Monday, January 31, 2011

The Big Game January 2011

January All-Stars

Blake Hoffarber, Minnesota Gopher men
Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson boys
Michelle Young, Woodbury girls
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota Gopher men
Carl Hipp, Hamline men

2nd Team

Trevor Witt, St. Cloud State men
Al Nolen, Minnesota Gopher men
Jeremy Sutherland, Carleton men
Chris Palmer, St. Mary's me
Beth Doolittle, Hill Murray girls

3rd Team

Alexandra Lippert, Concordia (Moorhead) women
Tyler Nicolai, St. Thomas men
Jineen Williams, Concordia (St. Paul) women
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kionna Kellogg, Minnesota Gopher women

Team of the Month

1. Hopkins boys 15-0 (#1AAAA)
2. Minnesota Gopher men 16-5 (5-4 Big 10)
3. Hill-Murray girls 16-0 (#1AAA)
4. Anoka-Ramsey CC women 19-1 (15-0 MCAC, #1 nationally)
St. Thomas men 17-2 (12-2 MIAC, #8 D3)
6. Mankato State men 17-2 (13-2 NSIC, #12)
7. Plainview-Elgin-Millville boys 17-1 (#1AA)
8. St. Paul Johnson boys 15-2 (#2AA)
9. Esko girls 17-0 (#5AA)
10. Concordia (St.Paul) 11-8 (10-5 NSIC after 2-5 start)

Coach of the Month

1. Erin Herman, Hill-Murray girls
2. Tubby Smith, Minnesota Gopher men
3. Kenny Novak, Jr., Hopkins boys
4. Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men
5. Tim Whittle, Macalester men
6. Jeremy Post, White Bear Lake girls
7. Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women
8. Guy Kalland, Carleton men
9. Vern Simmons, St. Paul Johnson boys
10. Dave DeWitt, Anoka-Ramsey CC women

Game of the Month

1. Minnesota Gopher men 70 Purdue 67, January 13
St. Olaf 73 St. Thomas 68, snapping the Tommies' 53-game ho
me winning streak
3. C0ncordia (St. Paul) 91 Wayne State 58, January 29; Wayne coming in undefeated in first place in NSIC
4. Winona State men 93 St. Cloud State 91, OT, January 9
5. Minnesota Gopher men and women sweep Northwestern: the men 81-70, January 26, in their 1st game without injured Al Nolen; the women 63-58, snapping a 7 game Big 10 losing streak
6. Hopkins boys 92 Milwaukee Riverside 68, January 21: Riverside rated #1 in Wisconsin
Hamline men 92 St. Thomas 79, January 17
8. Ohio State men 67 Minnesota 64, January 9
9. Macalester men 90 St. John's 81, January 5: Macalester ends a 52-game losing streak and a 26-game MIAC losing streak
10. Esko girls 54 Barnum 37, January 27: Barnum #1A previously undefeated

The Big Game, Player of the Day and Coach of the Day

Monday, 1/31--It was a night for upsets in the MIAC. The Bethel women dropped St. Ben's into a 1st place tie, 52-48, as Scotti Moats scored 21. The Macalester men won for just the 2nd time in the conference this year 68-67 at Gustavus. But none can compare with this: St. Olaf men 73 St. Thomas 68, ending the Tommies 53-game home winning streak as Bobby Fong scored 17 for the Oles. Player of the Day: Rachel Booth, St. Thomas women, has had a disappointing season thus far, but not last night, as she scored 28 in a 68-59 win over St. Olaf. Coach of the Day: Dan Kosmoski, St. Olaf men, for the big upset.

Sunday, 1/30--Minnesota Gopher women 60 Michigan 50. The Gophers knock Michigan out of a first place tie. Minnesota took early leads of 5-0, 11-4 and 21-7 and never trailed. The Wolverines got within 43-42 in the second half, and it felt like deja vu for the Gophers who have blown three second half double-digit leads at home this year. But from there the Gophers scored 6 straight on a Dockery put-back, an Antoine layup and a Voigt layup on a feed from Antoine. Player of the Day: Kionna Kellogg, Gopher women, scored 6 of the 1st 8 points, and finished with 8 and 12 rebounds. Coach of the Day: Pam Borton, Gopher women. It took awhile but getting the freshman Kellogg into the starting lineup has resulted in 2 straight wins. Kellogg is averaging 8 points and 14 boards in the 2 Gopher wins.

Saturday, 1/29--Concordia (St. Paul) women 91 Wayne State 58. Wayne came in 14-0 in the NSIC and led 37-33 at the half. The Bears manhandled 'em 58-21 in the 2nd half as Jineen Williams ran wild, finishing with 22 points, 12 boards, 5 assists and 4 steals. Concordia, which started 2-5 in the conference, is now 10-5. Williams. Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women.

Friday, 1/28--Lakeville South boys 69 Eagan 64 (OT). #7AAAA knocks off #6AAAA. Alex Richter scores 19 for South, Jameson Parsons 23 for Eagan. Kyle Noreen, Minnesota Transitions 41 points in 95-65 win over New Life. Jeremy Post, White Bear Lake girls, beat Mounds View 56-54 in OT.

Thursday, 1/27--Minnesota Gopher women 63 Northwestern 58, snapping a 7-game losing streak in the Big 10. Katie Loberg scored 8 of the Gophers' 1st 10 points, while freshman Kionna Kellogg added 8 points and 15 boards in her 2nd career start. The Gophers had 21 offensive rebounds. Loberg, Gopher women, 21 points, 7 boards. Scott Antonutti
, #5AA Esko girls, whose team upset #1A Barnum 54-37

Wednesday, 1/26--Minnesota Gopher men 81 Northwestern 70. Biiiiiiiig win what with the loss of Al Nolen to injury. Mbakwe, Sampson and Iverson dominated inside, though Hoffarber led the scoring with 20. Blake Hoffarber or Trevor Mbakwe, though Hoff's 4 turnovers and Mbakwe's 6 missed FT work against them. Ergo, the split award. Kerri Stockwell, Hamline. The 5-9 (in the MIAC) Pipers shocked first-place and #20-ranked St. Ben's 77-58 thanks to 8-of-15 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.

Tuesday, 1/25--Eastview boys (#6AAAA) 59 Lakeville South (#3AAAA) 43. Zach Lofton, Columbia Heights boys 43. Dave Cresap, Perham boys. Perham returned to the floor for the 1st time since Zach Gabbard collapsed on the floor last week, and the #4 rated Yellowjackets hammered West Central 64-13.

Monday, 1/24--Duluth East boys 113 Mpls. North 87. Freshman Taylor Thunstedt, New London-Spicer girls, 13 points tonight to lead the Wildcats but also hit 8 3-pointers on Saturday night in a 77-40 win over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. Mike Dreier, New London-Spicer girls, who won at previously 11-1 Benson 63-46, just keeps on winning despite losing 4 starters off last year's squad. The Wildcats are now 15-2.

Sunday, 1/23--#1 Anoka-Ramsey CC women 68 #9 Minnesota West 66. The Lady Jays led by as many as 20 points before the Golden Rams rallied, showing why they're the #1 JC Division 3 team in the nation.
Stephanie Pilgrim, Anoka-Ramsey women 21 points. Mike Fury, Minnesota West women.

Saturday, 1/22--Breakdown Boys Tipoff rescheduled. 11 games on 2 courts.

West Gym
12:30 p.m. Braham vs. Holy Family. Holy Family 82-74, Ryan Dahl nets 36
2:15 St. Cloud Apollo vs. Eden Prairie, EP 72-46.
4 Waconia vs. Apple Valley. AV 67-65
5:45 Benilde-SM vs. Cretin Derham. Benilde 62-60 on Myles Barnes' buzzer-beater.
7:30 Minnetonka vsl. Lakeville South. South 91-67 as Alex Richter hits 30

East Gym
Noon Shakopee vs. Orono. Shakopee 64-51.
1:45 Duluth East vs. Minnesota Transitions. East 69 MTC 65.
3:30 Henry Sibley vs. Maranatha Chrisitan. Maranatha 71-66
5:15 Buffalo vs. Marshall. Buffalo 72-69 on Josh High's buzzer-beater
7 Osseo vs. Hopkins. Hopkins 86-68

Saturday, 1/22--Minnesota Gopher men 69 Michigan 64. The Gophers get their first Big 10 road win, and get over .500 in conference play (4-3) by out-rebounding the Wolverines an amazing 38-13. Michigan led as late as 41-40. Ryan Dahl of Holy Family is the top scorer on a winner at the Breakdown Tip-Off with 36, though Tyler Vaughan of Braham nets 37 in the same game. Zach Goring, Apple Valley boys keep on winning without Tyus Jones. Yesterday they beat Waconia 67-65, coming from 60-53 down, at the Breakdown Tip-Off.

Friday, 1/21--Hopkins boys 92 Milwaukee Riverside 68. Riverside was previously undefeated and rated #1 in Wisconsin. Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson. Saved the Governors bacon with 30 points and 6 assists in a 70-66 win over a hard-nosed Superior, WI, team. Kenny Novak, Jr., Hopkins boys, who hammered the #1 team in Wisconsin 92-68. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, 1/20--Wisconsin Badger women 71 at Minnesota Gophers 63. For the 3rd time in a still young Big 10 season, the Gophers coughed up a double-digit second half lead. The Gophers' biggest lead was 34-18 with 5:00 remaining in the 1st half. It was 44-30 at the half. Wisconsin took its 1st lead of the night at 59-58 and pulled away. The Badgers out-scored the Gophers 41-19 in the 2nd half and 19-6 over the last 7:00. Orono's Jordan Smith scored 40 points in a 113-107 OT win over Hutchinson. It was 97-all at the end of regulation. Keith Ferris, Wadena-Deer Creek girls, who won a key Section 8AA South meeting with Hawley 45-27

Wednesday, 1/19--Carleton men 70 Hamline 67, and St. Thomas women 62 Macalester 60. Jeremy Sutherland's 3 with 6 seconds remaining was the different in Carleton's win. Sutherland finished with 25 points and 9 boards. Meanwhile, St. Thomas and Macalester were tied 8 times, the last at 45-45 at 9:08. Macalester shot 0-for-6 after that when it had the chance to tie or take the lead. Sutherland and Rachel Booth, St. Thomas women 18 points, 9 boards. Ellen Thompson, Macalester women for flirting with a big upset, on the road no less.

