Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011-2012 Pre-Season-Preview REVISED 11-30-11

The early line of 2011-2012 "bests" originally was published back on April 6. With some more time to think about things and to digest the Lynx' WNBA title and now Trevor Mbakwe's season-ending injury, here are the new forecasts and new lists.

The Scoop

1. The Timberwolves. At the top of the heap is the NBA, and thank god that they and the Minnesota Timberwolves will be playing this year. OK, I'm being facetious and cynical. There's more reason for hope this year than usual, of course, with Rick Adelman coming aboard. Forget Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams. The simple fact of a competent coach is the big news here. Somebody said that the Wolves should win 20 games this year, even with the short season. Last year it was 17-65 (.207). Is 20-46 (.303) too much to hope for? No, that's about right. 

2. Gopher men and women. The men's season took a hit with the loss of Trevor Mbakwe. If these guys didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all. From middle of the pack and a possible NCAA tournament bid, we're now looking at maybe a 4-14 conference record and another miss at both the NCAA and the NIT.

The women provide hope, mainly with the promise of continuing improvement among the younger kids like Rachel Banham, Katie Loberg, Micaela Riche and company. Still a .500 conference record is about as good as you can reasonably hope for, and that probably doesn't quite cut it for an NCAA bid.

3. The small colleges. I'm getting cold feet on some of these races, having picked the UMD women and Hamline men last April, for example. Right now, I'm going to say that Winona State sweeps the men's and women's titles in the NSIC, while St. Thomas does the same in the MIAC. Still, all 4 of these races (or should I say, all 8 of these races considering there are both regular season and playoff titles at stake) will be highly competitive.

NSIC Men--the coaches picked Augustana and its hard to argue that one. Winona or Augustana. And Concordia is much improved, though I'm not gonna argue Cody Schilling of Augie as the MVP. Good choice there.

NSIC Women--the coaches picked Wayne, and I'll argue that. Winona, UMD, Concordia and Moorhead will represent the Minnesota division quite well. And Moorhead's Angie Jetvig should be player of the year ahead of Wayne's Ashley Arlen, last year's MVP and the coaches pick for this year.

MIAC Men--the Tommies are not the powerhouse of last year but they're not exactly rebuilding either. But St. Olaf, Hamline and Augsburg will all provide some healthy competition.

MIAC Women--the Tommies should be better than last year's regular season champs (post-season runners-up) with Taylor Young and Maggie Weiers back, but St. Ben's suddenly looks very solid, too.

4. High school girls. The defending champs--Hopkins, DeLaSalle, Braham and Maranatha--are all favored. Or, well, at least co-favored, as Providence is rated #1 and Braham #2 in AA. In AAAA, White Bear Lake threatens to break into the top tier with Eden Prairie, Lakeville North and Kennedy, but that's a battle for 2nd place. In AAA, only Benilde can expect to play with DeLaSalle. A is pretty open, as always, though Maranatha is a more than worthy favorite. Juniors Tyseanna Johnson and Rebekah Dahlman and Nia Coffey will all be better than Ms. Basketball.

5. High school boys. At least 2 of the defending champs--Hopkins and Perham--expect to contend. Benilde is favored in AAA, and Maranatha in A. Beyond that, these are pretty wide open with perhaps Eastview in AAAA being the best of the challengers. Tyus Jones, still just a sophomore, is the superstar of the bunch, individually. 

Player of the Year Candidates April 6

1. Mya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
2. Syani Chambers, Hopkins boys
3. Tyus Jones, Apple Valley boys
4. Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota Gopher men
5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
6. Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle girls
7. Rebekah Dahlman, Braham girls
8. Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie girls
9. Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women
10. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

Player of the Year Candidates November 30

1. Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx--with her season complete, she probably cannot be caught
2. Tyus Jones, Apple Valley boys--his play with U.S. team this summer raised his stock even further
3. Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle girls
4. Rebekah Dahlman, Braham girls
5. Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women
6. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
7. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
8. Siyani Chambers, Hopkins boys
9. Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie girls
10. Clayton Vette, Winona State men

11. Angie Jetvig, Moorhead State women
12. Kiara Buford, Minnesota Gopher women
13. Katie Loberg, Minnesota Gopher women
14. Mya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
15. Taylor Young, St. Thomas women
16. Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota Gopher men--based on 1/3 of a season
17. Austin Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men--about the break through
19. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves--the big question mark
20. Joey King, Eastview boys

Team of the Year Candidates April 6

1. Hopkins girls
2. Minnesota-Duluth women
3. Hopkins boys
4. DeLaSalle girls
5. Minnesota Lynx
6. Concordia (St. Paul) women
7. Braham girls
8. Hamline men
9. St. Olaf men
10. Benilde boys and girls

Conspicuous by their absence--Minnesota Gopher men and women, Minnesota Timberwolves

Team of the Year Candidates November 30

1. Minnesota Lynx
2. Hopkins girls
3. White Bear Lake girls
4. Winona State men
5. Winona State women
6. Minnesota-Duluth women
7. Hopkins boys
8. DeLaSalle girls
9. St. Thomas men
10. St. Ben's women

11. Concordia (St. Paul) men
12. Concordia (St. Paul) women
13. Braham girls
14. Benilde-St. Margaret's boys
15. St. Olaf men
16. Hamline men

17. St. Thomas women
18. Augsburg men
19. Benilde-St. Margaret's girls
20. Minnesota Timberwolves

Coach of the Year Candidates April 6

1. Nelson Whitmore, Hamline men
2. Annette Wiles, Minnesota-Duluth women
3. Dan Kosmoski, St. Olaf men
4. Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women
5. Tim Whittle, Macalester men
6. Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls
7. John Herbrechtsmeyer, Bethel women
8. Ken Novak, Jr., Hopkins boys
9. Faith Patterson, DeLaSalle girls
10. Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women

Coach of the Year Candidates November 30

1. Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx
2. Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls
4. Dan Kosmoski, St. Olaf men
5. Mike Durbin, St. Ben's women
6. Jeremy Post, White Bear Lake girls
7. Scott Ballard, Winona State women
8. Annette Wiles, Minnesota-Duluth women
9. Nelson Whitmore, Hamline men
10. Aaron Greiss, Augsburg men

11. John Herbrechtsmeyer, Bethel women
12. Kelly Boe, Concordia (St. Paul) men
13. Ken Novak, Jr., Hopkins boys
14. Faith Patterson, DeLaSalle girls
15. Mike Leaf, Winona State men
16. Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women
18. Johnny Tauer, St. Thomas men
19. Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women
20. Tim Whittle, Macalester men

The Big Game November 2011

November 2011

Game of the Month: Augsburg men 74 Houston Baptist 68, November 5, in a rare D3 over D1 upset

Runners-up: White Bear Lake girls 74 DeLaSalle 69
Minnesota Gopher women 68 Arkansas 60 in a game that gives hope
St. Thomas men 94 Concordia (St. Paul) 88 in Johnny Tauer's 1st official game on Minnesota soil
Dayton 86 Minnesota Gopher men 70 in Trevor Mbakwe's last game.
Augsburg women 61 St. Ben's 50 at St. Joe, Mike Durbin's 1st loss ever to the Augies

Player of the Month: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota Gopher men. Lived up to expectations only to fall to a torn ACL in the month's penultimate game. 

Runners-up: Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women
Clayton Vette, Winona State men
Angie Jetvig, Moorhead State women
Austin Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men

Kiara Buford, Minnesota Gopher women
Julian Welch, Minnesota Gopher men
Katie Loberg, Minnesota Gopher women
Jake Hottenstine, UMD men
Kenny and Peter Olafeso, Concordia (St. Paul) men

Bobby Fong, St. Olaf men
Tyler Schmidt, Augsburg men
Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men
Shannon Thompson, Bemidji State women
Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray girls

Team of the Month: Hopkins girls: Totally awesome, they will not be beaten.

