Monday, November 25, 2013

What About Those Timberwolves?

The Minnesota Timberwolves started out smartly, hammering Oklahoma City 100-81 in their second game and winning in New York 109-100 in their third. But the Knicks turned out to be a terrible team, 3-9 now, and things have pretty much gone downhill for Minnesota since. After starting out 3-0, 5-2 and 6-3, they've lost 4 of 6 to drop to 8-7.

If the playoffs started today, they'd be missing out. This is not how things were supposed to be.

The Timberwolves score enough to win. But they simply cannot stop good offensive teams, or mediocre offensive teams, for that matter. They gave up 117 points at Denver, 104 to Washington, 112 at Houston, all losses.

They're 2-2 at home against teams with winning records, 0-2 on the road against teams with winning records, and 1-2 against teams with losing records on the road. It is only a schedule that has given them 4 home games against teams with losing records already that has kept them over .500.

And they don't play a team with a losing record at home again until Dec. 11. In the meantime there are 4, count 'em, 4 road games against teams with winning records starting Tuesday night in Indiana.

The way they're playing, 2-5 in their next 7 seems like a best guess, meaning they'll be 10-12 and further out of the playoffs by Dec. 11.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Player of the Day, Nov. 22-28, 2013

Thurs., Nov. 28--Happy Turkey Day!

Wed., Nov. 27--Denver Nuggets 117 Minnesota Timberwolves 110

The T-wolves slide out of the playoffs with an utter lack of defense.

Player of the Day--Rachel Hansen,  Concordia St. Paul women 21 pts 11 assists as the Bears def. Northern Michigan 75-60. Coach of the Day--Paul Fessler, Concordia.

Tues., Nov. 26--Minnesota Gopher women 80 Chicago Loyola 36

OK, Loyola's not very good, but the Gopher women knocked 'em down and wouldn't let 'em up.

Player of the Day--Mollie Sir of the Northwestern (MN) women scored 31 while Jordyn Sammons of Hamline scored 35, as Northwestern surprised the Pipers 81-72 at Hamline. Coach of the Day--New coach Jim Hayes of Hamline men who defeated Northwestern 80-66.

Mon., Nov. 25--Syracuse men 75 Minnesota Gophers 67

The Gophers played very well against the #4 rated Syracuse Orangemen, staying within 67-65 with about 2 minutes left.

Player of the Day--Malik Smith, Minnesota Gopher men, who came off the bench to hit 4 3s and 16 pts. Coach of the Day--Richard Pitino, Minnesota Gopher men.

Sun., Nov. 24--Minnesota Gopher women 62 Navy 55

It was closer than expected, frankly. Minnesota led 43-34 early in the 2nd but Navy got within 1 at 43-42 and 46-45 and were still within 3 at 55-52 near the 2 minute mark.

Player of the Day--Again, it's Amanda Zahui with 16 points and 13 boards for the Minnesota women.

Coach of the Day--Kelly Boe, Concordia (St. Paul) men. The Bears completed a weekend sweep of Northwood and Ferris State, both of MI, while the 2 visitors also swung through Winona State, where both defeated the Warriors. Terez Van Pelt had 19 points and 4 assists.

Sat., Nov. 23--St. Thomas men 75 UW River Falls 69

The #15-rated Tommies trailed 40-29 at the half but rallied behind Zach Reidemann's 19 points and a 20-4 edge in 2nd chance points.

Player of the Day--Dylan Kilgour of the Macalester men scored 40 points as the Scots won at Lake Forest (IL) 92-89 in 3 OT.

Coach of the Day--Paul Grove, Minnesota-Morris men, who defeated their 2nd MIAC opponent, this time Gustavus 68-64 as R.J. Dean had 20 points, 6 boards and 3 assists.

Fri., Nov. 22--Minnesota Timberwolves 111 Brooklyn Nets 81

The Wolves beat Kevin Garnett for the first time since he left Minnesota and made it an unmerciful rout to boot, leading 30-14 after one period. The Nets were never in the game. Minnesota had 28 assists and 8 turnovers, Brooklyn just 7 assists and 20 turnovers. Kevin Love badly outplayed KG with 17 points, 16 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Player of the Day--but the PoD is Dan Kornbaum of Augsburg with 29 points as the Augies def. Wisconsin-Superior 80-73, hopefully a harbinger of today's cross-border battle.