Tuesday, 1/18--Sartell-St. Stephen girls 55 Alexandria 53. Sartell remains unbeaten. Alex, after an 8-0 start, has lost 2 straight. Michelle Young, Woodbury 36 points in a 70-41 win over Forest Lake. Katie Martin, Sartell-St. Stephen

Monday, 1/17--Hamline men 92 St. Thomas 79. The Pipers upset the previously undefeated, #4 rated Tommies after 13 straight defeats to their St. Paul rival, and they did it by raining 3s (12 of them) on St. Thomas. The Tommies led 47-44 at the half, but Hamline tied it at 49-49 and took the lead for good at 53-51 at 15:53. Carl Hipp, Hamline men 20 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks. Nelson Whitmore, Hamline men.

Sunday, 1/16--Minnesota Gopher men 69 Iowa Hawkeyes 59. Hey, a win is a win, and after starting 0-2 and 1-3, the Gophers are back to even .500 in the Big 10. But the folks over at the are not happy. Minnesota led at the half 30-19. A mere 3:30 into the 2nd half it was 32-32. Then after slowly building the lead up to 62-49, Iowa was within 62-55 with 2 minutes still to play. But the Gophers held on largely due to the play of Trevor Mbakwe, Ralph Sampson and Al Nolen. Can't decide. Mbakwe, Sampson, Nolen. Tubby Smith.

Saturday, 1/15--#6AAAA Eden Prairie defeats #7AAAA Cretin. 60-57. Sonja Ellingson, St. Catherine's women, 20 points, 9 rebounds, and St. Kate's (just 2-6 going into today's game) hands St. Thomas its first MIAC loss. Both St. Thomas posts, Rachel Booth and Maggie Weiers, foul out trying to contain Ellingson. Josh Mohagen, #10AAA Fergus Falls girls, who win central Minnesota bragging rights at #8AAA Alexandria, 40-36.

Friday, 1/14--Shakopee girls 41 Farmington 34 in the battle of the unbeatens in Missota conference games. Player of the Day: Michelle Young, Woodbury girls, 26 points as White Bear Lake escapes 45-44. Coach of the Day: Mike Roysland, Minnesota-Crookston women who, going in 2-7 versus Winona's State 7-2, nevertheless pulled the upset 82-72 because several of them helped to tie up of the Gophers.

Thursday, 1/13--Minnesota Gopher men 70 Purdue Boilermakers 67. The Gophers squandered a 53-45 lead and trailed 61-57 at 8:50. But the Gophers caught up and the score was tied at 61, 63, 65 and 67. Al Nolen hit the winner at 3:17 and neither team scored again. Blake Hoffarber 26 points 4 assists. Vern Simmons of #2AAA St. Paul Johnson. the Governors dodged a bullet tonight, winning at #4AAAA Eden Prairie 68-59, after trailing 56-54 with 4:00 remaining.

Wednesday, 1/12--Break up the Tommies! St. Thomas swept a women's and men's doubleheader at Concordia (Moorhead), against a couple of very good Cobber teams, and both remain undefeated and in sole possession of 1st place in the MIAC. The men rallied from 5 down with 2:00 remaining, closing out the game on a 19-6 run. The final was St. Thomas 69-61. The women took an early 12-0 lead. Concordia came as close as 3 points, once in the 1st half and once in the 2nd, but in the end St. Thomas pushed out to a 67-54 final. Tyler Nicolai, St. Thomas men, scored 21 with 2 blocks and 2 steals, while Alexandra Lippert of the Concordia women had a heckuva game with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks, though it wasn't enough to avert defeat. Do you have to ask about the coaches? Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men and Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women.

Tuesday, 1/11--Centennial girls 72 Maple Grove 62. Centennial stays unbeaten in the Northwest Suburban, handing the Crimson its first conference defeat. Ted Lutterman, Cambridge-Isanti. The senior guard had the kind of day every player dreams about--26 points in a 54-52 win over arch-rival Princeton. But not only that, it was his half-court shot at the final buzzer that gave Cambridge the win. Omar McMillan, Richfield boys, who clobbered #10AAA St. Thomas 92-68 to stay unbeaten in the Classic Suburban.

Monday, 1/10--#1AA Plainview-Elgin-Millville boys 74 at #10A Rushford-Peterson 40. Sattoria Rule, Mpls. South 22 points in a 59-42 win over Mpls. Roosevelt. Kirk Thompson, Plainview-EM boys.

Sunday, 1/9--Ohio State 67 Gopher men 64. The Gophers fell behind 32-22 at the half, then 43-28 and 55-37 with 8:31 left. They then closed on a 27-12 run but it wasn't enough. Neither team shot well, but the Buckeyes made 8-of-23 3s while the Gophers made just 2-of-15. Trevor Witt, St. Cloud State men, 33 points and 9 assists, but his team lost to Winona State 93-91 in OT when Ben Fisher of Winona (who finished with 12 points and 8 assists) scored the last 6 points including the game-winning jumper at :01. Scott Ballard, Winona State women, who beat St. Cloud 57-52 to stay in 2nd place in the NSIC.

Saturday, 1/8--St. Thomas men 68 Gustavus 64 (ot). The Tommies win their 24th straight regular season game, and their 50th straight on-campus conference game. Tyler Nicolai hits a big buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the 2nd straight game, this one sending it into OT. Iowa recruit Beth Doolittle finally breaks loose for her high school team, Hill-Murray, with 38 points in an 83-37 rout of Tartan. Mike Curfman, Bemidji State, which pulled off a big 79-78 upset of #21 ranked Augustana.

Friday, 1/7--North St. Paul girls 61 #5AAA Richfield 56 (ot). Phil Hegseth, Forest Lake boys 23 points as the Rangers upset #7AAAA Cretin 80-62. Mike Schumacher, Wayzata girls, who upset #4AAAA Buffalo 70-49.

Thursday, 1/6--MCCRAY girls 57 at #3A previously unbeaten Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart 44. Mariah Adanane, DeLaSalle girls, 26 points in 79-57 loss to Hopkins. Tony Taylor, Windom boys, who won at Marshall 66-61 to take over 1st place in the Southwest Conference.

Wednesday, 1/5--St. Thomas men 62 Carleton 59. Can anybody around here hold a lead? The Gopher women and the Timberwolves both squandered 2nd half leads and lost. Carleton had a 59-57 lead and the ball with 38 seconds remaining, but missed 2 FT and then turned to ball over on their final 2 possessions. Alex Healy made 2 FT to tie it and Tyler Nicolai swished a 3 as the buzzer sounded. Aaron Burtzel, St. John's men, did it all against Macalester--28 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals--but the Macmen pulled the big upset. Tim Whittle, Macalester men, who defeated St. John's 90-81 despite Burtzel's big game. Here, at least, nobody blew a big lead. Macalester led wire-to-wire to end a 52-game MIAC losing streak as well as an overall 26-game losing streak.

Tuesday, 1/4--Gopher men 67 Indiana Hoosiers 63. The Gophers fell behind 32-26 at the half, then roared back to lead by as many as 8, 59-51. But Minnesota missed 7-of-15 FT in the 2nd half, and 5-of-9 as Indiana made it a 1-possession game at 65-63 at 0:07. Joey King, Eastview boys, scored 36 points as his #3AAAA-rated team dispatched #9AAAA Eagan 71-45. Tom Doyscher, Waconia boys, who surprised #5AAA Orono 69-51.

Monday, 1/3--St. Thomas men 90 St. Mary's 58. I wrote a full report on this game. Let's just say here that the Tommies looked great, except for some early defensive lapses. Chris Palmer, St. Mary's 25 points, 11 rebounds. Steve Fritz, St. Thomas men

Sunday, 1/2--Indiana Hoosiers women 80 Minnesota Gophers 79 (OT). The Gophers blew a 10-point lead with 6:00 remaining. Minnesota shot 37 percent; Kiara Buford shot 1-for-13. China Antoine 21 points, 6 steals.

Saturday, 1/1--Minnesota Timberwolves 103 New Jersey Nets 88. Trailing 55-54 at the half, the Wolves out-scored the Nets 49-33 in the 2nd. A 13-0 run to start the half pretty much iced it. Kevin Love 23 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, all team-highs. Kurt Rambis, Timberwolves.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Henry Sibley Takes It on the Chin

The Henry Sibley boys have had quite a run over the past 4 years: 99 wins and 23 losses, and 2nd and a 3rd place in the Class AAAA tournament. I ran into former Sibley coach Dean Verdoes at a ballgame the other day, and he marveled at the fact that he had had 1 Division 1 player in 20 years as Sibley coach, while the Warriors had 5 in the past 5 years: 4 of them are Trevor Mbakwe, Chris Halvorsen, Mike Brusewitz and 7-footer Jake Krueser. I think he may also be counting Mike Rostampour, class of 2010, who is now playing JC ball in Texas. And this is not to mention Anders Halvorsen and Peter Leslie, who are playing at St. Thomas, and Jordan Jackson, who is with Rostampour in Texas.

So nobody's feeling too sorry for Sibley now that they're 3-and-9 after losing at Mahtomedi last night 61-55. (In the interest of full disclosure, my cousins play for Henry Sibley. I'm not going to embarrass them by telling you who they are. But though I live a half-block outside the Mahtomedi school district, I'm most interested in Henry Sibley's fortunes in last night's game.)