Runners-up: St. Ben's
White Bear Lake girls
Winona State men
Winona State women
St. Thomas men
Minnesota Gopher men
Minnesota Gopher women
Augsburg men
Concordia (St. Paul) men

Coach of the Month: Bill McKee, Augsburg women

Runners-up: Jeremy Post, White Bear Lake girls
Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls
Aaron Greiss, Augsburg men
Kelly Boe, Concordia (St. Paul) sophomore
Scott Ballard, Winona State women
Mike Leaf, Winona State men
Dan Kosmoski, St. Olaf men
Johnny Tauer, St. Thomas men
Mike Durbin, St. Ben's

Results: Daily Game, Player and Coach of the Day

Wednesday 11-30--Minnesota Gopher men 58 Virginia Tech 55. The first game without being unbeaten and the first test without Trevor Mbakwe, and the Gophers passed with flying colors. I mean, yes, it was close, but Minnesota pulled away from a 53-51 deficit at 8:49. Julian Welch and Rodney Williams scored the Gophers final 7 points, and Tech did not score from 8:49 until 0:23. Player of the Day: Julian Welch, Minnesota Gopher men. The newly starting point guard scored 15 points with 4 assists and 2 steals. Coach of the Day: Bill McKee, Augsburg women. You'll be happy to know that the turnaround at Augsburg is complete. The Augies, dead last in the MIAC last year at 4-18 and picked for last again this year in the pre-season coach's poll, shocked perennial power St. Ben's 61-50 last night at St. Joe. St. Ben's was 16-6 in the MIAC last year, good for 3rd place, and was picked to finish 3rd again this year. It was the 1st loss to Augsburg in Bennie's coach Mike Durbin's 26 year career as Blazers' coach. 

Tuesday 11-29--Wayzata girls 75 Bloomington Kennedy 67 (OT). #7 over #2. Wayzata led the whole way. Kennedy caught up on a 3 at the buzzer but then could not score in OT. Player of the Day: Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray girls 26 points in 72-60 win over arch-rival Totino-Grace. Coach of the Day: Kent Hamre, St. Michael Albertville girls, 56-45 upset winners at Sartell-St. Stephen behind Christine Thorn's 17 points.

Monday 11-28--St. Benedict's 97 Crown 37. The un-rebuilding continues for the 3-0 Blazers, who have now out-scored their opponents by an average of 90-42. Player of the Day: Jamie Wollin scored just 4 points, but added 8 boards and 5 steals. 19 Bennies played, 16 of them scored, so nobody scored more than Brianna Barrett's 14. Coach of the Day: Mike Durbin, St. Ben's

Sunday 11-27--Dayton men 86 Minnesota Gophers 70. The Gophers 1st loss was a doozy. Minnesota led by as many as 11, but Dayton closed the 1st half on an 18-2 run and the Gophers never got closer than 9. Minnesota had 9 more turnovers and Dayton had 5 more 3s. Trevor Mbakwe left the game with an apparent leg injury with 17 minutes to go, and did not return. Player of the Day: Austin Hollins, Gopher men 14 points. Coach of the Day: Nelson Whitmore, Hamline men, despite an 87-76 loss to UW-Whitewater.

Saturday 11-26--Minnesota Gopher women 65 Virginia Tech 64. A Banham jumper brought the Gophers back from the brink. It was a game of runs: Tech led 16-9, but Minnesota went on a 25-6 run to lead 34-22. By half-time Tech was back within 38-34, and soon led 42-38. It was 58-51 Tech at 8:05,  and 61-57 Tech around the 2 minute mark. But Minnesota closed it out on an 8-3 (and/or 14-6) run. Player of the Day: Katie Loberg, Minnesota Gopher women with a team-high 20 pts and 7 boards. Coach of the Day: Johnny Tauer, St. Thomas men, won his 1st official game on Minnesota soil and in dramatic fashion, stunning host, D2 Concordia (St. Paul), 94-88.

Friday 11-25--Minnesota Gopher men 76 Indiana State 69. The Gophers again trailed in the 2nd half, this time by 58-49, but Julian Welch and Chip Armelin scored key points down the stretch. An unlikely 8-of-15 3s (4-of-5 by Andre Hollins) also was key and, for the 1st time this year, you could say the Gophers perimeter play was the difference. Trevor Mbakwe was held to just 9 points. Player of the Day: Julian Welch, Gopher men, just keeps playing better and better. He led all scorers with 17 points and added 6 boards off the bench. Coach of the Day: Jeremy Post, White Bear Lake girls. The #6AAAA Bears shocked #1AAA DeLaSalle 74-69 at the Hamline Thanksgiving Tournament.

Thursday 11-24--Minnesota Gopher men 86 DePaul 85. The Gophers rallied from a 49-37 deficit at 18:19 of the 2nd half, out-scoring the Demons 35-22 over the next 10 minutes. 21 of the 35 points came off the bench, Julian Welch leading the way with 9 as Rodney Williams added 6. They executed poorly down the stretch, however, almost squandering an 83-79 lead but a put-back by Rodney and a charge taken by Trevor Mbakwe, both inside of 13 seconds, were the difference. Player of the Day: Mbakwe scored 16 with 12 boards and 2 steals, plus the big charge call. Coach of the Day: Tubby Smith, Minnesota Gopher men

Wednesday 11-23--Carleton men 69 Elmhurst (IL) 67. Caleb Rosenow hit the game-winner with 2.3 seconds remaining. Player of the Day: Danny Geiger, Carleton men 12 points 7 assists. Coach of the Day: Guy Kalland, Carleton men.

Tuesday 11-22--Wisconsin men 77 University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) men 31. The Badgers really took the Kangaroos to the woodshed. I don't usually highlight a game that doesn't feature at least 1 Minnesota team. But I couldn't resist this match-up of Wisconsin (and former Benilde) all-America point guard, senior Jordan Taylor vs. UMKC (and former St. Paul Johnson) point guard, freshman Estan Tyler. As you can imagine from the team score, Taylor also got the best of the individual match-up: Taylor 9 pts, 6 reb, 6 asts, a steal, a turnover. Tyler failed to score with 4 boards, an ast, a steal and no turnovers. Players of the Day: Kenny and Peter Olafeso, Concordia (St. Paul), 37 pts, 17 reb, 5 asts between them in a 78-68 win over Waldorf College. Coach of the Day: Kelly Boe, Concordia, has assembled a lot of parts.

Monday 11-21--Minnesota Gopher men 85 Mt. St. Mary 56. Finally, a good old-fashioned butt-whipping. Austin Hollins opened things with a rare 3 + 1 and the rout was on. Minnesota took leads of 11-0, 25-4, 35-8 and 51-18 at the half. Andre Hollins opened the 2nd half with another 3 and it was 54-18. The biggest lead was 62-23 and 74-35 but the Mountaineers made up 10 points before the end. Player of the Day: Austin Hollins led the Gophers with 14 points and 6 assists. Coach of the Day: Jeff Oseth, UM-Crookston, who opened with a 93-51 rout of Northland (WI).

Sunday 11-20--Minnesota Gopher women 80 North Dakota State 41. Trailing 10-9 at 13:27, The Gophers ripped off 21 consecutive points, 7 of them by Leah Cotton, to take charge. NDSU committed 26 turnovers including 19 Gopher steals, but had a remarkable 12 assists on 13 buckets. Minnesota scored 31 buckets but registered only 10 assists. Player of the Game: Kiara Buford scored 11 points and led the way with 6 steals. 9 of the points and 4 of the steals came in the 1st half. Coach of the Day: Pam Borton, Minnesota Gopher women.

Saturday 11-19--Minnesota Gopher women (Subway Classic) 65 Binghampton 40 in the Subwau Classic. The Gophers stormed back from early deficits of 7-1, 11-4 and 14-9, taking at 20-19 a lead they would never relinquish. Jackie Voigt sparked the rally off the bench, scoring two quick put-backs to giving the Gophers their first lead since 1-0. By half-time the run was up to 26-8 and the half-time score 35-22. Bing got within 9 in the 2nd, but then it ballooned to 20 at 56-36. Points in the paint were 40-12 Gophers. Player of the Day: Kenny and Peter Olafeso, Concordia (St. Paul) men, combined for 39 points and 9 assists, and Peter added 6 steals, in a 99-79 win over Sious Falls. Coach of the Day: Mike Durbin, St. Ben's. For the 2nd night in a row, the Bennies absolutely manhandled their opponent; this time, it was 95-46 over St. Scholastica.

