Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Big Game 2-28-12: Gopher Men Make It 6 Straight (Losses)

The Minnesota Gopher men lost their 6th straight game and dropped to 5-12 in the Big 10 in losing to the Wisconsin Badgers 52-45 at Madison tonight. The Gophers shot just 24 percent from the field.

Wisconsin shot just 31 percent, meanwhile--and less than 20 percent in the 1st half--with the result that the Gophers held a 23-13 lead late in the 1st half. It was 23-16 at the half. But Wisconsin out-scored the Gophers 31-11 from late in the 1st half to late in the 2nd. By the time the Gophers snapped out of it, they were down 44-34, and never got closer than 5 at 50-45, and that was inside of 1 minute to play.

Dre Hollins scored a career high 20 points for Minnesota. Rodney Williams added 11 points and 9 boards, while Ralph Sampson had 8 points, 7 boards and 5 blocks.

Player of the Day

The Minnesota Timberwolves, thank goodness, are headed in the other direction. They knocked off 20-12 L.A. Clippers in L.A. 109-97 despite Kevin Love getting limited minutes due to foul trouble and a rib contusion. Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams each scored 27 points off the bench to lead the way.

Coach of the Day

Rick Adelman. I understand that we've got Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams this year. Still, the performance of the Wolves this year vs. last year is a stark reminder of how much difference a good coach can make, and what a waste it is to keep plugging along with a bad coach.

Google Stats: Most Common Search Terms

One of the really cool things about having a blog like Minnesota Hoops is the Google Stats package that's attached. I get to see how many people are visiting the site, what pages they're viewing, and so on.

Another report shows what terms people have searched that have led them to the Minnesota Hoops blog. Most frequent are searches for the blog itself. Thank you! But secondly are searches for Minnesota basketball players. Among the most searched players are:

• Grace Coughlin, Benilde-St. Margaret's, sophomore guard
• Cayla McMorris, Park Center, sophomore forward
• Mikayla Bailey, Osseo, senior guard and Minnesota Gopher recruit
• Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie, senior post and Minnesota Gopher recruit
• Shayne Mullaney, Eden Prairie, senior guard and Minnesota Gopher recruit
• Marissa Grossfeld, Wayzata, senior forward
• Whitney Tinjum, Chisago Lakes, senior forward
• Hannah Grim, Rosemount, sophomore guard
• Aimee Pelzer, Upsala, junior guard

Just thought you'd want to know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cook County Girl in National 3-Point Shooting Championship--You Can Help--Vote for Ashley Deschampe Today

A new week, a new vote. Ashley has a new challenger to please go to the Web address below early and often. 

Cook County High School senior guard Ashley Deschampe has been chosen as 1 of 16 girls to compete for the final spot in the National High School 3-Point Championship shootout. She was asked to submit a video and it is now online on Facebook in a tournament, with 15 other videos for the chance to go to New Orleans March 30, NCAA Final Four weekend, to compete in the shootout. 

The rules are simple, Ashley’s video is up against another video for a week, with the video with the most votes moving on. Each Facebook user can vote once per day, so you can go on there every day and vote for Ashley.

Click on the link below and when the page loads, click on “Women’s 3-Point” to see the bracket. Ashley’s video is listed on that page, she’s the only girl from MN and the entire upper Midwest, so she could use your vote. If you aren’t logged in to your Facebook account, you will be asked to do so.

The Big Game 2-27-12: Upsala Girls 82 Parkers Prairie 78 (OT)

#6A Upsala traveled to #3A Parkers Prairie last night for a big regular season contest, and it was the visiting/underdog Cardinals who picked up the win 82-78 in OT. Junior guard Aimee Pelzer scored 39 points for Upsala, including a runner with no time left to tie it up in regulation. She took the ball coast to coast in 3.2 seconds to score. The Cardinals pulled away in OT.

Along with the 39 points, Pelzer had 7 boards and 6 assists. Kimmy Mrozek added 14 points, Tracy Herzog 13 and 13 boards, and Kaitlyn Wuebkers 10 for Upsala. I have not seen individual scoring for Parkers Prairie.

Upsala, now 25-1, is the #1 seed in section 5A, Parkers Prairie, 24-2,  #1 in 6A.

Meanwhile Pine Island became the 1st top seed to fall. #4 seed Zumbrota-Mazeppa knocked off the Panthers 45-37 in OT. Laura Heneke tied it up with a 2nd chance point at the final buzzer. Ashley Hinsch had 16 points for ZM. PI was rated #6 in the state.

Player of the Day

Aimee Pelzer, Upsala

Coach of the Day

Paul Pelzer, Upsala

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mr./Ms. Basketball 2012

With the state tournament rapidly approaching, it seems odd that we don't have the Ms. or Mr. Basketball semi-finalists, much less finalists, yet. Just to feed the old hot stove, here are my picks. We're talking seniors only here.

Mr. Basketball

My Finalists

2 easy picks in alpha order, meaning that 1 of the 2 should be the winner:

Siyani Chambers, Hopkins, PG
Joey King, Eastview, PF

There are more than 3 other fairly obvious finalists, but if I stick to 5 finalists, some won't make it, so I'll take:

Michael Busack, Redwood Valley, everywhere
Marcus Marshall, St. Paul Johnson, PG
Johnny Woodard, Duluth East, SG


The other obvious candidates for finalist:

Sanjay Lumpkin, Benilde-St. Margaret's, PF
Isaiah Zierden, Benilde-St. Margaret's, SG

I figure they split the Benilde vote. Others who could just as easily be among the top 5:

Tyler Flack, Lakeville North, PF
Jake Stahl, Hopkins, PF
Taylor Stafford, Duluth East, PG
Tyler Vaughan, Braham, SG

Good solid semi-finalists:

Kyle Baumann, United South Central, PF
Kevin Jensen, Chanhassan, PF
Nate Kratch, Watertown-Mayer, F
Matt Nelson, Rosemount, PF

Ms. Basketball

4 of the 5 finalists ought to be as follows, but who for 5th?

Sydney Coffey, Hopkins, SG
Jackie Johnson, Eden Prairie, C
Marissa Janning, Watertown-Mayer, CG
Shayne Mullaney, Eden Prairie, CG

Taking the 5th

The 5th could be any of the following, though I would pick Biewen.

Katybeth Biewen, Edina, PG

Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray CG
Alexis Foley, White Bear Lake, SG


Marissa Grossfeld, Wayzata, F
Lexi Long, Maranatha, PG
Kali Peschel, Sauk Centre, W
Brittney Scherber, Bloomington Jefferson, PG
Kadidja Shumpert, Benilde-St. Margaret's, C-PF
Kayla Timmerman, Wayzata, C-PF
Whitney Tinjum, Chisago Lakes, F

Everybody else is a stretch but if there are 15-20 semi-finalists then stretch it is.

AnneMarie Healy, Providence, F
Mariah Monke, Fergus Falls, C
Riley Nordgaard, Canby, SG
Ann Rynda, New Prague, F

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 3rd Season: NSIC Recap and Playoff Preview

The 1st season is all of those exhibitions and pre-season and non-conference games that occupy us before New Year's Day. The 2nd season for most teams in the conference season, the "regular" season. This typically is when individual honors--all-conference, all-state, all-America, etc.--are won. The 3rd season is the post-season, playoff time, wen the ultimate team honors are won and lost.

It seems like only yesterday that we were watching the 1st season pass on into the 2nd. But now the 3rd season is upon us. In the MIAC, in fact, it's already done except, probably, for the St. Thomas men abnd ther St. Thomas women who have already advanced to the NCAA D3 tournament, and in such dominant fashion that it's hard to imagine a 2nd MIAC team getting a bid.

The Northern Sun Men

The NSIC closed its regular season just the other night, and playoff brackets were announced this a.m. 1st, the men.

The men's playoffs are spiced up this year by the odd circumstance of Winona State's having 13 wins "nullified" for the use of an ineligible player. The wins don't turn to losses, however. Rather the Warriors' W-L percentage is reduced by a formula from the actual .864 (19-3) to .565, which means that they still qualify for the post-season but drop to the 6th seed.

Bemidji State, picked to finish 7th in the coaches' pre-season poll, thereby moved from 2nd to 1st and are declared to be not only the #1 seed, but the regular season champion. This shocking outcome makes coach Matt Bowen the obvious choice for coach of the year. And even aside from all of this intrigue, the Beavers' James Ellisor is and would be and should be MVP. He led the league in scoring at 22 ppg on 58 percent shooting while adding 7 boards.

The 1st round will be played this coming Wednesday February 29 at the higher seed.

#8 Wayne State (9-13) at #1 Bemidji State (16-6). The Beavers should be OK here.

#5 Augustana (14-8) at #4 Moorhead State (14-8). The Augies were the pre-season favorite and Cody Schilling the pre-season MVP.  But Schilling's scoring fell from 22 ppg last year to 17 this, and his shooting percentage from over 50 percent to somewhat under 50 percent. All the more reason why Augustana is a dangerous playoff hope. Moorhead, meanwhile, surprised behind guard D.J. Hamilton.

#7 UMD (11-11) at #2 Southwest State (15-7). Picked for 8th by the coaches, Southwest State is as big a surprise as Bemidji but UMD led the NSIC in scoring and is dangerous.

#6 Winona State (19-3) at St. Cloud State (15-7). Awkward. #1 vs. #3, in truth. Tough break for St. Cloud, though if the brackets were straight up the Huskies would be getting Augustana. But in theory, Winona is better yet, so I guess the winner of this game goes all the way.

The semis and finals are next Saturday and Sunday at the Glen Taylor Center in Rochester. Look for Winona State to win it and the automatic bid to the D2 tournament.

