're also better off betting that won't happen and keeping him away from the paint.  He's a chucker, let him chuck and hope the percentages play themselves out the way they should.

Michigan has three other guys who can hurt you - Evan Smotrycz, Jordan Morgan, and Zack "8th year" Novak.  Smotrycz is a 6-9 "power" forward who is third on the team in scoring (11.7) and leads in rebounds (6.7) despite being a perimeter playing nancy boy forward who spends more time outside the 3-point line than Ralph Sampson.  He's been on fire lately, averaging over 18 a game over his last four, but he's done it by being unconscious from deep (15-19 in those four games, not a misprint).  Obviously there's no way he can keep that up, but considering he gets most of his points from three the Gophers would do well to be sure his crazy shooting streak stops.

The other two, Morgan and Novak, are both technically forwards but couldn't be more different.  Morgan is the model of efficiency, hitting 71% of his shots by never shooting anything other than a dunk or lay-up, and is big (6-8) and strong (240 lbs.).  He also has a tendency to disappear in games and losing playing time in some games due to lack of effort.  That's not an issue with Novak, who is under-sized, under-athletic, and under-talented but makes up for it with Eckstein-ien hustle and grit and an occasionally deft outside shot (which is the majority of his offensive game).  He also manages to grab about five boards per game despite being just 6-4, which goes back to that whole constant effort thing.  Since Novak hit six threes his freshman year against the Gophers they've done a pretty good job of holding him down, but I can't get that six three game out of my head.  So yeah, I'm scared of a 6-4, floppy haired, mediocre athlete.  But in my defense, he is left-handed.

So I guess I really don't know here.  The Gophers are clearly better than I thought, especially against decent squads, based on my predicted massacres at the hands of Va Tech and Illinois which clearly didn't materialize.  I don't know, with Ralph playing well (and in the paint) and with Julian Welch's influence clearly affecting this team they look really, really good.  They can absolutely win this game, and I am very close to predicting them to do so.  The only thing holding me back is that Michigan shoots so many threes and the Gophers are so completely terrible at defending them.  I think that will bite them in the ass, and another winnable road game goes by the wayside.

Michigan 63, Minnesota 60.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Writings

 So I decided not to watch the tivo'd version of the Gopher game.  I received some advice that really it would just frustrate me beyond belief, and I realized that makes a lot of sense.  I know as an alleged Gopher blogger watching the game would arm me with more information, but I'm thinking the trade-off between getting that info and wanting to kill myself like 30 different times made it not really worth it.  I do promise to have a preview up of the big Gopher/Wolverine tilt on Sunday, and have it up tomorrow night.  Really, I promise.  In the meantime, here's just a couple things about stuff.

-  I saw the most weirdest thing ever when watching the Diamond Head Classic over Christmas.  UTEP is playing Clemson and they (the Miners) go with the Triangle-and-2 on Andre Young and Tanner Smith, their two leading scorers and only two play-makers with the ball in their hands.  Not only that, but it was the most extreme T-and-2 I've ever seen.  They were actually guarding them wherever they went and not looking at the ball, so at times Smith and Young would stand out by the half court line and their defenders would follow, which meant the game basically turned into 3-on-3 on one end of the court.  It worked too, because those two scored just 14 points and tallied 4 assists (both about half their season average) and UTEP won by double-digits.  One of the weirdest, coolest things I've ever seen.

-  Let's check in real quick on my NCAA Wagers on teams to win the whole thing, and see where we stand:
  • Vanderbilt 40-1 (current: 40-1).  They've lost every meaningful game they've played.  Consider this bet dead in the water.
  • Wisconsin 50-1 (current 40-1).  I have no idea why I made this bet, but it came it at 1am on a Friday when I probably had a drink or two.  I think Wisconsin is incredibly overrated this year and they'll be lucky to win 10 Big 10 games so I don't think they remotely have a teeny tiny shot at winning the NCAA Tournament.  I guess I can consider this a hedge against the pure agony that would result if the Badgers did, in fact, find a way to win.
  • Xavier 25 -1 (current: 40-1).  I have no idea why this number dropped.  The Musketeers dropped 3 of their last 4 but were dealing with the suspensions and other fallout from the fight with Cincy.  Prior to that they had wins over Vandy, Georgia, Purdue, and Butler.  None of those teams are good, but none of them are terrible either (well, maybe Butler) so X was rolling well pre-throwdown.  I don't know.  I'd recommend you take a look at this one if you are looking to throw some gambling money around.  I also just found that I have a little extra on these guys from even earlier at 60-1.  So that's good.
  • Illinois 100-1 (current: 200-1).  Was purely a value play at the time.  Based on the athleticism of Paul and Richardson and the great off-season reports on Leonard I thought it was worth a shot.  Clearly that hasn't played itself out so far, but the win over Gonzaga and a 4-point loss to Mizzou say this team still has potential.  At 200-1 any person with a gambling account should throw $1 on this.
  • Texas A&M 100-1 (current: 100-1).  Tough to get a read on these guys because they've spent most of the year without their best player, but he's back now and they lost to Rice.  Not loving this one.
  • Syracuse 15-1 (current 6-1).  Feeling pretty good about this one, as the Cuse are one of the legit 5 best teams in the country. 
  • New Mexico 100-1 (current: 300-1).  Garbage bet.
  • Arizona 60-1 (current 60-1).  I have no idea why this number hasn't moved.  Arizona is completely awful and can't beat anybody.  On the bright side, they're in the Pac-12 which is like puking on your own face so they're guaranteed to at least make the tournament.  Kind of.
  • Florida 40-1 (current 25-1).  My favorite bet.  The Gators pretty clearly had the kind of back court players that can lead you to a championship, the only question was if they'd have enough in the front court to be able to make a real push.  Patric Young and Erik Murphy have answered that and Florida might be the best "sleeper" team out there.  They hung right with Ohio State and Syracuse, blew out TAMU and FSU, and likely will only play 3-ranked teams the rest of the regular season (Kentucky twice and Miss State) so they'll end up with a favorable seed.  There's still value here at 25-1 - in fact I just threw a few more bucks at it.
  • Missouri 75-1 (current 20-1).  My second favorite bet, if only because I have half the amount on Mizzou that I have on Florida.  Advanced metics adore what Missouri has done this year and it's tough to argue with the results because they're 12-0, ranked in the top 10, and have blown out pretty much everybody they've played.  I'm not sure there's value left here at 20-1 because that style of play can backfire hard, but if they swoon a bit and drop to 30 or 40 to 1 jump on that.
  • Baylor 35-1 (current 10-1).  According to current odds (and preseason odds), the most likely winner I have money on and I do feel pretty good about it.  They're crushing teams, winning on the road, and winning some tough battles (including the semi-home win over a good Miss State team tonight).  I don't like them much at 10-1, but at 35-1 it was a great bet.
  • UCONN 30-1 (current 20-1).  I grabbed this the minute it came across Twitter that Andre Drummond was going to be playing this year, before they had a chance to move the line (it moved all the way to 10-1).   It's tough to know where the value should be here because they haven't really been tested yet, but there's certainly plenty of talent.  And if Drummond keeps improving they could still end up snagging a 1 or 2 seed.  Really.  It's also my biggest bet out of all the futures I'm on, so I'd like this one to hit yes please.
  • Iowa State 200-1 (current 500-1).  I took this one back in May.  Yes, May.  Figured it was worth a shot.  Oops.
 So that's where I stand.  Keep in mind I'm sort of addicted to future bets, because it's kind of like an investment.  For example, I lost about $100 on baseball futures this year, but because I made so many futures bets I had $700 come into my account.  So even though I pumped out $800, I pumped that out in March, then had the money come back way in October.  So in a weird way that's probably kind of stupid but whatever shut up it felt like I made a free $700.  So I keep doing it.  I have a ton of money into NFL futures (actually looks like it will be a real life profit), a ton in the NBA, and I even have money on Best Picture for the Oscars.  No, I'm pretty sure you have a problem.

-  I was going to write a bunch more about the NBA (Rubio rocks, Lakers suck), the Saints (Brees's record should really have an asterisk), Jayma Mayes (sneaky hot), and Ginger Snaps (underrated movie), but I'm bored now and to be honest that comment you had about my gambling problem really hurt.  I'm not mad mad, but I don't think we should talk for a little bit.  Just to show you there's no hard feelings I'll leave you with a pic of Katharine Isabelle (star of Ginger Snaps), but we probably shouldn't talk for a while.  Especially because you're going to say she's a plain jane, aren't you, you sick son of a bitch?
You gonna tell me this is a plain jane too, dickfuck?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gophers lose, but almost win

I'm not generally one who goes in for moral victories, but going into Illinois and coming out with a close loss in two overtimes is a pretty good sign for the Gophers' fortunes this year.  Of course, on the other hand, having your best free throw shooter brick the front end of a one-and-one in a situation where he could have iced the game, and then once again NOT getting a shot off in an end of game situation, says this is another blown opportunity.  I'd like to watch more, but I've only seen the last 2 minutes of regulation and a few minutes of the overtimes.  Let me explain.

My parents took the kids overnight tonight.  My wife works from home and usually works from 7-midnight or so when I'm home to watch the kids.  But I have the entire week off since I'm so awesome so she was able to work during the day today and so we had the entire night free.  We decided to go see Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (sidenote:  AWESOME) and I tivo'd the game with the intention of watching the game when we got back.  When I mentioned this on the ride home wife gave me one of those looks that made it very clear that going in the basement by myself to watch basketball when we have an empty house to ourselves and she doesn't have to work would not be a very good idea.  So I watched the important parts instead.

