Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Ten Men

1. Indiana 13-3. Currently rated #1 in the nation and after the Hoosiers manhandled North Carolina, there's no reason to doubt them. How far have the Hoosiers come in their rebuilding effort? I remember when Chris Watford was their best player. Now he's the weakest of their 5 starters but, hey, he's averaging 12 ppg and 8 boards. 7-foot post Cody Zeller is the likely Big 10 PoY. So far he's averaging 16 ppg on 64% shooting, with 8 boards and 2 blocks.

2. Michigan 12-4. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway are the 2 best guards in the conference. If Zeller isn't PoY, then it's one of these guys with 35 ppg between 'em and 7.5 assists for Burke and 6 boards for Hardaway. And forward Glenn Robinson III is doin' OK as well. #3 might be a tad high but the Wolverines have their best team since they was fab.

3. Michigan State 11-5. Not quite the dominant team they have been in recent years but Keith Appling is another elite guard. Plus there's size in Derrick Nix and Adrien Payne. And like the Hoosiers and Wolverines, they can shoot out the lights. Still, they're not playing this well yet, but Tom Izzo remains the best coach in theses here parts, Dusty.

4. Minnesota 10-6. Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe give Minnesota its best frontcourt since Coffey and Burton, or maybe Thompson and McHale. Guard play needs to be "good enough." So far it has been.

5. Ohio State 9-7. I know they're rated #4 and Deshaun Thomas is solid. But they'll need a couple breakouts from the younger guys and I don't know who that would/will be. Plus, they don't shoot it like some of these teams.

6. Illinois 8-8. Off to a terrific start, 8-0 and ranked #22 now. And Brandon Paul and D. J. Richardson are the real deal. But is there enough depth, enough size?

7. Nebraska 7-9. A balanced team of good scorers but who do you go to at crunch time?

8. Northwestern 6-10. Guards Reggie Hearn and Dave Soboklewski lead the way, but overall they're not a great offensive team.

9. Iowa 5-11. Gopher fans remember Melsahn Besabe who is now pulling a bit of a disappearing act down in Iowa City. Hawks need him to bounce back into past form. Roy Marble can't do it alone.

10.  Wisconsin 5-11. Minnesotan Jared Berggren is off to a great start of his senior season, But nobody else has stepped it up yet.

11. Purdue 4-12. Rebuilding,

12. Penn State 3-13.  Would love to be rebuilding, instead they're just building. Perennially.

Post-season. Six teams advance to the big dance. Top 2 are threats to get to the Final Four. Indiana is a threat to win it all.


C- Cody Zeller, Indiana
F- DeShawun Thomas, OhioState
F- Rodney Williams, Minnesota
G- Trey Burke, Michigan
G- Tim Hardaway, Michigan


C- Jared Berggren, Wisconsin
F- Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
G- Keith Appling, Michigan State
G- Brandon Paul, Illiinois
G- Justen Hulls, Indiana


C- Adrien Payne, Michigan State
F- Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota. A wild card, not playing this well yet, but has the po.
G- Victor Oladipo, Indiana
G- Reggie Hearn, Northwetern
G- D.J. Richardson, Illinois

Monday, November 26, 2012

Big Ten Women

The non-conference season is about halfway done. Enough games have been played to separate the hype from the reality. The polls have Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State and Nebraska as the class of the
conference, and the Big Ten coaches picked the same 4 as contenders.

The reality is that all 4 are overrated.

1. Penn State (13-3) is tough but #6 nationally? I do see them as Big Ten champs. But the truth is that after guards Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas, the Lions, well even with Bentley and Lucas, they're not a very good shooting team. They hit the boards and they'll be counting on Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson to get 'em some 2nd opportunities, and they'll be looking to Bentley and Lucas to create points off of turnovers. But for primary offense and also on the defensive end, they're not an elite team at all.

(X. For future reference, Maryland would go here.)

2. Northwestern (11-5). OK, here's the 1st surprise, the young Wildcats knocking Purdue, Ohio State and Nebraska out of 2nd place. They're the anti-Penn State, well, except they too pound the boards. But they shoot the ball, too. Their primary offense is very solid, led by F-C Dannielle Diamant with 16 points on 56% shooting (so far this year) and Kendall Hackney with 16 and 47% (so far). Guard Karly Rosar has been good for 8 assists per game so far.

3. Michigan State (11-5). And another surprise, the not so-young Spartans also out-performing the rest of the faves. This is a great defensive team, and guards Klarissa Bell and Jasmine Thomas score just enough to stay ahead. Actually they're outstanding shooters.

4. Nebraska (10-6). Jordan Hooper, Lindsay Moore and Emily Cady are pretty much another 3-woman team. And, frankly, I'd rather build around them than the Buckeye's big 3. Neither appears to have the right pieces alongside.

(X. And for further reference, Rutgers would go here. IOW, the football Gophers may have picked up a couple of new Big 10 opponents they can beat. But for women's basketball, the Big 10 just got a lot tougher.)

5. Ohio State (10-6). This is a 3-woman team with guards Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes and post Ashley Adams. And neither Stokes nor Adams is a great offensive player. Stokes is however a genuinely great defender but she will have to create a lot of turnovers to keep Ohio State running. The loss of Sam Prahalis is just too much.

6. Minnesota (9-7). Improving. But like the above, the Gophers are also a 3 or maybe even a 2-woman team unless freshmen Kayla Hirt and Shayne Mullaney get it together in a hurry. Which could happen. 

7. Purdue (9-7). A poor shooting bunch, they are and will have to be a great defensive team to be successful.

8. Iowa (7-9). Has some nice talent but has not jelled so far, and the shooting percentages are not very good. Still Morgan Johnson has become a great all-around player, and Jamie Printy and Sam Logic are potentially a great guard pair. Theairra Taylor and Beth Doolittle are getting major minutes.

9. Michigan (6-10). Kate Thompson has become a contributor with 15 ppg and 49% shooting. But the Wolves are a little thin and a little lacking in firepower.

10. Indiana (5-11). Aulani Sinclair offers hope and Jasmine McGhee, too. And Milika Taufa for that matter. But it will take time.

11. Illinois (3-13). Karisma Penn didn't make the pre-season all-conference team, which is a joke. She is the best player in the conference. Without her, a winless season would be in order.

12. Wisconsin (2-14). Cassie Rochel and Anne Marie Brown are playing major minutes, but this team cannot shoot straight.

Post-Season: The Big 10 is not exactly an elite conference in women's basketball, and so 10 wins will be an easy cut-off for the NCAA to execute. So the top 5--Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State--advance.


Karisma Penn, Illinois, not among the 8 pre-season picks by the coaches and media, ha ha
Alex Bentley, Penn State, more all-around chops than Lucas, the bigger scorer
Jordan Hooper, Nebraska
Morgan Johnson, Iowa
Rachel Banham, Minnesota, where oh where would the Gophers be without Rache?