Bemidji, Southwest State and Moorhead all surprised in a good way. In not such a good way were Mankato State, picked for 3rd but dropped to 8th, and Concordia-St. Paul, picked 4th, finished 9th. Coach on the hot seat would have to be Kelly Boe of CSP.

NSIC Women

No such intrigues are found among the NSIC women. What you see is what you get, and what you see is:

#8 Northern (10-12) at #1 Wayne State (20-2). Nolo contendere. Ashey Arlen was MVP last year and was pre-season MVP this year. So guess who the MVP is: Yup. Ashley Arlen. She led the league in scoring at 19 on 52 percent shooting, with 9 boards and 2 blocks.

#5 Mankato State (13-9) at #4 UMD (14-7).

#7 Moorhead State (11-11) at Augustana (18-4, #25 nationally). Moorhead's Angie Jetvig is the top Minnesota-based player.

#6 Winona State (13-9) at Mary #3 (15-7). This one matches up the biggest surprise and the biggest disappointment. Winona was picked #2, Mary was picked #8. Mary's Fred Fridley is coach of the year.

By the time they get to Rochester for the semis and finals next weekend, it will be UMD against the world. Wayne State looks well-nigh unbeatable, but if anybody can beat them it will be the surprise team from Mary, not #2 Augustana.

Mary was the big surprise, but Mankato State also surprised. Picked 9th, the Mavs finished 5th as you can see. Concordia-St. Paul was the unpleasant surprise. Picked 7th, they did not make the playoffs, while Winona and Moorhead also finished 3 and 4 slots below expectations. St. Cloud State finished about where expected, which is out of the playoffs. Coach Lori Fish is designated as coach on the hot seat.

My All-Conference Picks


James Ellisor, Bemidji State, MVP, 22.5 ppg, 7 rebounds, 58 FG%, 86 FT%, 52 3-pt%
D.J.Hamilton, Moorhead, 14 ppg, 4 assists, 85 FT%
Peter Olafeso, Concordia-St. Paul, 17 ppg, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 89 FT%
Clayton Vette, Winona State, 17 points, 7 rebounds, 54 FG%
Cody Schilling, Augustana, 17 ppg, 87 FT%

Matt Bowen, Bemidji, Coach of the Year


Ashley Arlen, Wayne, MVP, 19 ppg, 9 rebounds, 52 FG%, 2 blocks
Angie Jetvig, Moorhead, MN-based MVP, 18 ppg, 10 rebounds, 89 FT%, 2 blocks
Alex Feeney, Augustana, 16 ppg, 8 rebounds, 84 FT%, 44 3-pt%, 2 blocks
Michelle McDonald, Winona, 16 ppg, 8 rebounds, 55 FG%, 84 FT%
Linda Murray, Mary, 12 ppg, 8 rebounds, 48 FG%, 2 blocks

Fred Fridley, Mary, Coach of the Year
Mike Roysland, MN-Crookston, MN-based Coach of the Year

The Big Game 2-26-12: Deja Vu in the MIAC

Just like the women the day before, the St. Thomas men knocked off visiting Gustavus Adolphus today to win the MIAC post-season championship and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA D3 tournament.  In fact, this was also an instant replay of last year's men's tournament outcome as well.

The final was 66-62 and an OT period was needed to settle things, as befits the fact that the Tommies and Gusties tied for the regular season title at 16-4. The Tommies took the #1 seed, however, which meant they had the home court advantage today, and it's never an upset (as they say) when the home team wins. Gustavus had to be regretting that loss to #6 seed Bethel at home on the last night of the regular season that cost them sole possession of the regular season title and cost them the #1 seed for the playoffs and cost them the home court advantage today and, in all likelihood, cost them this game and, oh yes, thereby cost them a bid to the NCAA D3 title.

The NCAA D3 post-season brackets will be named tomorrow (Monday) at 11 a.m. on the NCAA Web site, and I hope the Gusties get a bid. They should since the MIAC is good enough to have produced the national champion (St. Thomas) a year ago. But at 20-7, the Gusties are on the bubble at best.

St. Thomas led by as many as 11 in the 1st half and still led by double digits as late as 13:32 of the 2nd half. Gustavus ran off 7 in a row to pull within 50-49 on a Seth Anderson jumper at 3:51. Anderson scored again with just 23 seconds left to take their 1st lead at 55-54. John Nance made 1-of-2 FT for the Tommies to send it into OT.

Anderson scored the 1st 5 points of OT and, once again, the Gusties had to be feeling pretty good, leading 62-57 at 2:25. But Zach Riedemann hit a 3 and 2 FT to tie it up for the Tommies. Eric Tengwall stole the ensuing in-bounds pass and laid it in for a 64-62 lead with 31 seconds left. Gustavus then committed 3 more turnovers on its last 3 possessions of the game and St. Thomas FTs wrapped things up.

Reidemann scored 19 off the Tommies bench, while Tyler Grey scored 19 for the Gusties. Will DeBerg added 17 points for St. Thomas while Paul Blacklock had just 4 points but 10 boards and 2 blocks for Gustavus.

Player of the Day

DeBerg, St. Thomas

Coach of the Day

Johnny Tauer, St. Thomas

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Big Game 2-25-12: The Rich Get Richer

Yesterday we reported that the #2 seeded Gustavus women will travel to #1 St. Thomas to challenge the Tommies for the MIAC post-season title and an automatic bid into the NCAA D3 tournament.

Today we can report that the #2 seeded Gustavus men will travel to #1 St. Thomas to challenge the Tommies for the MIAC post-season title and an automatic bid into the NCAA D3 tournament.

The women play on Saturday, the men on Sunday. If only there was some flexibility to reschedule this as a double-header, now that would be something to see.


And now we can also report that the St. Thomas women have indeed won the MIAC post-season title to go with their regular season title, and they've also earned the MIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA D3 playoffs. It is unlikely, based on recent history, that a 2nd MIAC team will get a bid, but time will tell.

For now, the Tommies are the story. beating Gustavus 66-54 today at St. Thomas. The Tommies led 38-18 in the 1st half before the Gusties scored the last 5 points of the half to trail 38-23 at intermission. Gustavus took the momentum in the 2nd half and got within 5 of the Tommies, but ran out of energy and time.

Maggie Weiers led the Tommies with 18 points and 19 boards. Sara Smith added 16 and 10, as the Tommies dominated inside. St. Thomas shot 44 percent from the field to 33 percent for Gustavus, and the Tommies dominated on the boards, too, 47-29.

Player of the Day

Anders Broman scored 71 points as Lakeview Christian lost to Melrose 114-110.

Coach of the Day

Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women, who advance to the NCAA tournament at 26-1

The Big Game 2-24-12: Still Unbeaten, Barely

There remain 2 undefeated Minnesota high schools each among the boys and the girls.

Among the boys, #1A Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa remained unbeaten by the slimmest of margins, which is to say in OT, winning at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 73-68. The Lakers led in the 2nd half by as much as 40-32, then 46-41, and 61-59, and there were 2nd half ties at 50, 51, 54, 59 and 61. James Kuefler hit 2 FT to tie it up at 61-all at 1:32. Howard Lake played for the last shot but did not score.

Brian Goodwin went 4-for-4 from the FT line in OT, then iced it with a lay-up with 10 seconds left. Brian Goodwin scored 27 points and Connor Goodwin 26. Kirby Montbriand added 11. Jeff Leaf led the Lakers with 22.

#3AAAA Lakeville North defeated Apple Valley and Tyus Jones 76-68, despite Jones'29 points. Tyler Flack led a balanced attack with 18 points for North.

Among the girls, there were 3 upsets of rated teams in the metro area. Robbinsdale Cooper upset Benilde-St. Margaret's 58-35. Wayzata upset Edina 49-26. And Cambridge-Isanti defeated Buffalo 74-66 in OT and Whitney Olson broke loose for 41 points.

White Bear Lake defeated Park 52-48 as Alexis Foley scored 23 points.

Player of the Day

Whitney Olson, Cambridge-Isanti girls 41 points

Coach of the Day

Dave Montbriand, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa boys

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Big Game 2-23-12: St. Thomas, Gustavus Women Advance in MIAC

#1 and #2 advanced at home to Saturday's MIAC women's championship game. It will be #2 Gustavus visiting #1 St. Thomas.

Gustavus defeated Concordia (Moorhead) 61-49 last night, while the Tommies beat St. Mary's 58-45.

Concordia led Gustavus 21-18 when the Gusties closed the 1st half on a 9-2 run, then opened the 2nd half with an additional 17-2 for their largest lead at 44-25. St. Mary's got within 51-40 but no closer. Abby Rothenbuhler paced the Gusties with 18 points, 7 boards and a block. Gustavus starting guards, Molly Geske and Colleen Riane,  connitted to no turnovers between them.

St. Thomas took early leads of 12-4 and 16-8 before St. Mary's camd back to within 16-15. But a 12-3 run made it 28-18 St. Thomas, and the Tommies never looked back. The largest lead with 13 at 58-45. Taylor Young scored 21 points with 9 rebounds, while Maggie Weiers added 14 and 7. Jessie Thone led the Cardinals with 16 points, 3 assists but 7 turnovers.

Gustavus visits St. Thomas Saturday at 3 for the post-season conference title and the right to continue fighting for a slot in the NCAA D3 tournament.

Player of the Day

Madison Guebert scored 30 points for Eastview in its 69-49 win over Lakeville South.

Coach of the Day

Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nia Coffey Verbals Northwestern

Nia Coffey, rated the #1 player in a class (2013 girls) that has been described as among the best Minnesota has ever produced, has verballed Northwestern.