I'm considering doing a game blog tomorrow if I end up watching it, since I don't have to work like a sucker, but I'm just not sure.  Knowing that's the end result may be too painful.  Stay tuned.

For the Whiners: Gophers vs. Illini Preview

I wasn't going to do a preview because with all the running around for christmas and what not I just didn't have time.  Unfortunately, however, there has been a ton of whining so I suppose I should put something up:  I really don't think the Gophers can hang with Illinois.

The Gophers have that sparkling 12-1 record, but they've got there mainly by playing poorly, falling behind, and then relying on their superior talent and athleticism to come back and win - sometimes by a lot.  The problem with this strategy is that Illinois is both more talented and more athletic than the Gophers.  Thus the only way the Gophers can beat Illinois (at Illinois, especially) is by executing on both ends of the floor with near flawless precision.  Unfortunately, there was only one game this year (Va Tech) where this team even approached that level of excellence, and I'm not so sure I see it happening again against Illinois, one of the best defensive teams in the land (#22 in defensive efficiency).

To make matters slightly worse, Illinois's only defensive weakness is defending the 3-pointer where they are merely average, but as we know the Gophers can't really exploit this because they can't shoot it and don't really even look to shoot it.  On the bright side, Illinois isn't much of a three-point threat, but they love to drive to the rim - something the Gophers couldn't stop against the nerds on NDSU so I have no idea how they're going to stop Illinois.  Even if they can somehow keep Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson out of the lane (doubtful), they have no answer for Meyers Leonard in the paint unless Ralph suddenly mans up.


Illinois 70, Minnesota 54

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Nerds

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Hard Truths about the Gophers

The 12-1 start is nice and shiny and everything and you probably think the Gophers are good, but it's time to face the cold hard truth:  the Gophers are not an NCAA Tournament caliber team.  Not even close.  Take a look at these arguments and tell me where I'm wrong.  No, seriously: please tell me where I'm wrong, I'd absolutely love to be convinced that I don't know what I'm talking about.  Hit up the game with $nake, Dawger, and Bear tonight (there, you guys happy with the mention) and I think we all left feeling like we'd been punched in the stomach so hard we were about to vomit.  Here are my comments, please comment on my comments and convince me I don't know what I'm talking about:

1)  They play terrible defense.  Did you see that garbage tonight?  NDSU attacked the rim again and again and again, and even their mediocre guards were getting edges on the Gophers, and with zero help defense on the interior for some reason they were able to get fouled or get lay-ups way too often for their talent level.  What's going to happen when Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson come flying down the wing?  Throw in some of the worst three-point defense in the country (seriously, they were 292nd in the country in 3-point defense going into the game) and how many points do you think William Buford will score?  25? 30?  Hell Matt "12 points every game" Gatens will probably hit for 20.  They can probably hold down Penn State, but I'm pretty sure that's the whole list of teams they can stop

2)  They have zero inside presence.  With Mbakwe down the Gophers inside players are now reduced to a dude who makes Jeff Hagen look like a prima ballerina and a guy who is the softest dude I've seen since the black dude in those Revenge of the Nerds movie.  One plays defense with the mobility of a tree and the other is more like a weeping willow, and they're getting brutalized by a bunch of weakass low major players.  Jared Sullinger is going to make them cry.  Hell I'm not so sure Luka Mirkovich isn't going to go for a double-double (just kidding - sort of).  The team's only prayer is for Andre Ingram to get bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him super powers.  Seriously, Ralph, you cannot be pushed around by non-recruited players who are 3 inches shorter than you.  It's just pathetic.  I'm pretty sure every rebound "Once bounce Ralph" got tonight hit the floor first.  I'm just done.  I've defending him for 3+ years and I'm done.  He's averaging 4 god damn rebounds per game against this shitbox level of competition.  FOUR!  He's fucking seven-feet tall and playing shitty teams with shitty players and he gets four rebounds per game?  You know who else can get four rebounds per game?  Fucking anybody.

3)  There is no reliable offensive option.  None.  Rodney is the leading scorer but most of his offense comes off fast breaks and put-backs which may or may not translate in Big 10 play, and outside of him who do you go to?  There isn't a single perimeter player who you can count on to either make a shot or penetrate which is just sad.  Sometimes Welch looks like he gets it and could develop into something, but then you remember he's already a junior and slower than the fat lady with the cart full of ham at Walmart.  And the one guy who is supposed to be a shooter (Oto) is so hesitant to take his shot you'd think he's a walk-on.  When Maverick Ahanmisi looks like your best guard things have gone wrong in a horribly shocking way.  Look, I like Mav.  I think he's the best pure point guard on the team and he's looking like the best shooter (god help us), but he's a back-up.  He may become a very good back-up, but he's a back-up.  When he carries the offense (like tonight) it's a massive cry for help.  Unfortunately due to NCAA regulations it appears you can't just magically add someone in mid-season.  Commies.

4)  The talent level is mediocre.  I'm sorry, but how many Gopher players would start for even half of the other Big 10 teams?  Rodney Williams, right?  Is there even another one?  Maybe Ralph just based on his height, but his passivity and wienershipitude would have most Big 10 coaches sending him to the bench.  Who would you rather have, Ralph or that fat dude from Michigan State (not Draymond Green, the other one)?  Sampson is more talented but at least that Spartan dude will throw his J-Lo ass into somebody and get rough in there and mix it up when the need arises.  The guards?  Not a chance.  The Hollins's's would probably start for Penn State and Nebraska, but I don't even think they'd get the nod over Cartwright and Gatens at Iowa.  50/50 probably.  How sad is that?

5)  There is no offensive scheme.  What, exactly, does Tubby do?  Clearly he coaches defense, and the team occasionally responds, but offensively they're just awful - and I'm talking outside of the players' talent level.  How many times tonight were there four dudes standing around while somebody dribbled?  And why (like, WHY????) did Rodney never ever ever get the ball posting up in the second half?  Not once.  Not one single solitary time (I'm pretty sure).  He's their only semi-reliable option to score or get fouled and against a team like NDSU they should have made him the focus, but instead the offense consisted of hoping a guard could go one-and-one and get a shot.  It worked just enough for them to win tonight, but against the real grown-up defenses in the conference the combination of a lack of offensive talent and a lack of offensive imagination or even a simple game plan is going to sink them in a hurry.

I will admit it's possible I'm overreacting to one of the worst played games I've ever seen and just being a spaz, but I'm having trouble seeing more than 7 Big 10 wins.  So please, somebody tell what I'm wrong about.  Please.

To cheer myself up, here is a picture of J-Woww in a bikini.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preview: Minnesota Gophers vs. North Dakota State Bison or whatever

North Dakota?  More like North Dasnowka, am I right?  I have no idea why I just wrote that.  But then again, you read it, so I think it was probably your fault.  Let's just agree to disagree.

Anyway, the Bison come to the Barn Thursday to take on the Gophers and I couldn't be more pumped.  Wait, no.  I mean the opposite of that.  Apathetic. That's not right either.  Less-pumped.  Something. 

I guess they aren't terrible.  They do have a 8-2 record and rank as the 107th best team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy's advanced metrics, but even though those take opponent into account this is still a fantastically terrible schedule.  Their best opponent so far has been Arizona State (rank #144) who beat them by ten.  They also have a pretty terrible loss to Western Carolina (#242) and there are only four other top 200 teams on the schedule.  It's hard to get any kind of read on a team with that line of shitbox schedule, but thanks to advanced stats I'll try.

The Bison have done well this season by holding opponents to poor shooting (both from 3 and 2), shooting well themselves (particularly from 2), and taking care of the basketball.  The Gophers don't shoot and can't shoot from three so that's pretty irrelevant, and the Gophers biggest weakness should at least be minimized because although the Bison are a decent three-point shooting team they don't take that many - this game will be played inside the perimeter.  Both teams' strengths are shooting inside the 2-point line and both defend there well, with the Gophers having a slight edge.  The Gophers also commit and cause a whole lot of turnovers, while the Bison don't cause any and commit even fewer.  It's a fairly even match looking at strengths and weaknesses, and I'm going to be honest here - that makes me nervous.

On an individual basis, the Bison employ a very balanced attack with five players scoring between 8.5-14.1 points per game and being involved in at least 20% of the team's possessions.  And oh my holy christ I'm boring myself to sleep.  How do people do this all serious like this all the time.  I'm done.

Here's what you need to know:

NDSU sucks.  They suck.  They don't suck like in a way where the Gophers can't possibly lose like Mt. St. Mary's or some shit, but they're terrible, they've played nobody, they've beaten nobody, and they've been beaten by some piss poor teams.  There is absolutely no way the Gophers shouldn't beat them down like Stephen Davis did to Michael Westbrook.  Or the other way around, I don't remember.  Doesn't matter.  North Dakota sucks.  The team sucks, the program sucks, everything sucks.  I know they had their cute little run with all those white guys who lost to Kansas, but that was a once in a lifetime experience because they just suck.  The one time I somehow ended up in that stupid state even their Taco John's sucked which should be impossible.

If you wanted to be some kind of dicknose and spin things in NDSU's favor you could say that the team is really balanced and has a lot of quality players.  Of course, the real reason they're balanced is because they don't have any good players and are just loaded with adequate ones.  Any one of a half-dozen guys could kill the Gophers, but none of them should.  As an added bonus they only have one good 3-point shooter (Mike Felt "erup"), so as long as the Gophers remember that he's the guy they need to watch (terrifying prospect) they shouldn't get beat out there, and NDSU simply doesn't have the athletes to beat them in any other way. 

