Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 30--Wednesday means MIAC

MIAC playoffs are a mere 2 1/2 weeks away. Some MIAC teams have just 2 weeks left of their basketball seasons. (Say what?) And if the playoffs had started yesterday, the Carleton men would have snuck in at #6 and Gustavus would have been out. Meanwhile, the Hamline and St. Olaf women were tied for the 6th and final spot.

Today the Gusties men are in and Carleton is out, while Hamline has taken over sole possession of #6 among the women.

Gustavus men 82 St. Mary's 43 and St. Thomas men 74 Carleton 52

Hapless St. Mary's (now 2-12) were no match for the Gusties in St. Peter, and Carleton is no match for the awesome Tommies (14-1) anywhere. Ben Biewen contributed 13 points, 6 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals for the Gusties. John Nance led St. Thomas with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

Hamline women 52 Macalester 43 and Concordia (Moorhead) women 65 St. Olaf 58

Hamline won the bragging rights to Snelling Avenue as well as a lead in the battle for the 6th and final playoff spot. Kara Poirer and Steph Pilgrim combined for 29 Piper points while Poirer added 5 assists and Pilgrim 3 blocks. Emily Thesing led 1st place Concordia with 20 points.

Sidebar: The Gustavus-St. Mary's women's game, won by host St. Mary's 65-58, matched high school rivals Julia Dysthe of White Bear Lake and Gustavus and Jessica Thone of Woodbury and St. Mary's. In 2 years of high school ball, Thone's team won 3 times while White Bear Lake won twice but including the rubber match, the Section 4 final of 2009, earning a spot in the state tournament.

Player of the Day: Steph Pilgrim, Hamline, leading scorer among MIAC women.

Coach: Mark Hanson, Gustavus

The Big Game Jan. 29--Minnesota Gopher men 84 Nebraska 65

Coming off a 4 game losing streak, the Minnesota Gophers took their frustrations out on lowly (2-6, now 2-7) Nebraska, aggressively attacking the rim for dunk after dunk after dunk and an 84-65 rout of the Cornhuskers. Sure, Nebraska didn't put up much of a fight, but the Gophers can't help their opponent's faults. They can only exploit them. And they did. The Gophers did what they had to do and they did it well.

Rodney Williams set the tone with a dunk off the opening tip, with an assist to Austin Hollins. Rodney followed that with a pair of throws off of an offensive board and another dunk off of another offensive board for a quick 7-0 lead. Four more layups followed by Rodney, Trevor Mbakwe, Mbakwe again and Austin Hollins. By now it was 19-8. But then came 2 more dunks by Trevor and Rodney, and another lay-up by Austin.

Finally Minnesota hit its 1st bucket other than layups and dunks. That was a jumper by Rodney at 12: 14 that gave Minnesota a 23-8 lead. The lead varied from 7 to 14 points, and it was 44-35 at the half.

The Gophers mostly extended their lead in the 2nd half. Only once, at 48-40, did Nebraska shorten the lead. But at 48-40, Andre Hollins hit 3-for-3 FT, then a jumper, and Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman each scored a pair of buckets to make it 63-47 at 11:03. The lead hit 20 at 71-51 at 5:56 after buckets by Maverick Ahanmisi, Oto Osenieks and Julian Welch. The much-maligned Gopher bench actually extended the lead from 14 to 20 points during that stretch.

Nebraska tried to make a game of it mostly on the incredible shooting of Ray Gallegos, who hit 6-of-10 3s and 6-of-7 2s for 30 points. The Huskers only other consistent weapon was post Brandon Uble, but he was way out-numbered in the paint and the Gophers' onslaught against the rim got him into foul trouble and he committed his 5th with more than 7 minutes remaining. He finished with 13 points but just 1 rebound.

Both teams shot 54 percent but Minnesota got off 15 more FGs and 8 more FT attempts. The Gophers forced a number of Nebraska turnovers off of a full court man defense, but it was on the glass that Minnesota really dominated, 38-23. On the Gophers' offensive glass, Minnesota grabbed 18 caroms to just 16 defensive boards for Nebraska. On the other end Minnesota's edge was 20-7. As a result, the Gophers scored 22 2nd chance points to just 3 for the Huskers.

Rodney Williams scored 23 points with 6 boards, Andre Hollins scored 14, and Austin Hollins scored 11 with 5 assists. Ahanmisi was the Gophers' best player off the bench with 9.

Next, another eminently winnable home game vs. Iowa before its on the road against to East Lansing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January Game of the Day

*Subject to change as things evolve. Top half dozen games in boldface.

Tues., Jan. 1--New Year off to unhappy start. No Minnesota basketball games!

Wed., Jan. 2--#2AAAA Eastview girls at #3AAAA Bloomington Kennedy. Ah, now that's a Happy New Year.

Thurs., Jan. 3--Minnesota Gopher women at Michigan State. Like the men, the women open the Big 10 season versus MSU, but on the road. Spartans have the Big 10's best non-conference record at 12-1.

Fri., Jan. 4--#6AA Caledonia girls at #8AA Dover-Eyota. Both are 11-0.

Sat., Jan. 5--Augsburg men at St. Thomas. Both are unbeaten in the MIAC, 1st place is on the line. I know that the Timberwolves Shootout is today with games at 9, 11, 1 and 3 where you'll get to see Matt Thomas of Onalaska, WI; Anders Broman, Rashad Vaughan and Tyus Jones. But I just can't not bite on the final match-up of unbeatens in the MIAC. Call me crazy.

Sun., Jan. 6--Northwestern men at Minnesota Gopher men; Minnesota Gopher women at Wisconsin. Your pick.

Mon., Jan. 7--St. Mary's women at Concordia (Moorhead), and Gustavus women at Macalester. MIAC early leaders (#1, 3, 4, 6) square off.

Tues., Jan. 8--Atlanta Hawks at Minnesota Timberwolves. T-Wolves hope to be getting it together against 1 of the NBA's surprise stories.

Wed., Jan. 9--St. Thomas women at Gustavus. Both unbeaten in the MIAC, 1st place on the line (pending intervening games).

Thurs., Jan. 10--Ohio State women at Minnesota Gophers. Gopher women open Big 10 home season vs. old friend Tayler Hill.

Fri., Jan. 11--#7AA Staples-Motley girls at #3AA Sauk Centre.

Sat., Jan. 12--Minnesota Gopher men at Indiana. Hoosiers recently rated #1 until upset loss to Butler.

Sun., Jan. 13--Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs. Tough way to celebrate the 13th day of the 13th year.

Mon., Jan. 14--Carleton men at Gustavus.

Tues., Jan. 15--Mankato State men and women at Concordia (St. Paul), doubleheader. But the women especially are 13-5 between 'em.

Wed., Jan. 16--St. Thomas women at Macalester. For supremacy of St. Paul south of I-94.

Thurs., Jan. 17--#2 Michigan Wolverines men at #9 Minnesota Gophers. 

Fri., Jan. 18--Mankato State at St. Cloud State, women's and men's doubleheader. The best rivalry among Minnesota small schools is on again, and as of 1-1 all 4 teams are 4-1 in the conference.

Sat., Jan. 19--#3A Maranatha girls at #1A Mountain Iron-Buhl. A replay of last year's state Class A final.

Sun., Jan. 20--Nebraska Cornhuskers women at Minnesota Gophers.

Mon., Jan. 21--St. Thomas men and women at Concordia (Moorhead). Great doubleheader, the 4 teams are 15-3 in the MIAC as of 1-1.

Tues., Jan. 22--#1AA Providence girls at #3AAA DeLaSalle.