Tayler Hill, Ohio State, I know, I know, probably wins the scoring title, but a bit 1-dimensional
Maggie Lucas, Penn State, ditto
Dannielle Diamant, Northwestern
Aulani Sinclair, Indiana
Kendall Hackney, Northwestern


Lindsay Moore, Nebraska
Klarissa Bell, Michigan State
Jamie Printy, Iowa
Rachel Sheffer, Michigan
Ashley Adams, Ohio State

Honorable Mention

Maggie Lyon, Northwestern
Jasmine Thomas, Michigan State
Amber Stokes, Ohio State
Taylor Wurtz, Wisconsin
Micaella Riche, Minnesota
Sam Ostarello, Purdue
Courtney Moses, Purdue

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Minnesotans Playing D1 Men's Basketball 2012-2013 by Alan Holst

The following post is courtesy of Alan Holst, and was first posted on I added in some stats for 2012-2013 games to date (anybody averaging in double figures plus others of interest).


Trent Lockett (Hopkins) Marquette Senior
Trevor Mbakwe (St. Bernard’s, Henry Sibley) Minnesota Senior

Mike Muscala (Roseville) Bucknell Senior

Rodney Williams (Robbinsdale Cooper) Minnesota Senior

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

Jared Berggren (Princeton) Wisconsin Senior HONORABLE MENTION

Alec Brown (Winona) Green Bay Junior HONORABLE MENTION

Sam Dower (Osseo) Gonzaga Junior HONORABLE MENTION

This is a throwback season as Minnesota had produced some outstanding guards in recent years but not so many big men.  This season there are a number of quality centers to choose from.


Jordan Aaberg (Rothsay) North Dakota State Junior F

Aaron Anderson (Osseo) North Dakota Junior G 13 ppg + 3 assists

Joel Awich (Tartan) Cal Poly Freshman F

Jared Berggren (Princeton) Wisconsin Senior F/C 15 ppg 7 reb 55% FG%

Marshall Bjorklund (Sibley East) North Dakota State Junior F 11 ppg on 65% FG%

Brandon Brekke (East Grand Forks) North Dakota Junior C

Mike Broghammer (Hopkins) Notre Dame Senior F has not played so far

Alec Brown (Winona) Green Bay Junior C 12 ppg + 7 rebounds

Mike Bruesewitz (Henry Sibley) Wisconsin Senior F

Syani Chambers (Hopkins) Harvard Freshman G 10 ppg 5 assists 2 steals 

Joe Coleman (Hopkins) Minnesota Sophomore G 9 ppg + 2 steals

Ray Cowels (Hopkins) Santa Clara Senior F 10 ppg

Sam Dower (Osseo) Gonzaga Junior C 10 ppg 57% FG%

Will Dunn (Benilde-St. Margaret's) IPFW Freshman G 

Mike Felt (Redwood Falls) North Dakota State Junior G 12 ppg

Josh Figini (Chisago Lakes) Cornell Senior F

Mike Fitzgerald (St. Thomas Academy) Air Force Senior F

Tyler Flack (Lakeville) South Dakota Freshman F 11 ppg 3 blocks 53% FG%

Trevor Gruis (Ellsworth) South Dakota Junior C 10 ppg 7 rebounds 50% FG%

Chris Halvorsen (Henry Sibley) Minnesota Junior F

Seth Hinrichs (MACCRAY Clara City) Lafayette Sophomore G 14 ppg

Andre Ingram (Minnesota Transitions) Minnesota Sophomore F (ex-Butler CC KS)

Jordair Jett (St. Bernard’s, Notre Dame Prep MA) Saint Louis Junior G 6 ppg 3 assists 2 steals

Raijon Kelly (Cretin-Derham Hall) Samford Sophomore G 14 ppg 4 assists

Joey King (Eastview) Drake Freshman F

Nate Kratch (Watertown-Mayer) Santa Clara Freshman F

Simon Krych (St. Cloud Apollo) Nebraska Omaha Freshman F

Trent Lockett (Hopkins) Marquette Senior G (ex-Arizona State) 9 ppg 5 rebounds 2 assists

Sanjay Lumpkin (Benilde-St. Margaret's) Northwestern Freshman G/F 

Marcus Marshall (St. Paul Johnson) Missouri State Freshman G 10 ppg

Trevor Mbakwe (St. Bernard’s, Henry Sibley) Minnesota Senior F 8 ppg 7 boards 59% shooting

Shelby Moats (Waconia) Vanderbilt Sophomore F 

Mike Muscala (Roseville) Bucknell Senior F/C 16 ppg 11 rebounds 2 assists 2.5 blocks 51% FG%

C.J. Neumann (Cretin-Derham Hall) Wofford Freshman F 4 ppg on 64% FG%

Fred Newell (Lakeville North) North Dakota State Junior G

Kevin Noreen (Minnesota Transitions) West Virginia Sophomore F

Kyle Noreen (Minnesota Transitions) Radford Sophomore G 6 ppg 5 rebounds 2 assists

D.J. Peterson (Hopkins) La Salle Sophomore G 6 ppg on 60% FG%

Eric Robertson (IMG Academy) South Dakota Freshman G

Mike Rostampour (Henry Sibley) Nebraska Omaha Junior F

Tom Schalk (Apple Valley) William & Mary Sophomore F

Matt Sellers (Champlin Park) Wyoming Sophomore C (ex-Western Wyoming CC)

Marvin Singleton (Hopkins) Northern Iowa Sophomore F

Jordan Smith (Orono) Wisconsin Sophomore G

Marc Sonnen (Tartan) Northern Iowa Senior G

Dyami Starks (Duluth East) Bryant Sophomore G (ex-Columbia) 15.5 ppg 2 steals

Jonah Travis (DeLaSalle) Harvard Sophomore F

Ross Travis (Chaska) Penn State Sophomore F 8 ppg 7 rebounds

Alonzo Traylor (Minneapolis South) North Dakota Junior F

Estan Tyler (St. Paul Johnson) UMKC Sophomore G 11 ppg 4 assists

Marcus Tyus (Anoka) Nebraska Omaha Freshman G

Jake White (Chaska) Wichita State Sophomore F

Rodney Williams (Robbinsdale Cooper) Minnesota Senior F 14 ppg 7 rebounds 67% shooting

Mitch Wilmer (Warroad) North Dakota Senior C

Nate Wolters (St. Cloud Tech) South Dakota State Senior G 22 ppg 6 rebs 6 assists 2 steals 55% FG%

Ethan Wragge (Eden Prairie) Creighton Junior F 13 ppg 50% FG%

Isaiah Zierden (Benilde-St. Margaret's) Creighton Freshman G

TOP 5 SCORERS as of 11-25-12

Wolters 22 ppg
Muscala 16
Starks 15.5
Berggren 15
Rodney Williams 14
Raijon Kelly 14


Berggren, A. Brown, Gruis, Mbakwe, Ross Travis, Rodney Williams 7


Nate Wolters 6


Chambers, Jett, Wolters 2


Tyler Flack 3


Rodney Williams 67%

Gopher and T-Wolves Depth Charts after Bahamas Cancun, 5 straight losses (T-Wolves)

The Men

C- Eliason 15 minutes Walker 9 Ingram 10 Mbakwe 6

PF- R. Williams 28 Mbakwe 12

SF- J. Coleman 27 Oto 9 Austin 1 Welch 1 Halvorson 2

PG- Andre Hollins 28 Welch 12

SG- Austin Hollins 28 Ahanmisi 12

Changes: Oto's playing time is dropping with his shooting pct., now at 25 percent.