Friday 11-18--St. Cloud State men 67 St. John's 58. The Huskies led by as much as 22 at 39-17, but then went 11 minutes without a FG. The Johnnies got within 41-27 at the half and 43-35 at 13:07, but St. Cloud stopped the bleeding in time. Player of the Day: Clayton Vette, Winona State men, scored 24 points with 9 boards and 4 assists as the Warriors stormed away from a 33-all half-time tie with a 24-5 run. The final was 89-57. Coach of the Day: Mike Durbin, St. Ben's women. The Bennies, with very little back from last year, hammered UMAC favorite UM-Morris 78-43. Rebuilding or re-loading? Whatever it is, it's working.

Thursday 11-17--Minnesota Gopher men 67 Fairfield 57. Minnesota out-scored the Stags 9-1 over the final 4:14 of the 1st half and never trailed again. Player(s) of the Day: Trevor Mbakwe fell 1 FT short of the Gophers' all-time single game record (17 by Larry Mikan), making 16-of-18. Coach of the Day: Tubby Smith, Gopher men.

Wednesday 11-16--Wisconsin-Stevens Point women 70 St. Thomas 53. The MIAC favorites got bounced hard at the #10-rated Pointers. The Tommies led 35-34 early in the 2nd half but Point then put a 12-1 run on 'em. St. Thomas came back to within 46-40 but after 51-42 the Tommies were never within 10. Player of the Day: Maggie Weiers, St. Thomas sophomore post 13 points 3 assists but 4 turnovers. Coach of the Day: Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women, was the only Minnesota coach in action tonight.

Tuesday 11-15--The Hamline men and women swept Northwestern (Roseville) at Hamline. The Hamline women won 69-59, while the Hamline men won 64-61. Je'Naya Brown and Jordan Sammons scored 18 points apiece to lead the women, while Mike Campbell scored 14 to lead the men. Player of the Day: Angie Jetvig, Minnesota State-Moorhead, picked up where she left off last year, getting 21 points and 15 rebounds in a 66-41 win over Valley City State. Coach of the Day: Dan Kosmoski, St. Olaf. A day after being picked for the #2 spot by MIAC coaches, Kosmoski and his Oles justified that rating, beating Bethany Lutheran 71-50 playing with Bobby Fong.

Monday 11-14--Minnesota Gopher men 71 South Dakota State 55. For the 4th straight game, the Gophers pulled away from a close one in the waning moments. Trailing 44-39, Minnesota put an 18-1 run on the Jackrabbits. Maverick Ahanmisi sparked the rally with a 3, a steal, an assist and a pair of throws. Player of the Day: Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (and St. Cloud Tech) was the best player on the floor. Coach of the Day: Tubby Smith, Minnesota Gopher men, got a lot of mileage out of bench players Ahanmisi, Chip Armellin, Andre Ingram and other

Sunday 11-13--South Florida women 60 Gopher women 52. It wasn't that close. The Gophers shot 27 percent and had a 13-0 run down the stretch to get within 8. Player of the Day: Forward Connor O'Brien, Minnesota State-Mankato men 15 points, 15 rebounds, as the Mavericks beat Dickinson State 70-55 in its official season debut. Coach of the Day: Matt Marganthaler, Minnesota State-Mankato men, who won their 8th straight opener.

Saturday 11-12--Florida State women 68 Minnesota Gopher 56. The Gophers took it on the chin from the #13/#14 rated team in the nation. Player of the Day: Jake Hottenstine, UMD, 37 points and 13 boards in 81-80 win at Michigan Tech. Coach of the Day: Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul ) women who defeated UC-Colorado Springs 65-56.

Friday 11-11--Minnesota Gopher women 68 Arkansas 60. An impressive neutral court win over a BCS foe. The Gophers pulled away from a 42-all tie in the 2nd half. Player of the Day: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota men 17 points 10 boards; Rachel Banham, Minnesota women 15 points and 4 assists. Coach of the Day: Pam Borton, Gopher women.

Thursday 11-10--Hamline men 79 Minnesota-Crookston 63. This time it's D3 over D2. 16-for-33 3-point shooting can be a great equalizer. Player of the Day: John Pannell and Brandon Rieg, Hamline men, hit 7-of-10 and 5-of-8 3s, respectively. Ridiculous. Coach of the Day: Nelson Whitmore, Hamline men.

Wednesday 11-9--Concordia (St. Paul) men 115 St. Mary's 75. A good D2 team in a rout over a struggling D3 program as veterans Kenny Olafeso (23 points), Isaiah Thomas (12 and 12 boards) and Brent Barz (10) are joined in double figures by transfer Zach Towle (Concordia Academy, NW Nebraska CC, 15) and newcomers Terez Van Pelt (Osseo, 22 and 6 assists) and Cole Olstad (Plainview-EM, 18). Player of the Day: Van Pelt, the freshman and starting point guard. Coach of the Day: Kelly Boe, Concordia, may finally have the Bears on the upswing. The 2 freshmen, in particular, promise great things at Gangelhoff Arena.

Tuesday 11-8--SW Minnesota State men 78 St.Olaf 67. The Oles are expected to contend in the MIAC while the Mustangs are picked for 8th in the NSIC. But they're D2 and at home, and so SW State rolled to a 22-point lead at 73-50 before relaxing at the end. Player of the Day: Bobby Fong and Stu Neville, St. Olaf seniors, 17 and 16 points, respectively. Coach of the Day: Brad Bigler, SW State men.

Monday 11-7--Minnesota Gopher men 72 Augustana 60. It was 38-33 Augie at the half, and 63-60 with 3 minutes to go. Player of the Day: Trevor Mbakwe saved the Gophers' bacon with 22 points, 13 boards and 6 blocks. Coach of the Day: Tubby Smith, Gopher men. Yeah, the Gophers struggled but the upside among Gopher guards Andre and Austin Hollins, Julian Welch and Joe Coleman is mucho.

Sunday 11-6--Minnesota women 92 Bemidji State 50. Another rout for the Gopher women, which is just the way it should be against D2 opposition. Still, the Rachel Banham era is off to an impressive start. Player of the Day: Rachel Banham, Gopher women, scored 17 points with 6 boards, 4 assists and 3 steals. Coach of the Day: Scott Ballard, Winona State women who gave Iowa a scare, leading 23-19 at the half before losing 65-51.

Saturday 11-5--Augsburg pulled off an almost unheard-of upset, D3 over D1, 74-68 over Houstin Baptist in Houston. Player of the Day: Tyler Schmidt, Augsburg men, led the with 21 points including 8-for-8 from the FT line. Coach of the Day: Aaron Griess, Augsburg men.

Thursday 11-3--South Dakota State women 76 Southwest Minnesota State 50. SDSU moves to 2-0 in the NSIC after beating Moorhead State 86-52 last week. Player of the Day: Shannon Thompson, Bemidji State, contributed 14 points, 9 assists and 7 steals as the Beavers demolished Lakehead (Ont.) 97-61 in an exhibition.  Coach of the Day: Allison Kruger, SMSU women, took the Mustangs into the Jackrabbits den and played better than the Dragons.

Wednesday 11-2--Minnesota Gopher women 86 St. Cloud State 51. A better start than the men. Not only is it a new year, it is the Rachel Banham Era. Player of the Day: Rachel Banham, Gopher women 11 pts, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 boards. Coach of the Day: Mike Leaf, Winona State men. The Johnny Tauer era at St. Thomas got off to a rocky start in a 84-52 loss at Winona, as Clayton Vette of the Warriors outscored the Tommies' Tommy Hannon 17-10 inside.

Tuesday 11-1--Minnesota Gopher men 71 Bemidji State 58. I said that anything short of a rout would be bad new for Tubby and the Gophers. Well, 71-58 is not a rout, and getting out-scored 30-3 from 3-point range is not good. A 45-23 edge in rebounding and a 56-24 edge in 2-point baskets are good. But is that a winning formula that you can execute in the Big 10? Player of the Day: Trevor Mbakwe, Gopher men 17 pts, 10 boards. Coach of the Day: Matt Bowen, Bemidji State men. Had his team ready to play the Gophers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bad Luck

If the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe are symbols of good luck, what are symbols of bad luck? A Gopher, perhaps? Surely, its colors are maroon and gold.