Wed., Jan. 23--Minnesota Gopher men at Northwestern.

Thurs., Jan. 24--Minnesota Gopher women at #9/10 Penn State.

Fri., Jan. 25--#4AAA New Prague girls at #3AAA Chaska.

Sat., Jan. 26--Eden Prairie boys and girls at DeLaSalle. Let's play 2! So let me see, that's the #6AAAA boys versus #1AAA, and the #2AAA girls versus unrated (in the MN Basketball News poll) Eden Prairie but the Eagles are #7AAAA in the QRF ratings at >.

Sun., Jan. 27--Bummer. No games. Good thing we got 2 in yesterday.

Mon., Jan. 28--Illinois women at Minnesota Gophers. Gophers will need this one after playing 4 of 1st 6 on the road, including highly rated Michigan State, Purdue and Penn State.

Tues., Jan. 29--#1AAA Fergus Falls girls at #7AA Staples-Motley.

Wed., Jan. 30--L.A. Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thurs., Jan. 31--#2A Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa boys at #6AA Melrose.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 28--Illinois 91!

Some of you might remember that after the Creighton game I said the Gophers defense might be a bit of a problem. Since then Nebraska scored 84, at the Barn no less. And now, a mediocre Illinois (was 10-8) does better than that with 2:30 minutes left in the game and finishes with 91. The Gophers battled back from deficits of 31-19 and 58-45 and 77-63 to take an 82-81 lead with 4:11 remaining.

But the Illini scored on 6 of the last 10 possessions, while the Gophers scored on 2-of-10 and turned it over 4 times. Illinois finished up on a 10-4 run. If you can't get a defensive stop, it puts an awful lot of pressure on the offense, which played that way down the stretch.

Rachel Banham scored 37 with 3 assists and 2 blocks.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 26--St. Thomas women on the skids

The St. Thomas women lost for the 3rd straight game (and 4th of 6) to fall into a tie for 4th place in the MIAC. These are the same Tommies who came into the season as prohibitive favorites after finishing 22-0 in the conference a year ago, 31-2 overall with 30 straight wins, and a trip to the D3 Final Four. They started this season 11-1, 9-0 in the MIAC and rated as high as #3 nationally. Suddenly St. Thomas had lost 3 games at St. Ben's, at Concordia and at St. Mary's. All 3 losses not only came on the road, but to the top 3 teams in the conference standings as of today.

Now comes a shocking loss at home to 6th place Hamline (8-7). The Pipers took an early 20-11 lead, but the Tommies came back to within 3 at the half and took the lead 38-36 at 12:13. But Hamline scored the next 13 points, 8 of them by Steph Pilgrim, and the Tommies never got closer than 8.

Each team had 13 turnovers, yet Hamline out-scored St. Thomas 19-3 on points off turnovers. The offensive boards were 18-11 Hamline and the 2nd chance points 15-8 Hamline.

Maggie Weiers remains out with an injury for St. Thomas. Taylor Young is back from early injury troubles, but fouled out with 0 points, 4 boards and 4 turnovers.

Meanwhile the top high school game of the day saw the Maranatha girls win at Upsala 70-68 despite 28 points by Upsala's Aimee Pelzer.

Player of the Day: Taylor Hall, Bethel men, 6-8, senior forward, scored 37 points and added 14 boards, 4 assists and 3 blocks as Royals edged Carleton 74-73. Bethel is now 8-6 in the conference, Carleton 7-6.

The high school player of the day is Graham Woodward of Edina who scored 33 in a 78-68 win over St. Paul Johnson.

Coach of the Day: Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul) women, who won their 5th straight, and took over sole possession of 1st place in the Southern Division at 11-3 as Augustana lost at Mankato State 78-73 to drop to 10-4. St. Cloud leads the North at 10-4.

The high school coaches of the day are Dave Thorson and Faith Johnson Patterson of DeLaSalle, who swept Eden Prairie 77-60 (boys) and 78-57 (girls).

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 25: Concordia (St. Paul) women 59 Augustana 47

The Concordia (St. Paul) women won their 5th straight game to gain a tie for 1st place in the NSIC South. The victim today was Augustana, which drops to 10-3 as the Bears move up to 10-3 with the win. The Bears led 39-21 at the half and Augie never got inside of double digits. Anika Whiting led Concordia with 14 points and 7 boards.

But the Player of the Day is Tyus Jones, who seems to have recovered from his injuries. He scored 35 points with 7 assists as Apple Valley beat Prior Lake 81-67.

Coach of the Day is Paul Fessler of the Concordia women.

The Big Game Jan. 24--Faribault BA girls and RTR boys win

2 high school games matched top 10 teams. The #10A Faribault Bethlehem Academy girls surprised #3 and host Goodhue 60-57 as Jessica Mathews scored 27 points with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. And the #5A Russell-Tyler-Ruthton boys also won on the road at #10A Dawson-Boyd 74-69 as Brett Peterson also scored 27 points and added 10 boards and 4 assists.

Player of the Day; Jade Martin scored 37 points for the Bloomington Kennedy girls as they hammered Burnsville 85-57.

Coaches of the Day: Tammy Filzen, Faribault BA girls, and Ted Kern, RTR boys

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Not So Big Game Jan. 23--Northwestern men 55 Minnesota Gophers 48

!@#$%^&*>?

Player of the Day: Scott Theisen, Carleton men, 22 points, 12 boards, 10 assists as the Knights knocked off Concordia (Moorhead) 75-72, and Jamie Stefely, St. Mary's women, 22 points and 9 boards as the Cardinals handed the St. Thomas women their 2nd straight defeat, 62-56. Coach of the Day: Jessica Rahman, Concordia (Moorhead) women, now in 1st place in the MIAC.

The Big Games Jan. 22--294 High School Games...

...and as far as I can see, 4 of them matched top 10-rated teams.

#2AAA DeLaSalle girls 54 #1AA Providence 46 as Tyseanna Johnson scored 23 points for the Islanders

#2AAAA Hopkins girls 60 #8AAAA Minnetonka 47 as Nia Coffey scored 24 for Hopkins

#5AA Byron boys 62 #7AA Hayfield 45

#5AAAA Edina girls 52 #9AAAA Wayzata 42 as MC McGrory scored 29 for Edina

And, at least 3 rated teams were upset.

Chanhassan girls 70 #3AAA Red Wing 52

Shakopee girls 53 #5AAA Chaska 50 despite Elle Thompson's 23 points for Chaska

Prior Lake boys 66 #8AAAA Lakeville North 65 despite J.P. Macura's 37 points for North


Game of the Day: #1 vs. #2, DeLaSalle girls 54 Providence 46

Team of the Day: Byron boys

Players of the Day: J.P. among the boys, MC among the girls

Coach of the Day: Kerry Linbo, Byron boys





Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Big Games Jan. 21--Concordia Moorhead Sweeps St. Thomas

What a night to be a Concordia Cobber!

First the women knocked off the 1st place (and recently rated as highly as #3 in the nation) Tommies 69-62. But the Cobbers were just getting warmed up on this cold, below zero night.

Because then came what Concordia's news service called an "improbable" win but perhaps the biggest win in Cobber basketball history, 54-52 over the previously unbeaten and #1 ranked Tommies men. Senior guard Andrew Martinson scored 11 points, all within the space of 3 minutes in the 2nd half, as Concordia erased a 37-32 deficit with a 17-6 run.

Now leading 49-43 at 5:55, Concordia would never trail again, though the Tommies would tie it up at 52 on a Will DeBerg 3 at 1:50. But the Tommies missed their last 4 shots, and Jacob Huus hit a pair of throws at 0:29 to win it. Huus finished with 9 points, 11 boards and 4 assists.

