Monday, November 8, 2010

Gophers renew exhibition rivalry with Winona State

Division I teams aren't supposed to lose to those from Division II, but the Winona State Warriors shocked the Minnesota Gophers in November 2006, costing coach Dan Monson his job. And just last year the Warrior women did exactly the same thing to Pam Borton's team--well, beat 'em, that is, though unlike Monson, Borton is still in charge of her Gopher team.

Still, you can bet Tubby Smith isn't taking anything for granted tonight.

This is not to say the Warriors have the kind of talent that their 2006 and 2008 national champions could put out on the floor. But, on the other hand, guard Anthony Tucker was chuckin' it for the Big Ten Iowa Hawkeyes this time last year. Tonight the Minnetonka grad will be wearing the Warrior blue and, presumably, going head to head with his old Lake Conference rival, Blake Hoffarber from Hopkins.

Another interesting match-up is forwards C. J. Erickson, also a former Minnetonka Skipper, going against Rodney Williams, From Robbinsdale Cooper. And don't underestimate the quickness or ability of the Warriors' senior point guard Ben Fischer. He'll have his hands full of Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph, but they'll have their hands full of Ben Fischer, too. Fischer scored 11 points per game last year, while leading the Warriors with 7 assists and 2 steals per game.

Meanwhile, last year's #2 and #6 scorers, Jon Walburg and Joel Armstrong (the latter a Stillwater, MN, boy), come off the bench, as does redshirt freshman Kellen Taylor (from Wayzata). Taylor (14 points) and Armstrong (9 points, 7 boards) led the Warriors in scoring and rebounding, respectively, in their recent 75-60 win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire. When Tubby Smith throws his 2nd unit and his 11th and 12th man out there, the Warriors can match that with outstanding depth of their own.

A Warrior win at Williams Arena would be as shocking as the ones of 2006 and 2009, but on the other hand they say that bad stuff comes in threes.

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