Her father, Richard, as you may recall, wore the maroon and gold under Clem Haskins from 1986-1990.

The loss of such a player is a huge blow to a Minnesota Gopher program that is already on the verge of a 3rd straight losing season, and a program that 5 of the past 6 Minnesota Ms. Basketball players--Courtney Boylan, Tayler Hill, Angel Robinson, Cassie Rochel and Jenna Smith--have by-passed, or been by-passed by, in recent years.

Could Minnesota get shut out of the 2013s or at least shut out of the obvious blue chippers? That would include Coffey (rated #1 on gPrep) and Rebekah Dahlman (rated #2). I have always thought that Tyseanna Johnson (rated #8) was also in that class. Jade Martin (#4 and a Georgetown verbal) maybe. Savanna Trapp just because, hey, she's 6-8. 

Coffey was the one I had heard described as most likely to end up a Gopher, not only because her old man wore the maroon and gold. Coffey and Dahlman were said to dislike one another, maybe this opens the door for Dahlman, but her brother Isaiah eschewed Minnesota in favor of Michigan State. Regardless, Pam really needs either Dahlman or Tyseanna. or this will be a debacle on the order of Hill, Wahlin and Chambers. Northwestern, for example, has just leapfrogged MN on the future potential meter if they hadn't already.

This is bad, bad, bad, bad news for anybody waiting on the return of the glory days of Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville at the U of M. 

The Big Game 2-22-12: St. John's, Bethel Pull MIAC Playoff Surprises

#5 St. John's and #6 Bethel won on the road in the 1st round of MIAC men's playoff action Wednesday night. The Johnnies shocked #4 Augsburg 47-45 on an Andy Burns lay-up at the buzzer. Bethel took its 2nd straight double-digit road win over an MIAC playoff team, 77-58 at #3 St. Olaf.

This sets up Friday's semi-finals with #6 Bethel at #1 St. Thomas, and #5 St. John's at #2 Gustavus.

It was a night of some pretty poor shooting. Bethel shot 48 percent but the other 3 combatants all shot 34 percent or less. Everybody took care of the ball, however, as there were a total of 38 turnovers by the 4 teams in the 2 games.

Conner Gunderson of St. Olaf led all scorers with 18. Daniel Baah with 16 and Burns with 14 led the 2 winners. Taylor Hall and Kellen Dahlquist of Bethel and Aaron Barmore of St. John's each snared 10 rebounds, while Burns had 6 assists for the Johnnies.

Player of the Day

Taylor Hall, Bethel 13 points, 10 boards, 3 assists, a block and 2 turnovers

Coach of the Day

Dan Smith, St. John's and Jeff Westlund, Bethel

The Big Game 2-21-12: Girls Unbeatens Beaten

As far as I can tell, the ranks of the undefeated girls teams was cut in half last night as #1AAAA Hopkins and #3A Parkers Prairie went down to defeat.

Wayzata shocked Hopkins 66-58. Wayzata led 28-25 at the half and also "won" the 2nd half 38-33. Marissa Grossfeld led Wayzata with 25 points while Kayla Timmerman added 17. Nia and Sydney Coffey combined for 36 points for Hopkins, but the Royals were without Mikaala Shackleford and Viria Livingston for the game.

Sebeka beat Parkers Prairie 62-55. It was Parkers Prairie's 1st loss after 23 straight wins.

In the MIAC, the St. Mary's women scored the game's last 9 points to surprise host St. Olaf 55-52. Jessica Thone had 18 points and 4 assists, and Jamie Stefeley 12 points and 6 boards for St. Mary's. Elise Raney had 14 points and 14 boards for the Oles. Concordia defeated Bethel 55-50 in the other semi.

The women's playoffs continue Thursday with St. Mary's at St. Thomas, and Concordia at Gustavus.

The men open post-season play tonight with Bethel at St.Olaf, and St. John's at Augsburg.

Player of the Day

Marissa Grossfeld, Wayzata girls, 25 points in upset of undefeated Hopkins

Coach of the Day

Mike Schumacher, Wayzata girls

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boys HS Ratings Update 2-20-12

My goodness, it's been almost 3 weeks since I've looked at the boys ratings. My new top 20 as of today.

1. Hopkins (22-1, was #2). Winners of 18 in a row. Projected section 6AAAA champion and #1 seed.

2. Eastview (21-1, was #1). Dropped out of #1 a couple weeks ago with a loss to Lakeville North. I still believe them to be one of the two bests along with Hopkins. Projected section 3AAAA champion and #2 seed.

3. Benilde-St.Margaret's (21-1, Class AAA, was #3). The obvious favorite in Class AAA. Projected section 6AAA champion and #1 seed.

4. Lakeville North (21-1, was #3). 11 straight wins, including that upset of then-undefeated and #1 Eastview. I've seen each of them--Eastview and Lakeville North vs. Apple Valley--and I think Eastview has more and better weapons and would win a rematch, which might occur as #2 and #3 seeds in the state tournament. Ergo, Eastview ranks ahead of Lakeville North. Projected section 1AAAA champion and #3 seed.

5. Osseo (21-2, was #7). 7 straight wins, though the most recent was a 1-pointer over Maple Grove. Projected section 5AAAA champion and #4 seed.

6. Mpls. Washburn (21-2, Class AAA,was #9). Can you believe that Benilde and Washburn, the 2 best AAA teams in the state, are in the same section?

7. Apple Valley (18-4, was #6). Tyus Jones will probably have to wait until his junior year (next year) to play in the state tournament. The Eagles are 0-5 against top 15 teams.

8. Eden Prairie (16-6, was #10). Has played the toughest schedule of any of the rated teams, having played 11 games among them, winning 7 and losing 4. Projected section 2AAAA champion.

9. DeLaSalle (18-5, Class AAA, was unrated). Gave Benilde a scare. Projected section 3AAA champion and #2 seed.

10. Duluth East (15-8, was #14). 13-1 since Johnny Woodard returned from injury and Akolda Manyang became eligible, with wins over Mpls. Washburn, Tartan and St. Thomas. Projected section 7AAAA champion.

11. Roseville (18-4, was #11 tied). A recent loss to Stillwater hurt a bit, but the Suburban East title is its to lose. Projected section 4AAAA champion.

12. Woodbury (18-4, was #11 tied). I could just as well continue to rank Roseville and Woodbury equally (would be #8 tied, if so). Either way a February 23 match-up will decide the matter, as well as the Suburban East title.

13. Wayzata (18-3, was #5). Lost 3 of 5, including to section rivals Hopkins and Minnetonka.

14. Park Center (15-6, was #18). The Pirates are 15-6 and out-score their opponents 79-69. Conference and section rival Champlin Park is 15-7 and out-scores its opponents 68-66. Go figure.

15. Minnetonka (16-6, was #19).

16. Chanhassan (17-5, was #13).

17.  Cretin-Derham Hall (14-8, was unrated).

18. Grand Rapids (20-3, Class AAA, was unrated). Projected as section 7AAA champion and #3 seed.

19. Champlin Park (15-7, was unrated).

20. Edina (15-8, was  #15). 2-8 vs. rated teams.

21. White Bear Lake (13-9, was unrated). 3-7 vs. rated teams.

22. Buffalo (15-8, was unrated). Projected as section 8AAAA champion.

23. Mounds View (15-7, was unrated).

24. Tartan (17-5, was unrated).

25. Spring Lake Park (17-5, was #8). I worried this one a bunch. They lost 4 in a row--to Benilde by 2 (no shame in that), but then to Centennial, Irondale by 3 in 2OT and to Columbia Heights--before bouncing back to defeat Cooper 72-70 in OT, not exactly a dominating performance.

Honorable Mention

Braham, St. Peter, Waterville-EM and Redwood Valley all have 1 loss each in AA. 1 of them could easily be top 25, but which 1??? Belgrade-BE is the last unbeaten and the obvious #1 in Class A, but no way are they among the top 25 teams in the state.

The Big Game 2-20-12: Timberwolves Soooo Close

Denver out-lasted the Minnesota Timberwolves in OT last night, 103-101. The game was decided, from the Wolves POV, by 2 layups, one that was missed and one that was made.

Denver tied things up at 93-all on an Al Harrington 3 with 1:39 left in regulation, and neither team was able to score the rest of the way. The Nuggets drew 1st blood after more than 3 minutes of OT.  Ricky Rubio tied it up at 95 with a driving layup, but Denver answered to lead 97-95. On the Wolves ensuing possession, Luke Ridnour broke free to the basket but missed a wide open layup with :18 . Denver capitalized to lead by 4 at 99-95, then made 5-of-6 FT to lead 102-97 with 9 seconds remaining. Ridnour made 2 FT to bring the Wolves within 102-99.

Then on the ensuing in-bound the Wolves Martell Webster stole the pass-in in Denver's offensive end. He drove down the court but instead of taking a 3-pointer to tie it up, he took the ball all the way to the rim for the jam at 0:01.3, getting the Wolves within 102-101. Oops. By the time the Wolves called the timeout there was just 0:00.5 left. Denver made 1 of 2 FT for the 103-101 win.

The Wolves had led early by as many as 13 at 25-12. It was 30-18 at the quarter break. But the 2nd quarter was all Denver and they led 51-46 at the half. Denver led by as many as 10 at 69-59 but the Wolves got within 76-73 after 3. Neither team led by more than 4 in the 4th.