Part of the problem is that they're still playing a schedule fit for a top 10 team. They've played match games in three tournaments against #1AAAA Hopkins, #1AA Plainview-Elgin-Millville and #5A Maranatha, losing them all. Then there was a 12-point loss at #2AAAA Tartan, though that's a conference opponent whom they've always played twice a year and whom they had beaten twice a year every year since 2006 for a total of 9 straight wins.

Then, of course, there's last night's loss to an 8-5 Mahtomedi team who they've also played twice a year in the Classic Suburban Conference, and whom they had defeated 11 straight games going back to 2005.

What's the problem?

Judging by last night's game, there's a couple things. They just didn't put the ball in the hole, shooting 33 percent en route to a 35-32 half-time deficit, and then 29 percent in the 2nd half, and 31 percent overall. There were plenty of opportunities (70 field goal attempts), lots of them in the paint. But Sibley's starting front line shot just 5-for-23 according to my unofficial stats. Guards Dante Grant, a junior, and Adam Heussner, a sophomore, were not the problem, on the other hand, hitting 14-of-24 shots for 29 points between them.

Then there was the defense, which gave up way to many uncontested baskets, especially on back door cuts. Mahtomedi guard Dan Ferrazzo and post Dane Schmid were especially effective at finding the cutter, or Ferrazzo was just as likely to be the cutter along with most of the Zephyr perimeters. Mahtomedi also executed at least a half-dozen classic fastbreaks, which they usually finished with style, with guards Andrew and Zach Lindquist participating as both the scorer and the trigger.

Sibley's only lead of the night came at 3-2 on a Grant 3, but the Warriors missed their next 4 shots to fall behind 9-2. Ten minutes later they were 5-for-17 and trailing 29-16, but suddenly they made 5 in a row--3 by Grant and 2 by Heussner, plus a pair of FT by Jake Golberg--to get within 33-29 at about 2:00. A Heussner steal and 2 at 0:22 made it 33-32, but that was as close as the Warriors would come.

That's because the 6-9 Schmid dominated the first 5:30 of the second half with 3 buckets, including a terrific fallaway from 10 feet out on the left baseline and then a fastbreak layup at 13:30. There were 2 blocks and a board mixed in for good measure. Sibley, meanwhile, had made just 2-of-11 shots, and a timeout didn't stop the bleeding. At the 10 minute mark it was 47-37. The Zephyrs lead hovered between 5 and 11 the rest of the way.

A put-back by reserve guard Dajoun Davis got the Warriors within 47-42 at 8:35, but they immediately gave up an easy back door layup and a nice catch and shoot, both by Mahtomedi reserve Christian Smith, and the lead was back to 9 and then 11. The closest approach short of the final score was 7 at 4:21 but, again, the Warriors missed their next 2 shots and 2 FT. And at 60-53 Sibley missed 3 second chance opportunities as the clock ticked down from 0:39 to 0:10. Finally Grant converted the 4th second chancer but by then time was running out.

Still, the Sibley cupboard is not bare, as guards Grant and Heussner are a junior and sophomore, respectively. Inside players Jake Golberg and Alex Stafford are both juniors as well, and 9 other underclassmen are on the Sibley roster.

In addition to Kreuser, Jackson and Rostampour, the Warriors also lost coach Tom Dasovich over the summer, and assistant coach Lernell James moved up as head coach. No wonder there are growing pains. From what I saw last night, getting the Warriors back on the winning track might be as easy--or as hard--as finishing with the ball once you've pushed it into the paint. That, and shutting that darned back door.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Minnesota 2 Wisconsin 1 in 1st Day of East Metro Showcase

Three Minnesota #1s played three Wisconsin teams in day one (of two) of the East Metro Showcase at St. Paul Johnson High School, and Minnesota came out slightly the better. Hopkins and St. Paul Johnson were victorious--Hopkins with ease, Johnson with difficulty--while Minnesota Transitions lost to St. John's Military of Delafield, WI, 61-56.

Hopkins, in fact, did Minnesota proud, hammering Wisconsin's #1 team, previously undefeated Milwaukee Riverside 92-68 as Joe Coleman scored 28. Johnson, on the other hand, staggered across the finish line, a 56-41 second-half lead having melted away to almost nothing at the end.

St. Paul Johnson 70 Superior 66

Now, I know what you're going to say. Johnson's not rated #1 anymore, and that's true of the so-called AP poll, where they're now #2 to DeLaSalle. Johnson is 11-2 after losing to Chicago Hyde Park and Milwaukee King, but it says here that until they lose to a Minnesota Class AAA (or lower) school, they're #1.

So it was a shock to see Superior pushing Johnson, hard, down the stretch on the Governor's home court. 70-66. Superior came in at 9-3, ranked #24 in Wisconsin by one rating service, with a 22-point win over #6AAAA Eastview but losses to #1AAA DeLaSalle and unranked Duluth East.

Johnson set the tone by forcing turnovers on 2 of Superior's first 3 possessions for a quick 6-0 lead and a Spartans timeout just 56 seconds in. The Governors scored on 5 of their 1st 7 possessions for an 11-2 lead as Estan Tyler and Roosevelt Scott were everywhere. Superior fought back to within 21-18, but the Johnson extended it to 42-31 with 48 seconds left in the 1st half. But Johnson missed 4 FT and Superior scored to quick buckets to get within 42-36 at the half.

Johnson forced 16 1st half turnovers, scored 9 points off 7 offensive boards, and made 5-of-8 3s. But it made just 15-of-37 FG and 7-of-13 FT. Superior did exactly 1 thing well. It got 10 fewer FGA than Johnson but made the same number of FG overall, 15, and made 3-of-4 from 3 point land. Tyler had 16 1st half points, 4 on put-backs, and 3 assists. Marshall, after a slow start, scored 11, 9 of them on 3s.

Both teams started the 2nd half slowly but, suddenly, a pair of put-backs by reserves Trey Coffman and Waylon Johnson made it 56-41 t 10:45. Two minutes later it was 60-47. But Superior responded with a 9-0 run, and a Rob Kraft 3 made it 60-56. A minute later Kraft made 3 FT, and another minute later a Josh Kimmes bucket made it 64-61.

Johnson shifted into a zone for the 1st time, but a Kimmes 2 from Joel Lindberg and another Kraft 3 gave Superior their 1st lead of the night, 66-64 at 3:00. But the Spartans would not score again, finishing with a turnover and 3 misses. Kimmes' short-armed a 5-footer that would have tied it up at :05. Meanwhile, Tyler penetrated for 2 at 2:30, then hit 2 FT off an offensive board at 1:16. The Governors then missed a pair of FT on the front of a 1-and-1 at :38 and :17 to set up Kimmes tying opportunity. Marshall snared that rebound and did not miss his FT at :03.

I was all set to write that Tyler is a better ballplayer than Joe Coleman until he (Tyler) disappeared during Superior's big rally. The Spartans were tired, mentally and physically, as the 2 Governors' put-backs around the 11 to 12 minute mark were barely contested. Tyler took his only rest of the night for 2 minutes from 11 minutes down to 9. Johnson had Superior right where they wanted them.

But no, it was the other way around as the Spartans suddenly found new energy and Johnson seemed to be running on fumes. And between re-entering the game at 9:10 ant 4:20, when Superior went on a 16-8 run, Tyler's name only appears in my play-by-play 3 times, with a turnover, a steal and a miss, and an assist. He reasserted himself down the stretch, fortunately for Johnson.

Tyler finished with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting, with 6 assists and only 1 turnover, despite handling the ball all night long. I would say he is more valuable to his team than Coleman, as he (Tyler) runs the show from baseline to baseline and gives his teammates the advantage of having a coach on the floor. Marshall finished with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Scott scored 10, but tried to do too much resulting in 5-of-17 shooting and 6 turnovers.

In sum total, this Johnson team is nowhere near last year's. Something is missing. The killer instinct, or just the ability to finish whether off the defensive pressure or off of the offensive board. The set offense and 3 point shooting, on the other hand, seem fine. But maybe whoever had Maxie Rosenbloom as the player of the year last year was smarter than I thought.

Kraft's 3-point shooting brought Superior back into the game, and he finished with 22 points. Kimmes added 13. The real news was the Spartans' refusal to back down. Whenever their back got pushed up against the wall, they responded with their best basketball.

Hopkins 92 Milwaukee Riverside University 68

Wisconsin's #1 team according to 1 poll came out with a starting lineup of 4 juniors and a sophomore. Add in sophomore post RaVonn Posey, who at 6-8, 300 is a major league load, and this is a national power a year from now. And 10-0 coming in ain't bad. But Hopkins picked the Tigers apart and made their own case for a national top 10 rating right now.

The Royals jumped out to a 7-0 lead as 4 different players scored, and forced a Tigers timeout at 16:01. Hopkins quickly made it 14-4 as Joe Coleman, Zach Stahl and Marvin Singleton each got his 2nd bucket. Riverside crawled back to within 22-20, but the Royals quickly ripped off a 20-6 run. Coleman scored off the offensive board and then off a steal. Two-and-a-half minutes later, leading 28-22, reserve Nicholas Jorgensen hit 3 3s around a Coleman 2 in transition, and suddenly it was 42-28. It was 42-31 at the half.

The Royals made 17-of-31 FG in the half and scored 5 points off 6 offensive boards. 12 turnovers gave the Tigers hope, though they had 11 of their own.

Hopkins put it away early in the 2nd half as Siyani Chambers scored 7 of the 1st 12 Royals' points, and at 14:55 it was 55-33. At 9:55 it was 67-41, and at 6:20 it was 79-46. Coleman added 15 2nd half points to 13 in the 1st for a total of 28. Jorgensen added a pair of 2s for a total of 15 on the night. Chambers scored 12 in the 2nd after just 1 in the 1st for a total of 13.