When lines come out I fully expect this one to be the Gophers by about 10 (that's what kenpom predicts it at and the lines are usually pretty close).   If they can't beat this crap factory by at least that there's no reason to even bother with this season.  Look I'm sorry.  They're a cute little team who probably makes the folks in Sioux Falls feel all tingly inside when they beat up on Nebraska-Omaho at the Indian Hater Dome or whatever, but if this team can hang with the Gophers it doesn't mean "look out for the Sues" it means "the Gophers fucking suck." 

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just cranky because Kubel left but I'm not ok with an 8 point win or some shit. Blow these fuckers out.  It's like playing five Rudys, and Rudy is one of the worst movies of my lifetime.  No, I'm serious.  If you like that movie you should do a cannonball onto a pitchfork.  So stupid.  Great, so the little wiener gets his big chance and gets a sack.  And then what?  HE'S SPENT HIS WHOLE FUCKING LIFE GETTING PAID TO TALK ABOUT IT.  What a loser.  And now it turns out he might have been stealing people's money.  I don't know, google it.  This shit is bananas.

Gophers 99, Sioux 30.  Also I just realized at some point in this garbage rant I started referring to the Bison as the Sioux.  My bad and all but also not my fault because it's irrelevant because they're both the same because they both suck and should get physically assaulted by the Gophers.  Whatever.  Like it's even a real state.
Will you look at this?  What the shit is this?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Musings (and good-bye, my love)

You know what's crazy?  I am super excited for the NBA to be back.  Actually I guess that's not all that crazy because I get excited for the NBA every single year.  I get all jacked up and decide that I'm going to really dedicate myself to following the NBA all season long rather than just jumping in for the playoffs, and it's finally time to really become an NBA fan.  Then, at some point in the second quarter, I watch  a defender not fight through a screen, the picker not roll, the wide open jump shooter clang it off the rim and the team with the ball getting a put back basket because nobody boxed out and the only one who jumped for teh rebound was the 2nd year power forward who still tried on every play.  And now they're playing back-to-back-to-backs and 66 games in like, 3 months or something like that.

Yet, here I am, getting all excited to watch the NBA on Christmas Day.  God I'm so dumb.  Here's some other quick stuff, in lieu of a Week in Review post which I was too lazy to write.

-  I guess the most obvious thing is the sad news that Jason Kubel will no longer be a Twin after signing for 2 years, $15 million with the D-Backs.  I've been pissed off at signings before (when Mussina left the O's for the Yankees I swore off baseball - for some reason I grew up a rabid Oriole fan), and others moves have left me stunned (when Brunansky was traded for Herr I distinctly remember calling my dad a liar, which he wasn't pleased about), but this is the first time I've been broken hearted, or at least as broken hearted as a reasonably rational adult male can be about sports.

I can't even be mad.  That 2 year, $15 million dollar deal is probably more than Kubel is worth considering he's a poor fielder, struggles against lefties, and has trouble staying healthy so I can't be mad at him for taking it or mad at the Twins for not matching/beating it (although I am a bit perturbed that they seemingly wrote him off and never seemed to care about trying to retain him).  So that's why I'm just sad, not angry at anybody.

I don't even know why I love Kubel so much, but I know his is one of only two articles of clothing I own with another man's name on the back (I also have a Denard Span shirt for some reason).  He is also the first player who I ever broke down and bought a shirt/jersey off with my own money (at other points I had owned a LaDainian Tomlinson jersey and a Randy Moss jersey - both gifts).  He's not particularly fast, or athletic, or anything.  His best skill is hitting the baseball, but he'll never be confused with Albert Pujols.  He doesn't even have the small, scrappy gamer thing going for him (although that would have made me hate him).  I think the reason Kubel is so loved, by me and many others, is because he seems like an every man.  Just a cool, laid back dude who would love to play softball and then pounds some beers.  Except in his case instead of softball he crushes pitches from the best baseball throwers in the world and gets millions to do it. 

Obviously I won't be able to follow his career as closely when he ships on over to the land where games start at 10:30pm, but god knows I'll try.  I'm not sure anybody will ever surpass him as my favorite Twin.  And yet we're stuck with Joe fucking Mauer and his enema of a contract and Justin Morneau who may or may not know what year it is.  This blows.

Tell me this guy wouldn't love to destroy you at Beer Pong.

-  On to other, less soul crushing things, you know all that talk about how great Cody Zeller was going to be right off the bat and was the kind of player who could turn Indiana's program right around?  Well I think for once the hype was right because I had a chance to actually watch this dude against Notre Dame (a game the Hoosiers won by 11) and he's absolutely the real deal.  There was one play where he blocked a lay-up attempt some some poor bastard on the Irish, then beat the defense down the court for an easy score.  He's really athletic for his size, very polished for a freshman, and can pass like a guard, and is like whoa.  I now feel very dirty for liking a Hoosier this much.  I'm going to go take like, six showers and then burn myself with matches.

-  As long as I'm talkin' Big Ten players who brokeout or whatever I guess we should talk DeShaun Thomas after his 30 point outburst against South Carolina (on 13-16 shooting!!) which followed his 23-point game (on 10-15 shooting).  Not surprising, since if you watched Thomas last year you could see he had the potential to be a big time scorer and I'm pretty sure he led the nation in points per minute last year (and shots per minute).  When he's hot and hitting he's going to put up major points since he's basically always taking a heat check, and he's been on fire lately which is good timing since Sullinger has a constant hangnail or something.  Of course, it's going to also be fun when he goes 1-14 in a game and shoots the Buckeyes into a loss.  Hopefully against the Gophers.  Ok I laughed when I typed that.

-  Sticking with the Big 10, just when you think everything is hunky dory along comes to Purdue to mess everything up by losing to Butler (Illinois lost a home game to UNLV as well, but that's at least understandable).  Now, in case you haven't been paying attention this year Butler isn't the same Butler they've been for the last several seasons - they straight up suck.  They were 4-6 going into the Purdue game, and that includes losses to Ball State, Valpo, and Evansville, with their wins coming against three truly dreadful teams and a D-II opponent.  And yet Purdue managed to lose on a tip-in at the buzzer on a neutral court.  Ouch.  It's probably the worst loss by a Big Ten team other than Nebraska, Penn State, or Iowa.  Nice work, dingleberries.
- Sigh.  I hate this, but it's time to admit that Washington, although the most fun team to watch ever, are pretty clearly not an NCAA caliber team.  A completely embarrassing loss to South Dakota State - at home by 19 - slams that home pretty clearly and drops Washington to 5-5 on the season.  I suppose none of the other losses are that bad by themselves (@ St. Louis, @ Nevada in OT, and versus Marquette and Duke in Madison Square Garden) but good god, a 20 pt loss to SDSU?  Maybe I'm overreacting but I'm just disgusted.  South Dakota State opened up a 35-14 lead early and never looked back, riding 55% shooting (10-16 from 3), and 26-32 free throw shooting to an easy, and shocking, win.  I suppose whenever a Pac-10 team loses it shouldn't be a surprise (Arizona also got blown out by Gonzaga), but damn, this is just sad.  I miss Captain Circus Ball.

- Ha-ha, stupid Packers.  Go around all cockin' off about how you were gonna go for the perfect season and guess what happens?  You get punched in the mouth by a crappy crap team with a 40 year old running  back, a QB nobody wants, very little talent, and a completely dopey head coach.  On one hand, it's possible this loss refocuses them and they get better, but on the other hand a perfect Packer season is more than I could possibly take and either end up killing myself or somebody would end up dead after I raged out.  It was so fun watching the last two minutes of the game where the Packers needed a stop badly but their little sissy soft defense full of nancy boy hippy girls couldn't stop the Chiefs running game even when they knew damn well a running play was coming.  Seemed like all the talk about the Packer D being statistically poor only because they always had the lead might have just been wishful thinking, because these guys are freaking terrible.  In conclusion, go to hell Green Bay.

Seriously though.  I feel like Mel Gibson in that movie where he's all like "Give me back my Kubel!"  You know what I'm talking about.  The only thing cheering me up at all is I just saw the Christmas card we got from $nake and guess what?  His youngest son is wearing a Yankee cap in the picture they used.  A Yankee cap.  The Yankees.  The New York Yankees.  Jesus, what an asshole.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Notes from 50,000 feet (Welcome to the Twins, Willy + Paul trade reaction)

I'm on a plane.  And it has wi-fi.  What a glorious time to be alive.  A lot has seemingly changed since I changed jobs and stop flying to random cities basically monthly and getting drunk on a bathroom sink full of Coors Lights.   This is actually my first business trip since almost exactly a year ago when I went to LA (which is where I'm going today again).  Of course, not that much has changed because the freaking reading lights don't work on this god forsaken plane, so I'm forced to either sleep or type.  Awesome.  Also Blake Lewis's version of "You Give Love a Bad Name" just started playing on my ipod, so I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong.  Anyway.  I'm bored.  And you're going to listen to me, god help you.

-  Biggest news is the signing of Josh Willingham by the Twins for 3 years, $21 million which I'm assuming has been finalized.  (side note:  Busta Rhymes now on the ipod, things are looking up).  Considering this is very close to the contract they offered Michael Cuddyer (3 yrs, $25 mil) and they're both outfielders I think this signals the end of the Cuddyer era in Minnesota, for good or for ill.  Let's look first at playing ability.