Player of the Day

Kevin Love led the Wolves with 22 points and 13 boards.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Big Game 2-19-12: Timberwolves Climb Back to .500

The Minnesota  Timberwolves evened their record at .500 for the 2nd time this year with a come-from-behind 92-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Target Center on Sunday night. Minnesota led in the game only a 54-53 and 70-69 until taking an 80-78 lead (their largest of the night) 4 minutes into the 4th quarter. The lead changed hands 11 times in the 4th, and the Timberwolves took the lead for good only on 2 Kevin Love FT to reach the final score with 0:00.1 seconds remaining on the clock.

Previously, Philadelphia had led almost all the way, including 18-7 for their largest lead of the night in the 1st quarter. 

Minnesota was outshot by the 76ers 44 percent to 39, but the Wolves got to the FT line 26 times to just 10 for Philly, and out-scored the 76ers 23-8 from the line. 

Ricky Rubio scored 22 points with 5 assists, while Love had 20 points and 15 boards. Nicola Pekovic scored 17 points with 9 boards and 2 blocks. 

Player of the Day


Coach of the Day

Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Big Game 2-18-12: Bethel Men Scramble MIAC Playoff Picture

The Bethel men scrambled the MIAC playoff picture, beating (then) 1st place Gustavus in St. Peter 68-52 Saturday. As a result Bethel sneaks into the playoffs as the #6 seed. With a loss, they're #7 (and out of the playoffs) and Hamline is #6.

Meanwhile, Gustavus dropped out of sole possession of 1st place and into the 1st place tie with St. Thomas. Based on the tie-breaker, St. Thomas is the #1 seed and Gustavus is #2. With a win on Saturday, Gustavus is the #1 seed.

Bethel led the Gusties 31-30 at the half, but the Gusties shot just 30 percent in the 2nd half and slowly fell behind. Bethel's lead grew in to double figures at 53-42 at 9:32.

Taylor Hall scored 20 points for Bethel, plus 8 boards and 3 steals. Seth Anderson scored 25 points for Gustavus. Anderson shot 11-for-23 while his teammates shot 10-for-31.

Player of the Day

James Ellisor, Bemidji State, scored 30 points as the Beavers won what must be a very rare win at Mankato State 78-64. This also got the Beavers into a tie for 1st place in the race for the #1 seed in the NSIC post-season playoffs. St. Cloud and Bemidji are 15-6, Moorhead is 14-6 after the Huskies and Dragons took unexpected losses last night. But to clarify, Winona State is still in 1st place at 18-2 and will be the regular season champion. The penalty for using an ineligible player is in the form of a reduction in their W-L percentage in factoring the seeds for the playoffs. Winona's percentage will be good enough to get into the playoffs but not good enough to hold on to the #1 seed. Their official percentage will be around .625 or so, I'm guessing. St. Cloud and Bemidji right now are at .714. Right now Winona would be the #6 seed. Got that?

BTW, Ellisor scored his 1,000th point last night as well.

Coach of the Day

Jeff Westlund, Bethel, and Matt Bowen, Bemidji State

The Big Game 2-17-12: Winona State's Troubles Mount

You might recall that the Winona State men were found last week to have used an ineligible player. As a result their 14-1 conference record (or wherever they end up) will be reduced by .299 to determine whether they qualify for the NSIC playoffs. But don't worry, they'll qualify.

In fact they've got their NSIC opponents right where they want them. You might also recall that last year Anthony Tucker turned up ineligible the night be the playoffs began. Having lost their leading scorer, they swept to the NSIC title. Now, having lost 1 of their top 9, they shouldn't miss a beat. Their record will say 1 thing, but they'll still be that 14-1 team.

Well, make that 14-2. The Moorhead State beat the tar out of the Warriors last night in Winona 90-72. You might further recall that the Dragons opened the year on a tear but have since come back to the pack. But now, suddenly, they're fighting for the regular season title and #1 seed in the playoffs. With last night's win, they're 14-5 and a half-game behind St. Cloud State for 1st place.

Winona, meanwhile, is 17-2 in the conference, officially, but their position in the final standings will be subject to that .299 penalty.

Guard D.J. Hamilton continued a year's worth of stellar play with 23 points, 6 assists and 3 steals last night. He is very possibly the NSIC's player of the year. Jordan Riewer came off the bench to score a career high 21. Charlie Chapman added 19 and post Alex Novak 8 points, 18 boards and 3 steals.

Winona led 11-0, meaning that Moorhead out-scored the Warriors 45-12 the rest of the 1st half! The largest lead was 51-25, and the closest Winona got was at 65-56 with 6:41, but the Dragons pulled away from there.

Player of the Day

The PoD, however, is shared by Kevin Love and Nicola Pekovic of the Timberwolves who won in Houston last night 111-96 as the 2 big fellows scored 33 and 30 points while adding 29 rebounds between them.

Coach of the Day

Faith Johnson Patterson of the DeLaSalle girls, who served notice that they are playoff ready despite the loss of Mariah Adanane for the remainder of the season. They won on the road at #1AA Providence 52-47 despite getting just 4 points from Tyseanna Johnson. Allina Starr took up the slack with 22 pints, while AnneMarie Healy had 24 for Providence. Johnson's first job in coaching was as an assistant to Providence coach Ray Finley (Finley was not at Providence at the time).

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Big Game 2-16-12: Gophers Lost Generation Goes Out with a W

What a bittersweet night at Williams Arena. Yes, the Gopher women beat 4-9 Illinois as expected, though of course even expected wins have come to be somewhat unexpected. But that's secondary. The big event was the final home appearance of seniors Kiara Buford, Brianna Mastey and Jackie Voigt (unless the Gophers should end up in the NIT).

Buford scored 12 points with 7 boards and 5 assists in 32 minutes. Mastey, finally settling into a starting role 3+++ years into her Gopher career, scored 6 points with 6 boards ini 38 minutes. 38 minutes from a woman who could barely get 5 for much of her career! Voigt, just back from concussion symptoms, scored 4 points with 4 boards in 22 minutes.

It was Buford and Mastey who scored the Gophers' final 6 points, on 6-of-6 FT, though it's true that the game was already won. The score was tied at 45 when a Buford 2 gave the Gophers the lead for good. A pair of Kellogg FG made it 51-45 at 2:40, and a Banham steal and 3 made it a 9-point game with 1:52 left to play. The parade to the FT line followed.

The win was sweet. of course. They all are when you're 6-8 and 14-14. It was bitter because 3 very classy women are leaving us behind and moving on with their lives. But mostly it was bitter in the way "what coulda been" is bitter.

Four years ago the 3 came to Minnesota rated as among the top 20 recruiting classes in America. Buford, from St. Paul Central, had helped her team win 2 state championships and had earned all-state honors herself 3 times. Mastey had led Becker to the Class AAA title her senior year. Voigt had led a solid Park-Cottage Grove team for 4 years. None was Ms. Basketball. That was Courtney Boylan of Chaska, who ended up at Michigan. But nobody was disappointed in the recruiting class. Nobody thought Boylan would have been a better catch. (Kamille Wahlin, maybe, but never mind that now.)


And 2 of the 3 got off to a good start in 2008-2009. Voigt started all 32 games, scoring 6 points on 40 percent shooting with 5 rebounds. Buford came off the bench to score 7 points on 40 percent shooting. Mastey had difficulty adjusting from an inside to an outside position and contributed 2 points and 1 board in 7 minutes, shooting .352. More importantly, they were part of a successful team, led by Emily Fox, that went 11-7 in the Big 10 and 20-12 overall. That 20th win was a resounding 79-71 upset of Notre Dame in South Bend in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament. There was of course some dissatisfaction with the fact that Minnesota had been 8-1, then 17-6, then finished the regular season 2-4.

But surely better times were coming, with that top 20 recruiting class now having a year's experience under their belts. Well, no.


Minnesota started out 10-5 and then things went south. A 3-12 finish for 6-12 in the Big 10 and 13-17 overall was shocking to their fans, and there was blame enough for everyone. Buford picked up some of the slack from Fox' graduation, leading he team with 13 points per game, but her shooting percentage dropped just below 40. Voigt's scoring picked up to 8 ppg, her rebounds stayed at 5, but her FG percentage dropped to 38. Mastey again scored 2 ppg and her shooting percentage also dropped to 33 percent.


2011 looked like a rebuilding year with Brittany McCoy, Ashley Ellis-Milan and Katie Ohm moving on, and being replaced by Leah Cotton and Katie Loberg. And indeed it was. Gopher victories dropped from 13 to 12, and from 6 to just 4 in the Big 10. Buford's scoring increased to 15 and her shooting percentage to 41 and her assists to 3, but her turnovers skyrocketed. Voigt's scoring dropped from 8 to 7 points though her rebounds went from 5 to 6.5 and her shooting from 38 percent to 42. Mastey increased her scoring from 2 to 6, and she shot a solid 46 percent.


For the current season, fans for the 1st time in 4 years looked elsewhere for inspiration, to freshman Rachel Banham. And Kionna Kellogg was coming along, too. Still, a significant improvement in the Gophers' wins and losses would necessarily mean that the class of 2008/2012 was doing its part. And so they have.

Buford's scoring dropped from 15 to 14, and for the 1st time in 3 years she is not the team's leading scorer. But her assists remain at 3 per game and her shooting is a career best 41.5 percent. Still, a team-high 3 turnovers remain something of a problem.

Voigt has had the least productive season of her career, partly due to injuries. But after starting 32 of 32 games as a freshman, she started this year healthy and on the bench behind Kionna Kellogg. She is scoring a career-low 4 points per game and shooting 40 percent. Her rebounds, also 4 per game, are also her lowest ever. Always known for her defense and her rebounding, the fact is that even in high school she was not the type of player who could create her own shot. And, finally, after 3 years, coach decided she needed a little bit more of an offensive threat at the position.