The Women

C- Riche 29 Loberg 7 Kellogg 5

PF- Kellogg 23 Hirt 18

SF- Noga 33 Bailey 8

PG- Banham 32 Mullaney 9

SG- Bailey 16 Mullaney 12 Cotton 13

Changes: Mullaney's playing time has doubled, in a manner of speaking. She missed most of the 1st 2 games, now she's playing 21 minutes. The time has come out of Leah Cotton's hide, down from 18 to 13 minutes.


What with all the injuries, this is pretty close to the actual minutes played divided into 12 games.

C- Pekovich 25 Stiemsma 13 Love 10

PF- D. Williams 19 Cunningham 23 Kirilenko 6

SF- Kirilenko 30 Budinger 6 Howard 5 Amundson 7

PF- Ridnour 32 Barea 12 Shved 4

OG- Roy 10 Shved 19 Lee 14 Budinger 5

But in the past 3 games, since Love, Barea and Pekovich all returned from injury, and Roy and Budinger are out:

C- Pekovich 31 Love 14 Stiemsma 3

PF- Love 21 Cunningham 19 Amundson 4 D. Williams 4

SF- Kirilenko 35 Howard 13

PG- Ridnour 25 Barea 23

SG- Lee 20 Shved 20 Howard 4 Ridnour 4

The big loser is D. Williams, who did not leave the Wolves bench in Love's 1st 2 games back. Cunningham backed up Love with 22, 19 and 15 minutes. In last night's loss to Golden State,  Cunningham played 15 minutes, Williams played 11. Each was +2, Williams scored 10 points, Cunningham 6, they had just 1 rebound between them in 26 minutes (!), Cunningham had 2 steals, Williams 2 blocks.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gopher Men and Women Return Home 6-1

The Gopher men and women won tough, hard-fought wins vs. BCS opponents today to go 2-1 down south, and now they return home with a respectable 6-1 record.

Minnesota men 66 Stanford 63

Tubby Smith, fresh off his turkey of the year award from the ever-charming Patrick Reusse, found this week that 1) his men can't compete with Duke, but 2) they can win when Andre Hollins scores 41 points, and 3) when he doesn't.

Hollins followed the 3rd highest individual effort in school history with an 8 point, 1-for-8 performance. But with the chips down and 0:00.4 left on the clock, Dre drained 3 FT to break a 63-all tie.

Minnesota trailed most of the 1st half, including 28-22 at 7:00, but a Trevor Mbakwe lay-up at 0:49 tied it up at 32. A 13-5 run to start the 2nd half (23-9 since that 28-22 deficit) made it 45-37 Gophers. But Stanford quickly tied it at 47 at 9:46. Neither team led by more than 4 the rest of the way and there were 4 ties T 56, 58, 61 and 63.

The Gophers out-shot Stanford 44-36 percent, but Stanford won the possession game with 3 more offensive boards and 5 fewer turnovers. Trevor Mbakwe had the best game of his current comeback from injury and legal troubles with 19 points and 12 boards, including 8 of Minnesota's last 12 points. Rodney Williams added 12 points and Joe Coleman 11, but Minnesota made hard work of it with just 7 assists on 19 buckets. Stanford had 14 for 21. Each team had just 12 points in the paint.

Minnesota women 59 Missouri 54

The women trailed Mizzou most of the way, including 7-0 and 28-23 at the half. Minnesota finally caught up at 32-all at 13:56 on a pair of Banham FT and they took their 1st lead at 36-34 on a (guess who) Banham fast break layup. Still, Missouri fought back to lead 51-47 at 4:22.

But Kayla Hirt scored 5 buckets down the stretch--that's right Kayla Hirt, 5 buckets in 4 minutes--the 5th for a 57-54 lead at 0:50.

Minnesota shot 50 percent, Missouri 36, but the Mizzou made 9 3-pointers, the Gophers none, zero, zilch, nada.

Banham scored 20 with 6 assists, Hirt scored 14. And, along with Hirt, Shane Mullaney also continued her emergence. playing 25 minutes, scoring 7 points on 3-of-4 shooting with 4 assists. Leah Cotton, with 5 minutes and no points, lost most of her minutes to Mullaney.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey of the Decade: Pat Reusse

Pat, it's time to retire the turkey of the year. It is old and tired. I hesitate to say, Like you? Give it a rest.

Once upon a time, the turkey of the year was real turkeys, guys like Woody Hayes, who slugged an opposing player, and Bowie Kuhn and Bobby Knight and George Steinbrenner. People with real and well-known character defects. it's just guys who don't win enough ball games for you. Guys of impeccable character, but they just don't win as much as a crotchety old sportswriter thinks they should. I mean, Tubby Smith, turkey of the year? No. Pat Reusse, turkey of the year, turkey of the decade. Give it a rest  before you end up turkey of the century.

I mean, if you wanna know what a negatory fellow Pat is, consider this. Seimone Augustus has led the Minnesota Lynx to 55 wins and 13 losses in 2 years, a WNBA title and a WNBA runner-up slot. She helped the U.S.A. win a gold medal, Pat. The U.S.A. But the only thing Pat knows or cares about Seimone Augustus is one 3-for-21 night. Of course, Seimone is a woman....

Well, the truth is that Pat's sportswriting is on exactly the same trajectory, though describing Pat's writing as a 3-of-21 night would even be a bit generous.

Pat, it's time to put that turkey out of its misery.

That's Better

I mean the Gopher men 84 Memphis 75.

And I mean the Gopher women 80 James Madison 62.

Both lost yesterday and both regained their self-respect today.

Men 84 Memphis 75

For the men, Andre Hollins exploded with a 41-point effort on 7-of-11 2s and 5-for-5 3-points, plus 12-of-13 FT. Hollins fell just 1 point short of the school record held jointly (I think) by Eric Magdanz and Ollie Shannon. (News reports for today's game mention Shannon but not Magdanz.)

Memphis took a 6-0 lead. The Gophers caught up at 17-all, the took a 6-point lead by finishing an 11-1 run. Memphis took the lead 4 times thereafter at 29-28, 37-35, 38-37 and 68-67. Every time the Gophers responded with a 5 or 6-0 run to lead 33-29, 48-38 and 73-68. Of those 18 crucial points, Andre hit a 2 and a pair of 3s while Rodney Williams had a pair of buckets.

After Andre, Rodney scored 13, while Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney led with 8 and 6 boards, and Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman led with 5 and 4 assists. Austin added 6 steals and Rodney 3 blocks.

Women 80 James Madison 62

For the women, Banham and Kionna Kellogg, who frankly has been struggling a bit of late, combined for 40 points. Kellogg added 12 boards and Banham 5 assists.

Like the men, the women fell behind early, 6-2, and only caught up at 14-all. But late in the 1st half it was 41-22 Minnesota. J Mad got back within 9 with 10:22 remaining, but Sari Noga hit a 3, Rachel Banham got a steal and a breakaway 2. A few minutes later it was 68-56.