Both Cuddy and Willingham will be 33 to start next season, and although both are corner outfielders Cuddy is primarily a RF with a great arm and Willingham is a LF with a so-so arm, which automatically raises questions about what happens to the Twins' outfield since neither Span nor Revere can even get the ball from RF to 3B on the fly or so I assume.  Fielding-wise, using UZR which is an advanced fielding stat that I couldn't begin to describe but is one of the more popular ones, both were equally shitty range-wise, which backs up what I've seen with my own two eyes.  Add in Cuddy's ability to play a sub-par 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and the Twins do lose out slightly in the field with this swap, mostly due to the now lack of a true RF in my eyes.

Batting wise once again these two players are similar.  Over the past 3 years, Cuddyer has a slightly higher average (.276 to .257), while Willingham has a slightly higher OBP (.360 to .341) and SLG (.479 to .465), which adds up to Willy's OPS+ of 125 trumping Cuddy's of 117, or about the difference between Troy Tulowitzki and Alex Gordon.  Basically Willingham is probably a slightly better hitter, especially power and plate discipline-wise, while Cuddy might get a few more hits here and there.  Plus Willingham has outhomered him each of the last two seasons, and although they have a virtually identical number of career HRs (Cuddy wins 141 to 132) Willingham has done it in about 1,300 fewer at-bats than Cuddyer (note:  not a typo).  So basically the Twins downgraded their defense a bit but upgraded offensively.  Cool, you think, but what about the intangibles?

My answer to that question would be to punch you in the face if you were on this plane.  Yes, Cuddyer filled a leadership void, but not because he's a great natural leader, but because SOMEBODY had to because Justin Morneau forgot where he was every 15 minutes and had to be reminded and every time Joe Mauer talked to anybody they fell asleep.  I don't deny Cuddy provided a valuable service by becoming the face of the team by being in every single commerical, interview, event, and basically throwing himself in front of every camera he saw.  I also don't deny that having a guy who is willing to play any position where he's needed, and can do so not embarrassingly, is a nice luxury to have.  I also think both of those are very overrated on a baseball team.  Not to mention him always chasing the press and forcing them to interview him kept the pressure off Mauer and Morneua, which at times is good but I would argue doing it to that extent during that kind of year is bad.  I short, I will listen to your arguments that Cuddy is valuable in ways that have nothing to do with on-field performance, but I will also then dismiss this arguments with a roundhouse kick to our face and a condescending wave of my hand.

The Final piece of the puzzle is perhaps what pushes this from a pretty close to even swap that saves $4 million bucks to a great (well, good) decision by the Twins that saves $4 million bucks.  Because Cuddyer was offered arbitration, that means that when Cuddy eventually signs with another team the Twins will receive both a first-round pick and a supplemental pick between rounds 1 and 2.  That's good for any team, but for the Twins, whose list of prospects is getting thinner and thinner by the year, that's huge.  That basically means two top-35 picks in the next draft, and even if Willingham was a notch below Cuddyer this swap might have been worth it.  As it stands, it's the correct move.  And if you're crying because Cuddy is gone, well, you're too dumb to care about anyway.

-  Looks like this Chris Paul trade went down.  Not to follow Bill Simmons' comments, but the Paul to Griffin combo is going to be pretty sick in the open court.  I have no idea if Griffin is pick-n-rollable (and actually I don't know if Paul is either), but if they're both adept at the play look out.  They also (reportedly) managed to do it without gutting their team.  Paul, Billups (who they may regret adding at this point), Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, Griffin, and Caron Butler is absolutely a contender, especially if Bledsoe matures (and Jordan to a lesser extent).  Not to mention they have decent vet rotation guys in Gomes and Foye (thanks Wolves), and a bunch of young guys (Willie Warren, Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins).  If one of those youngsters breaks out look the hell out.  I grabbed some Clips to win the whole thing action at 15-1 last night when it started to look like they were close to getting Paul (heard it was 50-1 earlier in the day, dammit).  Interested to see where that goes to.

And it's not like the Hornets screwed themselves either.  Kaman is a serviceable center in a league with very few of them, Aminu sucks but has potential, and Eric Gordon is probably one of the best young players in the league (there's a Bill Simmons column on that but I'll be damned if I can find it now).  Then there's the pick from the Wolves, which, no matter how optimistic you are, you have to admit is going to be in the lottery.  Hopefully it's late, but even if it's late that doesn't mean it ends up late.  Especially because the Clippers just traded it, upping the odds it ends up in the top 3 by at least triple.  It's a waaaaaay better package than they were getting in the Lakers/Rockets swap so, at least for now, it kind of looks like the league knows what it's doing.

I'm sure there is plenty more to write about, but the plane is landing shortly and they're saying something about turning stuff off, so I must go.  Later. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Live Blog: Gophers vs. Chippewas

Since I didn't get you a preview (prediction:  Minn 64, CMU 50) I figured I might as well live blog this garbage.  Although fair warning:  I'm not drinking tonight so this probably won't be funny.  I'll also probably lose my motivation and will quit by halftime.

Plus I'm in a shitty mood because my car broke yesterday and I had to pay $1,500 to fix it.  Then this morning we had a plumbing issue which cost us another $500 and we know have holes in our walls the plumber dude had to cut to get to our pipes, all to get a baby washcloth out of the trap thing.  Then, this evening on my way home, my car broke again the exact same way and I had to walk home after dropping it at the same shop who had earlier claimed to have fixed it, and I almost got hit by a car passing another car on the shoulder.  So yeah, it's been a great day.   I need a drink.

20:00 - Ralph's expression priar to the jump ball is some weird combination of "I'm about to cry" and "I'm really bored", with a sprinkle of "why won't you just leave me alone" mixed it.

18:52 - Gophers up 4-0.  Thus far Minnesota has taken, and made, two shots both in the paint.  CMU has airballed a jumper and tossed up a running lay-up thing that missed the rim completely and got all bored.  All though in that guy's defense he is a short white guy.

17:04 - Welch airballs a three-pointer.  Gotta admit, I didn't see that one coming.  Welch almost has this weird calm aura about him that just makes me feel so confident that he's going to make the right play at all times.  Pretty sure that's not going to end up being the case.

16:06 - CMU hits back to back threes to take the lead 8-4, including one by some dude with knee high socks that enrage me.  Ralph has also missed shots on back to back possessions inside the lane.  This is going to be a long night. 

14:28 - Ahanmisi misses a three-pointer for the second straight possession.  Announcer guy, "Ahanmisi with the shot.  It draws iron."  Good god this team sucks at shooting.  Wasn't Tubby shooting his mouth off about how this was going to be a great shooting team?  You know who can shoot on this team?  Oto.  That's the whole list.  Austin Hollins is ok, Welch is ok, Armelin is streaky, and everyone else is terrible.  They might as well be shooting at that 20-point basket from the ole Rock N Jock days when they line up a three-ball.

14:16 - This will shock your pants off but CMU hit another three-pointer.  This one after a pump fake where Andre Hollins jumped after so completely and convincingly and aggressively he must have thought the Chippewa guy was shooting a baby rather than a ball and he had to grab it out of the air.  Good lord, I expect better from a coach's kid.

13:44 - Joe Coleman is still a terrible defender.   Arapahoe of nothing, I will be in Cali for work the next two nights.  Hopefully I can get a little tipsy and blog some crap.  Speaking of crap, Elliason just Knoblauched a pass into the fourth row.  11-6 CMU.  Probably the ugliest game ever.

11:21 - Sigh.

11:10 - Are we going with "Andre Hollins" or "Dre Hollins"?  Because the announcer just referred to him as Dre and I know it says Dre on the back of his jersey but I didn't know if that was just because putting An. Hollins looked retarded or if that's what he wants to be known as.  Or maybe it's like, "Andre" is the official name but amongst his friends and what not he goes by "Dre", but then why would announcer guy call him "Dre" when I'm pretty sure he and Hollins aren't boys.  Personally I prefer Andre but that's because I just don't like guys going by Dre because really there's Dr. Dre and then nobody else can live up.  It would be like naming your kid Madonna or Screech or Knight Rider.  Also Joe Coleman has the team's last six points and it's 12-12.  I like him when the Gophers have the ball quite a bit.

9:26 - That's now three lay-up type shots where the Chippewas have missed the rim.  If the Gophers lose this game I'm going to take a magnet to this computer in order to destroy this blog.  That'll work, yes?

8:54 - OTO FOR THREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

7:58 - Trey Zeigler, who is really really good which you would know if I had written that preview, just scored his first two points of the game on a reverse lay-up which involved going right around Austin Hollins who is supposed to be a defensive stud.  Ziegler is good enough to score 20 in a hurry and win this game for the Chippewas, at least I think so but then again CMU has been terrible his two years there so maybe I'm a liar.

7:40 - Four point play for Welch, Gophers now up 19-14.    I mean 19-17 because nobody stopped the ball after CMU broke the press and they made another freaking three-pointer. 

7:04 - I just realized Rodney Williams has been invisible this game.  Also across the bottom we get the news that Kansas freshman Ben McLemore, who was supposed to be a stud this year but was ruled academically ineligible, was arrested after failing to appear in court on a minor consumption charge.  I'd say that's going swimmingly.  Also going swimmingly?  Rodney Williams dunking on people's heads.

6:28 - Announcer guy, "Rodney Williams played the 4 in high school, so it was an easy switch for him to make to help out the Gophers after Mbakwe's injury."  I'm almost positive this isn't true, but not quite confident enough to rip this guy.  Damn no alcohol.  I really prefer to have my inhibitions be less inhibiting. 