Mastey, finally, has blossomed in these past 2 games, if you can call 2 games a blossoming, so it's hard to remember now that her junior year was more productive than this one by 6 points per game to 4. And her shooting has dropped from 46 to 43 percent. Still, she's been a more consistent player and a more valuable player based on her reliability. So she has finally gotten a well-deserved opportunity to log some time on the court. I'm thinking that after tonight, in fact, she could probably use a break. But, seriously, it was great to see her out there for 38 minutes as if to say coach Borton has finally developed some confidence in her, now that it's almost too late. And after pushing her out away from the basket and to the perimeter for 3 years, coach now says she's put Mastey in the starting lineup because of her rebounding. It makes one wonder what she could have accomplished if she'd simply been asked to do the things that she can do.


But, again, tonight the 3 combined for 22 points and 17 boards, below their average scoring output even as sophomores, much less last year or this. Still, it felt like they were the reason the Gophers won this game, as much as Rachel Banham who led in scoring with 19 points but had 1 assist and 5 turnovers. Of course, Buford had 6 turnovers. But down the stretch, the 2 seniors--Buford and Mastey--scored 8 points while their teammates scored 7.

Back to the Future

But seriously, how much are we going to miss them?

Well, frankly, not as much as we thought. Reinforcements are available.

Shayne Mullany will do some of the same things as Buford, but she'll be a freshman vs. Buford's having a track record after 4 years of college.

Mastey and Voigt? Well, again, there are replacements--Kellogg and Hirt promise to be much better, if Hirt isn't still "hirt."

Still, I'm feeling quite nostalgic about the class of 2008/2012. Pam Borton should be feeling pretty nostalgic about them, too, because they surely ought to be the last cohort that goes through a 4 year career without fulfilling their potential, where there aren't consequences at the top of the program. If Rachel Banham, for instance, doesn't finish up a lot better than 59-61, which is where the 2008/2012s are right now, then it will surely be time for a new direction.

But, frankly, that feels awfully kind. I mean, maybe the time is now because, in hindsight, I think the 2008/2012s had a lot more talent than they've ever shown. They're the lost generation of Gopher women's basketball. Not the first one, of course. But one of the lost generations and lost opportunities for Gopher women's basketball.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

100 Years of Minnesota High School Tournament Basketball: Best Girls Shots

This week's category is Best Shots in the girls tournament. I can tell you this was tough. For whatever reason, there's nothing like Blake Hoffarber's butt shot, or even Khalid El-Amin's big 3, or Barry Wohler's game-winners, on the girls side. Well, I guess there is, but nobody remembered 'em, including yours truly. I don't know what that means, but there it is. 

So the #1 shot is Rey Robinson's game-winner/championship-winning jumper at about :02 for Becker vs. DeLaSalle in the 2007 Class AAA final. 

If you can place the rest of the entries on the right team, you are a big fan of girls basketball: Kyana Johnson, Martha Macken, Erin Ditty, Megan Erlandson, Carol Oehrlein. 

Then there's Chelsie Groslie. 

Who? I missed this one. Everybody missed this one, but Lisa Lissimore of the MSHSL called it to my attention the other day. 

"In the hours before Moorhead forward Chelsie Groslie sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer Thursday to defeat defending Class 4A champion Bloomington Jefferson 54-51, the sophomore felt . . . nothing. She wasn't sure if she was calm or crazy.

"I've been so relaxed all day," Groslie said. "I told my teammates: `You guys, I'm not nervous at all and I don't know why.' "

The inner peace came in handy in the last seconds of the girls' basketball semifinal at Williams Arena. Moorhead's final play went awry, leaving only enough time for Groslie to launch a 25-footer. Swish."

So read a newspaper report, though I don't know what newspaper. The year, by the way, would have to be 1999, the only time Moorhead has played for a girls' title, and a year in which Jefferson was indeed the defending champ.

My apologies to Chelsie and the Moorhead program for missing what obviously should have been one of the Girls Best Shots.

More on Gopher women and the 2013s and 2014s

Having speculated on the future of the Gopher women next year with Shayne Mullaney and Jackie Johnson arriving, it seems natural to go ahead and worry 2014 and 2015 a little bit.

2014 Rotation

Center--Riche 30 Dvorak 10
Power Forward--Kellogg 30 Johnson 10
Small Forward--Hirt 30 Noga 10
Point Guard--Mullaney 30 Banham 10
Shooting Guard--Banham 25 Bailey 15

The one thing I'm least committed to is Jackie Johnson playing 10 minutes as a sophomore. I see Jackie Johnson as somebody who is going to be an important member of this team, who will be a significant contributor, perhaps not as a freshman but by the 2nd year. I would think Johnson is getting a lot more than 10 minutes her 2nd year. But it's hard to see her leapfrogging Kellogg or Riche--I mean, I'm pretty bullish on those 2 as well--so I'm not sure what the optimal rotation the front court is. Maybe Hirt moves to a guard spot, but I doubt that. It's a good problem to have.

Then there's the fact that there's no freshman class in 2013-2104 as of yet. but there is likely to be one before all is said and done. Nia Coffey would seem to be target #1 and she will play at the small forward and the shooting guard as a freshman if she indeed comes aboard. My other hope is for Tyseanna Johnson who likewise is a 2 or a 3. (When you think about Tyseanna Johnson, think Kachine Alexander and you get the idea.) Depth problem solved with these 2 or Rebekah Dahlman or Phyllis Webb or Jessica January, though it's generally understood that Coffey and Dahlman are not friendly and are not going to end up part of the same program, whether at Minnesota or elsewhere.

Of course, Borton has already got a pair of point guards committed for 2014, so more guards in 2013 creates a glut and leaves the front-court a little bit underpopulated. Maybe 6-7 Savanna Trapp is a better fit in 2013 and/or maybe 6-5 Bryanna Fernstrom of Chisago Lakes is the next recruit from 2014. But it's hard for me to see the Gophers allowing talent like Coffey, in particular, but also Tyseanna Johnson, pass by without a fight.

So then maybe the 2014 rotation looks more like this.

Center--Riche 30 Dvorak 10
Power Forward--Kellogg 30 Johnson 10
Small Forward--Hirt 25 Coffey 15
Point Guard--Mullaney 30 Banham 10
Shooting Guard--Banham 25 Noga 15


Lots of speculation but what the hell.

C--Savanna Trapp (soph.) 30 Jackie Johnson (jr.) 10
PF--Johnson 20 Hirt (jr.) 20
SF--Hirt 15 Coffey (soph.) 10 Tyseanna Johnson (soph.) 15
PG--Mullaney (jr.) 30 Banham  (sr.) 10
SG--Banham 25 Coffey (soph.) 15

Kanesha Bell and Grace Coughlin do not project to play much as freshmen. I'm hearing that Carlie Wagner of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva is the best "1" in Minnesota's class of 2014. gPrep has Bell #1, Coughlin #6, Wagner #5. 

My personal opinion is 2014 is weak, I mean in terms of D1 potential. There are some terrific high school players. But the best of the front-court talent is small relative to the skill set. Cayla McMorris is the best forward and she's 5-10. Jordyn Alt and Bailey Norby are the top posts at 6-2 and 6-1, and neither projects out to the "3" or "4" very well. Fernstrom, again, is 6-5 but more reminiscent of Amber Dvorak than of Katie Loberg. Kylie Brown, 6-3 post at Simley, has recently made a splash and has the potential to move out to a forward spot, so maybe she's the one to keep an eye on. 

I mean, they're sophomores in high school. Of course we can't handicap them with confidence. Too bad you've (if you're a D1 program) got to commit to sophomores. It's a tough way to make a living. 

The Last Word

As noted above, this group--with Banham wearing the "program changer" tag but Mullaney, in my opinion, just as vital a player over the next 4 years.... Well, hell, they're all vital. There is no margin for error, as the past 3 years have shown. 

The point being: In my last post I said that it was up to this group to save Pam Borton's job. Because it needs saving. We're now into a 2nd generation roster lurking near the bottom of the Big 10. Fool me once, shame on you. If it doesn't happen--a re-awakening--with this group, then a coaching change is past due.

So, let's say for the sake of argument Banham is in fact that person. Is the supporting crew good enough? I think yes. But, then, I think Buford, Mastey and Voigt were good enough, even in hindsight. That is what is worrisome. 

But, yes. A program that has the following cycling through in 2013-14-15 is good enough, in my opinion.

Center--Loberg, Dvorak, Riche
Power Forward--Voigt, Kellogg, Johnson
Small Forward--Mastey, Hirt
Point Guard--Banham, Mullaney
Shooting Guard--Buford, Banham

Pam's recruiting could have been better, but it's not the chief problem. Getting her team focused and playing with concentration and confidence, and providing them with the proper guidance within the game would seem to have been the problem. A great coach would have them playing like the recent Ohio State and Nebraska games pretty much all the time, wouldn't she? These kids have that potential, they can do that. They coulda/shoulda/woulda won 33 to 50 percent more games than they did. They  just haven't played to their potential, most of the time.

I said in my last post that I was cautiously optimistic. This is what I mean. The talent is there. But can the coaching get better? Or, when we say Banham is a program-changer, do we mean that she can play through her coach's weaknesses? That's a lot to ask, but that's what we seem to be asking--begging, praying--for. Optimistically, I think she can do it. Cautiously, well, that's a lot to ask. But it's more likely that than Pam suddenly becoming the inspirational/transcendent type of leader that she has not yet been.