After shooting 31 percent last night, the Gopher women shot 53 percent today, and they hammered J Mad on the boards 51-37. There were still too many turnovers, 20, to just 13 for J Mad.

Shayne Mullaney continued her climb up the Gophers depth chart. She was the 1st Gopher off the bench today and finished with the 5th most minutes at 28. She finished with 4 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 1 turnover.

Gophers Bomb

The Minnesota  Gophers didn't show much down south yesterday, as both the men and the women got out-shot, basically.

But while Duke 89 Minnesota 71 sounds like a thrashing, take a closer look at the stat sheet. The Gophers out-rebounded #5 Duke, for example, 35-32. More than that, there were 38 rebounds taken off the Minnesota glass. 22 were taken by Duke, 16 by the Gophers (42 percent). Off the Duke glass, we took 19 boards, they took 10 (36 percent).

The fact that we missed somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 shots while they lost 29 is of course not insignificant. But look at the 2-pointers: We shot 46 percent, they shot 49. Duke out-scored Minnesota 21-19 from the FT line but, hey, we got to the line more than they did and we shot 76 percent.

But from 3-point-land: Minnesota 4-of-16 (25 percent), Duke 8-of-10 (80 percent). 12 of their 18 point margin is accounted for by 3s, and they shot 6 fewer than we did. I guess my point is, well, first, we played 'em to a standstill in every other facet of the game. And, two, while 4-of-16 is probably a realistic barometer of our 3-point shooting ability, 8-of-10 is nobody's barometer, not Duke, not anybody. The Gophers may get beat with the long ball all year long, but not by 80 percent, and not by the #5 team in the nation.

Turnovers, by the way, were 15-15.

The Gopher women, on the other hand, stunk. We shot 31 percent against a 1-3 team (they shot 40, you can and should win when the opponent shoots 40). We made 2-o-f-14 3s.

But it gets worse. 20 turnovers, 7 by Micaela Riche. Sure, Richmond had 23, but we had 14 steals, they had 8. Meaning that we had 12 unforced errors, they had 9. And, they out-scored us 21-16 off turnovers. We scored 16 off of 23, they converted 21 off of 20.

And they out-scored us 6-4 on 2nd chancers and why not. We got out-rebounded 43-34. Our bench got out-scored 24-7. They had 14 assists, we had 8.

Minnesota led 28-23 and 30-25 in the 2nd half, and after that made 6-of-26 shots with 12 turnovers.

Rachel Banham, Riche and Mikayla Bailey scored 32 points on 13-of-29 shooting, which is of course not great. But everybody else shot 4-for-26 or about 16 percent.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Love Returns, Teammates Take the Night Off

Kevin Love returned to the Timberwolves' lineup last night unexpectedly, and just in case you thought he was Superman, Love scored 34 with 14  boards in his appearance of the 2012-2013 season.

The Denver Nuggets won at the Target Center, however, 101-94, putting both teams at an even .500, out-shooting the Wolves 44-38 percent. Minnesota had a comfortable 58-44 half-time lead, but got ripped 57-36 in the 2nd half.

Love led all scorers, but Denver had 5 players in double figures to just 3 for Minnesota. After Love's 34 came Barea with 12 and Pekovich with 10. Like Love, Barea and Pekovich are also just back from injuries. Everybody who hadn't been out with an injury shot 14-for-44 (32 percent).

In the 1st half, the Wolves shot 22-of-48 (46 percent) with Love at 10-of-18 (56 percent). And after Pekovic hit a layup at 11:14 of the 3rd quarter, it was 60-47. Minnesota missed its next 10 shots until another Pekovich layup made it 65-61 Minnesota at 6:10. Denver took the lead 69-68 at 2:11 though the Wolves went back up 73-69 after 3.

In the 4th, the wheels just came off. Minnesota made 7-of-21 (Love 1-of-3). Denver tied it up at 75, and went ahead at 78-75. They only took the lead for good at 90-87 but  the Wolves only made 3-of-7 with 2 turnovers the rest of the way.

You could say that Barea and Pekovich weren't great. What with their foot injuries, maybe their conditioning was weak and they ran out of gas in the 2nd half. Love, of course, had a hand injury and was said to be in good shape, but it seemed as if he too ran out of gas. But what can you say about their teammates? Ridnour 3-of-8, Kirilenko 2-of-7, Shved 3-of-9, Lee 1-of-8 in 24 minutes. Lee's 24 minutes ought to approach zero very soon.

And what of Derrick Williams, who did play zero minutes now that Love is back. Is the Williams era all but over? Is the die cast on Derrick? Is he the next Michael Beasley? A guy who can do anything but doesn't know what exactly to do? For the record, the starting 5 were +5, the bench was -40.

Or maybe nothing means nothing except the Wolves shot poorly. They won the possession game with +3 offensive boards and -5 turnovers. We won't have to wait long to see what the trend line is gonna be. We're at Portland tonight, Golden State Saturday, and Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers Tuesday and Thursday, before returning home to face Milwaukee a week from today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Minnesota Gopher Depth Charts

The Men (4-0)

Center--Eliot Eliason 17 minutes Ingram 10 minutes Mo Walker 8 minutes Mbakwe 5 minutes

Power Forward--Rodney Williams 28 minutes Mbakwe 11 minutes

Small Forward--Joe Coleman 26 Oto Osenieks 17

Point Guard--Andre Hollins 26 Julian Welch 14

Off Guard--Austin Hollins 27 Maverick Ahanmisi 13

The Women (4-0)

Center--Riche 30 minutes Loberg 10

Power Forward--Kellogg 27 Kayla Hirt 13

Small Forward--Noga 35 Hirt 7

Point Guard--Banham 31 Mullaney 18 (2 games)

Off Guard--Bailey 24 Cotton 18

St. Thomas men 75 UW River Falls 62

The St. Thomas Tommies (men) wore down Wisconsin-River Falls, using 3 11-0 runs to erase a UWRF lead, then to take the lead for good, and finally to put it away. With the win, St. Thomas moves to 4-0, including a road win at #17-ranked Whitworth 70-65. OK, officially, they're just 3-0 but a shocking 93-83 win at D2 Winona State, exhibition or not, deserves to be mentioned.

Trailing the Falcons 28-22 at 7:43 of the 1st half, St. Thomas amped up the defensive pressure and UWRF turned it over on 5 of their next 6 possessions. Noah Kaiser scored twice for the Tommies, who quickly made it 33-28. Arik Smith scored 5 quick points for UWRF to tie it up.

But then St. Thomas ran off another 11 points with Connor Nord scoring twice to make it 44-33, and the Tommies would never trail again. It was 46-36 at the half.

But with St. Thomas leading 54-44, Smith went really nuts for UWRF with 4 buckets in less than 2 minutes, all on lightning quick moves into the lane and a floating shot. Guard David Stanley from Maplewood, MN, and Concordia-St. Paul, to make it 60-54 with about 9 minutes remaining.