I speak, of course, of the loss of Trevor Mbakwe to a knee injury for the rest of the 2011-2012 season. As Mike Max said, the worst thing that could happen to this program has happened. The Gophers will be without their best player--their only serious contender for all-anything honors in the post-season--the rest of the way. And, not only that, but he plays the position vacated by Colt Iverson, 3-year letterman, sometimes starter, who transferred out of the program during the past off-season.

That leaves two inexperienced players, redshirt freshman Oto Osieniks and JC transfer Andre Ingram, to fill in for Mbakwe. It says here that Ingram, the more physical of the two, gets the start but that Oto, the more skillful, gets the bulk of the minutes. If the Gophers are lucky, the two will combine for about half of Mbakwe's production, while their own back-ups will replace their time and production with virtual zeroes in the average box score.

The analogy to last year's loss of senior point guard Al Nolen to injury is only to clear. Nolen may not have been the Gophers best or MV player, but he was their leader. And not only was he lost for most of the Big 10 season but the fellow who would have stepped into his shoes, Devoe Joseph, had transferred out shortly before Nolen's injury. Once rated as high as #15, the Gophers crawled home with 1 win in their final dozen games.

Mbakwe's injury also brings to mind the injury to all-American Lou Hudson in 1966. The Gophers had finished 3rd and 2nd in Hudson's first and second years, and Hudson was named consensus all-American in 1965.

Then in his senior year (1965-66), swing man Don Yates was declared ineligible. Terry Kunze, who was on academic suspension and could have come back as of January '66, decided not to. Then in game #4 Hudson broke his right wrist. Hudson missed 4 weeks, then came back with his right hand in a cast. Archie Clark stepped up to become the Gophers top scorer but the team finished 7-7 in the Big 10. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

High School Pre-Season Update: Girls

With the girls season kicking off yesterday, it's time for my final pre-season predictions.

Top Dozen


1. Hopkins. The closest thing to a dead certainty you're ever going to find. Awesome talent running 10 girls deep cannot be beat. Nia Coffey may even assert herself as the best player in the state.

Then there's five teams capable of getting to the state title game.

2. Osseo. I liked the Orioles at #2 even before I learned that Olivia Antilla has moved up here from Benilde. But make no mistake, this is Phyllis Webb's team.

3. White Bear Lake. More talent than you think, not just Alexis Foley. (I had them here, at #3, before yesterday's upset win over DeLaSalle.)

4. Bloomington Kennedy. Lots of talent, lots of depth, led by Kenisha Bell and Jade Martin.

5. Eden Prairie. 2 superstars but not quite the supporting cast of recent years. Still Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney make 'em contenders at the highest level. Sam Trammel gets her baptism by fire.

6. Lakeville North. The opposite of EP: Lots of depth but no stars (unless you count coach Andy Berkvam). Key question: Will Simone Kolander blossom, or does she spend too much time playing soccer?

The there's a big drop-off to the next group.

7. Wayzata--Timmerman and Grossfeld lead the way
8. Edina--Katybeth Biewen's last hurrah
9. St. Paul Central--lost Jen Hill, but there's lots of talent back, though it's still young
10. Cambridge--not just Whitney Olson anymore, Natalie Larson is also terrific
11. Anoka--last year's diaper dandies cope with expectations this time around
12. Bloomington Jefferson--Brittney Scherber's last hurrah


1. DeLaSalle--like Hopkins, the Islanders' defending state champs are an obvious favorite to repeat. Tyseanna Johnson one of the top 5 players statewide.

2. Richfield--Jessica January and company may be able to displace Benilde at the region level.
3. Hill Murray--Tessa Cichy returns
4. Benilde-St. Margaret's--lost Antilla, but return Schumpert, Coughlin and others
5. Park Center--Cayla McMorris will emerge as a superstar
6. Marshall--waves of talent from out on the prairie
7. Sartell-St. Stephen--Abi Whitney and Hailey Guetter return for their senior seasons
8. New Prague--coach Ron Gunderson just reloads
9. Fergus Falls
10. Hutchinson
11. Red Wing--Tesha Buck...
12. Chisago Lakes---...and Whitney Tinjum star!


1. Braham--another possible repeater. The AP poll has Braham #2 in a surprise, but I don't see that suprise occurring at tournament time.

2. Providence
3. Watertown-Mayer--Marissa Janning's last shot
4. Caledonia
5. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva
6. Jackson County Central
7. St. Peter--Tailor Raymond is back
8. New London-Spicer
9. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial
10. Esko--Savanna Trapp gives the Eskomos hope
11. Hawley
12. Sauk Centre--if Kali Peschel can come back from her injury


1. Goodhue--anxious to reverse its tournament collapse of a year ago. Erika and Mikayla Tipcke now lead the way.

2. Maranatha--on paper, the Mustangs should repeat as A champions but I have a hunch.... Still, this is a great team.

3. Hancock--returns Kendra Schmidgall, among others, from a team that took the eventual state champs, Maranatha, into OT

4. Parkers Prairie--Mikayla Noga and Madison Dorn lead the way.

5. Fulda
6. Canby
7. Isle
8. Sebeka
9. Spring Grove
10. Barnum
11. Faribault Bethlehem--a new era with coach Tammy Metcalf Filzen, recently of Carleton
12. Upsala

Section Forecasts


1 Lakeville North
2 Bloomington Kennedy (#4) over Eden Prairie (#5) #4 seed
3 Eastview
4 White Bear Lake #3 seed
5 Osseo #2 seed
6 Hopkins #1 seed
7 Cambridge (#10) over Anoka (#11)
8 St. Michael-Albertville

State Final: Hopkins 67 White Bear Lake 48

Coach of the Year: Finally, it can be told: Jeremy Post of White Bear Lake is the best young coach around these parts.


1 Red Wing
2 Hutchinson (#10) in a wide open section, upsetting #6 Marshall; Hutch #4 seed
3 DeLaSalle #1 seed
4 Hill Murray #3 seed
5 Big Lake
6 Richfield (#2) surprises Benilde-SM (#4) #2 seed
7 Chisago Lakes
8 Sartell-St. Stephen

State Final: DeLaSalle 56 Sartell 43

Coach of the Year: Katie Martin, Sartell-St. Stephen


1 Caledonia #3 seed
2 New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva #4 seed
3 Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial
4 Minnehaha
5 Providence #2 seed
6 New London-Spicer
7 Braham #1 seed
8 Hawley

State Final: Braham 55 Providence 53

Coach of the Year: Bill Gottenborg, Hawley


1 Faribault Bethlehem (#11) in an upset
2 Nicollet
3 Canby #4 seed
4 Maranatha #2 seed
5 Isle #3 seed
6 Parkers Prairie in a tough section over Hancock and Ada #1 seed
7 Barnum
8 Northern Freeze

State Final: Parkers Prairie 47 Maranatha 45

Coach of the Year: Tammy Metcalf Filzen, Faribault Bethlehem

Big Five


Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie
Nia Coffey, Hopkins
Shayne Mullaney, Eden Prairie
Jade Martin, Bloomington Kennedy, jr.
Kenisha Bell, Bloomington Kennedy, soph.


Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle
Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray
Kayla McMorris, Park Center, soph.
Jessica January, Richfield, jr.
Whitney Tinjum, Chisago Lakes


Rebekah Dahlman, Braham, jr.
Marissa Janning, Watertown-Mayer
Savanna Trapp, Esko, jr.
Kelsey Sorensen-Giffrow, Braham
Emma Lange, Caledonia, jr.


Kendra Schmidgall, Hancock
Riley Nordgaard, Canby
Erica Tipcke, Goodhue
Onye Osemenam, Maranatha
Micaela Noga, Parkers Prairie, soph.

Girls Season Kicks Off (and Results)

The girls season "tips off" today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday November 25 and 26) at Hamline University. I don't know about you but I found it fiendishly difficult to find this information, so I'll blast it here as loudly as I can.

Pat Paterson Memorial Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament at Hamline

Friday and Friday Results

Some big surprises!