5:08 - This is weird.  Whenever CMU goes with their 2-3 zone the Gophers pass it around like they're playing hand ball and inevitably throw the ball at the rim from the 3-point line and just as inevitably miss.  Whenever they go man the Gophers use motion and picks and penetrate and get lay-ups.  So why doesn't CMU just go 2-3 zone the entire time?  I have absolutely no idea.  I can only assume John Calipari must be coaching them or something.

4:00 - I cannot remotely tell the difference between Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes.

I'd tell which one of these was who, but I honestly have no freaking clue
2:42 - I can comfortably say now that this announcer is an idiot because after a Rodney Williams blocked shot he said, "I don't know about you, but I got my evite to the block party." 

1:52 - Say you're a seven-footer.  Now say you're a seven-footer whose standing near the top of the key about 18-feet from your own basket, and after you set a pick for Austin Hollins he dribbles the ball off his foot and it rolls, not bounces to you.  You bend down to pick-it up and there's a defender near you, so what's your first instinct?  Well if you're Sampson you just shoot the jump shot, and honestly I've never seen anybody go from picking a ball off the floor to shooting it.  He must be a god damn pop-a-shot all-star, except for all th misses.  Like this one.

0:00 - 34-23 Gophers.  This could become a game if CMU sticks with that 2-3, keeps hitting threes, stops turning the ball over, and gets Ziegler going.  So no.  And why the hell are there two broads doing this halftime show?  Isn't this ESPN?   Don't they have real people?  One chick, fine.  Whatever.  I don't really care, but I can't have two.  I just can't.  Don't you people know that they can attract bears when they're on their cycle or whatever.  Bears.

18:10 - Gophers score the first four of the second half on a strong drive by Ahanmisi and 19-foot jumper by Welch.  Yes, it's backwards day.  This causes Calipari or whoever is coaching the Chippewas to call a timeout, because the Gophers scored four straight.  It's totally necessary to give each team 8 timeouts per game or whatever.

17:43 - I just received a text that used "sry" for sorry, "sux" for sucks, "ur" for your, and "b" for be.  All in the same text.  Luckily it was from a girl so I can sort of let it go because their brains aren't as big and aren't wired for spelling (sorry ladies, it's science).  If you, or anyone you know, is a guy and texts like this just know that it pretty much automatically means you have a small penis.

16:14 - Another three for the little white guy with huge socks, which makes four for him on the day and cuts the Gopher lead to 40-29.  I also think I'm wrong calling him white.  He's got a little color in there.  Also he has some crazy ass hair style and I just realized he looks almost exactly like Paulie D, which makes me think about J-Woww which gets me all hot.

14:03 - Jesus the gophers are terrible, but luckily they're still light years better than this Chippewa team.  45-31 Gophers. 

13:08 - Andre Hollins knocks down a three and announcer guy calls him both "Andre"  and "Dre" in the span of six seconds.  I'm so confused.

12:33 - Ziegler heating up a bit.  Also appears to be willing to shoot any shot at any time.  Dangerous combo.  For both teams.

11:32 - Elliason grabs a rebound.  Announcer guy, "That's what Elliason can do for the Gophers, grab rebounds."  Well no shit, genius,  he's like 8 feet tall and sucks, he's going to plant his ass in the lane and grab missed shots.

8:51 - Joe Coleman with a foul on the perimeter playing terrible defense.  Good overall game though.  57-37 Gophers.  I'm pretty bored, and yet I can't muster up the energy to post on anything else like the Jayme Carroll signing or the NBA Stuff or even this Josh Willingham possible signing by the Twins.  I don't even have the energy to go on twitter and find out if that signing because official yet or not.  Guess I'm saving something for the California trip.  You could complain, but be honest:  that Dumb and Dumber thing made your day.

7:04 - Back to back possessions where CMU made lay-ups and were sent to the line due to dumbass ticky-tack fouls by the Gophers.  You either foul hard so they can't make the lay-up or get the eff out of the way.  If I wasn't yawning so much I'd be really pissed about that.

6:54 - I'm gonna go fold some towels.

5:03 - $57 million for Nene?  Man it is really not fair if you're over 7-feet tall.  Also apparently ever single person involved in this game is going to hit a three-pointer in the final few minutes, blowing the fuck out of my UNDER 127.

2:02 - And there goes the over.  Gophers 73, CMU 56. 

0:00 - Gophers win 76-56.  I've been trying to come up with a sentence to put here for like 5 minutes.  I just want to get to the real games already.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week in Review - 12/12/2011

There's no Gopher talk below because meh.  I'm sorry, they blew out St. Peter's which is exactly what they're supposed to do.  I just don't care.  I could probably break down all the players' shit or whatever but again, it was against St. Peter's so it's all basically meaningless.  Well not totally meaningless, I mean it's nice to see them work over a shitbox team they way they should so that's encouraging.  And I know this is a Gopher blog and I should write up every single game but in my defense fuck that shit.


1.  Anaheim Angels.  Ok so yeah, the Pujols' contract is probably too long and the C.J. Wilson contract is probably a little much for somebody who hasn't shown he can be a true ace, but the Angels just grabbed the best hitter and best pitcher on the market.  As someone who thinks a team should spend as much as they can and as much as they want to win and doesn't get all revved up about big market vs. small market discrepancies (I don't hate the Yankees and Red Sox because they have more money, I hate them because they're assholes), I think it's an awesome move to say "Yeah, this is probably more than these guys are worth, but we can afford it and it makes us better."  Pretty sweet week to be an Angel fan, and with Pujols, Kendry Morales assuming he's ok, and Mark Trumbo now on board they have a pretty sweet trade chip which, if they're lucky, they can use to also persuade somebody to take Torii Hunter or Vernon Wells' contract.  And now they have Wilson, Dan Haren, and Jered Weaver at the front of the rotation.  Yeah, nice.  I'd say this makes up for the Napoli thing.

2.  Indiana Hoosiers.  Well that was a pretty awesome game.  Huge win for the Hoosiers, and they're definitely on the way back but I'm not convinced they're good.  I mean really they shouldn't even have won that game but John Calipari was too busy counting his illegal monies to actually coach.  Do you realize Indiana was down 2 with 6 seconds left and Kentucky had TWO fouls to give.  So you wait until the guy catches the ball in the back court, let him get 2-3 dribbles down and foul.  Then, when they take it out on the side, you waste another second and foul again, and at this point Indiana has like one second left and the ball out of bounds on the side at mid-court.  Boom.  You can choose to blame Calipari or you can choose to blame his players instead, but I contend that Calipari coached those players so IN YOUR FACE.   

3.  Michigan State Spartans.  Pretty good weekend for the B1G 10 (outside of Ohio State) and Michigan State's win over Gonzaga in Spokane (or wherever the hell Gonzaga is) was a very good one.  What I found most interesting was Draymond Green's line.  Usually he's all like, I'm gonna grab a bunch of boards and dish some assists and score some points and just kind of facilitate the offense, but in this one he just took the hell over and scored 34 of their 75 points (no other Spartan hit double figures) and really didn't do anything else (2 rebs, 3 asst) and was like a completely different person than usual.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  Like one time I had this friend who was a huge drunk and he was hilarious but he drank like all the time and then he stopped drinking and we were like good for you that will make you so much healthier but then he wasn't funny any more and was kind of lame and I haven't talked to him in a long time.

4.  Devoe Joseph.  Royce White is probably the best player in the Big 12 (FACT!!), Justin Cobbs is a valuable member of Cal's almost certainly NCAA Tournament squad, and now Devoe makes his debut for Oregon and leads them in scoring with 18, throwing in 4 assists (to 1 TO) to boot.  That's always fun.  I'm fucking pissed at Devoe.  I liked him too much for him to just turn his back on me like this, then show up with some west coast hippie dude looking sexier than ever.  That was a metaphor.  Also, because I don't know where else to put this and I can't remember my twitter password, I just want to mention that I'm alone in my basement and I'm choosing to watch The Next Iron Chef rather than football.  Does that make me gay?

5.  Rob Gronkowski.  Do you remember how when you used to play Tecmo Super Bowl sometimes Christian Okoye would be in "excellent" condition and then when you'd run with him you'd actively look for defensive players to just run over and bounce them right the fuck out of the screen?  That's like Gronky, he's just sick.  Completely untackleable.  It doesn't even matter if it's some pussy ass little safety or some big fat defensive lineman, nobody can bring this dude down.  And he's not just some big bruiser, he's got hands that are baby soft.  I once saw Randy Johnson whip an egg at his head at 98 mph and he just cradled it in and the thing didn't even break.  Then he humped a porn star and when he was done she was all like "you're the best I've ever had" and he was all like "yeah don't call me."  True story.


1.   Joe Webb Fans.  Are you people serious?  After a very nice day at the bar with Dawger and Bear (ps suck it $nake), I happened to be listening to the after game call-in show or whatever for the Vikings and I'm pretty sure people are completely out of their damn minds.  Hosts and callers both, because there was apparently a for real debate about whether Webb or Ponder should be the Viking QB of the future.  Guess what geniuses, Joe Webb sucks at throwing a football.  Did you even watch the game?  He was missing open receivers by five freaking yards and I'm not exaggerating.  He's not Mike Vick bad or even Terrelle Pryor bad, he makes them look like me playing bar league football - dead on balls accurate.  Yes he's fast.  Fun.  But Ponder might be an actual real life QB, even if that throw across the body crap was the worst throw in the history of football.  Webb is a bit and you're dumb.  You know damn well you love him, don't lie to me.