But the Tommies ran off 11 straight for the 3rd time,with Will DeBerg hitting a pair of 3's--meaning a 2 + 1 and then the long ball, and it was 71-54 at 2:25. Game over. Smith hit a 3 inside of 2 minutes for UWRF but that only made it 71-57.

In the end it was the Tommies ball defense that was the difference. Tommy Hannon inside, and DeBerg and Eric Tengwal and John Nance, in particular, made life miserable for the Falcons. Actually they shot 50 percent from the field and 53 percent (7-of-13) on the 3-ball, but they turned it over 15 times to the Tommies 6, and the Tommies' did it all without fouling, as UWRF got to the FT line only 4 times, and none in the 2nd half. UWRF had 1 more FG than St. Thomas, but the Tommies prevailed from the line 17-3.

Smith was the top offensive player on the floor with 18 points, but the Tommies had nice balance. DeBerg and Hannon had 12 points (Hannon added 8 boards), and Nance had 11 points. Nance's ultra-quick hands picked up 4 steals. St. Thomas also had a 37-27 edge on the boards.

But make no mistake, UWRF is a good squad. But the Tommies wore 'em down with their depth and their defensive pressure. Only Tengwall and Nance played more than 22 minutes (29 and 27), while 5 Falcons averaged 30 minutes and Smith and Stanley played 34. That will probably be a theme over the coming year.

Trench Player: Tommy Hannon, St. Thomas

Monday, November 19, 2012

Minnesota 90 Richmond-Ohio 24

That's what I'd call a rout: 90-24.

Okay, that's not a real game. The Minnesota Gopher women ran out to an outrageous half-time lead of 60-16 over Ohio on Saturday. And in the final 10 minutes on Sunday, the Gopher men put a 30-8 run on the Richmond Spiders.

What are the odds of that? I mean, not just 2 truly outrageous runs. But 60-16 over 20 minutes, and then exactly half of that, 30-8, in half the time, 10 minutes, the next day on the same floor. We live in strange times, indeed.

The Women

The women coasted to an 85-40 win over the Bobcats, out-scoring them 25-24 in the 2nd half, then won 2 halves against 1-4 Maine 39-3 and 38-29 for a total of 77-60. Funny how 1 half at 60-16 can put a pretty good face on 3 so-so halves.

It helps that Maine was Pam Borton's 200th win at Minnesota. It helps that the Gophers are 4-0. It helps that Katie Loberg came back from injury with 12 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks in just 13 minutes against Ohio. It helps that Shayne Mullaney, who got off to a slow start of her freshman year, broke through with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, with 11 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 46 minutes in the 2 games.

But of course Rachel Banham and Micaela Riche lead the team in scoring with 20 and 18 ppg, Riche leads with 9 boards and 1.5 blocks, and Banham with 4 assists and 3 steals. They're out-shooting people 48-36 percent, and out-rebounding 'em 45-30, and out-scoring 'em 81-61.

So now the women head to Cancun where they will play Richmond, James Madison and Missouri on Thursday, Friday and Saturday full of optimism. Richmond is 1-3, James Mad is 1-2 with a 21-point loss at Virginia, and Missouri is 3-0. The next chance to see 'em will come a week from Thursday vs. Virginia at 7 p.m. at the Barn. Wow, could they be 7-0? Playin' on the road ain't nothin' like playin' at we'll see. But there's a lot to like about this team.

The Men

The men are also 4-0 and winning by an average of 74-48. But for 30 minutes, previously unbeaten Richmond out-played the Gophers and led by 49-42. It was a 3-man deluge that capsized the Spiders. Andre Hollins started things off with 3 buckets and 2 steals surrounding 2 Austin Hollins FT. Trevor Mbakwe got 3 of the next 4 buckets plus 3 offensive boards and a block. The 3 of them hit 7-of-11 shots with 9 boards.

Austin and Rodney Williams have now overtaken Joe Coleman for the team scoring lead at 14.5. Coleman scored just 10 points in 2 games to drop to 10 ppg. Rodney also leads with 6.5 boards, while Andre has 5 assists per game, Coleman 2.5 steals, and Eliot Eliason 2 blocks.

Better yet, the Gophers are shooting 49 percent and their opponents just 29. They're out-rebounding the opposition 45-31.

And now they, too, head south (in this case, the Bahamas) for 3 games Thursday through Friday. But the competition sounds a tad tougher than what the women are playing, as in Duke, Memphis or VCU, and TBD. I figure we'll be unbeaten until that game with TBD, that one is gonna be a killer.

So no way are Tubby's guys gonna return home undefeated, but there's still a lot to like about this team.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I mean the Gopher men.

I mean Minnesota 72 American 36. American was 20-12 last year and has 4 of its top 8 back.

And I mean Minnesota 82 Toledo 56. Toledo went 19-17 last year and has 7 of its top 8 back.

I thought these would be a couple of tough games. Instead, against American the Gophers ran out to a 15-0 lead and led by 30 (44-14) at the half. Against Toledo it was 12-0 and the Gophers led by 28 before the half was over.

Across 4 games, including the 2 exhibitions, here's Tubby's rotation.

Center--Eliason 16.5 minutes Ingram 13 Walker 10 Mbakwe 0.5
Power Forward--Rodney Williams 21 Mbakwe 12 Buggs 7
Small Forward--Joe Coleman 23 Oto 14 Halvorsen 3
Point Guard--Austin Hollins 23.5 Welch 13.5 Shell 3
Shooting Guard--Andre Hollins 21 Ahanmisi 17 Welch 3

And here's the performance.

Center--Eliason, Ingram and Walker 11.5 pts 19/37 FG 52% 10 boards 2.5 assists 2 blocks 2 steals. Pretty solid, though EE's reluctance to shoot the ball is a little troubling.

Power Forward--Rodney, Mbakwe and Buggs 17.5 pts 30/44 68% 11 boards 2.5 assists 2 steals 2 blocks. What happens when Mbakwe is ready to start. Rodney drops down and the top scorer so far, Joe Coleman, sits? Or does Rodney sit? Or maybe Trevor starts in the post?

Small Forward--Coleman and Oto 19 pts 27/52 54% 6.5 boards 3.5 assists 1 block 3.5 steals Coleman is the top scorer at 15 ppg and is shooting 67%.

Point Guard--Austin, Welch and Shell 18.5 ppg 28/59 45% 6.5 boards 7 assists 1 steal

Shooting Guard--Andre, Ahanmisi 12.5 ppg 18/44 42% 3.5 boards 4 assists 1.5 steals

Obvious Strengths 

A bunch of guys shooting 50% +. Scoring in the paint. Hitting the boards. Some steals. Depth. Quickness. Ability to play an up-tempo game.

Obvious Weaknesses

Outside shooting, 3-point shooting. Turnovers.

Next up: Tennessee State on Thursday and Richmond on Sunday, both at the Barn. Gophers should be4-0 going into the Battle 4 Atlanta vs. Duke, Memphis, VCU and others.