The Royals matched their 17-of-31 shooting in the 1st half, exactly, for an enviable total of 34-for-62 or 55 percent. They scored 13 2nd chance points off 13 offensive boards. They hit 7 3s and 17-of-24 FT. The only chink in their armor was their 19 turnovers.

Coleman is, of course, a specimen, a strong, powerful, explosive 6-4 athlete who excels near the rim, finishing in transition and pounding the offensive boards. Chambers is their 2nd most valuable player, his on-ball defense creating havoc for the opposing offense, and he too can score from almost anywhere.

The most amazing thing about this team, however, is its defensive intensity. I mean, this is the sort of defensive intensity that is de rigueur for elite teams. But Hopkins does it with, essentially, six guys. Jorgensen was virtually the only reserve to see the court until garbage time. Of course, garbage time came early.

Last year I saw Hopkins and Johnson on the same floor at the Best Buy tournament in December, and Johnson beat the Royals in one of the greatest regular season games I've ever seen. This year, having seen them on the same floor on the same night once again, Hopkins would have no difficulty in avenging last year's loss.

St. John's NW Military Academy 61 Minnesota Transitions 56

Transitions took an early 13-2 lead, but St. John's rallied quickly to tie at 21 at 6:00. It was 26-all at the half.

In the 2nd half it was tied at 29 and 54, and the lead flipped 5 times. The biggest lead either way was 35-29 St. John's on a pair of 3s by Chris McFarlane and Miles Holmes. Transitions came back to led 50-45 at 5:00. Rodney Owens scored 11 points during that 21-10 run by driving into the lane more or less at will.

But it was St. John's who laughed last, closing things out on a 16-6 run as 5 different players did the damage. Kevin Mays, a strong 6-5 inside player, hit a throw. Zach Detmer hit 2 throws off of an offensive board. McFarlane hit a 3, the Mays put the Lancers ahead with a 2+1 off a nifty drive along the right baseline. With the score tied at 54, DJ Mlachnik hit a 3 and St. John's had the lead for good. Holmes, a skinny 6-6 fellow who does a little bit of everything, hit 4 FT down the stretch.

The big news from the Transitions side is that there's no full-court defensive pressure, no big transition push, no run-and-gun...okay, they've got 3 games over 100 this year and 3 more over 90. But, today, against an elite opponent, they are a walk-it-up, grind-it-out, half-court team. But maybe 1 weapon short of being a really good walk-it-up, grind-it-out, half-court team. Kevin Noreen scored 21, Matt Lanier 19 and Owens 12, but 3-on-5 doesn't quite cut it. For the Lancers, Mlachnik scored 19, Holmes 16 and Mays 14, and the supporting cast out-shot Transitions' supporting cast 12-4.

All-Stars for the Day

Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson, 6-2, PG, MVP
Joe Coleman, Hopkins, 6-4, SG
Jalen Currie, Milwaukee Riverside, 6-3, SG
Trinson White, Milwaukee Riverside, 6-7, F
Siyani Chambers, Hopkins, 5-11, PG

Tyler is rated as a top 100 point guard. There were rumors at one time of Gopher interest in Tyler but nothing came of it. Then there's a rumor that NDSU had their pick of Tyler or Superior's Joel Lindberg and preferred Lindberg. Say what? Tyler played rings around Lindberg today, out-scoring him 30-6. Tyler is going to Missouri-Kansas City. He has to be the most underrated player I've seen out of Minnesota in a long long time. I guess I don't know much, because he is a Big 10 talent in my opinion.

Not a better Big 10 prospect than Joe Coleman, don't get me wrong. But close. And a better high school player.

Then there is Chambers, who is as yet uncommitted. Described as a top 15 or 20 point guard, Chambers is indeed a highly skilled and very athletic fellow and a true 1. Not a Big 10 player, but if I were NDSU I would also prefer him to Lindberg. Night and day on quickness, just as good a shot as Lindberg. I just don't see how you could possibly prefer Lindberg. Sorry, Joel. Chambers is said to have offers from Santa Clara, Nebraska, Central Michigan, Cal Davis, St. Louis and Cal Poly, with rumors of interest by Tubby Smith and the Gophers. Chambers lacks the size of former Hopkins point guard Trent Lockett and brings a different kind of game, but he has been more valuable even than Lockett to this Hopkins program. And yet, if it were up to me, I'd take Tyler over Chambers in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The U and the 2012 and 2013 Girls

EDIT 1-19-10: The University of Iowa announced yesterday that Kali Peschel of Sauk Centre had committed verbally to becoming a Hawkeye. I had her (below) as a U of M recruit. But in listing the schools she was considering, the St. Cloud Times listed Marquette, Creighton, Colorado State, Dayton, Illinois State, North Dakota, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. No Minnesota. Which would suggest to me that she had not been offered.

Especially since she also said that playing in the Big 10 was her goal.


Today's announcement that Whitney Tinjum of Chisago Lakes will be attending the University of Wisconsin brings the recruitment of Minnesota girls back to the front burner. Tinjum is rated #4 among the girls in one rating (gPrep) though only #11 in another (kjasr). None of the 10 girls rated ahead of Tinjum in either ranking has verballed yet and, so, enquiring minds want to know who Pam Borton and the Minnesota Gophers are going to get.

They'll have at least 4 scholarships available for (high school) 2012s, since Kiara Buford, Brianna and Nicole Mastey, and Jackie Voigt are (college) 2012s. Yet, so far, Borton has gotten only 1 verbal for the class of 2012. And she is a controversial choice, guard Mikayla Bailey of Osseo, who ranks just 18th, and only 13th among the guards, in her class.

Not only that, but Bailey was quoted as saying that Borton told her she would be the only 2012 the Gophers were going after. Say what? With 4 scholarships available? And depth problems looming if only 1 recruit comes in? That doesn't make sense. And yet, confidence among Gopher fans that Borton can successfully recruit a Big Ten-worthy roster is low enough that anything can be and is imagined. Like, the U sitting on 3 scholarships for a whole year in hopes of hitting the jackpot in 2013.

I mean, look at the Minnesota kids playing in the Big Ten as we speak, but for Iowa: Kachine Alexander, Hannah Draxten and Kamille Wahlin. For Indiana: Georgie Jones (who started at Marquette). For Michigan: Courtney Boylan and Kate Thompson. For Ohio State: Tayler Hill. Wisconsin: Alyssa Karel, Tara Steinbauer, Cassie Rochel.

And for Minnesota: Buford, the Masteys and Voigt, and Katie Loberg and Sari Noga, among others. It goes without saying that the Minnesota girls playing elsewhere in the Big Ten would thrash those playing for Borton at the U.

And then there are the kids playing elsewhere such as Marquette (Angel Robinson) and in the former Big 12 (Brittany Chambers).

Now, in fairness, it must be said that when Borton recruited Buford, Brianna Mastey and Voigt, recruiting services called it a top 20 class and Gopher fans generally were pleased, myself included. Wahlin looked like a significant miss right from the git-go but, hey, 3 out of 4 ain't bad. 2009 was an obvious bust, however, as Pam hung in there for Tayler Hill right up to the bitter end, whereas in hindsight it seems obvious Hill was never going to wear the maroon and gold. And by getting strung along by Hill rather than cutting bait, Borton lost the consolation prizes, both Chambers and Theairra Taylor.

Everybody pretty much agreed that the 2010s were not going to be difference-makers, but it still hurt to know that the #1 player among the 2010s, Rochel, wanted nothing to do with the Gophers.

Then came the 2011s and Pam locked up the obvious talents--Banham and Hirt--early on and dared the Iowas and Wisconsins to scuffle for the rest, which meant Anne Marie Brown (Wisky) and Beth Doolittle (Iowa). Nobody thinks either of them is a real loss for the Gophers. The question, however, is whether Banham and Hirt will live up to their reputations in a way that the 2008s have yet to do.

That brings us to the 2012s and 2013s. During last spring's girls state tournament, Borton happened to sit down next to me (I mean, she sat in an empty seat and I happened to be next to it). She doesn't know me from Adam, but I must say she was quite personable to me. We ended up talking about younger, high school talent--Noga happened to be on the floor at the time. I asked who she liked among the 2012s and she said, How about the 2013s? OK, so everyone agrees that the 2013s are Minnesota's next great class, best since at least 2007.

But again, that's no reason to kiss off the 2012s when, again, Minnesota will have 4 scholarships available. For the 2013s, playing her hand straight up, Borton will have 2 (Cotton and Loberg leaving). So hold 1 back and make it 3 and 3. Here's where I'm at.


1. Please, sign up Jackie Johnson yesterday and be done with it. I don't care about foot and leg issues. A week ago Amanda Beckman and Anne Marie Brown had healthy legs, today they both have torn ACLs. There are no guarantees. Just sign the best kids, and Johnson is it.

2. I'm going to put Kali Peschel here because, aside from the fact that she is really something Peschel, there are rumors that she is going to end up a Gopher anyway. She would be a solid addition, somewhere between a Kiara Buford and Katie Ohn, somewhere between Brianna Mastey and a Jackie Voigt, somewhere north of Sari Noga. Not a starter, at least not on a winner, perhaps, but a solid contributor.

3. Well, I have to put Mikayla Bailey here, don't I, or else I have to go ahead and sign up 4 girls and, indeed, forego a 3rd girl from the 2012s.

4. If I was going to do that--sign up 4 2012s and 2 2013s--then, well, the highest rated are all guards--Brittney Scherber, Alexis Foley. Marissa Janning, Tessa Cichy--and not only am I not blown away, I've already taken care of that position with Banham, Bailey and Peschel. So I might be willing to reach down a bit for some size in the person of McKenzie Hoelmenn of Lakeville North (rated #8 and #21) or Gracia Hutson of Hopkins (rated in the 30s and 40s but busting out as we speak). Or, I might sit on it until 2013.