2.  Creighton Blue Jays.  Could be the return of the curse of DWG, or could just be that Creighton sucks balls because after getting out to a blistering start that actually had me complimenting a Missouri Valley team, Creighton sucked big-time this weekend getting rolled by St. Joseph's.  Creighton allowed St. Joe's to shoot 49%, sent them to the line 29 times and got there just 9 themselves, and was out-rebounded 37-24.  They also allowed someone named Carl Jones to score 29 points.  I don't really have else to add since I don't really know that much about either team or care, but I did bet a decent amount on Creighton to win this one so I'm a little peeved.

3.  Memphis Tigers.  Speaking of betting oh my god I suck at betting so much when it's not props.  How the hell could Memphis possibly lose to Murray State at home?  Murray State isn't even good.  They're not even mediocre, and that's why Memphis was an 11 point favorite but instead of winning by eleven they just flat out lost.  Which made sense because I got raped like an Egyptian geisha this weekend.  But really, could Pastnor have learned from Calipari any better?  Recruit great athletes, stress defense, refuse to run anything remotely resembling a real offense and just hope your players can outplay your opponent - exactly like Kentucky these days.  Too bad Murray State is boring and disciplined.  I hate that shit.

4.  Manchester United.  Wow.  Just wow.  How do you lose to Basel, and how do you get knocked out in the Group Stage in Champions League?  This is the first time since 2005 Man U hasn't made it to the knockout round.  Also I told the swamp donkey to sock it before I gave her a trunky in the tradesman's entrance and had her lick my yarbles.

5.  The Xavier/Cincy Fight.  As someone who continually rips hockey because most of the "fans" of the "sport" care more about the fighting than the game I need to weight in here and say that the fight was stupid and dumb and stupid.  But you know what's even more stupid?  The people who are trying to blow this thing out of proportion and act like programs should be shut down and players should be kicked off teams.  Yes, punching some ugly white dude in the head isn't a good thing and stomping on some guy who's already on the ground is probably not a resume builder, but this is the ugliest rivalry in college hoops and has been for years.  The whole game (and pre-game really) was chippy and bitchy and you could see this shit coming when the refs didn't step in like asap.  Yes, it's a black mark on the game but it's not like somebody was engaging in a little horseplay in the showers here so let's settle down.  Also those people who are condemning Holloway for his "gangster" comment need to fucking relax.  He's not saying they're Crips for christ's sake, it's called his vernacular.  Relax, whitey.

By the way, this Tebow shit is ridiculous.  Every week it's the same thing - suck badly and embarrassingly for 3.5 quarters and then tear shit up in the last 6 minutes.  Once again it happened this week.  When I left the bar the Broncos were down 10-0, the offense had done nothing, and Tebow had 45 yards passing.  When I got home it turned out the Broncos won and Tebow threw for over 200 yards.  I mean how does this shit happen every single week?  It's crazy, and I gotta tell ya I think I've gone from Tebow hater to semi-on the bandwagon.  Seriously if he wasn't silly religious I'd probably be all aboard, but who am I to question god?  And if I was going to I'd probably start with the platypus anyway, then move on to general human misery and/or specific events like the holocaust or that tidal wave thing, and then eventually get to Tebow.  That sentence kind of got away from me.  Anyway, has there ever been such a lock for #2 in MVP voting?  Every single writer is going to go Rodgers #1 and Tebow #2.  And if they pick somebody other than Rodgers they're going to go that guy #1 and Tebow #2.  He's going to finish in second with zero #1 votes.  Right?  Because nobody would voluntarily vote him #1, right?  RIGHT?

Also I have $2 on Tebow to win MVP which would get me $200 so I'm on board.  Choo choo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gophers vs. St. Peter's Preview

Why am I writing a preview for the Gophers' game against St. Peter's, a team that is 2-5 and whose only wins were over a couple of even more terrible squads (Siena and Binghampton which is five hours each way)?  Especially since I couldn't even be bothered to do a post-game write-up on their win over Appalachian State because I was so thoroughly bored with it?  It's not because I'm really super excited to see the Peacocks (yes, seriously) since I assume Keydren Clark didn't somehow get back in, it's because I see a possible crack here where the Gophers are going to need to be careful with this team.  Stay with me.

Yes, St. Peter's is an awful, awful team.  I mean you don't just lose to Fairleigh Dickinson by 11 or Manhattan by 26 without being an abomination, no doubt, but they do two things well:  grab offensive rebounds and force turnovers.  The Peacocks force turnovers on 25% of their opponents possessions, good enough for 39th best in the country, and they grab the O-board on 37.8% of their misses which ranks 42nd in the country.

They have seven different players on the team who average at least 0.5 steals per game, including Brandon Hall who plays 23 minutes per game and essentially doesn't nothing but steal the ball (2.3 per game in those 23 minutes).  They also have three guys (Yvon Raymond, Karee Ferguson, and Jack Hill) who are especially adept at grabbing offensive rebounds, particularly Raymond.  Since St. Peter's is pretty horrible at every other aspect of basketball these are pretty clearly their strengths.

Which is what makes Saturday's game slightly interesting to me because their strengths are two places were the Gophers are weak.  They're are still terrible taking care of the ball, turning it over on 22.5% of their possessions which ranks 228th in the country, and they are very middle-of-the-road when it comes to preventing offensive rebounds, ranking just 163rd.  Even that number, however, is misleading a bit because the Gophers are averaging almost 50% more offensive rebounds allowed per game since Mbakwe went down compared to beforehand (about 10 vs. 7).  So you see, this makes St. Peter's an intriguing opponent.

Not like, a super intriguing opponent, just kind of.  If they could shoot I'd be on high upset alert, but luckily for you they're dreadful.  They shoot 26% from three and 44% from two, which when combined gives them one of the worst eFG%'s (think of it as points per shot attempt) in the country (rank 314th in the country).  They turn the ball over like crazy, play mediocre defense, can't hit their free throws, and get their shots blocked and have the ball stolen away from them like they're a bunch of 2nd grade girls running around.  All in all their offense ranks 312th in overall efficiency, and that's WITH that really good offensive rebounding number.  Take that away and this might be the worst offensive team in the country.

So I'm not going to call out any individual players on this team because I'd be lying if I pretended to know dick about any of them.  I will say that you shouldn't be surprised if this game is slightly closer than you'd think based on what I've outlined above.  You also shouldn't be surprised if the Gophers win by 40.  I'm guessing somewhere in the middle.

Minnesota 62, St. Peter's 50

Notes from Last Night

There were a lot of interesting games last night. Here is some stuff that happened.

DAYTON 74, ALABAMA 62:  Dayton managed to flip it's season on it's head once more, salvaging a bit of the season they ruined after having a nice season going, and that makes total sense if you know what I'm talking about.  After losing back to back games to terrible teams Buffalo and Murray State, this win over #15 Alabama is exactly what they needed.  Needed to fuel their delirium that this is an NCAA Tournament caliber team, because everything about Dayton, the team and the city, is terrible.  If ever there was a town that needed the Black Plague, that's it.

LAFAYETTE 61, PENN STATE 57:  Quite the competition we have going here between Penn State and Iowa to see who can be the most embarrassing program in the Big 10.  First Iowa loses to Campbell.  Then Penn State loses to St. Joe's.  Then Iowa gets blown out by both Clemson and Northern Iowa.  Then tonight Penn State tops 'em all with a tremendously horrible loss to LaFayette, a team ranked #245 in the country by - for reference Campbell is ranked 180.  This is like watching Jim Abbott and Helen Keller try to play tennis.

VIRGINIA TECH 78, RHODE ISLAND 67:  A road win against a non-terrible opponent by a team the Gophers already beat.  Thus an RPI boost for your favorite team, which is always a positive.  Granted it's a small boost, but like the sign that homeless dude at the ramp entrance by my house says, "Every little bit helps."

FLORIDA 78, ARIZONA 72 (OT):  The gators somehow managed to survive one of the worst overall performances I've seen from a really good team.  Their incredible backcourt (Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Bradley Beal, and Mike Rosario) combined to 12-44 through a combination of terrible decision making and unprecedented brick-laying and as a total team the Gators shot 15-32 from the free throw line and the numbers were only that good because they got hot in overtime.  Even more alarmimg, however, was their defense which was lackluster at best and lazy at worst, allowing open layups and three-pointers to Arizona most of the night (like watching a Gopher game).  I had considered Florida to be one of my possible Final Four sleeper teams, but after a showing like that on the defensive end I'm not so sure. 

ILLINOIS 48, ST. BONNIE'S 43.  Obviously things didn't go as planned for the Illini seeing as how they scored just 48 points, and they were almost the second Big 10 team to go down last night, trailing the Bonnies 39-30 with five minutes to play (and almost the third if you count Purdue who only beat Western Carolina by 5).  St. Bonnie's is a good team with a very, very good player you've probably never heard of in Andrew Nicholson, but Illinois couldn't lose this game if they were going to be what they think they're going to be this season.  Luckily, Brandon Paul suddenly realized "hey, I'm playing a bunch of fools from a school named after a girl, maybe I should take the ball to the rack."  And so he did, tallying up eleven points and an assist in the final five minutes of the game to bring Illinois back.  I honestly have no effing clue what to make of Illinois.  None.

So, uh, yeah, I guess.  I thought I would probably write more but then I got sick of looking at your face.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week in Review - 12/5/2011

There's a preview of Appalachian State, the Gophers next opponent, at the very bottom of this post.  Huzzah!