The women followed a similar script, using a 16-4 2nd half run to turn a 39-31 deficit into a 47-43 lead. They too would never trail again though the Tommies tied it up momentarily at 47. Finally it was 63-62 at 0:42, and St. Thomas missed their last 3 shots while Tricia Sorenson and Erika Jossart scored 4 and 2 points, respectively, including 4-of-6 throws, to clinch it. Sorenson led the Cobbers with 15 points and 8 rebounds, coming off the bench for the 1st time this year after starting 15 straight games.

The Concordia women thus tied St. Thomas for 1st place in the MIAC at 11-2, just 1 game ahead of Gustavus, St. Ben's and St. Mary's. Among the men, St. Thomas remains comfortably in 1st at 11-1, 2 games ahead of Augsburg and 3 games ahead of the Cobbers. But the national #1 ranking is probably a casualty at least for the time being.

Player of the Day: Concordia's 6th players, Andrew Martinson and Tricia Sorenson.

Coach of the Day: Obviously Concordia's Rich Glas and Jessica Rahman are the obvious candidates. But I just gotta mention a 3rd really amazing game last night. #1AA boys Pelican Rapids traveled to #6AA Hawley...and lost 79-51. So Hawley's Jed Carlson is the Coach of the Day, 'cause I got no other category left to get Hawley into today's report.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 20--Nebraska Cornhusker women 84 Minnesota Gophers 63

Ouch.

Can anybody here play defense?

The 1st half was OK, 41-38. The 2nd half, not so much. 43-25. This was at home, at the Barn.

As far as I know, there was no other Minnesota basketball game today, so there's no Player of the Day or Coach of the Day or Team of the Day today. Whatever hopes the Gophers or their fans have for 2013 are severely in doubt based on today's effort.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 19--Mountain Iron Girls and/or Hockey Day

Now and again even a basketball fanatic has to say, It's Hockey Day.

And, I don't know about you, but I'm not even talking about those greedy bastards who run the NHL.

I'm talking about the Gopher men and the Gopher women.

The Gopher Men

The men settled for a 4-4 tie in their last regular season game against the North Dakota Fighting Whatevers for awhile. Last night it was 6-1 Minnesota. Tonight, not so much. And with the Gophers moving to the Big 10, the two won't be playing again anytime soon unless it's in the post-season. This after playing pretty much every year for 83 years. Their loss.

The Gopher Women

The women, on the other hand, hammered Mankato State 6-0. Last night it was 8-1. And as a result, the Lady Gophers (can I call them that?) have tied the NCAA record of 32 consecutive games without a loss. And guess who they're tied with? Wisconsin. And guess who we play next weekend with the record on the line? You guessed it.

But, wait. There's somethin' fishy about that record. The Gophers have WON 32 straight. And now they say we've tied the record of 32 games unbeaten? Well, those are 2 different things. Apparently Wisky had a tie or two in there, so if you ask me, we've already got a record.

And then on top of that Amanda Kessell scored her 200th career point last night, making her the 6th Gopher and 24th in NCAA history to do so. And she's still just a junior. So the school record of 247 points, held by Natalie Darwitz, looks like a goner.

For those of you who don't know, here's a tip. After a basketball game, any basketball game, the best sports show in town is Gopher women's hockey at Ridder Arena. Do yourself a favor and check 'em out. It's a great atmosphere, and for the most part the Gophers are just a bunch of nice Minnesota girls. But what's even better is that Kessell is from Madison, WI. Her dad, Phil, was a Minnesotan who went to Wisky to play college hockey, but now his daughter has returned the favor. And so the Badgers, NCAA champs in '06, '07, '09 and '11, now they're lookin' up at us. Last year we beat Wisky 4-2 in the NCAA final at Duluth.

And Then There's This Other Team

Apparently some other hockey team is playing in St. Paul tonight.

Basketball Game, Team, Player and Coach of the Day

But, hey, I've still gotta come up with some hoops stars for the day. The Game of the Day saw the Mountain Iron-Buhl girls, rated #1A, defeat #3A Maranatha in a replay of last year's state final. The score was 65-57 as 8th grader  Chelsea Mason scored MIB's 1st 9 points and 21 for the night (with 4 boards, 4 steals and 2 assists). Just to keep things simple, MIB is the Team of the Day and MIB coach Jeff Buffetta is Coach of the Day.

But the Player of the Day is the Timberwolves Andrei Kirilenko with 21 points, 11 boards and 3 steals as the Wolves surprised the Houston Rockets 92-79.


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 18--Concordia Sweeps UMD

The Golden Bears of Concordia (St. Paul) travelled to UMD and came away with 2 wins. The main significance of this is that for the men, it is their 1st NSIC win after 10 losses. The women move into sole possession of 2nd place in the NSIC South at 8-3.

The men led most of the way but needed OT to beat the Bulldogs 76-73. Terez Van Pelt scored 18 with 7 assists while Brett Ervin scored 27 for UMD (2-9).

The women had 24 turnovers and gave up 18 offensive rebounds. And won, 66-53, as UMD made just 23-of-81 FG, 28 percent, and Concordia made 25-of-29 FT. Rachel Hansen had 19 points and 7 assists, but half of the Bears' turnovers.

Player of the Day: For the 2nd time in 3 nights, it is Taylor Thunstedt of the New London-Spicer girls. She scored 50 the other night. Tonight, only 40 (of her team's 53) as the Wildcats fell to Waconia 58-53.

Coach of the Day: Lori Fish, St. Cloud State women, who beat Mankato State 69-65.

L.A. Clippers Show T-Wolves How It's Done

Who says the Minnesota Timberwolves can't catch a break? The L.A. Clippers came to town with the 2nd best record in the NBA but with perhaps its (the NBA's) best player, point guard Chris Paul, hurt. But, of course, the T-Wolves can cover Paul with Kevin Love and raise 'em Chase Budinger, Malcolm Lee and Brandon Roy.

On top of that, Nikola Pekovic left the game with a "quad contusion" at 3:39 of the 3rd and Alexey Shved went out with a sprained ankle at 5:40 of the 4th. It's not yet known when either will be back, but they're expected to miss practice on Friday at a minimum. The Wolves trailed by 5 when Pekovic went out.

Minnesota, in short, hung around. L.A. led by 5 at the 1st quarter break, 4 at the half, and by 5 after 3. But a 16-6 run to open the 4th quarter put the game out of reach for the Wolves. And the fact is that at no time was there a sense that Minnesota could or would win this game.

L.A. played methodically rather than with flair, well, unless you consider a dunk-fest to be colorful. The Clips had 6 dunks in the 1st half, and 6 other lay-ups. Meanwhile, the Wolves were actually having to work for their points. So it never felt like the Clips were in any danger of losing.

It is true that the Wolves actually won the possession game, however, 13-11 off the offensive glass and 14-18 on turnovers. But the Clips shot 46 percent to the Wolves 36, and 38 from behind the arc to the Wolves 21. The dunks were 8-3 Clips, and L.A. had a total of 18 dunks and layups, Minnesota 11. And because the Wolves were not as strong to the rim (or because L.A. defended the rim), Minnesota missed 8 layups. L.A. missed 4.

In other words, L.A. shot 18-for-22 on layups and dunks, we shot 11-of-19. They scored 14 more points from point blank range and won by 13.

Think of it this way. L.A. shot 17-for-55 (31 percent) from outside the little circle, the Wolves 19-of-65 (29 percent). This game ain't so hard if you can avoid giving up the layup, but it's damn hard if you can't get to the rim yourself.