OK, this is tough. Lisa Bluder is hard on the trail of Becca Dahlman, and this has caused a panic among Gopher fans, who would view losing Dahlman to a Big Ten rival as Armeggedon. And let me say, Dahlman was 100 percent improved in December versus March. She's stronger (I mean, seriously stronger, obviously she's been lifting) and she's gotten a lot better with her decision-making, not just ramming it into the lane everytime, come wild shots, turnovers and high water.) Still there's other talent out there: Nia Coffey, who is quicker and 4 inches taller; Allina Starr, an inch short but much stronger; and Tyseanna Johnson, all-around the most dazzling athlete in her class.

1. Well, I'll still take Dahlman. Nobody is a proven quantity. The ratings have shifted all over the board in the past year, and they'll keep shifting. So it's a crap shoot. And, given genetics, Dahlman seems like the best bet.

2. But speaking of genes, it's also hard to pass on Richard Coffey's little girl, Nia Coffey. She's turning the ball over too much--as much as Dahlman did a year ago, more than Dahlman does now. But Richard Coffey is my favorite Gopher ever and since it's a crap shoot, sentiment rules the day. And those 4 extra inches of size that Coffey brings to the table.

3. As much as I would hate to lose Tyseanna Johnson, #3 has got to be Savanna Trapp and I have never even seen her play. She could just as easily turn out to be the 2nd coming of Amber Dvorak, but can you really take that chance? Because she could just as easily be the 2nd coming of Jenna Smith, only much bigger. But I can't really move her up to #2 if I've only got 2 scholarships for 2013.

4. The real question is whether I can find a fourth! If the 2013s are really that good, I'm thinking hard on this. Both whether and (if so) who? T. Johnson is rated #2 and #6. Jade Martin is #3 and #5 but I prefer T. Johnson. Tesha Buck is #4 and #6 but too methodical, not intuitive enough for this level. Starr is #4 and #7 but how to pick her ahead of her teammate, T. Johnson? You can't. Jessica January is #6 and #10 but she's a 5-6 version of the 5-10 Coffey. Can't give up that extra size for the same package of skills.

And with Trapp in the mix, you don't need to go fishing too deep for size but if it's a project you want, you could do worse than 6-3 Emma Lange of Caledonia, who could be a 3.

But, no, after Dahlman and Coffey, I guess I would spring for Trapp and then, and then, and then...okay, Tyseanna Johnson. She seems to have the most upside.

So imagine, if you will, a Gopher roster come 2013-2014 that looks like this.

Center--Dvorak (sr.), Trapp (fr.)
Forward--Clay (sr.), Kellogg (sr.), Riche (sr.), Hirt (jr.), Johnson (soph.)
Guard--Noga (sr.), Banham (jr.), Bailey (soph.), Peschel (soph.), Dahlman (fr.), N. Coffey (fr.)

Is this really any better than what the Gophers have now? Are we barking up the wrong tree with a strategy of grabbing the best Minnesota girls? Maybe that's the problem? Well, Dvorak and Trapp will not be the centers, they would be a fairly short crew of 6-2 Riche and Johnson. I assume Trapp would need a year or two of seasoning. They would not be better than Loberg and Dockery. But the forwards--let's say Kellogg and Hirt--would be an improvement over Voigt and Mastey. And the guards--probably Banham and Noga at this stage--well, Banham would give them their most dynamic guard since you-know-who, but the rest? I'm not sure they would be a step up from Antoine, Buford and Cotton. A year or two from now (i.e. after 2013-2014) the guard play might be even better despite losing Banham, but with Dahlman and Coffey.

Still, overall, this has been a fairly sobering exercise. There's no guaranteed path for Pam Borton and the Minnesota Gophers to climb back to the top of the Big 10 unless (most likely) Banham and/or Dahlman is truly the 2nd coming of (okay, I'll say it) Lindsay Whalen. But there is a guaranteed path to failure, and that is letting Minnesota's best high school girls continue enrolling at Iowa and Wisconsin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are the Gopher Women Going to Win Another Big Ten Game...Ever?

Somebody on one of the forums asked the question, I'm just passing it along. Are the Gopher women going to win another Big Ten game...ever?

Well, yes.

It's just a question of when. 2011? Or could they seriously go 0-16?

I don't think that will happen. There have been some close calls. But just like the good teams win the close ones, so too the bad teams lose the close ones. Last night the Gophers led Penn State 35-24 at 16:39 of the 2nd half when the mighty doldrums hit. On their next 20 possessions, they scored on 4, missed on 10 and turned it over on 6. By the time they stopped the bleeding, they were behind 51-44, though there were still 6 minutes left. From there they scored on 4 possessions, missed on 4 and turned it over twice. 40 percent might be good enough to win, sometimes, but not when you're trying to come back in the last 2 minutes.

For the game, the Gophers shot 37.5 percent and just 39 percent on 2-pointers. That's bad enough to lose a lot of games. But the real point is that during the doldrums, they shot 27 percent for 10 minutes and watched helplessly as their lead evaporated and turned into a difficult deficit. They don't have a go-to scorer or a specific play or any other programmed response when these sorts of things occur, and so these types of doldrums seem to recur almost every game, turning a lead or a close game into a lost cause.

Penn State, for instance, out-scored the Gophers 27-9 from 16:39 to about 6:00 of the 2nd half. The Gophers non-freshmen shot 1-for-10 with 4 turnovers. Freshmen Kiana Kellogg shot 2-for-2 and Sari Noga 1-for-3. Six different players turned it over--Kellogg and Noga, plus Antoine, Buford, Cotton and Loberg--once each.

So when are the Gophers, now 0-5 and a full game-and-a-half into last place in the Big Ten--which is where they finished last year, by the way, in case you've forgotten--when are they going to win again? What's the prognosis?

Well, short term, they've already lost on the road to one of the Big Ten's worst, Illinois, by 14 points no less. So the only remaining road game that looks like a possible win is at Indiana, but on the other hand, we've already lost to Indiana at home. So that's not going to happen. That leaves the home schedule but, again, wins over Michigan State and Ohio State aren't going to happen. That leaves Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan and Purdue of which, I'd say, they seem likely to win 2. That means a Big Ten record of 2-14 and an overall record of 10-19 going into the Big Ten tournament. A first round loss is an even 20 losses.

Medium term, if you're going to lose 20 games, you try to do something you can build on next year. Maybe that's already occurring. Last night Kellogg and Noga, the most promising of the freshmen, played more minutes Leah Cotton or Brianna Mastey or Jackie Voigt. But if Cotton and Mastey and Voigt aren't contributors, then maybe it's not good news that they're all due back next year, too.

The real enigma, of course, is Kiara Buford. If you want to say, as goes Kiara Buford, so go the Minnesota Gophers, go right ahead. This is or should be her team. She's the leading scorer at 15 points per game and her shooting percentage is a respectable 44 percent. Last year the numbers were 13 and 40. But in trying to do more, she's sometimes done less, as in almost 4 turnovers a night versus just barely a year ago. Last night during the key phase during which the game was lost, she shot 0-for-3 with a turnover.

So, my friends, 20 losses is the most likely scenario and so the question must be asked. I mean, you can't do much worse than 2-14 in the conference. Is 2-14 bad enough for another search to begin for a new coach? How about 1-15? Or 0-16? What would it take?

Longer term, one has to wonder if a 2-14 or 1-15 or 0-16 Big Ten record might not result in a couple of Gophers transferring out. And whether Rachel Banham and Kayla Hirt don't start having second thoughts about their verbal commitments. They haven't signed anything yet. And thinking longer term, a change of coaches anytime after March 2011 would probably render the new Gopher coach impotent to recruit any of the Minnesota high school class of 2013, widely regarded as the best since 2007. Now, there's a doomsday scenario.

Is there an upside? Sure, we could start by beating Wisconsin here next Thursday. Minnesota kids like Alyssa Karel and Tara Steinbauer often get some butterflies when visiting Williams Arena. And maybe Ohio State is as bad as they've looked the past couple of weeks. And, voila, the Gophers win 6 of 11 in the Big Ten to finish 6-10 and 14-15 overall. Two wins in the Big Ten tournament get us into the NIT. The current roster plus Banham and Hirt are here next year, and Rebekah Dahlman after that. An NCAA title follows.

OK, time to wake up and get to work.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011 Minnesota Ms. Basketball Candidates Named

31 girls have been named candidates for the 2011 Ms. Basketball award. They're listed here in the order in which they're ranked by the 2 major, published rankings at gPrep and kjasr.

1. Rachel Banham, Lakeville North #1 gPrep #1 kjasr
2. Kayla Hirt, Bemidji #2 #2 out for the year with injury
3. Michelle Young, Woodbury #3 #4
4. Kahla Becken, Centennial #5 #8
5. Beth Doolittle, Hill Murray #7 #6

6. Ellen Edison, Maple Grove #11 #5
7. Mariah Clarin, Princeton #9 #11
8 tie. Morgan Van Riper-Rose, Eden Prairie #13 #10
8 tie. Megan Stuart, Roseville #10 #13
10. Martha Alwal, Worthington #18 #7

11. Tori Rule, Mpls. South #12 #14
12. Stephanie Davison, Maple Grove #17 #12
13 tie. Ann-Marie Brown, St. Peter #4 #27 out for the year with an ACL
13 tie. Katy Winge, Minnetonka #15 #16
15. Amber Sorenson, Caledonia #20 #19

16. Brianna Williams, Hopkins #8 x
17. Cara Lutes, New Life #14 x
18. Jamie Bresnahan, Edina x #15
19. Alex Beckman, Eastview #21 x
20. Elizabeth Keena, Hastings #27 x

Not in either top 30 (alpha order)

Jessi Corrick, Grand Rapids
Jenna Dockter, Eastview
Kaylani Edwards, Mpls. Roosevelt
Chelsey Frydenlund, East Grand Forks
Kayla Hulsebus, St. Croix Lutheran
Karlee Ilgen, Buffalo Lake-Stewart-Hector
Erin Januschka, St. Cloud Cathedral
Emily Lueck, Pequot Lakes
Karli Meyer, Adrian
Jessica Newman, Barnum
Charlotte Overbye, Mountain Iron-Buhl