The Big Game 2-15-12: Timberwolves end losing streak

They say that timing is everything, and the 3-25 Charlotte Bobcats couldn't have picked a better time to visit Target Center than tonight. Charlotte lost for the 15th straight and the Wolves broke a 4-game losing steak of their own 102-90.

Charlotte led through most of the 1st half, including 48-46 at the half. It was last tied at 66, but the Wolves ripped off 10 straight points for a 76-66 lead after 3. Soon it was 89-70, making it a 23-4 run for the Wolves. During that stretch:

• Berea hit a pair of 3s and had 2 assists.
• Ridnour hit 3 2-pointers and an assist.
• Martell Webster hit a pair of 2s
• Ricky Rubio hit a 2 + 1
• Pekovich 2 points and 1 assist.
• Love a pair of throws.

For the night, Love again led the way with 30 points and 18 boards. Pekovic had 21 and 11 plus 3 blocks. Barea had 12 with 8 assists, Ridnour 10, Rubio 6 with 7 assists and 4 steals, and Webster 6 with 2 steals.

Player of the Day

Kevin Love 30 pts and 18 reb.

Coach of the day

Rick Adelman, Timberwolves

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More on Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney

I see that a year-old post about Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney is one of the best-read posts on the site. Obviously that's got something to do with Johnson and Mullaney now actually signing up with the Gophers. A year ago, of course, they had only verballed.

The question, then, is what this means for the Gophers. It's no secret they've struggled since the 2006 exodus of top tier talent from the program. Nor is it any secret that the struggles have been exacerbated by coach Pam Borton's inability to keep the top Minnesotans at home. Tayler Hill is exhibit A.

But it's also no secret that Pam recruited Hill pretty hard and Hill just didn't want to be a Gopher. More hurtful has been Pam's decision to pass on some players who've gone on to have fine careers--mostly notably Kamille Wahlin, who ended up at Iowa, and Brittney Chambers, Kansas State. And, then, at the same time that Wahlin, in particular, was earning all-Big 10 honors at Iowa, Pam was forced to bring in junior college transfers Kay Silva and China Antoine but fill up a big roster hole at the guard spot.

Of course, you may ask, how many more games would the Gophers have won with Wahlin and Chambers, even, running at the guard spot in place of Silva and Antoine and who else? Brittney McCoy? Would Wahlin and Chambers have beaten out McCoy for playing time? Or is that just a pipe dream? We'll never know. Maybe you can't win with Minnesota kids--at least, not if one of them isn't named Tayler Hill.

Well, Wahlin will finish up her eligibility this year. Tayler's got 1 more year. Chambers, at least, is not in the Big 10. So let's get real. What about the Gophers that we've got. What about 2013.

There's reason for optimism, and reason why it should be cautious.

The class of 2008/2012 will be gone, and Kiara Buford in particular will be missed. And Brianna Mastey and Jackie Voigt as well. But let's admit that this class has been a huge disappointment. They were rated as a top 20 recruiting class, nationally, at the time, and they've never even sniffed the top 20 for real. Maybe if Wahlin had been a part of it...but, sorry, I was going to move on. It's hard, you know.

2013 Roster

But a lot of talent remains, beginning of course with Rachel Banham, the "program changer" of the group. She's already an all-Big 10 caliber scorer. But, hey, she's the point guard, and her ball handling and distribution needs to get better. There, I said it. She turns it over too much, and he hasn't shown a knack for getting the ball to the open player in a spot where she can score.

Which brings us to Shayne Mullaney. Never all that highly regarded, one service had her #18 in her class as a sophomore and has moved her all the way up to #7, which means there are 6 girls who, in theory, are better than she is. Why didn't we recruit them?

Well, we did in the case of Jackie Johnson. But as to the other 5, let's be honest. gPrep booted it. Mullaney is the cream of the crop among 2012 guards. Like Banham, she is a scorer. But she is also stronger with the ball than Banham, and a better passer. If Pam is smart enough to make Shayne the #1 ball-handler, then Banham will be free to do what she does best, and that is look to score.

That leaves Leah Cotton on the bench, or rather "coming off the bench" for her senior year. She is just way too foul and turnover-prone to merit a starting slot, especially when a better option is available (Mullaney).

In the front-court, well, almost everybody is back + 2. Mastey and Voigt are moving on, but Kionna Kellogg has surpassed them both and returns for her junior year. Micaela Riche is back and may just force Pam to find a way to get her into the starting lineup. Except that Kayla Hirt will be back from a knee injury and big things are expected of her. She and Banham were rated as a top 20 recruiting class, by at least 1 service, for just the 2 of them.

On the other hand, Hirt has been out 2 full years with the knee. Can she still be an elite player? And if so, when will she be at full strength? Reports out of practice are encouraging but the proof remains to be seen.

And Katie Loberg and Amber Dvorak are back, Dvorak probably as a career back-up. Loberg continues to show tremendous promise and then to disappear. And she's going to be a senior so a lot of improvement is, frankly, not expected. She will probably continue to be inkonsistent Kate for another year.

Along with Mullaney, the other intriguing possibility is Riche starting at center, Loberg mvoing to the 4, and Kellogg the 3. But that only happens if Hirt isn't ready. And Jackie Johnson is in the mix in the frontcourt, probably at the 4 spot for now.

The Rotation

Center--Loberg 25 minutes Riche 10 Dvorak 5
Power Forward--Kellogg 30 Riche 5 Johnson 5
Small Forward--Hirt 25 Sari Noga 15
Point Guard--Mullaney 25 Cotton 15
Shooting Guard--Banham 35 Noga 5

Mikayla Bailey and Alex Ionescu (EDIT: and Shonte Clay) are projected as non-rotational.

But, again, there's some different ways to deploy the front court and I'm not at all confident this is the best way.

Meanwhile, in the backcourt, the options are fewer and depth is becoming an issue again by 2014, depending on the class of 2013 recruits.

Key Success Factors

1. Mullaney can indeed step in as a freshmen and help Banham protect the ball, and even upgrade ball movement, floor spacing and upgrade Banham's overall play.

2. Kayla Hirt is at full strength and hasn't lost any quickness.

3. Loberg continues to improve, at least incrementally.

4. The 2013 recruits are blue chippers at or near the 2011 (Banham-Hirt) level, say Coffey and Tyseanna Johnson.

5. Coach Borton proves her doubters to be wrong, and puts a team on the floor that plays with some passion and (secondly) gets it together on the Xs and Os as well. Actually, make this factor #1. If this group unlike, say, the class of 2008/2012, plays up to its potential, then 2013 and especially 2014 could see the Gophers return to contention for the 1st time since 2006. If not--if coach Borton is really the problem, if this group can't transcend the .500 mark--then this group (plus a new AD) will be the one that finally forces a change.

100 Years of Minnesota High School Tournament Basketball: The Best Boys Teams

The MSHSL continues its series celebrating the 100th year of tournament basketball. This week it's the best boys' teams, and this is a dandy list. I'm a little late in getting to it and the info is coming down today, so here's what you missed.

Top Five Boys’ Teams

Minneapolis North 1995 (30-0)

The first of the Polars’ three-peat champions, and the best based on their unbeaten season record overall. Point guard Khalid El-Amin and forward Jabbar Washington led the Polars to all three titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

North defeated White Bear Lake 84-63 and Cretin-Derham Hall 51-48 as Washington scored 45 points. Duluth East was the semi-final victim 48-41, and in the final a last-second put-back by Kavon Westberry gave the Polars a 54-52 win over Staples-Motley. Three North players, including two starters, were declared ineligible for the championship game for academic reasons. For Westberry, the championship-winning score was just his third of the tournament.

Hopkins 2009 (31-0)

The Royals won their fourth of what would soon become six state titles in ten years in 2009, and the 2009 edition was generally regarded as the best of the lot. Their entire starting lineup went on to play Division 1 college ball, as did several more players who came off the bench. In the tournament itself, three opponents were beaten by a 64-40 margin. Center Mike Broghammer led all scorers in the first round with 12 points, while Royce White scored 20 points in the final, a 69-59 win over Osseo. One poll had the Royals rated as high as #4 in the nation.

Edina 1967 (27-0)

Edina was the first three-peat champion in tournament history. The undefeated 1966 team won three tournament games by one point, in triple OT and in OT. The 1968 team won three tournament games by an average of 23 points, but lost one game during the regular season.

The 1967 team won three tournament games by an average of 20 points, and finished the season undefeated. It also placed four players on the all-tournament team—forwards Kurt Shellhas and Jay Kiedrowski, and guard Jeff Wright, all for the second time, and center Bob Zender, who would return to gain all-tournament honors a second time in 1968.

Edgerton 1960 (27-0)

Perhaps the most famous of all Minnesota state champions, Edgerton represents the now-lost tradition of the small town Cinderella. As such, they defeated traditional power Chisholm 65-54 in the first round, favored Richfield of the powerful Lake Conference 63-60 in OT in the semi-final, and perennial power Austin 72-61 in the final. Edgerton is another of the very few teams ever to land four players on the all-tournament team—Leroy Graphenteen, Darrell Kreun. Dean Veenhof and Dean Verdoes. In addition to being the smallest school from the smallest town ever to win the single class tournament, Edgerton also set free throw shooting records, making 82 free throws out of 116 attempts, that still stand to this day.

Minneapolis Edison 1937 (15-1)

Edison was generally regarded as the greatest team from before World War II. They had lost in the 1929 finals, the 1935 semis and, in a huge upset, in the 1936 quarter-finals. There would be no losses in 1937, as the Tommies defeated Crosby-Ironton 38-27 in the quarter-finals. They then set a single game scoring record in beating New Ulm 62-23 in the semis, as Joe Mernik scored 18 points. In the final, Edison beat Virginia 37-24 as Walt Andrewski scored 12 points.