9:30 a.m. Eastview vs. Prairie Seeds But no surprise here--Eastview 56 Prairie Seeds 17
11:15 White Bear Lake vs. DeLaSalle OK, here's a surprise--WBL 74 DLS 69. DLS led 36-32 at the half. I have no other details at this time.
1 p.m. Blaine vs. St. Paul Central. Central pulled away in the 2nd half, 66-41.
2:45 Lakeville North vs. Providence. North 45 Providence 22. It was 21-5 at the half!
4:30 Mpls. North vs. Hopkins Hopkins 94 Mpls. North 14. It was 80-0 at the half.
6:15 Centennial vs. Rosemount Centennial 79 Rosemount 43


9:15 a.m. Consolation game DeLaSalle 58 Prairie Seeds 21
11 Bracket A title White Bear Lake 42 Eastview 30 despite the efforts of newcomer Maddie Guebbert, freshman and daughter of the new Eastview coach
12:45 p.m. Consolation game Providence 64 Blaine 29
2:30 Bracket B title Lakeville North 52 St. Paul Central 49
7 Consolation game Rosemount 65 Mpls. North 30
8:45 Bracket C title Hopkins 89 Centennial 46

Top Scorers

1. Hannah Grim, Rosemount, soph., G 22.5 ppg
2. Anne Marie Healy, Providence, sr., F, 15
3. Alexis Foley, White Bear Lake, sr., G, 14
4. Nia Coffey, Hopkins, jr., F-G, 13.5
4. Maria Adanane, DeLaSalle, sr., G, 13.5
6. T. T. Starks, Hopkins, fr., F, 13
6. Viria Livingstone, Hopkins, fr., G, 13
6.  Allina Starr, DeLaSalle, sr., G, 13
9. Taylor Anderson, Hopkins, jr., G, 12
9. Mia Loyd, DeLa Salle, sr., G, 12
9. Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle, sr., F, 12
9. Angie Guenther, White Bear Lake, sr., C, 12
13. Paige Waytashek, Centennial, jr., G, 11.5
14. Maddie Guebbert, Eastview, fr., G, 11
14. Taylor Finley, Providence, jr., G, 11
16. Taylor Stewart, Lakeville North, sr., G, 10
17. Betsy McDonald, St. Paul Central, soph., G, 9.5
18. Sydney Coffey, Hopkins, sr., F-G, 8.5
18. Sade Chatman, St. Paul Central, soph., C, 8.5
18. Destinee Williams, Centennial, soph., G, 8.5

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Minnesota Women in Division 1

I thought I better take a quick look at Minnesota high school graduates playing Division 1 women's ball before the high school season kicks off, because I'll never get back to it then. So this is sketchy, based on a few early non-conference games. But sketchy or not, here's what's happening.

First Team Minnesota All-Stars

C- Martha Alwal, 6-3, Freshman, Mississippi State--Alwal, from Worthington, stepped right into the Bulldogs starting lineup. She's playing 29 minutes, the 10th most that I've seen. She's scoring 7 points a game on 56 percent FG shooting. But her real value was always her defense and here it's no exception: 12 rebounds, the best among all the Minnesotans I could think to look up, and 4 blocks, which ties her with Janae Burich at the top of the list. You saw this one coming, right?

F- Gina Lange, 6-foot, Junior, Valparaiso--I remember sitting in the stands with my clip-board at New Life Academy a 2 1/2 years ago. Because I have a clip-board, people think I know something. So this guy started chatting me up. Who've you seen? Who do you like? I said I thought the best player in the metro area who hadn't verballed D1 yet was Gina Lange of Forest Lake. The fellow turned out to be Keith Freeman, Valpo coach, and a couple months later Lange had verballed Valpo. Now she's scoring 14 p0ints, 4th best in this group, on 60 percent shooting (6th best).

Wings- Courtney Boylan, 5-9, Senior, Michigan--Making the Ms. Basketball people look good, finally. She hasn't played a ton in 3 years, but now, suddenly, she's the Wolverines top scorer with 15 points on 48 percent shooting. Oh, and the Wolves are 4-0. (From Chaska.)

Brittney Chambers, 5-8, Junior, Kansas State--Off to a slow start this year with 13 ppg on just 27 percent shooting. She'll come around. (Jordan.)

PG- Kamille Wahlin, 5-8, Senior, Iowa--Off to a slow start this year with 11 points and just 2 assists per game. Still she's shooting 46 percent from the perimeter. More than that, she's the quintessential glue player who does exactly what her team needs and makes everybody better. And with backcourt mates like Sam Logic and Jamie Printy, that really means BETTER. (Crookston.)

Second Team

C- Janae Burich, 6-5, Senior, North Dakota State--Scoring just 3 ppg on 21 percent shooting but she too will come around. Her stature as a player are best illustrated right now by her 4 blocks per game. (Roseville.)

PF- Jennie Sunnarborg, 6-2, Senior, South Dakota State--The Jackrabbits top scorer at 13 ppg on 52 percent shooting. (Osseo.)

SF- Megan Nipe, 6-foot, Junior, George Washington--Another slow starter this year, she's scoring just 5 ppg on 25 percent shooting. (Centennial.)

PG- Rachel Banham, 5-9, Freshman, Minnesota--Off to a great start: 2nd among Gopher scorers with 11 ppg; her 31 FG percent looks OK compared to some of those mentioned above; hopefully she can raise that up a bit. But mostly, her ball-handling and distribution have been stellar though you wouldn't necessarily know it with her 3 assists/3 turnover ratio. (Lakeville North.)

SG- Tayler Hill, 5-10, Junior, Ohio State. Top scorer among this group at 20 ppg with an excellent 50 FG percent; hard to keep her off the 1st team. But her other numbers (assists, rebounds) are well below those of some of the other guards like Chambers and Boylan.

Third Team

C- Georgie Jones, 6-2, Senior, Indiana--The St. Paul Central grad transferred from Marquette last year. Now she's scoring 10 points and adding 9 boards.

PF- Megan Howard, 5-11, Senior, St. Anselm--Also a Central grad (and teammate of G. Jones), she's the only D2 player to make the all-stars. Scoring 15 with 11 boards so far this year.

PF- Brittnye McSparron, 5-5, Senior, Drake--Missed last year with injuries but coming back strong: 11 ppg, 42 percent shooting, 2 assists, 3 steals. Her 4 turnovers per game are the most on the board, however.

SG- Kiara Buford, 5-10, Senior, Minnesota--13 points on 41 percent shooting, and an improved assist-to-turnover rate (3 to 2) so far.

SG- Kate Thompson, 6-3, Junior, Michigan--This might be a breakout year. She comes off the bench but scores 10 ppg with 5 boards.

Diaper Dandies

C- Alwal
PF-Apiew Ojulu, 6-3, Freshman, Marquette--8 points in 26 minutes
SF- Megan Waytashek, 6-0, Sophomore, South Dakota State--6 points on 57 FG percent
PG- Banham
SG- Suriya McGuire, 5-11, RS Freshman, Miami (Fla.)--6 ppg on 58 percent shooting

2nd Team Diaper Dandies

C- Pick 'em. Beth Doolittle, 6-4 Freshman, Iowa and Cassie Rochel, 6-4, RS freshman, Wisconsin. Neither is starting. Doolittle is scoring 6 points on 67 percent shooting in 13 minutes. Rochel is scoring 4 on 54 percent shooting in 14 minutes. Rochel is out-rebounding Doolittle 4-2.
PF- Hannah Strop, 6-1, Sophomore, South Dakota State--3 points in 13 minutes on 83 percent shooting.
PF- Kahla Becken, 5-8, Freshman, North Dakota State--8 points in 22 minutes.
SG- Morgan Van Riper-Rose, 5-10, Freshman, Denver--4 points in 24 minutes.

The Leader Board

Points--Tayler Hill 20, Courtney Boylan and Megan Howard 15, Gina Lange 14, Kiara Buford, Brittnye McSparron and Brittney Chambers 13.