The obvious missing names include:

Apiew Ojulu, Lakeville North #6 #3
Aubrey Davis, Eden Prairie #22 #9

Others in the top 30 at gPrep and/or kja but not Ms. Basketball include:

Ashley Olson, Blue Earth #24 #18
Anna Gerdes, Maple Grove #18 #25
Katelyn Adams, Minnehaha #16 x
Lisa Loeffler, North St. Paul #23 #24
Trish Benjamin, Owatonna x #17
Diamond Lane, Mpls. South x #20
Jaya Perkins, Lakeville North x #21
Hannah Hughes, Lakeville North x #22
Erica Trabing, Prior Lake #26 #28
Jordy Falk, St. Francis x #23
Anna Smith, Bloomington Jefferson #25 x
Megan Pold, Prior Lake x #26
Alyssa Kerkhoff, St. Peter #28 x
Sarina Baker, Minnehaha x #29
Laura Margarit, Holy Angels #29 x
Sierra Even, Windon #30 x
Sara Schoenthaler, White Bear Lake x #30

The breakdown by greater Minnesota vs. the metro:

Ms. Basketball 18 metro 13 greater MN
gPrep 22 metro 9 greater MN
kja 24 metro 7 greater MN

Whether this implies a greater Minnesota bias in the Ms. Basketball picks, or a metro bias by the rating services is in the eye of the beholder.

As to Ojulu and Aubrey Davis, one might say, well, they didn't want 2 candidates from any given team, but that's not it. Eastview and Maple Grove each have 2 candidates. Ojulu and Davis would have seemed to be easy picks over Eastview's and Maple Grove's #2.

The cases for Kayla Hirt and Ann Marie Brown, meanwhile, beg the question whether this is a career award or an award for play in the senior season. The criteria a vague to be sure--the winner is the girl who gets the most votes from a committee whose membership is not published and is not widely known. That is all. But, based on past awards, it's based mostly on the senior season, and Hirt and Brown are not going to be serious contenders.

Personally, my 5 finalists (from among the 31 candidates) would be:

Rachel Banham
Ellen Edison
Michelle Young
Kahla Becken
Beth Doolittle

And the winner is...? You gotta ask?

First NBA 2011 Mock Draft: Wolves pick Enes Kanter, or Not

EDIT: Wow, I finished this last night, then opened up the morning paper to see that Kanter has been declared ineligible by the NCAA for receiving all kinds of benefits while playing in Turkey that would not be legal here on the college scene. This will clearly affect his draft status, as he apparently will not be playing any competitive basketball for the next three months. Kentucky coach Pitino said, "He's part of our family," blah blah blah, and he'll practice with the Wildcards, but he is ineligible to play in any games. So we'll see what that means. Maybe it becomes more likely that the Wolves trade down.

NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING: Someday we won't care about the NBA draft lottery so much. But for now, it is still a big deal for the Timberwolves. Here is what a dozen 2011 mock drafts suggest for the Wolves lottery draft pick which would be the #3 pick right now.

It is early and 2011 looks like a somewhat weak draft at the top, and so the consensus for any one pick is fairly low. Still, here is the consensus for the top 2 picks. The draft order is based on the standings as of 1-8-11 though there are 3 months and 1 lottery to go before we know what the order will really be and what pick the Wolves will really have.

#1. Cleveland: Perry Jones, 6-11, Fr., SF, Baylor
#2. Sacramento: Harrison Barnes, 6-8, Fr., SF, North Carolina

Despite his size, P. Jones is projected as a 3 with Tracy McGrady as his most comparable NBA player. "His perimeter skills--most notably ball-handling, lateral foot speed and athleticism--are phenomenal.... He can shoot the 3, or pull up off the dribble, but he is much better when attacking the basket."

Barnes was rated #1 among the freshman last fall but has struggled thus far, hitting under 40 percent of his shots. He is more highly rated among older mock drafts and as low as #8 in more recent ones. Still, scouts love his "attitude, work ethic and willingness to improve.... (He) has only been playing...on the wing for the past 18 he's been on a steep development curve learning how to play the wing.... (He) can pull up off the dribble and hit shots (and) does a good job of attacking the basket."

Still, the #2 is uncertain. After Barnes, the consensus points to Kyrie Irving, Duke's freshman point guard, but he has out with a foot injury for over a month with no projected date yet as to when he will return. Then come three more freshmen, 2 of them--C-PF Enes Kanter and SF Terry Jones--from Kentucky, plus Ohio State PF Jared Sullinger. Of the 2 Wildcats, T. Jones is rated as high as #1 but as low as #14, while Kanter is more consistently rated around #4-5. Sullinger is, of course, better known locally and rates as high as #3 but his most frequent slot is below both Jones and Kanter at #6.

Having said all of that, Kanter would seem to be the safest pick at #2, but only 1 mock draft out of 12 had him that high, while 7 had Barnes either #1 or #2. So right now I'm projecting Barnes as the #2 pick. And we can probably agree that the Kings, one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA, need a 2-3 type to slot between Mr. Inside (DeMarcus Cousins) and Mr. Outside (Tyreke Evans).

#3. Minnesota, Enes Kanter, 6-11, Fr., PF-C, Kentucky

All of which is just prelude to figuring out what the Timberwolves can expect to get out of the 2011 draft with what would currently be the #3 pick. The current consensus at #3 is Duke point guard Kyrie Irving but not only has Irving now missed more of his freshman season than he has played, the Wolves already have Luke Ridnour, Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio at the position. And so, those mock drafts that pick by way of reference to the needs of the specific team projected to make each pick, a plurality of those mock drafts pick Kanter including with the #2 pick and P. Jones still on the table.

So who is Enes Kanter? Well, he is from Turkey, though he played 1 year at Stoneridge Prep school in California and had a "somewhat inconsistent" performance there. But he is a "big man with excellent size, strength and polish." He has "long arms and solid athleticism (and is) a tremendous rebounder... (He) has a strong frame...a high basketball IQ (and) a scorer's mentality." He was MVP of the 2009 18 & Under European championship with 18 ppg and 16 rebounds, "dominating the competition like not even Ricky Rubio could...."

The question is whether this is what the Wolves need, what with Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic at the position. One could say that the greatest need is for a 2 but, guess what, there aren't any 2s rated this highly, and that leaves Kanter is the best athlete available. His comp is Al Horford.

#4: Washington: Terence Jones, 6-8, Fr., SF, Kentucky
#5: New Jersey: Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Fr., PF, Ohio State

But if not Kanter, these are the next best athletes available, though they meet the Timberwolves' needs even less than Kanter. The 3rd option at this point is Duke point guard Kyrie Irving but, as noted, he has been out for more than a month now, so I am projecting him to stay in school another year. Jones is 30 pounds heavier than Harrison Barnes, and so a different kind of SF. But surprisingly, he's even more perimeter-oriented than Barnes. He's a lefty who "handles the ball like a guard." His comp is Lamar Odom.

The Bullets are building around point guard John Wall and need the best available athlete who can put the ball in the hole. T. Jones sorta fits the bill, Sullinger does not. Anybody else is a reach at #4.

Sullinger, meanwhile, is only an inch taller than the projected 3s, Barnes and Jones, but carries 70 (count 'em) more pounds on that frame than Barnes, 40 more than T. Jones. So he's an inside guy. The wild card with Sullinger is the Cleveland Cavaliers' interest in him as a hometown guy with great appeal to the local fan base. If Cleveland picks #1, there's better talent available, but anywhere below #1 Sullinger becomes a strong possibility to go earlier than this.

His comp, by the way, is Al Jefferson, so even if the Wolves fall down to #4 or #5, you'd have to think Sullinger is not their kind of guy. "He is a bruising throwback post player that uses his...body.... Very physical" but he "does not possess elite athleticism."

The Nets, on the other hand, hope to have Carmelo Anthony by the time the draft rolls around, and a lunch-paid guy like Sullinger will be needed to watch Anthony's back. Otherwise a 2 is needed but, again, there's nobody that's not a reach at #5.

#6. Detroit: Brandon Knight, 6-3, Fr., combo G, Kentucky. Comp = Jason Terry.
#7. L.A. Clippers: Jan Vesely, 6-11, PF/SF, Czech Republic. Comp = Yi Jianlian.
#8. Toronto: Kemba Walker, 6-0, Jr., PG, Connecticut. Comp = Tim Hardaway.
#9. Charlotte: Donatas Motiejunas, 7-0, PF, Lithuania. Comp = Andrea Barnagni.
#10. Milwaukee: Derrick Williams, 6-9, Soph., PF, Arizona. Comp = David West.
#11. Phoenix: Josh Henson, 6-10, Soph., combo F, North Carolina
#12. Golden State: Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, C, Lithuania. Comp = Nenad Krstic.
#13. Houston: Josh Selby, 6-3, Fr., combo G, Kansas. Comp = Jerryd Bayless.
#14. Memphis: Alec Burks, 6-6, Soph., combo G, Colorado. Comp = Eddie Jones.

After the top 5, the consensus gets even weaker. Some of these guys are slotted in the 2nd round in some of the mock drafts. Motiejunas, on the other hand, might be too low. He was slotted as a lottery pick a year ago, but withdrew. Walker might be too high, what with his lack of size and the fact that nobody was clamoring for him to come out prior to his junior year. If Burks, with pretty good size for a 2, could be too low. And nobody has a clue what will happen with Josh Selby--I've seen him projected as high as #1 and I've seen others who say nobody is gonna want the attitude that comes with.

Wolves Summary

But let's just say for the sake of example that the Wolves end up with the following draft picks and inherit a board that goes in the order presented above. Who do the Wolves take in each instance?