1.  Rodney Williams.  I've been waiting forever for some positive feelings about Williams, and now I am finally feeling them.  He seems like a completely different player at the 4.  It's like before he was Mikey in the beginning of Swingers and now he's like Mikey at the end doing the twirly-whirly dance with Heather Graham and hanging up on that manipulative bitch Michelle.  Really though, he's always had the tools like the bear - the big fangs and those fucking claws or whatever - and he just didn't know how to kill the bunny.  Now he knows how to kill the bunny and dunk right on it's stupid head.  Good god, that's the perfect analogy.  Sometimes you people who read this should really be sending me money for that kind of insight.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes.  Nobody cares that the beat UT-Pan American by 30 even without Sullinger because I mean, come on, it's UT-PA, but that win over Duke earlier this week was like woah.  I mean, I did expect the Buckeyes to win and a double-digit win wouldn't shock me, but this was a thoroughly kick their ass from tip to final whistle pick your score kind of game.  I was impressed by OSU after they beat Florida in kind of a grind it out game, but they didn't quite have the look of a National Champion in that one.  Not so against Duke, where they looked like the most complete team in the country.  Really, there's just so much talent here.  Take away their two best players (Sully and Buford) and they're still probably a top 10 team.  Ridiculous.  With Duke and Florida out of the way, only the game at Kansas on Saturday stands in the way of an undefeated non-conference slate.  And hell, they win that one they might very well finish the year unbeaten, because they're far and away better than anybody else in the Big 10.  Which probably means they'll lose to Northwestern or some such nonsense.

3. Xavier Musketeers.  I feel like I talk about Xavier too much but I just really like that program and what they do year after year, and I really really like Tu Holloway (although I liked him better when he went by Terrell).  Their win over Purdue at home on Saturday was more of a ho-hum kind of win, not because it's not a quality victory but because it's what they were supposed to do (although falling behind by 19 in the second half and coming back to win probably says some positive things), but add that in with a very nice win at Vanderbilt that included scoring the final 4 points of the game to send it to OT and then scoring the first 12 points of overtime.  Xavier is a perennial sweet 16 team, and I've kind of been waiting for that big breakthrough squad to get them into the Final Four.  Is this the year?  No.   

4.  Missouri Valley.  For some reason I've always disliked the MVC.  I don't know why since I like all the other smaller conferences.  It's just like a rainbow - nobody can explain why it happens, it just does.  With that being said, however, the MVC is looking tough and annoying again like the old days.  This past week alone Creighton went to San Diego State and got a tough road win (and they stomped Nebraska) and Wichita State beat UNLV by 20 - yes, the same Rebels who beat North Carolina.  Additionally, Northern Iowa has just one loss and Indiana State finished third in the Old Spice Classic.  Things fall off in a hurry after those four teams (sorry Drake guy), but at the very least both Creighton and Wichita should be in the hunt for an NCAA bid, while UNI and Ind State can get in the conversation with a strong run through the league.  All of which means we'll probably have to hear a bunch of annoying crap about how good the MVC always is.  Like this post, which I guess means I'm part of the problem.  Talk about self-loathing.

5.  Oklahoma State Cowboys.  Although part of me feels like I should give Indiana some propers to the Hoosiers for their 8-0 start and tough road win at NC State, I'm going to go with a more wait and see (as in let's see if they can keep it within 20 against Kentucky this weekend) and instead give some props to screwed over Oklahoma State footballers, who stomped the rival Oklahoma Sooners 44-10 in the Big 12 Championship to finish the year at 11-1 and will now have a shot at the National Title against LSU - except not really because the BCS is instead giving everyone a rematch of a game played earlier this year between LSU and Alabama and the Cowboys have to play Stanford in the who cares Bowl instead.  So stupid.  LSU already beat Alabama, so let's say Bama beats LSU - can they really claim to be the best team?  They split.  If LSU plays Okla State it's still not as good as a tournament, but still better than a damn rematch.  Honestly, the end of the year crap is probably reason #1 that I don't get into college football as much as I do college hoops or baseball.  Actually reason #1 is my wife would kill me, but the end of the year stuff is a strong #2.


1.  Dayton Flyers. Jesus Christ, Dayton, could you guys fuck things up any further?  You're a terrible team and a terrible program with terrible fans and no matter you'll never be more than 2nd class in your own conference, but hey, winning the Old Spice Classic, although not against top tier talent, is still some nice momentum.  Then you turn around and lose to Buffalo AT HOME by 30!!  And then lose by 20 at Murray State?!?!?!!  Instead of fighting for an NCAA bid, this team will be lucky to get an invite to the CIT, and they're who beat the Gophers?  This is the shitty shit box team who destroyed Trevor Mbakwe's career and the hopes and dreams of all the children of the world?  Is there any doubt that Dayton = satan?  It even rhymes!  If I go to Chicago again for the NCAA Tournament I'm burning that Dayton bar to the ground.  After I have their tasty wings of course.

2.  Washington Huskies.  Pretty sad considering how much I love the brand of circus ball the Huskies play, but it's becoming clear this just isn't a very good team this year.  Well I suppose I could be overreacting because they are 4-2, but they've only had two opponents who even resemble good teams and they lost to them both - St. Louis a week or so ago and Nevada this weekend.  I suppose it's awfully difficult to replace Captain Circus Ball (Isaiah Thomas) and then keep playing the same kind of circus ball, especially when one of your new main ball handlers is a freshman (Tony Wroten, currently averaging 4.5 turnovers per game) and the other is still trying to work his way all the way back from an ACL tear (Abdul Gaddy).  But the good news is they still play stupid fast and the Pac-10 is awful so they'll probably be back in the NCAA Tournament to thrill us with a couple games that go 190+ combined.  Don't expect too much though, there's little chance they survive the first weekend.  No matter how much I want them to.

4.  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  Why, oh why, does Georgia Tech always suck so bad?  I have such fond memories of Lethal Weapon 3 (the original - Anderson, Oliver, Scott - not the stupid imitation shitty South Carolina group who tried to steal the nickname) that I still have some leftover fandom for the Jackets, but they're just terrible this year - again.  They're 4-4 and we aren't even at conference play yet, and the losses are against St. Joe's (bad), LSU (terrible), Northwestern (ok), and Tulane (bad).  If it wasn't for that win over VCU in the Charleston Classic, they'd be in the running for worst BCS Conference team in the country.  I mean not only did they lose to Tulane, but they were actually the underdogs.  Embarrassing.  Freshmen Julian Royal, sophomore Jason Morris, and juniors Mfon Udofia, Glen Rice, and Kammeon Holsey are all top 100 types of recruits.  Talent - yes.  Experience - yes.  Results - emphatically no.  This would be why what's his face got fired.

5.  Houston Cougars.  It's like something out of a book or a movie, isn't it?  Lightly recruited QB out of high school goes to to his hometown school, the only D-I program to even offer him a scholarship.  After redshirting his first year, he's in a big QB competition his second year which he finally wins towards the end of the year, and then dominates his sophomore year, winning the Conference Player of the Year.  After another great season, he goes into his senior year with a chance to break all kinds of NCAA records, but ends up tearing his ACL.  After being granted a sixth year by the NCAA, he breaks those records and goes on to lead his undermanned team to a an undefeated season by directing the top scoring offense in the nation, and puts his team in a position to make a BCS Bowl for the first time I assume.  All that stands in their way is the Conference USA Championship Game at Southern Miss, so the QB takes his heavily favored squad up against the Golden Eagles and THEY GET FUCKING LIT UP like the Vikings in an NFC Championship Game.  Seriously, Houston got destroyed and scored the fewest points they have all year.  Nice job, Keenum.  Enjoy the CFL.

So anyway the Gophers play Appalachian State Tuesday night and yawn.  App State is actually supposed to be one of the best teams in the Southern Conference, but unfortunately this isn't the same SoCon from back when Davidson was Tournament Killer and Charleston was upsetting people all over the place, and the rest of the conference has become cupcake city.  In fact, the SoCon ranks as one of the handful of worst conference in America according to (23rd out of 32), and its best win outside of those two schools is Elon's upset of a terrible South Carolina team.

So yeah, a mid-tier team from a low tier conference.  Great.  The Mountaineers are 4-3 this year, but two of those wins are over non-D1 schools and the other two were versus Tennessee Tech and Greensboro.  Also the best team they've played this year is East Carolina who is awful and they beat Appalachian State by 20.  The only exciting part about the game, other than watching the Gophers of course, is that the Mountaineers do have preseason SoCon Player of the Year candidate Omar Carter, a senior guard whose scoring average so far this year would be his career low since he suddenly can't shoot anymore.  Although he has gone 15-26 shooting the past two games, so maybe he's on his way back.  I could go on and describe several other decent players, but who cares?  Cupcake city, baby.

Gophers 80, Mountaineers 53

Also I had a whole conversation with Bear about the Gophers and how good "Rodney White" has looked recently and he didn't realize until he sent me an email this morning that he had the name wrong lololololol.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gophers vs. USC Preview

After that nice little surprise of a win against Virginia Tech, the Gophers now welcome the mighty Trojans of USC to the Barn.  I'll forgo making the requisite deflated condom or some such joke (I feel like I could work Magnums in there somehow) because I'm not 14, at least not today, but seriously USC is not good.  Mostly bad, even.