Best lineup: Mbakwe in the post (?) with Williams and Coleman, with Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gophers and SDSU do NOT meet in Best Buy Classic

I had hoped to see Pam Borton's Minnesota Gophers and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits of coach Aaron Johnston, often mentioned as a possible successor to Borton, play one another in the Best Buy Classic, and it almost happened. Well, they didn't almost meet for the championship, which is what I really hoped for. They almost played for 3rd place is what almost happened.

The Gophers blew a late lead but then came back from the dead, down 72-66 in OT, to defeat scrappy Washington State 87-83 in 2OT. Rachel Banham (34) and Micaela Riche (29) combined for 63 points, but the Gophers nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory due to 29 turnovers and 5-of-20 shooting from Banham and Riche's teammates. SDSU did not glimpse any jaws of victory, losing to Villanova 71-47.

That set up today's games: SDSU vs. Washington State for 3rd place, followed by Minnesota vs. Villanova for the title. Based on Saturday's play, Villanova looked like a solid fave going into the final. So SDSU beat WSU 65-56 in the 3rd place game. Villanova beat SDSU by 24. So 'Nova should be WSU by 33, whereas the Gophers played WSU even for 49 minutes. So 'Nova looked a lot better halfway through Sunday, too.

But, surprise. Instead, Minnesota beat 'Nova 75-60. Like they say, it's all about match-ups. Or, it's early. The Gophers are still finding themselves. OK, I don't know what it is/was. But everything that went wrong yesterday went, well, a little bit better today. 29 turnovers yesterday, 16 today. 5-for-20 shooting by players not named Banham and Riche yesterday. 11-for-24 today.

And what went well yesterday went well today. Banham and Riche, that is. 33 points, 12-for-23, 52 FG percent.

The Gophers ran out to a 20-8 lead. The Wildcats got within 7 (33-26) at half time and 35-30 early in the 2nd half. A 2 by Banham and a 3 by Sari Noga made it a 10 point game. It took 7 minutes but a Kayla Hirt bucket after a steal and assist by Shayne Mullaney made it 11, and 'Nova never got within single digits again.

But the big news was the play of Shayne Mullaney. 22 minutes, 4 points, 1-for-1 shooting, 2-for-2 FT, and best of all 4 assists. But then there were 3 turnovers. Mikalya Bailey played 14 minutes, she also shot 1-for-1, with 2 assists and 1 turnover. Leah Cotton played 22 minutes, made 1-of-4 FG but got to the FT line, like she did yesterday, and made 6-of-7 FT for 8 points. Cotton added 3 assists and 1 turnover. Bailey has clearly been the #2 guard (or, rather, the #1 #2 guard) behind Banham, but Mullaney and Cotton are in the mix if they can keep playing like they did today.

Meanwhile Kionna Kellogg played 34 minutes and Kayla Hirt 20. Each scored 8 points. Hirt had 6 boards, Kellogg 3.

Sari Noga shot just 1-for-5 but ended up with 9 points, 10 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals.

This was by far the Gophers best performance of the year. But will this be the team that barely got by Washington State , 11-19 a year ago? Or the one the handled 'Nova, 17-14 a year ago?

But on a more positive note, if they can beat Washington State and Villanova, surely they can beat Maine and/or Ohio and/or UNLV next week in the Subway Classic at the Barn. Can't they?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 2012

Ah, November. A great month for basketball.'s a month to get acclimated, to check out some teams, to get a feel for what the stories are going to be. Granted, there aren't any real stories in November, but you can anticipate. So anticipating the 2012-2013 season, here's what I want to see in November:

Wed., Nov. 7--I saw the Timberwolves beat Orlando 90-75 but I didn't get to see Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love.

Sat.-Sun., Nov. 10-11--Gopher women vs. Washington State at noon on Saturday, and hopefully it will be Minnesota vs. South Dakota State at 1 p.m. on Sunday. If so, you'll get a chance to see a bevy of Minnesotans including Leah Dietel, Megan Waytashek, Megan Stuart and several more for the Jackrabbits, and of course you'll get to see newcomers Kayla Hirt and Mikayla Bailey plus (hopefully) Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney for the Gophers.

Mon., Nov. 12--Toledo at Minnesota Gopher men and their cast of thousands. Tubby's got pret'near 3 full platoons goin' here. So something's gotta give. Is it Mo Walker or Andre Ingram in the middle? What happens to Rodney Williams when Trevor Mbakwe is at full strength? Does he displace Joe Coleman at the small forward? Is Mav Ahanmisi or Julian Welch the back-up at the point? Can the Gophers beat a good Toledo squad?

Sat., Nov. 17--girls jamboree at Hopkins High.

Sun., Nov. 18--let's play two! Gopher women vs. somebody in the Subway Classic final (you'd hope ) at 1 p.m., followed by Gopher men vs. Richmond at 6 p.m., all at the Barn.

Tues., Nov. 20--Wisconsin-River Falls at St. Thomas. Just what kind of beast is St. Thomas gonna be with Tommy Hannon back on a medical redshirt?

Sun., Nov. 25--Wisconsin-Stevens Point at St. Thomas. Just what kind of beast is St. Thomas gonna be with Taylor Young and Maggie Weiers back?

Tues., Nov. 27--High school ball opens up with some girls action--I like Farmington at Simley, the latter featuring youngsters Abby Kain and Kylie Brown.

Thurs., Nov. 29--Virginia at Gopher women.

Fri., Nov. 30--Mahtomedi girls at Forest Lake. Ali Greene vs. Bailey Norby.

T-Wolves 90 Orlando 75, but it wasn't that close

It's that time of year when a team's prospects can go from zero to 60 and back again in a hurry. Just last Sunday the young Orlando Magic, rebuilding after the loss of Dwight Howard, were 2-0 and feeling pretty good about themselves. That same night the Minnesota Timberwolves trailed the Brooklyn Nets 71-49 in the 3rd quarter, and look every bit the part of a mediocre 1-2 club.

Instead the Wolves put a miraculous comeback on the Nets, out-scoring them 32-10 in the 4th quarter to win. Then on Monday Orlando lost for the 1st time in Chicago. And now, after the Wolves put a big hurt on the Magic, Orlando is a mediocre 2-2 while Minnesota is 3-1 and it is the Wolves who are feelin' all right.

Yet the Wolves struggled for 2-and-a-half quarters. An early 25-10 lead was dissipated as Minnesota missed its next 12 shots and turned it over 5 times. By half-time Orlando was back within 38-34.

It was more of the same in the 2nd. The Magic scored the 1st bucket of the 2nd half to make it 38-36, then the Wolves ripped off a 15-4 run for a 53-40 lead. Sure enough, Orlando clawed back to within 58-53.

But now...Minnesota closed the 3rd with a 10-2 run for a 68-55 edge, then followed it up with an 18-4 advantage over the 1st half of the 4th quarter. 86-59 at 5:11, game over. Back-up post Greg Stiemsma keyed the 28-6 run with 4 buckets in just 1:14 in the final minute of the 3rd and the 1st minute of the 4th period. J.J. Barea assisted on all 4 of Steimsma's buckets.