Luke Ridnour was the Wolves' best player, scoring 21 points with 5 assists. Andrei Kirilenko scored 15 with 4 steals, Derrick Williams 10 with 7 boards and 2 blocks. Nikola Pekovic was held to just 4 points before leaving in the 3rd quarter, and Ricky Rubio had 4 points and 6 assists. There was no matchup anywhere on the floor that the Timberwolves won.

Blake Griffin was a bully inside, scoring 20 points, but Jamal Crawford was even better, a stiletto to Griffin's meat-ax, with 22 points. Caron Butler added 12, Ronny Turiaf 11 and Matt Barnes 10. The L.A. bench out-scored the Wolves' reserves 45-23.


The Big Game Jan. 17--Michigan men 83 Minnesota Gophers 75

For the second time in as many games, the Minnesota Gopher men dug themselves a nice, deep hole that, despite a furious 2nd half rally, they were unable to find a way out of. (Pardon my grammar.) Michigan led by as many as 19 points in the 2nd half (56-37 at 13:36 and 58-39 at 12:31).

A 16-6 run, with Austin Hollins scoring 9 points and Andre 5, got Minnesota within single digits as early as 8:13. But they didn't get any closer than that until 77-70 at 2:43 on a pair of Rodney Williams buckets. But that's as close as they would get. The final was 83-75.

Austin Hollins led the Gophers with 21 points, 6 boards and 4 steals. Trevor Mbakwe scored 13 with 10 boards and 5 blocked shots.

Turnovers again were a problem. The margin was just 15 for Minnesota and 12 for Michigan, but ours hurt more, to the tune of a 24-15 Wolverines margin on points off of those turnovers.

Player of the Day: Austin Hollins 21 points 6 boards 4 steals

Coach of the Day: Ashlee Zupancich coached North Woods (located in Cook, MN) to a 52-50 upset of #1A Mountain Iron-Buhl.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 16--Gustavus men surprise Augsburg 70-59

The Gustavus men surprised 2nd place Augsburg 70-59 at Augsburg Wednesday night, pulling away from a 32-all half-time tie and a 40-40 tie at the 10 minute mark. But over the next 3 minutes the Gusties ripped off a 16-2 run and never looked back. Ben Biewen, Jim Hill and Isaac Tapp each scored 2 buckets in the run, and Hill finished with team highs of 20 points and 6 boards. Biewen contributed 14 points and 8 assists.

Player of the Day: In the absence of anybody having a super killer-diller night, here's a choice based more on the body of work. Anna Smith, St. Thomas women, forward-center. She was the starting big forward anyway, but now she's moved into the pivot to cover for the injured Maggie Weiers. In her 1st year as a regular, she's become the Tommies leading scorer at 10.6 ppg and their leading rebounder with 7 per game. Last night she had 20 points and 8 boards as St. Thomas manhandled Macalester 73-44. Coach of the Day: Mark Hanson, Gustavus men.

The Big Game Jan. 15--Apple Valley and Delano boys win

With all due respect to the fine Concordia vs. Mankato women's game that I saw, the best games of the day had to be a couple of boys' games. Apple Valley and Tyus Jones overcame Lakeville North and J.P. Macura's 31 points to win 79-75 in OT. And Delano defeated Waconia 65-62, using a 20-4 run to end the 1st half to build a 41-28 lead.

Player of the Day: Oops. Changer of plans. Some of you may have seen MC McGrory as my PoD, but now I see that Taylor Thunstedt of New London-Spicer scored 50 last night, leading the Wildcats to a 73-59 win over Glencoe-Silver Lake.

Still, I won't delete the following: McGrory, a Creighton recruit, scored 29 points and outplayed Gopher recruit Joanna Hedstrom (9 points) as Edina surprised host Minnetonka 60-50

Coach of the Day: As much as I'd like to pick Delano boys' coach Terry Teachem, I gotta go with the wiley Annette Wiles of the UMD women, who reversed a 20-point loss to St. Cloud earlier this year.

Concordia (St. Paul) and Minnesota State Mankato split

Mankato State--er, I mean Minnesota State University Mankato--came to St. Paul HOT. The men were the only 8-1 team in the Northern Sun Conference and were riding a 6 game winning streak, and they were #1 in scoring (79 ppg), #1 in scoring margin (+15 ppg) and the #1 rebounding team in the NSIC. At 11-2 overall, the Mavs are rated #8 in the country in D2.

The women had won just 2 straight but 4-of-5, including an 80-79 win at then undefeated Augustana. They were #2 in scoring (78 ppg) and #3 in scoring margin (+14 ppg). And they too are rated, #20 nationally in D2.

But one of 'em ran into yet another hot team--the Concordia (St. Paul) women, winners of 6-of-7 games, including one that busted a 52-game home winning streak at Wayne State about 10 days ago.  And so the Concordia women knocked off Minnesota State University Mankato--the heck with it, Mankato State--83-68 to tighten up the NSIC race, Both are now 7-3, 1 game behind Augustana in the South Division.

But the Maverick men left town the way they came in--riding high, now 9-1--after a dominant 86-70 win that leaves the Concordia men 0-10.

Concordia (St. Paul) women 83 Minnesota State Mankato 68

Concordia took the lead for good at 12-10 and quickly stretched it out to 24-12. Mankato got back within single digits from time to time--36-28 at the half and for the last time at 55-46. But the Bears held the Mavs at bay with an effective defense. Mankato shot 37 percent from the field while Concordia post Kionda Nicks blocked 6 shots and the Bears had 13 steals, 4 of them by Player of the Game Rachel Hansen.

The marquee matchup was inside, however, where a pair of Wisconsin natives and the NSIC's top 2 scorers--the Bears' 6-2 sophomore Anika Whiting and Mankato's 6-foot junior Ali Wilkinson--squared off. Wilkinson won the opening tap and scored the game's 1st bucket, then added another for a 10-8 Mankato lead at 16:30. But Whiting answered with the Bears' 1st 2 buckets, both on over the top passes by Carissa Wolyniec.  She quickly added a steal and an offensive rebound and another bucket, on yet another Wolyniec pass, to give Concordia a lead they would never relinquish.

Whiting finished with 28 points, 6 boards and 2 assists, Wilkinson with 23 and 8 boards.

Yet the Bears announced Hansen as Player of the Game. She scored just 10 points, but added game highs in assists with 11, rebounds with 9, and steals with 4. She controlled the ball and controlled the game, as the Mavs' defense was utterly unable to prevent her from running free and doing with the ball and the Bears' offense what she wanted to do.

The Bears, especially, have perfected the in-bounds play, scoring a half-dozen wide-open layups by players cutting down the lane to the hoop, with Hansen or Wolyniec as the trigger.

Wolyniec, meanwhile, opened the 2nd half with a 3 then hit a pair, back-to-back, around the 8 minute mark to end all doubt at 68-48. She finished with 18 points.

No other Mav scored in double figures, and other than Wilkinson (8-of-13) the rest of the Mavs shot 17-for-56 (30 percent). All in all, an impressive performance by Concordia against a solid foe on both ends of the court. But it doesn't get any easier as the Bears will spend the weekend at UMD and then St. Cloud while Mankato does the reverse, visiting St. Cloud, then UMD. Like the Bears and the Mavs, both St. Cloud and UMD are 7-3.

Minnesota State Mankato men 86 Concordia 70

More than Mankato's stellar 9-1 record, the real news is the shocking collapse of the Bears men under coach Kelly Boe. Now 0-10 in the NSIC, the Bears were totally outplayed by a stronger and quicker Maverick team.