Coach of the Day--Chad Walthall, Minnesota State-Moorhead men, who hammered Concordia (Moorhead) in their annual cross-town game 102-55 as Ben Figini scored 16 for the winners.

Game of the Day October-November 2013

Tues., Oct. 29--Winona State women @ Minnesota Gophers (preseason). Unofficial debut of coach Pam Borton's somewhat-new-look squad. Is Amanda Zahui the real deal?

Wed., Oct. 30--Orlando Magic @ Minnesota Timberwolves. The official debut of Rick Adelman's semi-new-look T-wolves.

Fri., Nov. 1--Oklahoma City Thunder @ Minnesota Timberwolves. A big test for Wolves newish lineup.

Sat., Nov. 2--Minnesota State Moorhead women @ Minnesota Gophers (preseason).

Sun., Nov. 3--Minnesota Timberwolves @ New York Knicks.

Mon., Nov. 4--Concordia (St. Paul) men @ Minnesota Gophers (preseason). Is there enough firepower in the front court?

Wed., Nov. 6--Golden State Warriors @ Minnesota Timberwolves.

Fri., Nov. 8--Lehigh men @ Minnesota Gophers. Pitino's official debut is our top game of the month.

Sat., Nov. 9--Minnesota Gopher women @ Northern Iowa.

Sun., Nov. 10--Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers.

Mon., Nov. 11--Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Clippers.

Tues., Nov. 12--Montana men @ Minnesota Gophers.

Wed., Nov. 13--Charlotte women @ Minnesota Gophers. Is it NCAA or bust for Pam Borton?

Fri., Nov. 15--Minnesota-Morris men @ Concordia Moorhead.

Sat., Nov. 16--Minnesota  Gopher men @ Richmond, and Minnesota Gopher women @ Creighton. Sad to say that here are a couple of severe road tests for the Gophers.

Sun., Nov. 17--St. John's men vs. St. Scholastica @ St. Cloud State.

Mon., Nov. 18--Southwest Minnesota State men @ South Dakota State.

Tues., Nov. 19--Colorado College men @ Minnesota Gophers.

Wed., Nov. 20--Los Angeles Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thurs., Nov. 21--St. Thomas women @ Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Two national powerhouses.

Fri., Nov. 22--Brooklyn Nets @ Minnesota Timberwolves. Kevin Garnett returns for the T-Wolves 14th game. Wolves need to be above .500 at this point. Another of our top 3 games of the month.

Sat., Nov. 23--Gustavus men @ Minnesota-Morris.

Sun., Nov. 24--Navy women @ Minnesota Gophers.

Mon, Nov. 25--Minnesota Gopher men vs. Syracuse @ Maui Invitational.

Tues., Nov. 26--Chicago Loyola women @ Minnesota Gophers.

Wed., Nov. 27--Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thurs., Nov. 28--Michigan Tech men @ Bemidji State.

Fri., Nov. 29--Minnesota Gopher women vs. Chattanooga @ Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahini Showdown. That's easy for you to say.

Sat., Nov. 30--Minnesota State Mankato women @ Concordia (St. Paul). #1 vs. #2 in the NSIC is one of our top 3 games of the month.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gopher women's 2014 class rated #24 nationally

Mark Lewis of Blue Star Media has ranked coach Pam Borton and the University of Minnesota Gophers' 2014 recruiting class #24 in the nation behind:

1. UCLA--has Savanna Trapp, Esko, Mn, from the 2013s
2. Ohio State--Big 10
3. Louisville
4. Duke
5. Connecticut--this represents a weak class for the 800-lb. gorilla of women's college ball
6. Notre Dame
7. Texas
8. South Carolina
9. Vanderbilt--has Minnesota's Rebekah Dahlmanfrom the 2013s
10. Tennessee--another weak class for the #2 power in the land
11. Maryland--future Big 10, coached by former Gopher coach Brenda Freese
12. St. John's--signed Kennedy's Tonoia Wade, #99 and #22 at her position, among the 2014s
14. Purdue--Big 10
21. Michigan State--Big 10

The Gophers rate ahead of:

26. Michigan--Big 10
28. Marquette--signed 3 2014 Mn guards, Kenisha Bell (#24/#11), Tia Elbert (#97/#23), Hannah Grim
30. Iowa--Big 10, signed Chase Coley, Mpls. Washburn, among the 2014s
34. Iowa State--has signed several Mn girls in recent years
38. Nebraska--Big 10
43. Illinois--Big 10

Conspicuous by its absence is Creighton, who signed 3 Mn girls among the 2014s. Also absent are Wisconsin, Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State of the Big 10.