Stiemsma finished with 10 points, 3 boards and a block during the run, while Chase Budinger added 8 points and Alexei Shved 3 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

For the night Luke Ridnour led the Wolves with 19 points, while Derrick Williams, Stiemsma, Nikola Pekovich and Budinger also scored in double figures. Williams added 6 boards and 2 steals. Brandon Roy scored just 3 points but added 9 assists.

The Wolves slowed the tempo just a bit on the run 'n gun Magic, making it a 90 possession game vs. Orlando's 3 game average of 100 possessions. Minnesota shot a respectable 45% and shot better than 50% in the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters while making just 5-of-19 in the 2nd. Orlando shot just 35% and a miserable 35% on 2-pointers.

Ridnour was the Wolves' best player, running the show for 31 minutes and badly out-playing Orlando's E'Twaun Moore, starting in place of the oft-injured Jameer Nelson. Ridnour sometimes gets manhandled, but against guys his own size he is a heady, steady, smart guy who takes what the defense gives. As was the case last night.

Then came Derrick Williams, who was solid in every phase of the game, which came as frankly a bit of a surprise. And he certainly was Mr. Highlight Reel among a bunch of guys who are more stiletto than sledgehammer.

Then I would say Budinger and Kirilenko at the small forward. They didn't have a great night offensively, but combined to hold Orlando's leading scorer, Glen "Baby" Davis, to just 4 points.

Then came the posts, Pekovic and Steimsma, with 23 points between 'em. I would have to guess that the "points in the paint" were decisively slanted toward Minnesota. Orlando's starting front line scored a total of 13 points.

It was a tougher night for guards Brandon Roy, Shved and Barea. Roy and Shved were out-scored by the Magic's off-guards Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick 28-10, but they did contribute 12 assists. And in fairness, Roy was #2 on the +/- chart after D. Williams at +19. But his shot looks forced, he just doesn't look comfortable out there,

But if we're talking about uncomfortable, there's the Orlando Magic, who would appear to be a truly dreadful NBA team. Maybe the loss of Jameer Nelson is that big of a deal, or maybe they really are dreadful. The fact is the Wolves sleepwalked through large portions of this game, yet led 86-59 in the 4th. The final was 90-75, but in reality it was nowhere near that close.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gopher Men Are Deep 2

After 2 games, Tubby Smith is playing 12 Minnesota Gophers for 10 minutes or more. That's about 2 or 3 guys more than most rotations that you see. What's gonna give?


Elliott Eliason plays 15 minutes and scores 2.5 points on 50% FG shooting, with 5 rebound
Andre Ingram 14 minutes 6 points 50% 2.5 boards
Mo Walker 10 minutes 6 points 67% 2 boards

The 3 of them are scoring 14. 5 points with 9.5 boards on better than 50% shooting. If they can do that in the Big 10, of course, it would be a terrific record. The oddity is starter Eliason's extreme reluctance to shoot: 2 shots in 30 minutes so far versus Ingram's 8 in 28 minutes and Walker's 7 in 19 minutes.

Power Forward

Rodney Williams 18 minutes 10 points 66% 5.5 boards
Charles Buggs 14 minutes 3 points 50%
Trevor Mbakwe 11 minutes 3.5 points 100% 3 boards, 2 assists

Mbakwe is obviously going to start and the frosh Buggs is not going to play. But Tubby's got a problem here. Rodney has never quite seemed comfortable at the small forward spot, where Joe Coleman is going gangbusters. What happens to Rodney? But if they can score 16.5 on 65% shooting in the Big 10, the Gophers can be very good.

Small Forward

Joe Coleman 24 minutes 18 points 81% but 3 turnovers
Oto Osieniks 13 minutes 4.5 points 25%

22.5 points would be terrific in the Big 10, and Coleman looks to me like he is ready to bust out even against better competition. But what to do with Rodney?

Point Guard

Austin Hollins 22 minutes 9.5 points 50% 6 assists
Julian Welch 19 minutes 6 points 33% 3 boards, 3.5 assists, 2.5 turnovers

15.5 points and 9.5 assists would be very acceptable in the Big 10.

Shooting Guard

Andre Hollins 19 minutes 8 points 64%
Maverick Ahanmisi 17 minutes 5 points 57% 3 boards

I guess the question is whether Welch or Ahanmisi is really the back-up point guard. The fact is that Welch has more assists than Mav does so far. 13 points is a little disappointing at this position, though 60% is a nice percentage. But you'd like this position to be covered by a go-to type of guy, and I'm not sure Andre is it. It's the only place the Gophers have not been up to par.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gopher Women Sleepwalk Past Mankato

The Gopher women followed 1 strong effort with a weak effort, but finished the exhibition season at, well, 0-0, I guess. But with 2 wins. After 2 games:


Micaela Riche 26 minutes, 14 ppg, 55% shooting, 9 rebounds
Jackie Johnson 10 minutes, has yet to score
Katie Loberg has not played, out for a couple weeks with a leg injury
Amanda Zahui B. not yet with the team

A lot will change here before we're done. The news right now is Loberg is hurt, and Jackie Johnson has not hit any kind of stride. Riche has been pretty solid at 14 and 9 and 55.

Power Forward

Kionna Kellogg 24 minutes, 8 ppg, 43%, 7 boards, 2 assists, 2.5 steals
Kayla Hirt 27 minutes, 9 points, 44%, 6 boards, 2.5 assists

Kellogg played in the post in game 1 and Hirt moved up, but longer term I think Hirt will be at the small forward. Kellogg had one great game and one not great game, nothing anywhere near her average. Hirt belongs.

Small Forward

Sari Noga 33 minutes, 7.5 points, 45%, 5.5 boards, 3 assists, 3.5 steals

Sari isn't quick, can't jump...but she is getting the job done. 

Point Guard

Rachel Banham 28.5 minutes, 21 points, 54%, 6 boards, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals, but 3.5 turnovers
Leah Cotton 15.5 minutes, 4.5 points, 52%, 2.5 boards, 2 assists, 3 turnovers

Cotton has done some nice things, but overall she still looks like a freshman out there. Banham has been fine fine fine.

Shooting Guard

Mikayla Bailey 30.5 minutes, 7 points, 36%, 2 assists, 2 steals
Shayne Mullaney played 13 minutes and then zero minutes, has yet to score

I was wrong about Mikayla Bailey, she can play at this level. I am not ready to say I was wrong about Shayne Mullaney, but she sure hasn't looked comfortable out there yet.


Minnesota is shooting 45%--50% on 3s and 44% on 2s. Opponents shot just 31%, and less than 25% on 3s. The Gophers are giving up a ton of offensive boards (23 in 2 games) and turning it over (25 times vs. Mankato along, 23 times per game over the 2 games. 

Strengths--So far, Banham, Riche, Hirt, Noga, Kellogg; points in the paint (37-21 advantage on average)

Weaknesses--So far, turnovers and defensive rebounding

With Loberg and Zahui B. out, and Johnson and Mullaney not yet in sync, it feels like we don't know much about this team just yet. But it doesn't hurt that Noga and Bailey are showing a lot more than expected and another newcomer--Hirt--is delivering more or less just as expected, considering that we expected a lot.