Rebounds--Martha Alwal 12, Megan Howard 11, Georgie Jones 9, Janae Burich and Katie Loberg 7

Assists--Kiara Buford, Rachel Banham, Nicole Smart and Kahla Becken 3 each

Steals--Tayler Hill and Brittnye McSparron 3 each

Blocks--Martha Alwal and Janae Burich 4 each

Turnovers--Brittnye McSparron, Ephesia Holmes and Nytor Longar 4 each

Also Notable

Leah Dietel is scoring 7 points on 60 percent shooting for the Jackrabbits. Hannah Linz is scoring 10 points on 53 percent shooting with 4 assists for NDSU. Katie Loberg is at 9 points and 7 boards for Minnesota. Brianna Edwards is scoring just 2 points in 13 minutes for Providence.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Minnesotans in D1 Part 2 by Alan Holst

The following info is from Alan Holst, who has been tracking Minnesota men playing in D1 for many years. His "All-America" teams mean from among kids who played high school ball here in the Gopher state. A complete list of Minnesotans on D1 rosters follows.


Minnesotans in D1

by Alan Holst


Trent Lockett, Arizona State (Hopkins) Junior

Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota (St. Bernards, Henry Sibley) Senior

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (Benilde-St. Margarets) Senior (first team AP pre-season All American)

Royce White, Iowa State (Hopkins) Sophomore

Rodney Williams, Minnesota (Robbinsdale Cooper) Junior (we keep hoping)

It will be interesting to follow the development of freshmen Joe Coleman, Shelby Moats and Ross Travis and redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen.


Alec Brown, Green Bay (Winona) Sophomore

Eric Carlson, North Dakaota State (Shakopee) Senior (if he recovers quickly from a broken jaw)

Jordair Jett, Saint Louis (St. Bernards) Sophomore

Mike Muscala, Bucknell (Roseville) Junior

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (St. Cloud Tech) Junior

Aaron Anderson, Sam Dower, Zach Filzen and David Hanson are some additional contenders.


Jordan Aaberg, North Dakota State (Rothsay) Sophomore F 6-9 215

Aaron Anderson, North Dakota (Osseo) Sophomore G 5-10 150

Tor Anderson, Montana State (Minnetonka) Sophomore G 6-2 200

Joel Awich, Cal Poly (Tartan) Freshman F 6-7 195

Steve Baker, Green Bay (St. Paul Como Park) Senior G 6-2 190 (ex-Southeastern Iowa CC)

Armond Battle, Wright State (Benilde-St. Margarets) Junior F 6-7 210 (ex-Tulsa)

Jared Berggren, Wisconsin (Princeton) Junior F-C 6-10 235

Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State (Sibley East) Sophomore F 6-8 230

Brandon Brekke, North Dakota (East Grand Forks) Sophomore C 6-8 215

Mike Broghammer, Notre Dame (Hopkins) Junior F 6-9 243

Andrew Brommer, Iowa (Rosemount) Senior F 6-9 247

Alec Brown, Green Bay (Winona) Sophomore C 7-1 222

Lucas Brown, Wofford (Roseville) Freshman G 6-5 200

Mike Bruesewitz, Wisconsin (Henry Sibley) Junior F 6-6 220

Chad Calcaterra, Colorado State (Cloquet) Freshman C 6-10 250

Eric Carlson, North Dakota State (Shakopee) Senior F 6-6 220

Joe Coleman, Minnesota (Hopkins) Freshman 6-4 200

Raymond Cowels, Santa Clara (Hopkins) Junior F 6-4 205

Sam Dower, Gonzaga (Osseo) Sophomore C 6-9 248

Mike Felt, North Dakota State (Redwood Falls) Sophomore G 6-3 180

Josh Figini, Cornell (Chisago Lakes) Junior F 6-9 205

Taylor Filipek, Eastern Kentucky (Willmar) Sophomore G-F 6-6 220

Zach Filzen, Buffalo (Northfield) Senior G 6-3 190

Mike Fitzgerald, Air Force (St. Thomas Academy) Junior G-F 6-6 210

Grant Gehlen, Saint Louis (Cretin-Derham Hall) Sophomore F 6-3 160

Trevor Gruis, South Dakota (Ellsworth) Sophomore C 6-9 238

Dylan Hale, North Dakota State (St. Paul Central) Sophomore G 6-1 170

Chris Halvorsen, Minnesota (Henry Sibley) Sophomore F 6-8 190

David Hanson, Cal Poly (Maranatha) Senior F 6-5 215

Nick Haugen, North Dakota (Rockford) Junior G 6-2 200

Jordan Hicks, Loyola Illinois (Rochester Mayo) Senior G-F 6-6 210

Seth Hinrichs, Lafayette (MACCRAY Clara City) Freshman G 6-7 214

Andre Ingram, Minnesota (Minnesota Transitions) Freshman F 6-7 235 (ex-Butler CC KS)

Jordair Jett, Saint Louis (St. Bernards & Notre Dame Prep MA) Sophomore G 6-1 210

Angelo Johnson, Southern Mississippi (Minneapolis North) Senior G 6-0 185 Senior (ex-USC)

Raijon Kelly, Samford (Cretin-Derham Hall) Freshman G 6-4 170

Lucas Kuipers, Rice (Rochester Mayo) Senior F 6-8 217

Nick Latzke, Tulane (Minnetonka) Freshman G 6-4 180

Trent Lockett, Arizona State (Hopkins) Junior G 6-4 210

Drew Lundberg, North Dakota State (Owatonna) Senior G 6-1 190

Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota (St. Bernards, Henry Sibley) Senior F 6-8 240

Shelby Moats, Vanderbilt (Waconia) Freshman F 6-8 225

Jaymeson Moten, Texas-Pan American (New London-Spicer) Freshman G 5-11

Mike Muscala, Bucknell (Roseville) Junior F-C 6-11 232

Fred Newell, North Dakota State (Lakeville North) Sophomore G 5-8 155

Kevin Noreen, West Virginia (Minnesota Transitions) Freshman F 6-10 245

Kyle Noreen, Radford (Minnesota Transitions) Freshman SF F 6-5 185

D.J. Peterson, La Sallle (Hopkins) Freshman G 6-5 185

Jimmy Remke, Saint Louis (Hill-Murray) Freshman F 6-4

Tom Schalk, William & Mary (Apple Valley) Freshman F 6-8 210

Marvin Singleton, Northern Iowa (Hopkins) Freshman F 6-6 235

Jordan Smith, Wisconsin (Orono) Freshman G 6-1 175

Marc Sonnen, Northern Iowa (Tartan) Junior G 6-3 190

Dynami Starks, Bryant (Duluth East) Sophomore G 6-2 195 redshirt (ex-Columbia)

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (Benilde-St. Margarets) Senior G 6-1 195

Jonah Travis, Harvard (DeLaSalle) Freshman F 6-6 225

Ross Travis, Penn State (Chaska) Freshman F 6-8 215

Estan Tyler, UMKC (St. Paul Johnson) Freshman G 6-1 175

Jake White, Wichita State (Chaska) Freshman F 6-8 227

Royce White, Iowa State (Hopkins) Sophomore F 6-8 250

Rodney Williams, Minnesota (Robbinsdale Cooper) Junior F 6-7 200

Mitch Wilmer, North Dakota (Warroad) Junior C 6-11 245

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (St. Cloud Tech) Junior G 6-4 190

Ethan Wragge, Creighton (Eden Prairie) Sophomore F 6-7 220

Michael Yahnke, Texas-Pan American (Delano) Freshman F 6-7


Here are the ten non-Minnesota high school products who are on the Gophers roster.

Maverick Ahanmisi

Chip Armelin

Elliott Eliason

Andre Hollins

Austin Hollins

Oto Osenieks

Ralph Sampson III

Kendal Shell

Maurice Walker

Julian Welch

Here are ten Minnesota high school products who are NOT on the Gophers roster.

Jared Berggren, Wisconsin (Princeton)

Mike Bruesewitz, Wisconsin (Henry Sibley)

Sam Dower, Gonzaga (Osseo)

Jordair Jett, Saint Louis (St. Bernards)

Trent Lockett, Arizona State (Hopkins)

Mike Muscala, Bucknell (Roseville)

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (Benilde-St. Margarets)

Ross Travis, Penn State (Chaska)

Royce White, Iowa State (Hopkins)

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (St. Cloud Tech)

Which group would you rather have?