Gopher Recruits

Coach Borton has basically recruited a "team," 5 players including a post, a forward, a wing and a couple of guards. This is a big big recruiting class (I mean, qualitatively) because, first, of its size (quantitatively). These 5 girls will represent darn near half the team. And second, because of the obvious near-whiff on "the mighty 2013s," coach needed a better showing in 2014 to keep disgruntlement at a minimum. The 5 girls are:

C- Josie Buckingham, 6-5, New Richmond, OH. Scored 21 points with 14 boards and 6 blocks per game last year. Rated #172 nationally by one service.

F- Rangie Bessard, 6-0, Houston Manvel. Scored 14 points with 10 boards for a 33-4 team. Rated #260 in the nation by one service.

W- Tory Jacobs, Irving MacArthur. Scored 24 ppg with 4 assists for a 24-9 team. Rated #118 and #179 by two services.

G- Carlie Wagner, NRHEG, Mn, 5-10. Rated #54 and #100 by 2 services and #9 among point guards by the former, though she is not a point guard at D1, she will be a 2. Scored 40 ppg in 6 state tournament games so far.

G- Grace Coughlin, Benilde-St. Margaret's. Rated #89 by one service (cited on GopherSports Web site).

Superficially, it's a pretty good class, a nice bounce back from the near-whiff in 2013. But let's look a little closer.

Ohio State and Purdue

The top 2 rated recruiting classes among current Big 10 members are Ohio State (#2) and Purdue (#14). (Future conference member Maryland is #11.) Interestingly, the Buckeyes and Boilermakers, like Minnesota, signed big classes, 5 players each. How do the 3 big and highly rated classes compare?

Post--At the center spots, Minnesota's 6-5 Buckingham, who is from Ohio, is rated #172. Ohio State signed Alexa Hart, 6-3, who transferred from North Ridgeville, OH, to Columbus Africentric and was ineligible last year. She is rated #82 and #16 at her position. Purdue signed Bree Horrocks, 6-5, from Georgia. She is rated #35 and #13. So at the post it's 1) Purdue, 2) OSU, 3) Minnesota.

Power Forward--At the 4, Minnesota's Bessard is ranked #260. Ohio State has a second post, actually, 6-2 Makayla Waterman from Kettering Fairmont, 27-1 and Ohio state champ last year. She scored 9 ppg with 7 boards, and she's ranked #69 and #14 at her position. Purdue also signed a second post, Haley Bodnar of Utah's state champions, who averaged 14 points and 10 boards last year, and was rated #149 and #20 at her position. So at the 4 it's 1) OSU and 2) Purdue, with Minnesota at #3.

Small Forward--Minnesota's Tory Jacobs is rated #118 and #179 by two services. Ohio State grabbed 5-11 Chelsea Mitchell, who is not highly rated (more about her below under the point guard section). Purdue signed Erica Moore, who scored 19 points with 7 boards for the Indiana state champ, and she's rated #78. So it's 1) Purdue, 2) OSU and 3) Minnesota.

Off Guard--Minnesota's Carlie Wagner is rated #54 and #100 by 2 services. OSU got Asia Doss, 5-7, from Detroit Country Day. She scored 18 points with a ridiculous 14.5 assists, and is rated #92/#22 at the point, actually. Purdue got Andreana Keys from Georgia, who has flown under the radar a bit due to injuries. So it's 1) Minnesota , 2) OSU, 3) Purdue at the 2.

Point Guard--Minnesota's Allie Coughlin is rated #89 in one service and outside the top #200 in another. Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell is rated #23 overall and #3 at the point. Her sister Chelsea is obviously recruiting because that's what you had to do to get Kelsey. Purdue got Justin Hall who scored 17 ppg for the Colorado state champs, and she is rated #74/#14. 1) Ohio State, 2) Purdue, 3) Minnesota.