#1. Perry Jones
#2. Enes Kanter
#3. Enes Kanter
#4. Trade down
#5. Trade down
#6. Vesely
#7. Vesely or Motiejunas
#8. Motiejunas
#9. Motiejunas
#10. Valanciunas, and keep him in Europe for a couple years
#11. Valanciunas, and keep him in Europe for a couple years
#12. Valanciunas, and keep him in Europe for a couple years
#13. Burks
#14. Burks

Of course, this is not meant to imply that the Wolves have a snowball's chance in hell of breaking out of the bottom 10. They would have to play about .500 ball the rest of the way to do that, and there's no way that's going to happen. They're improving but, as Kevin McHale predicted, they've only improved enough to lose closer games. I think they'll end up about #6 in W-L percentage compared to #3 today. Then the lottery could move them all the way up to #1 or down as far as #8.

So if I had to guess, I'd say the draft pick they're most likely to get is probably not #3 but #5 or #6, and down there a trade down or Vesely or Motiejunas seems the most likely course of action. #3 and Enes Kanter are likely to be off the table by the time our turn comes up.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Let's Play Two: Concordia (Moorhead) Sweeps Augsburg

Augsburg and Concordia (Moorhead) hooked up in a rare MIAC weeknight double-header Wednesday night at Augsburg, and this hoops junkie couldn't resist. In the end, the visiting Cobbers probably enjoyed the evening even more than I did as the Concordia women won easily 71-45. Meanwhile, the Auggie men, picked for 5th place in the pre-season coach's poll, dropped to 2-4 in the conference with an 80-74 loss.

Concordia men 80 Augsburg 74

Concordia took an early 11-4 lead as 6-6 senior forward John Fraase hit 3 high-arching fall-away jump shots. Augsburg took its 1st lead of the night at 13-12 and then stretched it to 17-13 as 6-4 junior forward Cory Polta powered his way to the rim for 5 of the Auggies 1st 6 buckets.

Concordia took the lead back--for good, as it turned out--at 18-17 on reserve Erik Lien's only bucket of the 1st half, and the lead got into double figures for the 1st time 4 minutes later at 29-19 on another Fraase hoop.

Augsburg got within 32-26 at 0:57 but turned the ball over inside 10 seconds. Yet another Fraase hoop on a steal and assist by Karl Olson made it 35-26 at the half.

Polta scored 16 of the Auggies' 26 1st half points as his teammates shot 2-for-15. Fraase scored 10 and had plenty of help as the Cobbers shot 58 percent from the field.

Augsburg finally got senior Matthew Quammen and junior Andy Grzesiak-Grimm going for 9 points between them to bring the Auggies within 37-36 at 16:36. Then Quammen missed a 3, the only shot of the 2nd half that could have given the Auggies the lead. Concordia steadily widened its lead to 49-40 and back into double figures at 58-48. The closest Augsburg would get was at 78-74, but that was with just 0:15 left to play.

Augsburg won the possession game with 10 offensive boards to 7, and just 7 turnovers to 11, but Concordia simply out-shot them 50 percent to 40 from the field.

Fraase finished with 25 points and 11 boards for the Cobbers. Fellow senior Darren Olmscheid, whom you may remember from Buffalo's 2007 state AAAA champions, is the 2nd option, also mostly on the inside. The 2 of them got to the FT line 19 times and made 15 between them. 6-4 junior Ebo Nana-Kweson, a junior from Coon Rapids, is explosive on the dribble drive but a little careless protecting the basketball. 6-4 senior Erik Lien scored 10 points off the bench. Concordia's guards try hard not to get in anybody's way.

Polta was a man among boys at times and finished with 20 and 10 and 3 assists for the Auggies. He got lots of help in the 2nd half as Quammen finished with 18 points and Grzesiak-Grimm and junior Brett Sorenson with 12 each. Freshman point guard Parker Hines failed to score and turned it over 3 times.

All in all, the Augsburg offense seemed a bit out of sorts, their shots a little hurried, other than when Polta was operating down low. The idea that Augsburg assisted on 19 of 26 buckets, and Concordia on just 11 of 25 seems entirely at odds with the Cobbers superior ball movement. With an assist edge of 19-11, you'd guess that Augsburg got more assists on Polta's 9 buckets than the Concordia did on Fraase's 8 which, again, seems wrong. Even inside of 8 feet, Fraase is a catch-and-shoot type of scorer while Polta puts it on the deck and backs it down until he's at point blank range.

Without looking at the stat sheet, Polta was the more impressive of the 2, but Fraase ended up with 5 more points on 4 fewer shots, plus 1 more rebound, so he's our MVP.

Concordia women 71 Augsburg 45

This one was over at the opening tip, we just didn't know it yet. Augsburg shot 18 percent in the 1st half, 29 percent for the game, and turned the ball over 28 times. Concordia led 15-0, 24-2 and 36-8 before the Auggies scored the last 5 points of the 1st half.

The Concordia lead got back to 28 points at 50-22 at about 13:30 and peaked at 66-31 at 6:20. Augsburg scored the last 7 points of the game to make the final closer than it really was.

4 of Concordia's starters are seniors who have won 55 MIAC games, up through and including this one, while losing just 17. The coaches picked them to finish 3rd, but at the moment they're 6-0 and tied with St. Thomas for 1st place, a half-game ahead of St. Ben's. They're at St. Ben's on Saturday, and get St. Thomas at home next Wednesday, so the MIAC pecking order will shortly clarify itself for the time being.

The bottom line is Concordia doesn't do anything spectacular, and they make darn sure their opponent doesn't either. They move the ball, they move without the ball, they space the floor, they're like clockwork. After 6-4 freshman post Alexandra Lippert, the tallest starter is 5-9. Guards Erica Nord and Lindsay Schultz really make it happen, averaging 14 and 9 points and sharing 6 assists between them while Schultz, who is 5-9, is the top rebounder at 7 per game. Nord scored 15 tonight while Schultz scored 8 with 7 assists.

Senior forward Maggie Baurenfeind is next averaging 11 points, 6 boards and 2 assists. Last night she had a tough time, leaving the game at one point with a bloody nose and finishing with 7 points. Sophomores Tricia Sorenson and Emily Thesing are solid reserves who contributed 20 points, 12 boards and 9 assists (all 9 going to Thesing) between them.

But the key to their success overall may be Lippert who is averaging 7 points and 6 boards but last night had 10 points, all in the 1st half, and 8 boards. We'll see how she does against the MIAC's strongest posts, Heather Gillund of St. Ben's and Rachel Booth and Maggie Weiers of St. Thomas. Last year Concordia was upset in the 1st round of the MIAC playoffs, losing to #6 seeded St. Kate's at home as the Wildcats pounded the ball inside, shot 54 percent from the field and protected the ball. All of which were things that Augsburg simply couldn't do tonight.

High School Recap

The high schools now pass from their first (pre-) to their second (conference) season. Did the landscape change at all during the pre-season?


In AAAA, the landscape changed in that the Big Three worked out a pecking order. Hopkins beat Eden Prairie (by 6) and Lakeville North (by 19), and Eden Prairie beat Lakeville North (by 14). Ergo, the ratings have Hopkins #1, Eden Prairie #2 and Lakeville North #3. The real question is, Who's gonna get the #4 rating and that 4th seed at the state tournament come March?

Well, there've been some changes there, too. My pre-season pick was Prior Lake, who has gotten off to a terrible 2-7 start. And the wins and losses are indicative of how the Lakers have played. I had Edina #5 and they've lost 3, and Eastview #6 and they've lost 2 plus Amanda Beckman who tore her ACL against Maple Grove last weekend. And I had Kennedy #7, and they're 4-5.

#8 was defending state runner-up White Bear Lake and I've now got them #4 ahead of Eastview (Eastview would be #4 if not for Amanda Beckman's injury [and don't confuse Amanda with her twin sister Alex who is still playing]). The Bears have a solid go-to type of player in junior guard Alexis Foley, but what I didn't fully appreciate until I saw them play (twice, now) this fall was how good their front line is. Sisters Angie (a junior) and Samantha Guenther and Rochelle Regnier (seniors) have the size, experience and skills to match up against almost any front line I've seen.

So, the Big Three and the Next Two look like this:

1. Hopkins 11-0, Section 6
2. Eden Prairie 9-2, Section 2
3. Lakeville North 8-2, Section 3
4. White Bear Lake 9-2, Section 4
5. Eastview 8-3, Section 2

The Second Five looks like this:

6. Osseo 9-2, Section 7
7. Maple Grove 8-3, Section 7
8. Mpls. South 11-0, Section 6
9. Bloomington Jefferson 9-2, Section 2
10. Minnetonka 9-2, Section 2

In AAA, the Big Three going in were Benilde-St. Margaret's, DeLaSalle and Hill-Murray. Well, Hill-Murray beat Eden Prairie, and Benilde lost 3 games. So the Big Three now is Hill-Murray, DeLaSalle and Benilde. I still think that, with the possible exception of Richfield, Benilde is #3 in AAA. (Red Wing, rated #3 in the AP poll, is overrated.)

1. Hill-Murray 10-0, Section 4
2. DeLaSalle 6-2, Section 3
3. Benilde-SM 5-3, Section 6
4. Richfield 7-0, Section 6
5. Sartell 8-0, Section 8

But the big news is Hill-Murray, where Beth Doolittle and Tessa Cichy are no longer the whole story. I don't know when I have seen a supporting cast improve like this one has. The Pioneers won 3 games last week. Claire Van Dyk and Corinne McCallum joined Doolittle and Cichy in double figures in all 3 games. Morgan Rustad added 6 points in each game. A year ago you would not have thought this possible.

In AA, Braham continues as the favorite and #1, despite a loss to AAAA Mounds View. More problematic is a 1-point win over AA Providence at the Breakdown Tipoff. I could just as easily make Braham and Providence co-#1's, especially since St. Peter (currently #2 and unbeaten) has lost Wisconsin recruit Ann Marie Brown for the season with a torn ACL (junior starter Sidney Dirks having previously gone down with a torn ligament). I would boost once-beaten Sauk Centre up to #3 in their stead.