Pass the Ball to Trevor

Trevor Mbakwe made 16-of-18 FT, coming up 1 short of the school record for most FT in 1 game, and the Gophers did just (barely) enough of everything else to defeat Fairfield 67-57.

The Numbers Game

Other than at the FT line, this game was as close to a statistical dead heat as you're ever going to see. Take the possession game: Minnesota had 10 offensive rebounds, 22 turnovers and 57 possessions. Fairfield had 11 offensive rebounds, 20 turnovers and 60 possessions. Or the shooting contest: The Gophers shot 46 percent from the field for a total of 19 FG, 52 percent on 2s for a total of 17, and made 2 3-point FG. Fairfield shot 42 percent for 20 FG, 56 percent for 18 2s, and made 2 3-pointers.

On defense, Minnesota had 20 rebounds, 10 steals and 4 blocks, Fairfield 14, 10 and 3. On offense, the Gophers had 9 assists and Fairfield 10.

Actually, dig a little deeper and you can find some bigger differentials. Shockingly, Fairfield out-scored the Gophers in the paint 32-24 (that, of course, does not include FT), while Minnesota had a 16-8 edge on 2nd chance points (despite the offensive rebounds being about equal). The Gophers scored 19 points off turnovers, Fairfield 14 (despite the turnovers being about equal). But, each team scored but 4 fast-break points.

But here, finally, is the 2nd reason the Gophers won this game. Bench points: Minnesota 25, Fairfield 5. Once again, a fresher Gopher team pulled away down the stretch.

The lead varied from 2 points to 5 through 36-32 at 15:16. It varied from 4 to 8 through 45-41 at 9:48. And it varied from 6 to 9 right up to 65-57 at 0:35. Subtle differences. But while the Stags stayed within striking distance, they never got a little run that might have gotten them within more than 2 possessions of the Gophers.

Mbakwe's Near-Record

Mbakwe's FT shooting so far this year is one of the most astonishing achievements I've ever seen. He got to the line 202 times last year, more than twice as much as anybody else. But he made only 127 or 63 percent, leaving 75 points on the table. So far this year, he's 46-for-58 (79 percent) and in his last 2 games he's an unconscious 28-for-31 (90 percent). Suddenly teams have to think twice about sending him to the FT line.

His 16 FT last night is just 1 less than Larry Mikan scored against Purdue in January 1969. (I saw that game.)

Everything Else

The bench was "everything else" when it comes to reasons why the Gophers won this game. 1st that means Oto Osieniks. Not only did he make the Gophers only 2 3-point baskets on the night, but they came at the most opportune moment. Fairfield had scored 3 straight points to get within 4 when Oto hit his 1st 3 from the left corner on a feed from Maverick Ahanmisi. That tied the Gophers' largest lead of the night at 7, making it 42-35 at 11:59.

Just 40 seconds later, Oto hit his 2nd 3 from the right corner on an inside-out feed from Mbakwe. That gave the Gophers' their largest lead of the night at 45-37. Fairfield never got closer than 6 again.

Then there are Ahanmisi and Julian Welch, who played 30 minutes between them, and who were on the floor together down the stretch. Ahanmisi scored 5 points while Welch did not score, and they had just 2 assists to go with 3 turnovers. But, consider that Andre and Austin Hollins played 50 minutes between them and, yes, they scored 20 points. But they also had just 2 assists and 9 turnovers. So clearly Tubby was looking to do a better job of protecting the ball down the stretch, and Ahanmisi and Welch were his strategy for doing that.

The Hollinses

Still, the Hollinses both had their moments, too. Minnesota hung a 9-1 run on the Stags to close out the 1st half, and Austin scored 6 and Andre 3 of those 9 points. And the game's most spectacular play came when Austin made a 1-handed get a Ralph Sampson miss late in the 1st half, and slammed it through all in 1 motion.

Austin also put the final nail in Fairfield's coffin at 1:42 of the 2nd, a jumper from the right slot on a feed from Andre. Fairfield had missed a 3 at 2:05 that would have brought them back within 4. Instead the lead went back to 9 inside of 2 minutes, pretty much putting it out of reach of the Stags.

What's nice is they both score in different ways. Andre hit a "j" and then a driving layup for a 2 + 1, both out of the half-court offense, and added 7-of-8 FT. Austin got 2 steals + fast break layups, a dunk off the offensive board and a 2-pointer out of the set offense.

Other Stuff

Both Rodney Williams and Ralph Sampson left the game late in the 2nd with ankle injuries. Williams went up for a block at 9:53, hit the floor hard and came up limping. Tubby got him out of the game at the next stoppage, and he never returned. Sampson's name last appears in the play-by-play at 3:45, so it was shortly after that that he left the game and made an immediate bee-line to the locker room. He returned to the bench, but not the game, a minute later.

Tubby's rotation tonight:

Center--Sampson 28 minutes Eliason 4 Mbakwe 8
Power Forward--Mbakwe 26 Oto 10 Ingram 4
Small Forward--Rodney 21 Oto 2 Coleman 8 Armelin 9
Point Guard--Andre 20 Maverick 16 Welch 4
Shooting Guard--Austin 30 Welch 10

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Minnesotans in D1

I took a quick look at some Minnesota kids (boyz2men) playing D1 ball. Specifically I looked up 17 kids who would seem to be the best of them or about whom I was curious. I don't doubt there are others doing as well as some of these. But among the 17:

Scoring leaders

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State 23 ppg
Royce White, Iowa State 20
Trent Lockett, Arizona State 18
Alec Brown, Wisconsin-Green Bay 14.5
Jared Berggren, Wisconsin
and Mike Muscala, Bucknell 11 each

Shooting leaders

Lockett 68 percent
Jordair Jett, St. Louis 67
White 54
Ross Travis, Penn State 50
Estan Tyler, UM-KC 50


White 11
Brown and Lockett 10
Muscala 9


Wolters 6
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
and Tyler, UM-KC 4


White 3
Taylor and Lockett 2


White 2


White 3.5
Lockett 3

A Couple Stories

Royce White, who is listed as a sophomore at Iowa State, has arrived on the college scene and will absolutely leave a mark, even if he only plays for this one season. He scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting in his 1st game, then basically let loose, scoring 46 points on 18-of-33 shooting the next 2 games, with 25 rebounds. He also has 10 assists but also 14 turnovers in 3 games. Imagine Royce White with Trevor Mbakwe, Ralph Sampson and Rodney Williams for the Gophers. Ralph or Rodney might have transferred out by now if White had been able to play in a timely fashion.

The other feel-good story is the Wisconsin Badgers at 3-0 with Jared Berggren and Mike Brusewitz joining Jordan Taylor in the starting lineup. Berggren is scoring 11 points, Taylor 9 and Brusewitz 7 per game so far. All 3 are shooting in the 44-47 percent range, all are averaging 4-5 boards. Taylor is averaging 6 assists and 1 turnover.

Diaper Dandies

Ross Travis at Penn State has probably opened more eyes than anybody. He came off the bench in his 1st game (exhibition) and scored 4 points with 8 boards in 27 minutes. That earned him a start, whereupon he froze up (2 points but 7 boards in 13 minutes). Coming off the bench against a pair of D1 opponents, he scored 6 points and 7 boards in 28 minutes. Total average 3 points, 5.5 boards and a block in 17 minutes.

Then there's Estan Tyler. Yeah, I know, it's only UM-KC. But it's D1. He came off the bench his 1st 3 games (2 exhibitions), and averaged 26 minutes, 9 points on 69 percent shooting, 3 boards, 3 assists and a steal. Then taking a starting slot, his 1st start was at Bradley where he amassed 8 points, 4 boards and 5 assists in 36 minutes. In his 2nd start he scored 9 with 3 boards and 3 assists. I look for Tyler to transfer to a higher D1 program before he's done, maybe not the Big 10 but a Bradley or Drake or somebody like that. My personal opinion is he could play anywhere Joe Coleman or Jordair Jett or D. J. Peterson (LaSalle) can play.

Shelby Moats of Waconia is a frosh at highly-rated Vanderbilt. He's played in 2 of 4 games so far. In fact he scored 10 points with 5 boards in his 1st game (exhibition). He failed to score in his 2nd game, however.