They did go to San Diego State and only lose by two, lost by just eleven at UNLV, and beat a bad South Carolina team on a neutral court.  So that's ok.  It's not, however, enough to mitigate that they lost to Nebraska (in 2 OT) at home, beat Morgan State by just three at home, and got beat by Cal Poly 42-36 at home.  If it was just the Nebraska loss that'd be one thing, but squeaking by Morgan State, losing to Cal Poly, and only scoring 36 points in a home game are all signs of a bad, bad, bad, bad team.

Looking at their team stats, they do a good job of slowing the game down (way, way, way down) and playing quality defense which is mostly predicated on defending the shot and causing turnovers using a pressure man-to-man style.  Offensively they're pretty awful overall.  They can't shoot the 3-pointer (thank god, although they are solid on 2-pointers), are horrid on the free-throw line, and rarely grab an offensive rebound.  They play a grind it out, ugly style that Big 10 fans are unfortunately far too familiar with, and assuming the Gophers don't get bored, sloppy, or stupid and remember to play disciplined smart ball and try to get the game uptempo whenever possible the Gophers should be able to come away with a comfortable win.  Should.

As far as players go, one of the Trojans' top dudes is a somewhat familiar face in Aaron Fuller, formerly of Iowa.  I say somewhat familiar because even though I recognized the name and knew he used to be a Hawkeye I barely remember him.  He's 6-6, 235 lbs. and there isn't much slashing or perimeternessitude to his game - he's just an undersized power forward.  I'd say the Gophers would squash him but well, you know, the injuries and shit.  The key will be how he and Rodney match-up.  Fuller is stronger, but on a scale of 1-10 of athleticism, quickness, and jumping Fuller is a 2 and Rodney is like pi to the power of pi.  I think Williams should be able to school Fuller on both ends of the floor, but that strength advantage has me picturing Fuller just overpowering him and killing the Gophers in the paint while rendering Williams irrelevant when the Gophers have the ball.  I don't think so, but I'm nervous.

USC's other main scorer is 5-7 point guard Maurice Jones.  He's really small, really fast, creates havoc on defense (thus the turnovers USC creates with regularity), and loves to shoot the rock.  Yes, that's right folks.  We're going to get to see a chucker extraordinaire.  Jones has taken 102 of USC's 386 shot attempts this year despite shooting just 37%, and taken 44 of their 106 3-point attempts despite hitting just 34%.  As with most chuckers he can shoot the Trojans right out of a game if he's not hitting or he can basically winning the game single-handedly if he's hot.  He hit 7-7 on threes against South Carolina (but was 2-8 on 2s) in a win, hit 7 of 10 shots against Morgan State in a win, but also shot 1-11 in the loss against Cal Poly and is 1-10 on threes in the team's other two games.  I have no idea which version shows up Saturday, but I am confident the Gopher guards have enough size and defensive ability to keep him in check.  Expect a wreckless good time, like doing a bunch of shots and then playing Mario Kart.

Graduation and injuries have hurt this team pretty badly from last year - they lost their would be best player to injury before the season on their trip through Brazil (it was probably a blowgun incident) - and looking at their roster I'm not seeing a whole lot else that's worthwhile to point out.  It's going to be a slow game with a few wild shots.  As long as the Gophers don't become stupid they should handle this.

Minnesota 64, USC 48

Yes, she will be at the Barn on Saturday

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Well that's a Shocker, Gophers beat Hokies

As should have been obvious from my preview, I thought the Gophers were dead against Virginia Tech.  I thought Tech's athletic guards who drive and kick the Gophers to death, while their defense would shut down a Gopher team without an offensive identity thanks to their two big men being down with injuries.  Clearly, and joyfully, I was mistaken.

This version of this year's version of the Gopher hoops team was unrecognizable in a lot of ways.  First of all, swarming defense with an intensity I can't recall seeing at any point this year (not that it was without flaws, which I'll get to).  The defense forced Va Tech into 12-36 shooting on 2-pointers (the Hokies hit 46% on the season), came up with 9 steals (the most anyone has had against Tech this season), and managed to block five shots despite missing their two biggest shot blockers.  I don't think this necessarily means the team defense has turned a corner since the Hokies hit 50% of their three-point tries outside Green's semi-heave at the end, but it's a start.  It didn't hurt that Tech, one of the better team's in the country on assists per basket made, seemed a little selfish and passed up numerous opportunities to kick once they started penetrating in favor of shooting questionable jump shots, but I'm not going to let that worry me.  The intensity and effort was there in a way that was missing in Orlando, and that's the first step towards fixing things.  Whether this was a "Win One for Trevor" one moment in time remains to be seen, but I'm encouraged.

Individual player thoughts:

Rodney Williams looks sooooooo much more comfortable in the paint than he ever did on the perimeter.  I suppose that shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but it was all the more striking last night because he finally had the opportunity to do some posting up and took to it like that stupid little girl in Interview with a Vampire took to killing.  Each time he got the ball on the perimeter last night he looked a mite petrified, as many power forwards do, even going so far as to pass up an 18-foot jumper.  When they got him the ball in the paint, however, he immediately went for the score like your sister's prom date.  It's clear now, and really has been for some time, that he's got a power forward's game (right down to the sub-50% free throw percentage) in a small forward's body.  That can work, and has before, in college but I think the NBA dreams might be fading a bit.  Still, he's impressed me in this game and the team was able to go to him down low for a couple of big plays down the stretch.  If he (and the team and the coach) can all embrace this new role things might be pretty fun.

-  I'm still not 100% on the Julian Welch train, but I think I'm getting closer.  His lateral quickness on defense is miserably slow, but he can make up for some of that by having that E. Honda hand quickness.  And, more importantly, I'm starting to realize that while he looks slow on offense he sort of has that Evan Turner type thing going on where he doesn't look like he's quick or fast but ends up getting to wherever he's trying to get without issue.  His demeanor is also comforting as he always just seems to be in complete control at all times and a cool customer who won't panic or make major mistakes, as seen by his four clutch FTs last night.  Interesting, you could say he and Ralph have the same demeanor and I find one comforting and one enraging.  I guess I want my ball-handlers cool, calm, and collected and my big men to be raging balls of anger and rage and death who are just as likely to rip your face off with an axe handle as dunk on your stupid face.  Interesting.

- What can you say about Chip Armelin?  I mean really, he's a unique player in Tubby's tenure here because he's the only player I can remember who was supremely confident he could make any shot at any time, outside of Hoffarber but Blake really could make any shot at any time.  Don't get me wrong, I love Chip, but I think he's a guy you either love or hate.  He's going to single handedly win a game for this team this year, and probably shoot them out of one or two as well, but you take the good with the bad.  Every team should have a guy like Chipper, and I'm damn glad he's here. 

- Tubby opted to go with a smaller lineup most of the game, so Andre Ingram will have to wait at least one more game for his big breakthrough.  He only got 8 minutes against Va Tech and made his only shot (which for the life of me I can't remember).  It's slightly disheartening that he didn't grab a single rebound in those 8 minutes, but not nearly as disheartening in having it confirmed that he is indeed a junior and not a freshman as ESPN lists him.  I was pretty sure he was a Juco guy, but then I saw the freshman thing on ESPN and figured I was just dumb, and got excited at his potential.  Now it turns out I really am dumb, but in a sort of different way than I thought.

-He definitely has potential as an athletic scorer type (where have we heard that before), but Joe Coleman's defense at this stage of his career is going to give me a heart attack at some point.  In general he's like a less-disciplined Chip Armelin (yeah, that's right) where he just kind of runs around like a toddler who a red bull.  In just seven minutes last night he put up two shots (both misses), grabbed two rebounds and got a steal.  I'm having all kinds of trouble wrapping my head around this kid right now.  I just don't know.  He's like Snape, you just aren't sure if he's a good guy or a bad guy. 

- Oto Osenieks took two good three-pointers last night in his two minutes of play, missed them both, then was yanked by the quick Tubby hook and never saw the floor again.  Yep, nothing like taken the guy who is purported to be your best shooter and damn near only shooter and sabotaging his confidence.  I'm pretty sure Nurse Ratched was more forgiving with her charges. 

-  The Hollins cousins played a total of 60 minutes between the two of them and I can't tell you a single thing about either of them last night.  The boxscore says they scored a total of 10 points on 4-16 shooting, but had 5 assists vs. just 1 turnover.  So really they didn't stand out in any way, good or bad.  Not a big deal last night because Chip and Welch were the story in the back court, but those two are basically the future of this team so let's get it together, boys.

- I saved the best for last, because Elliott Eliason impressed the hell out of me last night.  He was a completely different player.  I think knowing he was the only big guy the team had last night, and knowing that even if he made mistakes he would have to worry about Nurse Ratched sitting him on the bench, he was able to stop worrying about mistakes and just play.  He was aggressive, he was confident, he played in the flow of the game, the guy basically transformed from Kevin Loge to Eric Montross (college version).  I don't want to go overboard and be accused of wanting to bare his children or anything, but I never thought he'd be capable of playing like this.  I thought his best case scenario was going to be Jeff Hagen, but he showed more potential last night than Hagen did in his four years.  Yes I'm probably way overreacting to one game.  Let me have this.  I need it.

So yeah, that was a pretty impressive win, especially considering I didn't think they were even going to keep this one within single digits.  I'm still worried that this basically came about because of channeling the emotion of losing Trevor, but we won't find out for about a month now.  The next five games should all be cake walks, so barring a major letdown the Gophers will be sitting at 12-1 when they start conference play by traveling to Champaign to take on the Illini.  Hold on to your butts.