Concordia stayed competitive just past the half-way point of the 1st half, in fact leading 19-12 as 6 different players scored the Bears 1st 6 buckets. But Mankato took the lead for good at 22-21 on a cute inside pass from Assem Marei to Connor O'Brien. Quickly it was 32-21 and Concordia never got closer than 7.

The Bears were doubly frustrated by the Mavs' posts Marei and Zach Romashko. Marei muscled his way around the rim to lead Mankato with 18 points, while adding 8 boards and 5 assists. Romashko, on the other hand, hung around the 3 point line and scored on 3 3-pointers, including a couple of quickies that inflated Mankato's lead from 33-26 to 39-26 at about the 2 minute mark of the 1st half. Romashko finished with 13 points.

A 7-2 edge in 3-pointers, of course, doesn't hurt, but still it was in the paint that the Mavs dominated. The rebounds were 41-29, and Mankato used 17 offensive boards, 5 by Marei, to out-scored Concordia 15-7 on 2nd chance points. Jarvis Williams, with 13 points and 8 boards, was also tough around the rim.

The Bears' only answer was point guard Terez Van Pelt, who scored 22 with 6 assists. The other Bears lacked the quickness to get open looks or to prevent the Mavs from getting the same. Mankato turned the ball over just 9 times against the Concordia defense. Based on talent alone, the score coulda/shoulda/woulda been worse but, to their credit, the Bears kept on hustling to the end.

It doesn't get any easier...but you've already heard that. The Bears and Mavs men will also be visiting St. Cloud (8-2) this weekend, along with 2-8 UMD where perhaps Concordia can get its 1st conference win. The Mankato-St. Cloud game should be a doozy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Big Game Mon. Jan. 14--St. Thomas men 94 St. Olaf 64

The Tommies continue to steamroller people, now St. Olaf by 30 on the Olies home court. The #2 Tommies are 10-0 in the MIAC and 15-0 overall. An unbeaten season seems likely now. Who in the MIAC is going to beat 'em?

Player of the Day: But the PoD is Taylor Hall of Bethel, who scored 28 points with 13 rebounds and 4 assists in a 78-62 win at Hamline. Coach of the Day: John Tauer, St. Thomas.

Time for St. Thomas to Move On Up!?

Random thoughts while watching the St. Thomas men demolish St. John's 94-63 in a game in which everyone agreed that St. John's played well....

90 years ago Carleton was the powerhouse of Minnesota small college athletics. After 6 straight MCC (the forerunner of the MIAC) basketball titles and similar success in football, Carleton went in search of tougher competition, joining the Midwest Conference featuring schools like Coe and Beloit and Grinnell. It would be about 50 years before the Knights would come back to the MIAC, their glory years by then far in the rear-view mirror.

Today it is St. Thomas that is the 800-pound gorilla of Minnesota small college athletics. In basketball, the Tommies men have won or shared 7 straight conference titles and won a total of 31 such titles, 8 more than anybody else, through the years. They're 71-3 in the conference since 2006, and St. Thomas won the national title in 2011.

The Tommies women, meanwhile, have won 13 MIAC titles, tying with St. Ben's for the most in conference history. They've won 2 straight, and made the NCAA D3 Final Four last year.

And so it goes, in sport after sport after sport.

Men's Sports

Baseball--31 conference titles, #1 all-time in the MIAC, with 9 in a row and a 224-36 record in the 21st century.

Cross-Country--24 titles, #1

Ice Hockey--28 titles, #1

Indoor Track--27 titles, #1. Oh, and the MIAC has had indoor track competition for, ah, 27 years. The Tommies are 27-for-27.

Outdoor Track--29 titles, #1, including 24 of the past 29.

Then there's football (16 titles, #4, but 3 in a row and national runner-up this past fall), Golf (9 titles, #4), Swimming (10 titles, #4), Soccer (6 titles, #4) and Tennis (9 titles, #7). In only Soccer and Tennis has there not been a title in the 21st century.

Women's Sports

Cross-Country--15 titles, #1

Indoor Track--24 titles, #1, 12 in a row and 24 of 27 overall

Outdoor Track--27 titles, #1, 7 in a row and 27 of 30

Softball--17 titles, #1, 10 of the past 12

Volleyball--13 titles, #1

Golf--8 titles #2

Hockey--2 titles, #2

Tennis--1 title, #3

Soccer--4 titles, #4

Swimming--no titles

Enrollment

Then there's the fact that St. Thomas has almost twice the enrollment of the MIAC's next largest universities with 6,800 undergraduate students (plus another 4,000 graduate students, but for athletic purposes, they don't count). Next best are St. Catherine's at 3,800 and Bethel at 3,500. Granted, this is a little misleading, as St. Kate's enrollment is 97 percent women, so  for women, St. Thomas is the 2nd largest. For men, it is the largest by a good margin with about 3,300. St. John's has just 1,900. It and Bethel are pretty close for #2.

St. Thomas 6,300 undergraduates (plus 4,000 graduate students)
St. Catherine's 3,800 undergrads (mostly women)
Bethel 3,500 (plus 3,000 graduate students)
Augsburg 3,200 (plus 900)
St. Olaf 3,200
Concordia (Moorhead) 2,600
Gustavus 2,500
St. Ben's 2,100 (all women)
Carleton, Hamline, Macalester, St. Mary's about 2,000 (St. Mary's has 3,200 grad students, Hamline 2,900)
St. John's 1,900 (all men)

Concordia (St. Paul) (D2) for comparison 1,700

Show Me the Money

Then there's the little matter of money, as measured by the endowment funds. These are a big help with facilties, for example. Is it a coincidence that St. Thomas and Macalester have shiny new basketball arenas?

Macalester $665 million (acc. to US News)
Carleton $645 million (acc. to the school)
St. Thomas $335 (acc. to US News), $408 (acc. to the school), $557 (acc. to Wikipedia)
St. Olaf $327 (the school), $345 (US News and Wikipedia)

St. John's $144 (US News)
Gustavus $109 (US News)
Concordia (Moorhead) $83 (US News)
Hamline $76 (US News, Wikipedia)
St. Kate's $55 (US News)
St. Mary's $45 (US News)
St. Ben's $45 (US News), $38 (Wikipedia)
Augsburg $33 (US News)
Bethel $25 (US News)

Concordia (St.Paul) for comparison $22 (US News)

MIAC + Concordia St. Paul Average: Enrollment 2,600 Endowment $195M

Comparables

Who is St. Thomas like? The following are all Roman Catholic affiliated. All are D1 in basketball. Many do not have football.

St. Thomas 6,300 undergrad enrollment, classified as a National University and rated #113 in its class, with an endowment of $400 to $500 million

Chicago Loyola 9,800 National University #106, $388 million
Boston College 9,000 National U #31, 1,756M
St. Louis 8,600 National U #92, $880M
Marquette 8,400, National U #83, $400M
Georgetown 7,600, National U #21, $1,162M
Duquesne 5,600 National U #120, $171M
St. Joseph's 5,500, Regional U #8, $173M
Seton Hall 5,100 National U #131, $232M
Xavier 4,500 Regional University #4, $120M
LaSalle 4,500 Regional U #41, $73M
Creighton 4,150 Regional U #1, $300M
Providence 3,850 Regional U #4, $165M
Holy Cross 2,900 National Liberal Arts College #32, $600M

Average D1 Basketball, Not Football: 5,750 enroll, or about 500 less than St. Thomas. $360M endow, or about 10 percent less than St. Thomas.