Mernik and Andrewski were joined by guard and defensive specialist Willie Warhol on the all-tournament team. Warhol went on to play basketball at the University of Minnesota, while Mernik became a prominent player on Minnesota’s 1940 national championship football team. A fourth player, Don “Swede” Carlson, would later play for the Minnesota Gophers and the Minneapolis Lakers.

Other Notable Teams in chronological order

Red Wing 1922 (19-0). The Wingers won the 1920 state title. In 1921, two starters were left  home with the flu. Guard Butsie Maetzold, later coach of two Hopkins state champions, always claimed that Red Wing would otherwise have won three straight state titles. In any event, they repeated in 1922 as only the second unbeaten champion to that time.

Hopkins 1952 (25-1) and 1953 (23-0). The Royals lost by two points in the quarter-finals in 1951, then swept six straight games and two titles by an average margin of ten points. Forward Dave Tschimperle was the second of two boys to earn all-tournament honors three times.

Mpls. Roosevelt 1956 (20-3) and 1957 (27-0). The 1956 Teddies lost three times, but swept three tournament games by the ridiculous margin of 27 points per game. They are the only team ever to break the century mark in a state final, obliterating Blue Earth 101-54 in the final. The 1957 Teddies needed OT to defeat Bemidji in the quarter-final, and beat Red Wing 59-51 in the final.

Duluth Central 1961 (27-0). Central was led by coach Jim Hastings and a classic inside-out combination of guard Terry Kunze and forward Chet Anderson. They easily won two games by 22 points each, then survived an upset bid by Bemidji before winning the title 51-50.

St. James 1972 (27-0). The Saints boasted one of the great guard pairs to play in the tournament. Jim Chalin scored 19 points in the Class A final, though it was Jeff Nessler’s half court shot at the final buzzer that defeated Melrose 57-55 in the Class A final. Nessler then scored 22 points as the Saints then defeated Mounds View 60-53 in the overall championship game.

Melrose 1974 (27-0). Mark Olberding was one of the most dominant big men ever to play in the state tournament, scoring 203 points in seven games in 1973 and 1974. The Flying Dutchmen took 5th place in the last single-class tournament in 1970, then played for the Class A title four straight times from 1971 through 1974.

Minneapolis Marshall-University 1976 (28-0). The only team, boys or girls, ever to place all five starters on the all-tournament team. They included Ronnie Hadley, Rodney Hargest, point guard Ronnie Henderson, Jim Ludgate and Steve Newby.

White Bear Lake 1984-1985 (both 26-0). Never before had two unbeaten teams played for a boys’ state title. But it happened in both 1984 and 1985, with Minneapolis North and White Bear Lake facing off each time. The Bears defeated the Polars each time, 51-47 and 67-62.

Minneapolis Patrick Henry 2000-2003. The Patriots and coach Larry McKenzie won 112 games and four straight state championships while losing just 13 games from 2000 to 2003. The 2000 Patriots were the best of the four, coming into the tournament at 25-1, its only loss to national power Oak Hill (Va.) Academy. Three tournament wins followed by the ridiculous margin of 74-46.

Braham 2004 (31-2), 2005 (33-0) and 2006 (31-2). The Bombers won three straight Class AA championships, winning nine straight tournament games, all by double-digit margins. Isaiah Dahlman led all tournament scorers in 2004 and 2005, and finished with 236 points in the tournament, two short of Khalid El-Amin’s record (since broken by Cody Schilling).


This is the commentary that appeared on the MSHSL Web site. Again, I'm including it because it will be coming down today. In the interest of full disclosure, I helped MSHSL to select these teams so it's hard--but not impossible--for me to disagree with the list. 

• I thought Mpls. North's best team was 1997, despite 3 regular season losses. I mean, were Khalid El-Amin and Jabbar Washington better as sophomores than as seniors? Doesn't make sense.

• Edgerton 1960 is one of the 5 most famous teams, but not one of the 5 best. They returned to the tournament in 1961 with pretty much the entire team back and finished in 6th place, losing to Bemidji and Mahtomedi.

• Other notables not on the list, but coulda/shoulda/woulda been, would include:

Stillwater 1914
Albert Lea 1919, the 2 best teams of the '10s
Moorhead 1928-29, the first repeat champions
Thief River Falls 1932 and 1938, the next best teams of the '30s
Buhl 1941-42, the 2nd repeat champions
Gilbert 1951, next best team of the '50s
Rochester John Marshall 1969, next best team of the '60s
Bloomington Jefferson 1976, next best team of the '70s and the one really big oversight
Lake City 1979, the 2nd biggest oversight
Jefferson 1986-87
Minnetonka 1998
Litchfield 2000
Hopkins 2005
St. Paul Johnson 2010

The Big Game 2-14-12: Eastview and Edina Rule

There were 3 high school games I'm aware of matching rated teams.

The Boys

Tyus Jones scored 45 points but Apple Valley came up short, 85-75, at #1 Eastview. The Lightning remain #1 for the moment despite their recent loss to Lakeville North. Ben Oberfeld led a balanced Eastview attack with 22 while Joey King added 17, Darin Haugh 16, Chris Narum 11 and Quinn Trusty 10. Dennis Auston added 10 for Apple Valley.

The Girls

In a match-up of Lake Conference and section 2AAAA rivals, #3 Edina traveled to #2 Eden Prairie and came away with a 36-34 win. Shayne Mullaney did not play for Eden Prairie, and I don't know why or what her status is ongoing. Katybeth Biewen scored 16 points for the Hornets, Jackie Johnson 10 for the Eagles.

#12 Park (these are my ratings, just published yesterday for the girls, by the way) visited #9 Roseville with 1st place in the Suburban East at stake, and the host Raiders came away with a 49-44 win. Roseville is tied with White Bear at 12-2 while Park drops into a tie for 3rd with Mounds View at 11-3. Sydney Lamberty scored 20 for Park while Emma Schaefer scored 17 for Roseville.

Player of the Day

Tyus Jones

Coach of the Day

Mark Gerber, Eastview, gets his kids back on track after their 1st loss

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Girls HS Ratings Updated 2-13-12

There hasn't been a lot of movement in the girls (or boy) ratings in January and early February. Teams are winning games they ought to win, and losing games that they ought to lose. Ho-hum. The last ratings cycle was 1-23-12.

1. Hopkins 21-0. (Was #1.) Having survived injuries to Nia and Sydney Coffey and Mikaala Shackleford, the Royals now seem safely on their way to an unbeaten 25-0 regular season. Just 4 games to go and then it's tournament time. Is Nia the best player in the state right now? If her play in the 76-53 rout of DeLaSalle two weeks ago is typical--18 points, 23 boards, 5 steals, 5 blocks--the answer is "Yes."

2. Eden Prairie 18-3. (Was #3.) By process of elimination, it seems that if anybody can compete with Hopkins it will have to be the Eagles. They lost to Hopkins 83-51 at Christmastime, then lost 65-58 at Hopkins 10 days ago. Hopkins led 43-18 at the half, but EP out-scored Hopkins 31-9 in the 2nd half to get within 3 before Hopkins again. But that was at the height of Hopkins' injury troubles, and I don't expect the Royals to have anymore "close calls,"

3. Edina 19-3. (Was #2.) A tough call but now that MC McGrory is back, Edina might even be competitive with the 2 sources of its losses--Hopkins and Eden Prairie.

4. Wayzata 17-5. (Was #5.) Slumped from 15-1 to 17-5 in the past 2 weeks, but aside from White Bear Lake all other losses are to the 3 teams above them in this ranking.

5. DeLaSalle 17-3. (Was #23.) Class AAA. Has lost only to Hopkins in its last 15 games, and soundly defeated arch-rival Benilde-St. Mararget's 70-54. Tyseanna Johnson is sorely underrated that she's not mentioned in the same breath as Nia Coffey and Rebekah Dahlman. Seriously, she is good. Still, the 3rd dilemma is how high to rank the top AAA team. Could be higher, could be lower.

6. White Bear Lake 16-6. (Was #11.) The 2nd biggest dilemma in constructing these rankings is how high to go with the Suburban East conference. And with which of its members? Well, I think White Bear is a pretty clear preference even though it's now in a 3-way tie on top with Park and Roseville. They've beaten DeLaSalle, Eastview and Wayzata, and several of their 6 losses came when Alexis Foley and/or Tarah Hobbs was out. They've now won 9 in a row.

7. Osseo 18-4. (Was #6.) Kind of a quiet 18-4. Those 2 losses to Coon Rapids are real head-scratchers for a team that is 18-2 with losses to Cooper and Eden Prairie otherwise. Athletic, can compete with anybody, but more of a collection of athletes than basketball players. Still, a trip to state is hardly out of the question.

8. Bloomington Kennedy 16-5. (Was #3.) The biggest dilemma is where to put Kennedy. With the 2nd best talent in their class, they've nonetheless lost 3 of 5, including to lightly regarded Eagan. What's with that? But if they have their heads screwed on straight, this is probably the one team most likely to give Hopkins a scare. Enigmatic is the word, I guess.

9. Roseville 19-3. (Was #8.)  Roseville scores about 62 points per game, Park (and Mounds View) 60 and White Bear only 55. So I see them ahead of Park and Mounds View, but some of White Bear's problems were attributable to injuries which have now healed.

10. Fergus Falls 21-1. Class AAA. (Was #9.) Beat Providence, who beat DeLaSalle, Richfield and Lakeville North. Still, that's not the same as beating them yourself, and Fergus hasn't done that. Mariah Monke and Brianna Rasmussen are a nice inside/outside combo.