So among the top 3 rated classes, Ohio State got the top prospect 3 times and Purdue twice, Minnesota not at all.

Among all Big 10 teams, the top candidates would seem to be:

Center--Chatrice White, Illinois, 6-3, top 20
PF--Waterman, Ohio State
SF-- Kaylee Page, Nebraska, 6-2, wing, 40s
PG--Mitchell, Ohio State
SG--Wagner, Minnesota

Second Team

C--Horrocks, Purdue
PF--Moore, Purdue
SF--Jasmine Lumpkin, Michigan State, 6-0, #51-52-61 in 3 services
PG--Doss, Ohio State
SG--Kiara Leslie, Maryland, 5-11, #57

Third Team

C--Hart, Ohio State
PF--Kennedy Johnson, Michigan State, 6-2, #78
SF--Aja Ellison, Maryland, 6-3, F, 52 percent shooter, #45
PG--Natalie Romeo, Nebraska, #55
SG--Kristen Confroy, Maryland, 5-8, #51

Fourth Team

C--Chase Coley, Iowa
PF--Bodnar, Purdue
SF--Lexi Gossert, Michigan State, 32.5 ppg, #54
PG--Justine Hall, Purdue
SG--Ally Disterhoft, Iowa, 6-0, #69

Fifth Team

C--Buckingham, Minnesota
PF--Chandler Smith, Nebraska
SF--Tory Jacobs, Minnesota
PG--Amara Coleman, Illinois
SG--Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan

Given that there's a lot of guesswork in rating recruiting classes, let's not try to split hairs. Let's just divide 'em into groups.

Group 1--national leading class--Ohio State
Group 2--Big Ten leading class--Maryland, Purdue
Group 3--better than average--Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska
Group 4--middle of the pack--Illinois, Iowa, Michigan
Group 5--they also ran--Wisconsin, Northwestern, Indiana, Penn State, Rutgers

Been There, Done That

So, all in all, this is a pretty fair class--the Gophers, I mean. If there's a problem, it lies not with the class itself, but with the history. We've seen classes like this before and have pretty much nothing to show for them.

In 2008 the Gophers rated #16 (Buford, Mastey, Voigt)
In 2009 they rated #34 (Cotton, Dvorak, Loberg)
In 2010 #46 (Clay, Kellogg, Noga, Riche)
In 2011 #23 (Banham, Hirt)

In 2012, the class of Bailey, Johnson and Mullaney was not rated, and in 2013 the class of Hedstrom and McDaniel was not rated. Hedstrom was rated the #26 point guard, McDaniel the #57 wing.

The class of 2008 at #16, and followed up by three top 50 classes, would seem to have had great potential, and no one can possibly dispute that that potential was not realized. The class of 2011 was rated most closely to where the 2014s are rated, but it was not supported by a top 50 class until 2014, though it's true that the 2013 class did not include Amanda Zahui when the ratings came out.

But the point is simple. A Big 10 school with the #16, 34, 46, 23 and now 24-rated recruiting classes should have a tradition of winning going on, and Minnesota doesn't have that. So, no matter what you think of the 2014 class as high school players or rookies, why do we think they'll get better results than what we've had over the past six or seven years?

Because maybe the chemistry will suddenly work and create synergies so that the sum is greater than the parts? Or because suddenly women will be developing to their full potential and become as juniors and seniors the players we thought the could be when they were freshmen?

Just for the Record

Some possible lineups for the coming years.


C- Amanda Zahui 6-5 fr.
PF- Micaella Riche 6-2 sr.
SF- Sari Noga 5-10 sr.
G- Rachel Banham 5-9 jr.
G- Shayne Mullaney 5-10 soph.


C- Zahui soph.
PF- Jackie Johnson 6-2 jr.
SF- Kayla Hirt 6-2 jr.
G- Banham sr.
G- Mullaney jr.


C- Zahui jr.
PF- Johnson sr.
SF- Hirt sr.
G- Carlie Wagner 5-10 soph.
G- Mullaney sr.