Not So Comparable

If you narrow it down to private schools that play D1 football, you find that St. Thomas is not very comparable, specifically as it relates to $$$, with schools like these:

Notre Dame 8,500 National U #17, $6.4B
Duke 6,700, National U #8, $5.7B
Northwestern 8,500, National U #12, $5.5B
Stanford 7,000, National U #6, $16.5 B
USC 17,500, National U #24, $3.5B

There are a few other private schools that play D1 football--SMU, TCU, BYU--but not many.

Average D1 Football: 11,600 enroll, not quite twice as many as St. Thomas, and a multi billion dollar endowment ($7.5B), or about 20X more than St. Thomas.

What About Division 2?

So if St. Thomas wants to play football, Division 1 is a stretch. But what about Division 2? Here are some Division 2 private schools with football programs.

Bellarmine 3,100 Regional Universities 11, $42M
Dallas Baptist 3,500 Regional U 50, $34M
Drury 2,100 Regional U 11, $66M
Hillsdale 1,300 National Liberal Arts college 96, $312M
Lewis 4,500, Regional U 35, $40M
Mary 2,800, Regional U 105, $34M
Maryville 3,400 National Liberal Arts 161, $34M
Rockhurst 3,000, Regional U 21, $33M
St. Joseph's IN 1,000, Regional U 27, $20M
St. Mary's TX 4,500 Regional U 20, $126M
William Jewell 1,000 National Liberal Arts 140, $65M

Concordia (St. Paul) 1,700, $22M

Average D2 with football: Enroll 2,750, less than half of St. Thomas. Endow only about $80M, or about 20 percent of St. Thomas.

Summary

St. Thomas is an odd duck. It is a Roman Catholic private school that plays football (along with other sports) in D3. Compared to its peers on these criteria, St. Thomas:

• Has a larger enrollment
• And has a lot more money than its peers

Compared to its peers regardless of classification (Roman Catholic and of its general size and wealth), St. Thomas:

• Plays football

If St. Thomas were to move up to D1 or D2, it:

• In D1, it would have many peer schools that do not play football. But if it wanted to play D1 football, there is virtually no model of "comparable" schools based on size and wealth that play football.

• In D2, the schools that are comparable to St. Thomas (private schools of similar size that play football), their peers would have lower academic ratings on average and much lower endowments. There is virtually no school that is truly comparable to St. Thomas playing football in D2.

This is not to say that St. Thomas is not free to forge a new path, one that few other schools have chosen. But there are in fact 4 private schools in the Northern Sun Conference already. St. Thomas would hardly be the first.

Concordia St. Paul--Regional University # 93, enrollment 1,700, endowment $22M
Augustana--Regional University #3, enrollment 1,800, endowment $53M
Sioux Falls--Regional U #32, enrollment 1,500, endowment $20M
Upper Iowa--Regional U Tier 2, enrollment 5,700, endowment $9M

Still it is hard to see how St. Thomas' prestige would be enhanced by an affiliation with these schools rather than the Carletons and Gustavuses and Macalesters of the world. The next most logical conference affiliation might be the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Western Division. which includes:

Drury
Maryville
Quincy
Rockhurst
William Jewell

These would be much more prestigious than than, well, 3 of the 4 privates in the Northern Sun, but the travel would be vastly greater than in the MIAC or NSIC.

Conclusion

Still, the competitive issues remain substantial. Sure, it's great from the Tommies perspective to be successful. But for the rest of the MIAC members, frankly, St. Thomas' obvious superiority has to be a pain in the butt. Or does it? The fact is that MIAC members derive some prestige from their association with St. Thomas, both from an overall perspective and from an athletic perspective.

So on one side, one's sense of fair play is somewhat offended by the Tommies superiority over its day-to-day opponents in the MIAC. But it is almost impossible to construct an alternative model wherein it makes sense for St. Thomas to be in D1 or D2. Not what I set out to discover, frankly. But on a closer look, an inescapable conclusion.

St. Thomas, you have my blessing to stay D3 in the MIAC. (Which I am sure must be a vast relief to all you Tommies out there.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 13--San Antonio 106 Minnesota Timberwolves 88

Hope is slipping away from the Wolves, replaced suddenly by hope that the Minnesota Wild can accomplish the turnaround that was hoped for and even expected from the Wolves, but seems to be expected no more. The Wolves hung with San Antone for 3 quarters, trailing by 3, 5 and 7 after each of the 1st 3 quarters. But the Spurs quickly pulled away in the 4th quarter. San Antone shot 56, the Wolves just 37. No Minnesota player scored more than J.J. Barea's 15 points, and Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio shot a combined 0-for-13.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Big Game Jan. 12--Indiana 88 Minnesota Gopher men 81

Wow. Indiana put on a shooting clinic in the 1st half, making 14-of-21 2s (67 percent) and 7-of-11 3s (64 percent) en route to a 52-29 half-time lead. The Gophers also hurt themselves with 12 turnovers, and Indiana scored 19 points off those turnovers while Minnesota only scored 4 points off of Indiana turnovers. Each team had 6 offensive boards but Indiana out-scored the Gophers on 2nd chance points 10-5 just because of their stratospheric shooting percentage.

But, wow, again, but this time it was Minnesota putting on a show in the 2nd half, out-scoring the Hoosiers 52-36 and slowly crawling back into the game. They didn't get within 10 until 77-68 on 2-of-3 FT by Austin Hollins at 2:48. A minute later if was 79-71 when the 1st of 2 really BIG plays involving offensive rebounds occurred.

#1--Joe Coleman stole the ball in the backcourt and drove for a layup but missed. Rodney Williams trailed the play, grabbed the offensive board but he also missed on his putback dunk attempt. Instead of being within 6, the Gophers quickly trailed by 10 as Indiana hit a pair of FT at 1:10.

Still Minnesota came on as Andre Hollins hit a 3, Austin hit a 3, Trevor Mbakwe hit a pair of throws, and Andre hit 2-of-3 throws to get within 84-81 with 19 ticks left on the clock.

#2--Minnesota put the Hoosiers' Jordan Hulls on the line. He obligingly missed both throws. A Gopher rebound would have given Minnesota 15 seconds to set up a game-tying 3. Instead, Hulls rebounded his own miss and was fouled again. This time he made both throw.

Minnesota misfired on a 3 and Indiana made 2 more throws at :04.

Statistically the difference was Indiana's 40 trips to the FT line versus Minnesota's 15, and the Hoosiers' 19-of-34 (56 percent) shooting on 2s compared to the Gophers 18-of-39 (46 percent). Both teams ended up similarly re. 3-pointers, Indiana hitting 42 percent (mostly in the 1st half) and Minnesota 41 (mostly in the 2nd). Indiana dominated the possession game (offensive rebounds minus turnovers) in the 1st half, the Gophers did the same in the 2nd.

Player of the Day: Anders Broman, Lakeview Christian 57 points. Coach of the Day: Mike Durbin, St. Ben's. The Bennies gave the St. Thomas women their 1st conference loss, 66-62.

The Big Game Jan. 11--Mankato State men 83 Northern 76

My Game of the Day, Sauk Centre girls vs. Staples-Motley, got iced out, so....

1st place and #11 Mankato State survived a Northern State rally as Zach Monaghan scored 14 of his 29 points inside of 3:06 of the 2nd half. Mankato led 45-33 at the half and 56-43 at 15:29. Northern roared back to within 1 at 65-65 and 67-66 when Monaghan took over, scoring in fact 14 straight Mankato State points. For this Monaghan is Player of the Day.