Still waiting for Kevin Noreen and Bob Huggins to click. Kevin has played just 5 minutes in West Virginia's 1st 2 games, including a shocking 10-point home loss to Kent State. If the Moutaineers are rebuilding and Noreen is still not logging any time, I don't see how this ends well.

2-3 years from now the best Minnesotans in D1 will be (sophomores and younger but in college today):

C- Alec Brown, Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Sam Dower, Gonzaga, platooning
PF- Shelby Moats, Vanderbilt
SF- Ross Travis, Penn State (Royce White will have moved on)
Wing- Joe Coleman, Minnesota
PG- Estan Tyler, UM-KC
6th- Jordair Jett, St. Louis

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Charley Buggs and Wally Ellenson

The 2 fellows mentioned up above are the sum total of Tubby Smith's 2012 recruits to his (and our) Minnesota Gophers. There's been much gnashing of teeth regarding Tubby's recruiting. And, sure, he hasn't brought in the 5-star, blue chip type of recruit. But just how much gnashing should there be over the class of 2012?

Hell if I know.

But first, let's just review the roster that Buggs and Ellenson will be joining next year, 2012-2013.


Elliott Eliason 6-11 redshirt sophomore (next year). Doesn't look like a guy who will contribute right now but these big fellows are sometimes late bloomers.

Power Forwards

Mo Walker 6-10 (probably) redshirt sophomore as he is still recovering from knee surgery and may miss this year. God knows we'll need him more next year than we do this. He's listed as a forward but is surely the starting post-to-be if he gets healthy.

Oto Osenieks 6-8 redshirt soph. Slight of build yet not quick, but has a nice outside shot.

Andre Ingram 6-7 senior. Not likely to be a part of the rotation this year or next.

Chris Halvorsen 6-7 redshirt junior. Not likely to be part of the rotation.

Small Forwards

Rodney Williams 6-7 senior. Takes a lot of knocks for the lack of skills that seems to stand in the way of his great athleticism really paying off for the Gophers. But the fact is it's starting to pay off everywhere but in terms of scoring. A difference-maker for 2013, that's for sure.

Charles Buggs 6-8 freshman. This looks to be where Buggs slots in. He's described a 6-8, somewhere between 195 and 215, but slight of build, not strong, and graceful but not strong. Kinda like Rodney Williams, I guess.

Combo Guards

Andre 6-1 sophomore (next year) and 6-4 Austin (junior) Hollins. I have no idea if they're point guards or 2s.

Shooting Guards

Chip Armellin 6-3 junior. Occasional flashes of brilliance but not so much that Tubby leaves him in very long, even when he's hot.

Joe Coleman 6-4 sophomore. More of a short 3, as his scoring spots are mostly located inside he arc.

Wally Ellenson 6-4 freshman. Can hit the "j" including the 3, but also gets to the rim and dunks. Or so "they" say.

Point Guards

Julian Welch 6-3 senior.

Maverick Ahanmisi 6-2 junior.

Kendal Schell 6-foot sophomore.

So, Back to Buggs and Ellenson

They are the only 2 freshmen next year because there are only 2 seniors--Mbakwe and Sampson--this year. So of course they join a roster that is loaded with guys who've played, and most of whom will have played quite a bit. They also happen to be redundant: Buggs is a Rodney Williams type, while Ellenson is a Joe Coleman or a Chip Armellin type of player.

So not a lot is needed from them next year, unless of course they are 1st team all-Big 10 type of players. We need that. But they're not. Trust me.

Buggs, in fact, is not the player he's being said to be. It has been widely reported that he scored 18.9 ppg this past summer (versus 11.4 in his final year in high school). But his team's stats can be found on-line and if you add up his points, you get 106 in 12 games. 107/12 = 8.9. Not 18.9 but 8.9. Sorry.

And Ellenson? Right now, I have a hard time with Ellenson and Eliason. But, hey, I can handle Andre and Austin. So I can handle Ellenson and Eliason. Ellenson will be a player someday, Eliason not so much.


By 2014, I project the starting 5 to be Mo Walker in his junior year, Oto Osenieks in his junior year, Buggs as a sophomore or Joe Coleman in a short lineup as a junior, Andre and Austin at the guards.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MIAC and UMC Seasons Open Tonight

The D3 season officially opens tonight with non-conference action for MIAC and UMAC teams, some of it against one another. If you're like me--if, when you get in your car to go off and watch basketball, you figure, hey, might as well watch two--then Hamline is the place to be. The Pipers host Northwestern (Roseville) in a women's/men's doubleheader starting at 5:30.

The Northwestern men, in particular, are a team to watch. They're the defending UMAC champs and threw a scare into eventual national champion St. Thomas last spring, and now they've been anointed as the favorites to repeat in the UMAC.

Coaches Faves

Along with the Northwestern men, the University of Minnesota-Morris women and not one but two teams from St. Thomas also have been selected as favorites by the coaches in each of the leagues.

Defending national champs or not, the St. Thomas men got just 6 of 11 1st place votes. I mean, whaddya gotta do to get some respect around here? St. Olaf got 3 such votes and Augsburg a couple.

The St. Thomas women got 11 of 12 1st place votes; Gustavus Adolphus got the other.

Northwestern got 7 of 8 1st place votes in the UMAC, while Bethany Lutheran got the other. And UM-Morris got 4 of 6; Northland and Martin Luther got 1 each.


The big story is of course the start of the Johnny Tauer era at St. Thomas. Designated as interim coach right now, it's inconceivable that he won't become the permanent coach next March or thereabouts. More inconceivable than the Tommies losing the MIAC. They lost a lot of talent including their 3-headed monster at the guard position--Teddy Archer, Alex Healy and Tyler Nicolai. And of course coach Steve Fritz is gone, as well.

Meanwhile St. Olaf can throw all-conference guards Bobby Fong and Stu Neville at 'em, while Augsburg will have the edge on a lot of MIAC opponents in the paint with Cory Polta leading the way.

The second tier would seem to consists of #4 Carleton, #5 Gustavus and #6 Hamline. The Pipers have everybody back except center Carl Hipp. So, in other words, they're rebuilding. Seriously, they'll shoot 3s with anybody. Gustavus guard Seth Anderson is another one to watch.

Then there's Bethel, St. John's, Concordia (Moorhead), Macalester and St. Mary's, all of whom figure to be building or rebuilding or treading water, but in any event watching the proceedings when playoffs roll around.

MIAC Women

The Tommies, with the likes of Taylor Young, Sarah Smith, Maggie Weiers and an awesome supporting case, will run and hide from the field, trust me. But from whom, exactly, will they run. Well, the coaches had Gustavus 2nd and that sounds right, what with Molly Geske and Abby Rothenbuhler leading the way.

The coaches have St. Ben's 3rd and Concordia 4th, and that would seem to be from habit. The 2 of them lost a vast amount of talent, though the Cobbers' sophomore center Alexandra Lippert could be the best individual player in the entire league.

But who will take advantage of the vacuum just below the top? The coaches have St. Olaf 5th, Bethel 6th, Macalester 7th and St. Mary's 8th, none of whom have a winning tradition to suggest that 2nd or 3rd would be a likely occurrence. And Hamline and St. Kate's, tied for 9th, and Carleton and Augsburg, would appear to have no change of upsetting the favorites, though Carleton seems to be rated a little low considering the talent they bring back. Granted they're lacking in depth, but Akemi Arzouman and Emma Purfeerst are quite a dynamic duo.


Again, Northwestern (Roseveille) is the prohibitive favorite and I'm not going to argue the point. Bethany Lutheran is 2nd, UM-Morris 3rd, St. Scholastica 4th, Martin Luther 5th, Crown 6th, Presentation 7th and Northland 8th.

UMAC Women

After UM-Morris, Northland and Martin Luther, the coaches have Northwestern, Bethany Lutheran, St. Scholastica, Presentation and Crown following.

Morris brings back just 2 starters--Emily Mehr and Jenny Noordmans--so Northland, with just 1 conference loss the last 2 years and returning 5 seniors and 3 juniors, should be right there. Lulu Seelye, a guard, leads the way with 10 points per game.