11. Benilde-St. Margaret's 18-3. Class AAA. (Was #7.) Took a tumble after losing at DeLaSalle 70-54. Benilde vs. Richfield in section 6AAA looks like 1 of the toughest calls in the post-season. Khadidjah Shumpert and Grace Coughlin are a terrific inside/outside combo.

12. Park 17-5. (Was unrated.) Coming on strong. Beat a decent Forest Lake team 64-23 the other night to remain tied for 1st place in the Suburban East. Lamberty and Lurken are a formidable 1-2 punch. But games against all 3 of the co-leaders--White Bear 12-2, Roseville 12-2 and Mounds View 11-3--loom.

13. Eastview 17-5. (Was #14.) With a decisive loss to Lakeville North and Park coming on strong, no longer a slam dunk to win the section 2AAAA title. Still, they're tied with Kennedy atop the South Suburban at 12-2, and anybody who can do that is a threat.

14. Chanhassan 18-3. (Was #20.) What is this, the Storm's 3rd year, 4th year...? And here they are at 18-3, and running away with the Missota at 10-0. Still, they're only rated 4th in their section 2AAAA. Ouch.

15. Providence 18-3. Class AA. (Was #10.) But their schedule reads more like AAA at least. If you want to see what the pace of the game of basketball was before WWII, these are your girls. Their average win is 51-32. Last week they won at Breck 39-26, the beat Lakeville North earlier in the year 41-33. Methodical doesn't even begin to say it. Like watching paint dry. But good for 13 straight wins right at the moment.

16. Buffalo 18-3. (Was #12.) I'm sure I'm not the 1st to misunderestimate the Bison, nor will I be the last. There are wins over Roseville and Minnetonka, and 11 in a row. And in a weak section 8AAAA they look like the closest thing to a slam dunk to appear in the state tournament this side of Hopkins.

17. Richfield 18-4. Class AAA. (Was #16.) QRF has Benilde and Richfield 1-2 in AAA, so it's a damn shame 1 of them will miss the state tournament. I still think that will be Richfield, though Minnesota Basketball News has Richfield #3 and Benilde #4. Jessica January is great but Benilde has more weapons.

18. Lakeville North 14-8. (Was #19.) Good deep talent, but they lack the go-to player of the recent past. Still, section 1AAAA was custom-made for a Panthers trip to state.

19. Mounds View 16-5. (Was #13.) 2 straight losses, but aside from 1 game vs. Park, they're done with the Suburban East contenders, so a share of the conference title is still not out of the question. What's more problematic is a trip to state vs. section rivals Roseville and Osseo.

20. Robbinsdale Cooper 18-4. (Was #24.) Not gonna win section 6AAAA, but 2nd to Benilde in the North Suburban.

21. New Prague 15-7. Class AAA. (Was unrated.) Slight fave over Mankato and Hutch in section 2AAA by virtue of playing tougher competition week in and week out.

22. Hutchinson 19-3. Class AAA. (Was unrated.) Has won 11 of 12, and beat Mankato East earlier in the season, so a section title is a distinct possibility.

23. Mankato East 20-2. Class AAA. (Was unrated.)  Beginning to look like the best team in tough section 2AAA. Losses to section rivals New Prague and Hutch were a long time ago. Now they've won 11 in a row.

24. Minnetonka 13-9. (Was #17.) 13-9 but against the toughest schedule in the state. 0-4 in the Lake, plus losses to Braham, Buffalo, Benilde, and that's just the Bs. 4 more Lake games remain, possibly all losses, which would mean 11 losses in 12 games. That's gotta shake anybody's confidence.

25. Maranatha 18-4. Class A. (Was #21.) Won 14 out of 15. Schedule overall looks more like AAA than A, at least the non-conference part. Onye Osemenam coming on strong now in her junior year.

Dropped Out: Braham (#3 in AA), St. Paul Central, Chisago Lakes, Hill-Murray

State Tournament Forecast


1--Lakeville North
2--Eden Prairie #2 seed
4--White Bear #3 seed
5--Osseo #4 seed
6--Hopkins #1 seed

Project Hopkins vs. Buffalo, EP vs. Cambridge, White Bear vs. Lakeville North, Osseo vs. Park. Park wins an upset. Then Hopkins over Park, and White Bear surprises EP.


1--Red Wing
2--New Prague #4 seed
3--DeLaSalle #1 seed
6--Benilde-St. Margaret's #2 seed
7--Chisago Lakes
8--Fergus Falls #3 seed

Project DeLaSalle vs. Chisago, BSM vs. Dassel-Cokato, Fergus vs. Red Wing, and New Prague vs. Simley both from the Missota. Simley wins the upset. Then DLS over Simley and...ok, this is a tough one. Benilde over Fergus.


1--Pine Island #2 seed if there were seeds
2--New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva
3--Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial
5--Providence #1 seed if there were seeds
6--Sauk Center
7--Braham #3
8--Hawley #4

It's 1 vs. 8, 4 vs. 5, 2 vs. 7 and 3 vs. 6, meaning Pine Island, Providence, Braham and Sauk in the semis. Then Providence and Braham, setting up a rematch of last year's final.


1--Spring Grove #4 seed if there were seeds
2--Minnesota Valley Lutheran
3--Minneota #3 seed
4--Maranatha #1 seed if there were seeds
6--Parkers Prairie #2 seed
7--North Woods

Same match-ups as AA, meaning Spring Grove, Maranatha, MVL and Parkers Prairie in the semis, then Maranatha and Parkers in the final.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Big Game 2-13-12: Minnesota Gopher women 64 Nebraska 58

The Minnesota Gopher women gave themselves and their fans a much-needed Valentine with a 64-58 upset of 4th place Nebraska. But maybe it's not much of an upset after all, given the Gophers' crazy ways this year.

They've lost 4 of their last 6, for example, losing to 5th place Iowa, 9th place Wisconsin and 10th place Illinois--and also to 1st place Penn State. But that was the closest of the 4 losses. Meanwhile, they've now beaten #1 Ohio State and #4 Nebraska. Go figure.

Tonight it was the defense that carried the Gophers to the win--or, was it just a cold shooting night by Nebraska? Well, I don't believe in coincidences. The Gophers held Nebraska to a 38 percent shooting night, which is exactly average for Minnesota. But, seriously, against an 8-3 Big 10 team that shoots, well, never mind, that shoots 39 percent on average.

So maybe it was the offense that shot 43 percent as opposed to its normal shooting percentage of 40 percent. Well, how about the 71 percent on 3 point shots? Of course, that was on just 5-of-7 shots but, hey, it's a darn sight better than the Cornhuskers 8-for-23.

But the real story was the 2nd half anyway. Nebraska opened fast, taking an 11-3 lead, but the Gophers fought back to take the lead at 17-16, and led 27-24 at the half. The difference at that point was Minnesota's ability to get to the FT line, where they made 9-of-10, compared to Nebraska's 2-for-2.

Minnesota opened the 2nd half on a shocking 13-0 run in just 3:00, suddenly leading 40-24 at 17:00. It was too good to be true, and sure enough Nebraska tied it up at 49 at 8:38 and 58 at 3:17, though they never re-took the lead. Neither team scored til the 1:00 mark, when Kionna Kellogg scored off the offensive glass. Rachel Banham and Brianna Mastey each hit a pair of throws inside of 20 seconds for the win. Nebraska failed to score in the final 3:17.

Minnesota shot 15-for-31 in the 2nd half, including 3-for-4 from 3 point land. The fly in the ointment was FTs, of which the Gophers made just 4-of-9, almost giving the game away. Minnesota also had the edge on the offensive glass, 9-4, for the 2nd half and scored 10 2nd half points (to 5 for Nebraska) after being shut out in that category in the 1st.

Banham led the Gophers in scoring (stop the presses) with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting including 3-for-3 from long range. Kiara Buford added 16 on 6-of-9 shooting including 2-of-2 3 pointers, and scored 7 of those 13 early 2nd half points that ultimately carried the Gophers to victory. Meanwhile Nebraska's 2 big scorers, Jordan Hooper (20) and Lindsay Moore (12) needed 32 shots to score 32 points.

Kellogg and Mastey each garnered 11 boards, and the Gophers had a nice 42-31 edge on the boards overall. So there were a lot of highlights on both sides of the ball. Especially that final 3:17. Tied at 58-all, this was familiar territory for the Gophers and their fans--a big lead exhausted, a tie game heading down the stretch. The Gophers have lost more of these games than they've won. But not this time.

Nebraska shot 0-for-7, and Minnesota dodged a couple bullets in the form of Cornhusker offensive rebounds on which they failed to capitalize. They even missed their only FT. Of course, the Gophers also misfired on their 1st 3 possessions at the same time--2 misses and a turnover. But then came the play of the game--Kellogg's put-back of a Banham miss. Buford then rebounded a Nebraska miss, and Mastey rebounded the Gophers' next miss, leading to 2 Banham FT. Minnesota got the last 5 rebounds of the game. Who could have predicted that?

Well, Nebraska gets out-rebounded in the Big 10 by an average of 42-40, while the Gophers out-rebound their opponents 41-38. And the rebounds were already 37-31. So, yes, one could have predicted that.

I've said it before. Who's to blame for the fact that this team that can do such great things so seldom in fact does--in losing 5 of their last 7, for example. Is it on the coach, or on the players? A friend said the other day, that, well, it's a little bit of both. Damn. Where's that silver bullet when you want it?

Player of the Day

Rachel Banham, Gopher women 21 points 2 assists

Coach of the Day

Pam Borton, Gopher women