Coach of the Day: Mike Boschee, Bemidji State men. Boschee, in his 1st year at Bemidji, led his Beavers to a 69-67 win over Augustana in the Northern Sun, leaving both teams with 5-3 conference records.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Big Game January 10--Minnesota Gopher women 83 Ohio State 74

The Gopher women ran out to a 50-31 half-time lead and extended it to 58-33 at 16:17 of the 2nd half. Good thing, too. The Buckeyes came roaring back, getting within 14 at 12:18 and, finally, within 10 at 1:20. By then, of course, it was too late, the Gophers having made 5-of-9 shots between 12:18 and 6:18, when they led 75-57. The Buckeyes' final push came up short.

Tayler Hill, Minnesota state high school champion in 2009, and Rachel Banham, Minnesota state high school champion in 2010, each scored 24 points, many of Banham's coming earlier and Hill's later. Kionna Kellogg and Micaela Riche contributed 33 points and 16 rebounds. Ohio State shot 52 percent but had 17 turnovers to just 10 for the Gophers, and Minnesota had 22 offensive rebounds to 8 for the Buckeyes. As a result, the Gophers got off 15 more FG attempts--each team finished with 27 FG. Minnesota also got off an extra 8 FT attempts and here the Gophers were more successful, hitting 28-of-33 versus Ohio State's 18-of-25.

Player of the Day: Reid Travis scored 47 points to lead the DeLaSalle boys over Breck 89-67. Coach of the Day: Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls, who bounced back from their loss at Centennial Tuesday night with a 90-64 shellacking of DeLaSalle, despite Tyseanna Johnson's 28 point for the Islanders. (Centennial, conversely, followed up its big win with a 67-47 loss at Osseo.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Big Game, January 9--Minnesota Gopher men 84 Illinois 67

These Gophers are starting to look like something special. They took the lead for good at #11 Illinois at 19-18 and led 34-30 at the half. The lead hit double figures at 42-32 but Illinois roared back to within 2 at 44-42. 4 minutes later it was 58-47 and the closest the Illini got after that was 9 as the Gophers made 15-of-16 2nd half FT.

Player of the Day: Joe Coleman scored 29 points, 25 in the 2nd half. Trevor Mbakwe scored 19 with 11 boards, and Andre Hollins had 22 with 6 assists. Coach of the Day: Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women, who routed Gustavus in St. Peter 65-43 in the battle of MIAC unbeatens.

The Big Game Jan. 8--Centennial girls 79 Hopkins 70

Previously unbeaten #1AAAA Hopkins finally showed the effects of losing not 1 but 2 starting guards, Viria Livingston and T.T. Starks, to knee injuries. Or, maybe it was the effects of facing Paige Waytashek and her Centennial teammates. Waytashek hit 9-of-12 3 pointers in the best exhibition of 3-point shooting I've ever seen, while Jill Conrad added 15 points in the paint. Nia Coffey had 28 for Hopkins.

Player of the Day: Waytashek. Coach of the Day: Greg Amundson, Centennial.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Big Game Monday, Jan. 7--Gustavus women 66 Macalester 56

Kelsey Florian, Abby Rothenbuhler, Julia Dysthe and Karina Schroeder all scored in double figures to lead Gustavus Adolphus over host Macalester 66-56. The Gusties led by as many as 20 at 58-38 before the Scots closed the gap late. Veronkia Jakubovie of Macalester led all scorers and rebounders with 19 and 10.

The St. Thomas men blitzed Bethel 42-12 in the 1st half of their game at Bethel. The final was 90-48. No box score was available as of 10:30 p.m.

Player of the Day: Dan Kornbaum, Augsburg, scored 26 points in a 77-65 win at St. John's
Coach of the Day: John Tauer, St. Thomas men. Yikes! The Tommies played on the road at a team that had a five-game winning streak going. The results are mentioned above.

Patty Reusse is one wild and crazy guy

OK, so put yourself in Patty Reusse's shoes. Or better yet, put yourself in Patty's seats at center court at Williams Arena Sunday evening. No, he's not covering the Minnesota Gopher men's basketball game. Patty doesn't cover sports anymore, that would be beneath his status as the dean of all of the sports reporters that he admires. No, Amelia Rayno can cover Gopher basketball. Patty has a higher calling. He's observing the proceedings so that he can come up with really snarky stuff to write about the Gophers and coach Tubby Smith in a future column.

And keep in mind, Patty hates Tubby Smith. Of all the despicable, sociopath personalities in sports, running around with guns and deliberately trying to injure fellows on the other side of the ball, of all the panoply of freaks and wierdos in the sports world today, Patty designated Tubby Smith last Thanksgiving as the one sportsman most deserving of being held up to ridicule as Patty's Turkey of the Year.

So, now, put yourself in Patty's...whatever. The Gophers and Northwestern got off to a slow start, shall we say, and after one half of fairly inept basketball, the Gophers lead 17-14. Well, Patty is beside himself. He can't wait for a future column to say the snarkiest things he can possibly contrive about Gopher basketball. He's got to do it right now.

But you gotta hand it to him, what a sense of humor! He looks around Williams Arena and sees Gopher recruits (and nationally recruited) Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn sitting behind the Gopher bench, and so Patty tweets this great one-liner. You could almost hear the laughter breaking out all over the Twin Cities and Williams Arena (OK<, not) when Patty's legion of fans read, "Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn both announced at halftime that the University of Minnesota is off their lists."

Tyus Jones immediately tweets Reusse back saying, "Reusse you have incorrect information sir."

Now, any self-respecting person not absolutely and utterly filled up with himself would have said, "Tyus, my bad, it was meant as a joke. If you took it seriously, then it was a bad joke. I apologize." But no, Mr. Full-of-Himself tweeted back, "Thank god, you weren't watching."

A few minutes later, Reusse tweeted, "Dear Gopher fans: Shut up and sit on your hands. You're embarrassing yourselves cheering this travesty."

Ha, ha. What a kidder.

What a !@#$%^& freak! He doesn't condescend to report sports new anymore, and now he's above even commenting on it, no, he's gotta be the guy who is creating the news. If people took his advice, he could write that Gopher fans weren't cheering, that they didn't support Tubby and our Gophers. And of course the coup de grace that would just absolutely make Patty's day, month, year would be for the Gophers to lose out on 2 of the most highly recruited Minnesotans ever. This pretty obviously is the storyline Patty is hoping to report.

Instead, the Gophers put on a show during the 2nd half, scoring 52 points. Austin Hollins proved to be Patty's public enemy number one by hitting 5 straight 3-points over a 3 1/2 minute period to thrill Gopher fans and put the Wildcats out of their misery. But they say that misery loves company, and the Wildcats obviously had company in the person of Patty Reusse, who had to have been just heartbroken to see the Gophers spoil his preferred story line.

But wait. Who says it's spoiled? Patty is going to write it anyway. It's only a question of when. What a !@#$%^& freak!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Big Game Sunday, January 6, 2013

That was unexpected. What is that?

A win by the Gopher women at rebuilding Wisconsin--now without their best player, Taylor Wurtz, who is out for the season with an injury? No, that much was expected. But, a road win or a win anywhere and against anybody in which Rachel Banham scored zero FG? Not expected, but that's what happened.

And a win by the Gopher men over Northwestern at the Barn? That is always expected. But a win in which the Gophers scored 17 points in the 1st half? Not so much. But the Gophers charged out from a 17-14 half-time lead to 42-23 and ultimately to a 69-51 win. Austin Hollins led Gophers' scorers with 19 points. 12 Gophers saw playing time and all 12 got into the scoring column.

As for the women, Mikaela Riche and Kayla Hirt picked up some of the slack with 14 and 12 points, and Banham made 9-of-10 FT, 8 of the makes in the 2nd half. The final was 60-55.

Player of the Day: Austin Hollins. Coach of the Day: Tubby Smith.