1. Braham 10-1, Section 7
2. Providence 9-2, Section 5
3. Sauk Centre 9-1, Section 6
4. Pequot Lakes 10-0, Section 8
5. St. Croix Lutheran 8-0, Section 4

In Class A, Barnum's defending state champs remain the favorite and #1, but do not underestimate the impact of Katrina Newman completing her eligibility and moving on to college ball at UMD. Barnum still has a lot of talent, but no superstar. Of course, #2 Parker's Prairie has lost Sari Noga to graduation and #5 Hancock has lost Bree Holleman. So this will be a wide open class, as is usually the case. Along with Barnum, I would keep an eye on Goodhue, despite their 3 losses. Goodhue plays in the Hiawatha Valley League, which is about half A and half AA. Their 3 losses so far are to AAA Red Wing and AA Rochester Lourdes and Winona Cotter. Against Class A, the Wildcats are unbeaten.

1. Barnum 11-0, Section 5
2. Goodhue 7-3, Section 1
3. Parkers Prairie 8-0, Section 6
4. Maranatha Christian 5-4, Section 4
5. Minneota 5-0, Section 3

Among the girls, I would rate the Player of the Year race as a dead heat now with Jackie Johnson of Eden Prairie joining pre-season choice Rachel Banham of Lakeville North at the top. First team all-state is Banham and Johnson, plus Rebekah Dahlman of Braham, Tessa Cichy of Hill-Murray, and Alexis Foley of White Bear Lake.

Mid-season coach of the year is Erin Herman of Hill-Murray.


In AAAA, it's the same question as the girls. Can anybody beat Hopkins? And here the answer is that it's even less likely to happen, though I'll give you the caveat that the Royals will play a pair of Wisconsin teams--Milwaukee Riverside and Madison East--in the East Metro Showcase on January 21, and in the St. Cloud Tournament on January 29, and I have no idea how strong of opponents they are. But Hopkins has played as tough a schedule of Minnesota foes thus far as one could find, and has waltzed to a 9-0 record, out-scoring their opponents 93-59. It's true that Lakeville South kept it close at 93-89, but otherwise only Lakeville North and Minnesota Transitions stayed within 20 points. Joe Coleman is the state's best player by a wide margin. It's all over but the shouting.

1. Hopkins 9-0, Section 6
2. Lakeville South 4-2, Section 3, with losses only to Hopkins and St. Paul Johnson
3. Eden Prairie 7-1, Section 2
4. Apple Valley 4-3, Section 3, with Tyus Jones out most of the way
5. Chaska 7-2, Section 2
6. Eastview 6-1, Section 3
7. Cretin 6-1, Section 4
8. Osseo 8-1, Section 5
9. Wayzata 7-2, Section 6
10. Armstrong 8-1, Section 6

In Class AAA, again, it's a lot like the girls, as a Big Three seems to be solidly entrenched at the top. The difference is that only 2 of the Big Three are private schools--DeLaSalle and Benilde are #2 and #3 here, the very same as among the girls. But St. Paul Johnson remains the favorite and the #1 team, despite that loss to Chicago Hyde Park that ended their 38-game winning streak.

1. St. Paul Johnson 8-1, Section 4
2. DeLaSalle 7-1, Section 3
3. Benilde 4-3, Section 6
4. Bemidji 8-0, Section 8
5. Columbia Heights 6-1, Section 3

Class AA is the wide openest of all the classes, boys or girls. Taking the top 5 against the field, I would take the field. "The field" includes Braham, Byron, Caledonia, Concordia (Roseville), Esko, International Falls, Long Prairie, Mayer Lutheran, Montevideo and Pequot Lakes, among others.

1. Plainview-EM 8-1, Section 1
2. Waterville-EM 7-0, Section 2
3. Perham 7-0, Section 8
4. Windom 7-1, Section 3
5. Zimmerman 7-2, Section 5

Class A is also pretty wide open, though here I would take the top 5 against the field. "The field" refers to Belgrade-BE, Chisholm, Maranatha Christian and Springfield, among others.

1. Ellsworth 8-1, Section 3
2. Sebeka 6-0, Section 5
3. Minnesota Transitions 4-2, Section 4
4. Rushford-Peterson 7--0, Section 1
5. MCCRAY 6-1, Section 3

Among the boys, Joe Coleman is Player of the Year, as noted above. The rest of the first all-state team is Estan Tyler of St. Paul Johnson, Alex Richter of Lakeville South, Cole Olstad of Plainview, and Joey King of Eastview. Vern Simmons of St. Paul Johnson is Coach of the Year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Minnesota High School Grads in Division I (Men) by Alan Holst

This is a look at the season so far by Minnesota high school products playing Division I men’s basketball. It is written by my friend Alan Holst who tracks this sort of thing a lot more rigorously than I do. Thanks, Alan.

The best Minnesota high school product has been Jon Leuer, who leads all Minnesotans in scoring and seems likely to be drafted by the NBA this June, possibly in the first round. Leuer and Jordan Taylor have combined to score half of Wisconsin’s points so far this season.

Noah Dahlman, Jamar Diggs and Cameron Rundles have combined to score 60% of Wofford’s points so far this season.

The Gophers often start four Minnesota high school products. Wisconsin (Mike Bruesewitz in addition to Leuer and Taylor) and Wofford start three on a regular basis.

Nine Minnesota high school products lead Division I teams in scoring.

FIVE BEST PLAYERS Major Conferences

Blake Hoffarber (Hopkins) Minnesota 13.6 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.4 rpg, 1.5 spg, .423 fg, .828 ft, .394 3pg leads Gophers in scoring, assists, free throw percentage, and has half of his team’s 3’s

Jon Leuer (Orono) Wisconsin 19.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.6 bpg, .485 fg, .810 ft, .466 3pg leads Badgers in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots

Trent Lockett (Hopkins) Arizona State 14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.9 spg, .571 fg, .678 ft, .222 3pg leads team in scoring and rebounding, second in assists

Trevor Mbakwe (St. Bernard’s, Henry Sibley) Minnesota 13.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 apg, .617 fg, .585 ft leads Gophers in rebounding and field goal percentage, second in scoring

Jordan Taylor (Benilde-St. Margaret’s) Wisconsin 16.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.9 rpg, 0.9 spg, .437 fg, .871 ft, .377 3pg leads Badgers in assists and steals, second in scoring

FIVE BEST PLAYERS Other Conferences

Kwadzo Ahelegbe (Tartan) Northern Iowa 12.6 ppg, 2.2 apg, .391 fg, .833 ft, .259 3pg leads team in scoring and assists

Noah Dahlman (Braham) Wofford 19.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, .565 fg, .796 ft leads team in scoring, second in rebounding, reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year

Jamar Diggs (DeLaSalle) Wofford 12.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.2 spg, .406 fg, .795 ft, .314 3pg leads team in assists and steals

Mike Muscala (Roseville) Bucknell 13.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.3 bpg, .506 fg, .831 ft leads team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots

Nate Wolters (St. Cloud Tech) South Dakota State 19.2 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 spg, .439 fg, .798 ft, .488 3pg leads team in scoring, assists, steals, and 3pg, 18th nationally in apg


Jordair Jett (St. Bernard’s) St. Louis 9.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.2 spg, .454 fg, .548 ft, .444 3pg leads team in steals and 0.3 ppg behind team scoring leader

Honorable mention to Marshall Bjorklund (Sibley East) of North Dakota State, who is 4th nationally in field goal percentage and leading his team in rebounding.


19.5 Jon Leuer (Orono) Wisconsin (leads team in scoring)

19.2 Nate Wolters (St. Cloud Tech) South Dakota State (leads team in scoring)

19.1 Noah Dahlman (Braham) Wofford (leads team in scoring)

16.2 David Hanson (Maranatha) Cal Poly (l

16.2 David Hanson (Maranatha) Cal Poly (leads team in scoring)

16.1 Jordan Taylor (Benilde-St. Margaret’s) Wisconsin

16.0 Zach Filzen (Northfield) Buffalo (leads team in scoring)

15.8 Cory Johnson (Duluth East) Valparaiso

14.7 Trent Lockett (Hopkins) Arizona State (leads team in scoring)

13.8 Mike Muscala (Roseville) Bucknell (leads team in scoring)

13.6 Blake Hoffarber (Hopkins) Minnesota (leads team in scoring)

13.4 Trevor Mbakwe (St. Bernard’s, Henry Sibley) Minnesota

13.3 Cameron Rundles (DeLaSalle) Wofford

12.8 Jamar Diggs (DeLaSalle) Wofford

12.6 Kwadzo Ahelegbe (Tartan) Northern Iowa (leads team in scoring)

11.2 Eric Carlson (Shakopee) North Dakota State

10.5 Freddy Coleman (St. Paul Johnson) North Dakota State


37 Noah Dahlman vs. Elon

36 Nate Wolters vs. North Dakota State

33 Noah Dahlman vs. Xavier

33 Cory Johnson vs. Oakland

29 Jon Leuer vs. South Dakota

29 Nate Wolters vs. Southern Utah

28 David Hanson vs. Pepperdine

28 Nate Wolters vs. Western Michigan

26 Cameron Rundles vs. George Mason

25 Kwadzo Ahelegbe vs. Missouri State and TCU

25 Noah Dahlman vs. Cornell

25 Cory Johnson vs. Toledo

25 Nate Wolters vs. Iowa and Central Michigan


If the Gophers started Leuer, Taylor, Hoffarber, Mbakwe, and Lockett, with Dahlman, Jared Berggren (who leads all Wisconsin reserves in scoring so far this season) and Big Ten starters Mike Bruesewitz, Al Nolen, and Rodney Williams coming off the bench, Minnesota would have an all-homegrown contender for the national championship.