Wolves Comeback Is for the Ages

It's just game #3, and here the Timberwolves have already played perhaps their most remarkable game of the year. In case you missed it, they hammered the host Brooklyn Nets 32-10 in the 4th quarter to roar back from a 15-point 3rd quarter deficit and defeat the Nets 110-103.

3 quick buckets by Chase Budinger, Alexei Shved (a 3) and Andrei Kirilenko got the Wolves within 10, forcing a Brooklyn timeout. The Nets increased their lead to 12, but 3 more buckets by Dante Cunningham (off the offensive glass), Budinger (a 3) and Shved (another 3) made it 99-93 with still 6:29 remaining. Then a Cunningham block forced a shot clock violation, and a Cunningham bucket from Shved made it 99-95, forcing another Brooklyn timeout.

Still the Wolves kept coming, mostly with Pekovic, Cunningham, Budinger, Barea and Shved on the floor. A Nikola Pekovich 2 finally tied it up at 1:32, a Budinger 3 not quite a minute later gave the Wolves the lead at 106-103, and 2 FT each by Luke Ridnour and Shved iced it. Inside of 5 minutes it was 13-2 Minnesota.

Shved contributed 10 points, a rebound, an assist and a steal during the 4th quarter, Budinger 8 points, 3 boards and an assist, and Cunningham 6 points, 6 boards and a key block. None of the 3 is a starter for coach Rick Adelman. Pekovich was the only starter on the floor through the heart of the 4th quarter.

After 3 Games

The Wolves are 2-1, and who could ask for more after 3 games with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and during which both point guards have had injury problems. Well, did they really have to stink it up that bad in game #2 at Toronto? But anyway, here's the scouting report after 3 games.


Pekovic 29 minutes per game, 15 ppg, 50% FG shooting, 7 boards
Stiemsma 14 minutes, 5 points, 46%

Stiemsma was the star of game 1 but Pek has reasserted his claim to being number 1 at the position. 20 points, 10 boards and C+ defense between 'em is an acceptable contribution.

Power Forward

D. Williams 22 minutes, 9 points, 29% shooting, 9 boards
Cunningham 23 minutes, 7 points, 42%, 7 boards

Cunningham is a pretty good back-up. Other than that, Kevin Love, please hurry home. Not only will Kevin give the Wolves' offense a boost but the defense, too.

Small Forward

Kirilenko 31 minutes, 14 points, 68%, 8 boards, 5 assists
Budinger 23 minutes, 11 points, 48%, 5 boards

Budinger is now getting some time at the off guard. Both can play. Kirilenko is Minnesota's best overall player so far.

Point Guard

Ridnour 24 minutes, 9 points, 56%, 3 boards
Barea 22 minutes, 12 points, 50%, 2 boards, 4 assists

Barea would have more minutes but for getting bounced out of the Toronto game after only 8-and-a-half minutes of play. He has been a solid contributor. Ridnour less so, though both are shooting out the lights. Defense is not good.

Off Guard

Roy 26 minutes, 7 points, 29%, 2 boards, 4 assists
Shved 18 minutes, 6 points, 29%

Budinger starting to get a lot of these minutes. Roy is not working out, though the guy, remarkably, given his knees, can and does play D.


The Wolves are mostly shooting well except for the 29 per centers--Williams, Roy, Shved. But they're giving up a nice percentage, too, and especially they're getting hammered from 3 point range. We're getting to the FT line--27 times per game to just 17 for the opponents.

And they're losing the possession game, though by a slim margin. They're turning the ball over 15 times per game, the opponents 11.

Strengths--2 point FG shooting, getting to the FT line, Kirilenio, Budinger, Barea
Weaknesses--3 point shooting, turnovers, Williams, Roy

I picked the Wolves to be right around .500. It won't take too many 4th quarters like that to exceed my expectations. A good start but, again, Kevin Love, please hurry hurry hurry home.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SDSU, Jacks Women 2-0

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits (nee Gophers) women got off to a good start last weekend with 2 easy exhibition wins. UM-Crookston fell 86-43 and Black Hills State 90-48. When they play next Saturday and Sunday at Williams Arena they will have 7 Minnesotans on board. To date, 4 of their 5 starters are Minnesotans:

GabbyBoever 5-9 soph G from Worthington scored 14 points vs. Black Hills
Mariah Clarin 6-1 soph F from Princeton scoring 8.5 ppg so far and a team high 7.5 boards
Leah Dietel 6-1 senior F from Jordan scoring 9 ppg so far
Megan Waytashek 6-1 sophomore G-F from Centennial leads the scoring so far at 14.5 ppg

Off the bench:

Megan Stuart 6-2 sophomore F from Roseville has played 17.5 minutes per game so far
Jessie Hart 5-9 freshman G from Eagan has played 4 minutes in each game
Hannah Strop 6-1 junior F from New Prague played 7 minutes in game 1 and DNP in game 2

Also of note:

Back up post Katie Lingle is the Jacks' secret weapon, playing 19.5 minutes per game with 15 points plus 2 blocks in game 1 and 4 steals in game 2. Guard Tara Heiser played 35 minutes in the 2 games and scored 12 points in game 2.

Let's hope the Gophers face SDSU on Sunday, and let's further hope it is for the Best Buy Classic Title.

Gopher Men Are Deep!

Tubby Smith's Minnesota Gopher men successfully opened their 2012-2013 season with an 81-56 exhibition win over Mankato State, as 14 Gophers played and 13 of them scored. The Gophers out-shot Mankato 72 percent to 22 in the 1st half for a 42-22 halftime lead. The biggest lead was at 69-35 and 73-39.

Joe Coleman led the Gophers with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. No other Gopher scored in double figures. Austin Hollins had the 2nd best line with 9 points, 9 assists and a 9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Tubby's Rotation

C- Elliott Eliason 17 minutes Mo Walker 9 Andre Ingram 14

Eliason scored just 2 points on 1-for-1 shooting, but added 7 boards, a block and a steal. Mo Walker was solid in his return from almost 2 years off, but played only 9 minutes as his weight and conditioning continue to be a concern. Ingram was solid with 6 points on 3-of-5 shooting.

PF- Rodney Williams 15 Trevor Mbakwe 11 Charles Buggs 10 Chris Halvorsen 3 Ingram 1

Williams had 8 points of 4-of-6 shooting. Mbakwe was a bit tentative on his surgically repaired knee. Buggs had 2 points on 1-of-1 shooting with no boards.

Wing- Joe Coleman 24 Oto Osieniks 16

Coleman was good. Osieniks was good, too, with 6 points of 2-of-6 shooting, 4 boards, an assist and a steal.

PG- Austin Hollins 23 Maverick Ahanmisi 17

I've already mentioned Hollins' line. Mav was good, too, with 5 points on 2-of-5 shooting, 3 boards, 3 assists and even 2 blocked shots.

SG- Andre Hollins 16 Julian Welch 18 Ahanmisi 3 Kendall Shell 3 

Andre scored 4 on 2-of-3 shooting, with 2 steals. Welch scored 4 on 2-of-4 shooting with 4 boards, 3 assists and a steal.

Thing to Work On


2. Gave up 14 offensive boards.