The Big Game January 5, 2012--Tommies Hammer Auggies

And then there was one...unbeaten among the MIAC men, that is, as St. Thomas demolished Augsburg 94-52. THe Tommies shot 54 percent from the floor and turned the ball over just 4 times, to the Auggies' 35 percent and 17 turnovers.

2 Andy Seidlitz FT brought Augsburg within 13-11 at 10:44 when a 13-0 run made it 26-11 at 5:57. Will DeBerg sparked the run with a 3 and then 3 FT. The lead reached 20 points at 39-19 at 1:53 and was 22 (45-23) at the half.The 2nd half brought more of the same as St. Thomas out-scored Augsburg 47-27. The final score represented the  Tommies' largest lead of the night. DeBerg led the Tommies with 23 points.

Player of the Day: Rashad Vaughn of Robbinsdale Cooper scored 35 points but his Hawks lost to Apple Valley and Tyus Jones 80-70 at the Target Center Shootout. Jones had 18 points, 8 assists and 2 steals and Dennis Austin 22 points and 12 boards for Apple Valley.

Coach of the Day: Johnny Tauer, St. Thomas men


Friday, January 4, 2013

The Big Game January 4, 2012--The Northern Sun

249 high school games, but 2 NSIC games beat all. Concordia (St. Paul) 56 Wayne State 46, ending a 52-game home winning streak for Wayne. And, then, Mankato State pulled out an improbable win at previously unbeaten Augustana 80-79 on 2 FT (at 0:45) then a layup (at :06) both by Ali Wilkinson.

For the record, the home teams won the big high school games. The Red Wing girls beat Chaska 62-55, and the Dover-Eyota girls beat Caledonia 69-61 in a battle of unbeatens.

Player of the Day: Wilkinson scored 35 points with 11 boards for Mankato. Coach of the Day: Paul Fessler, Concordia (St. Paul).

The Big Game January 3, 2012--Michigan State women 66 Minnesota 51

The Minnesota Gopher men opened their Big 10 season this week with a win over Michigan State. The Gopher women could not do the same, losing in East Lansing 66-51. The game was tied 20-all at the half, and the Gophers led as late as 39-38 inside of 10 minutes. But the Spartans scored on 13 of their final 14 possessions, outscoring Minnesota 28-12. The MSU bench outscored the Gophers' 28-4. Rachel Banham led Minnesota with 21 points.

Player and Coach of the Day: Very hard not to #1AAA DeLaSalle vs. #1AAAA Park Center as the Big Game. The Islanders came back from a 38-34 half-time deficit to win going away as Reid Travis scored 26 2nd half points and 36 overall for coach of the day Dave Thorson.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Big Game January 2, 2012--Bloomington Kennedy girls 57 Eastview 49

Kennedy trailed Eastview 33-28 at the half but after playing zone in the 1st half, Kennedy came out in the 2nd in a man defense and its quickness was the difference. Kennedy won the 2nd half 29-16 as Eastview just didn't get the open looks they'd gotten in the 1st half. Maddie Guebert of Eastview and Jade Martin of Kennedy scored 23 points each, but...

Player of the Day: Kenisha Bell of Kennedy was the MVP. Her defense on Guebert in the 2nd half and her 7 steals were the old ballgame. Coach of the Day: Laurie Kelly, Gustavus women and Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women. Both won last night to stay unbeaten in the MIAC. Each has 2 games between now and then, but a match-up of unbeatens next Wednesday night at Gustavus seems likely.

Josie Buckingham and the New Look Gopher Women

Wow.

A couple months ago I wrote about the Minnesota Gopher women's guard glut. Since then, Kenisha Bell of Bloomington Kennedy (2014) de-committed and Alex Ionescu from Romania left the program.

Between the 2 of them, a scholarship or 2 became available. 1 of them was filled yesterday with a verbal from Josie Buckingham, the Gophers' 2nd big 2014 post from Ohio.

The 1st was Terra Stapleton, 6-4 from Fairfield, OH, #94 in the country I think according to MaxPreps. Stapleton scored 21 ppg on 63 percent shooting with 13 boards and 4.5 blocks last year for a 23-1 team.

Buckingham, from New Richmond, OH, is an inch taller. Last year she scored 15.5 ppg with 10 boards and 5.5 blocks on a 17-5 team. This year she's down to 14.5 ppg with an inexperienced roster, though they're 3-1. All of that is a bit misleading: The scoring over 4 games is even-steven, the 3 wins by a total of 10 points and the loss by 10 points. Meanwhile, Buckingham's scoring includes a 33 point game, 2 10 point games and a 5-pointer.

Still, "she's the best player on the floor every night," said her coach, "because she is so disruptive and gets so many rebounds." MaxPreps seems to have her rated at #376 nationally in her class.

Add 6-5 Swede Amanda Zahui B., who has just recently joined the Gophers and is expected to be redshirted this year, and of course the incumbent Micaela Riche (6-foot-2), and suddenly the Gophers are no longer a team of guards, but rather a team of posts.

Meanwhile, the 2013s consist of Joanna Hedstrom, Minnetonka guard, the #25 point guard in her class (ESPN HoopGurlz) and Stabresa McDaniel, an "active" 5-10 wing from Texas. McDaniel is the #57 wing in her class according to ESPN HoopGurlz.

Gopher Depth Charts

C- Loberg, Riche, (Zahui B.--redshirt?)
PF- Kellogg, Hirt, J. Johnson
SF- Noga, a 3rd guard
PG- Mullaney, Cotton
SG- Banham, Bailey, Jane Thompson

Still hard to assess this team. The one that played the 2nd half against Creighton could be a 20-win team. The one that played the 1st half against Creighton would be lucky to win 10 (of course, they've already won 11, so we know they're better than that).

Seniors in boldface

2014

C- Riche, Zahui B., J. Johnson
PF- Kellogg, Stabresa McDaniel, J. Johnson
SF- Hirt, Noga, McDaniel
PG- Mullaney, Hedstrom
SG- Banham, Bailey, Noga

With a nice senior class, this could be the peak of the Banham years. The frontcourt looks solid both in terms of the front line and with Jackie Johnson, probably off the bench but now in her 2nd year. So maybe 20-10 regular season, and being a little more bullish on the post-season, let's say 24-12 overall.

2015

C- Zahui B., Terra Stapleton, Josie Buckingham
PF- Stabresa McDaniel, Jackie Johnson
SF- Kayla Hirt
PG- Mullaney, Hedstrom
SG- Banham, Bailey, Coughlin

A lot and I mean A LOT will depend on Stapleton and McDaniel, about whom we know fairly little at this point (have never seen them play). But Banham's senior year looks like a bit of a transition year. I mean, of course, a lot will depend on Kayla Hirt, too. I mean, maybe they're the 2nd coming of Whalen and McCarville. But the supporting cast is a bit young. Let's say 18-12 again, and 20-14 overall.

And by the way, if Mikayla Bailey turns out to be a world-beater and ends up playing alongside Banham (i.e. as a starter ahead of Mullaney), do you think the Gophers will be marketing the "Banham and Bailey Circus" before we're done?

Also, Gopher die-hards are still hoping to see Carlie Wagner joining the Gophers this year.

2016

Another transition year as Banham moves on.

C- Zahui B., Stapleton, Buckingham
PF- J. Johnson, McDaniel 
SF- Hirt, McDaniel
PG- Mullaney
SG- Hedstrom, Bailey, Coughlin

2017

C- Zahui B. or or Stapleton or Buckingham
PF- Stapleton or Zahui B.
SF- McDaniel
PG- Coughlin or Hedstrom
SG- Hedstrom or Coughlin