C- Buckingham jr.
PF- Zahui sr.
SF- Jacobs jr.
G- Wagner jr.
G- Hedstrom sr.

Obviously there could be some 2015s or even a 2016 freshman by now (Nia Hollie will be a freshman in 2016-2017) but we don't know who they'll be.

So, OK, the talent looks pretty good. I was going to write about what a great job Pam has done with this class. She's semi-abandoned Minnesota as there are too many Minnesota girls who don't want to play at the U. Can't fault her for that.

But on closer look, the talent is "pretty good," but not great. And we've had pretty good talent before, and got pretty much nothing to show for it. If the effort down at Creighton proves to be anything close to typical this year. then there's no real rebuilding going on, just hanging on, surviving. Here again, I'm afraid the talent is good enough to keep hanging on, but not good enough to get over the top. How long is this going to continue?

So, sure, there's reason for optimism (talented women on the roster and coming next year). And there's reason for resignation (the failure to capitalize on similar talents in the past). Again, "how long" is the operative question. How long are we going to hang in limbo with this program? The caliber of talent we will have 2-3-4 years from now, we've got it now. If there's not a renaissance in 2014, why would we expect one in 2015 or 2016? This really ought to be the last shot. If Rachel Banham doesn't get to the NCAA tournament this year, she ought to get one more chance as a senior under a new regime.

Player of the Day November 15-21, 2013

Thurs., Nov. 21--Minnesota Gopher men 79 Wofford 57

A blowout from the get-go, as it should be, Minnesota led 13-0 and 20-2 early, and 50-24 at the half. Austin Hollins led the way with 18 points, but Elliot Eliason probably had the best night with 11 plus 11 boards and 7 blocks. Osieniks added 14 and appears to be getting comfortable out there. Mathieu continued his outstanding play. The Gophers had 20 assists on 30 buckets, with just 8 turnovers, and shot 51 percent.

Player of the Day--Elliott Eliason, Minnesota Gopher men 11 points, 11 boards, 7 blocks.
Coach of the Day--Paul Grove, Minnesota-Morris men, with just one assistant, knocked off St. John's 96-87 at Morris as R.J. Dean scored 12 points and added 6 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals for Morris.

Wed., Nov. 20--Minnesota Gopher women 70 Kansas Jayhawks 59

The women came back from a 32-30 halftime deficit with a whopping 40-27 2nd half margin. Rachel Banham scored 13 points in each half, but Amanda Zahui was also instrumental in the win. She got into foul trouble--again-- and sat out much of the 1st half. In the 2nd she roared back with 8 points and 7 rebounds, and finished with a triple double--11 points, 11 rebounds and a school record 10 blocks. Micaella Riche added 20 points and 6 rebounds and Shayne Mullaney 11 points and 5 boards. The Gophers lost the possession game--Kansas had 12 more offensive rebounds and 3 fewer turnovers. But Minnesota shot well over 50 percent, Kansas closer to 33.

Player of the Day--Amanda Zahui, Minnesota Gopher women. Amanda, pls avoid those early fouls and stay on the floor. 30-32 in the 1st, 40-27 in the 2nd.

Coach of the Day--Pam Borton, Minnesota Gopher women

Tues., Nov. 19--Minnesota Gopher men 82 Coastal Carolina 72

It was a "sluggish" performance according to the Gophers own Web site. But Player of the Day DeAndre Mathieu continued his stellar play with 17 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. Coach of the Day is Matt Marganthaler of Minnesota State Mankato, who clobbers Clark 117-56.

Mon., Nov. 18--South Dakota State men 83 Southwest Minnesota State 62

The most intriguing plot here was the performance of Jackrabbits freshman Anders Broman from Duluth Lakeview Christian, Minnesota's all-time top boys high school scorer. He came off the bench to score 10 points in 26 minutes, his first career double-figure scoring night. Over four games he has played 22 minutes (with 1 start for 33 minutes), he has scored 5 points per game on 6-of-18 (33 percent) shooting.

Player of the Day--Mitch Weg, Southwest State freshman from Worthington, who scored 8 points with 7 rebounds. Coach of the Day--Brad Bigler, Southwest State. His men didn't have a great night in Brookings, but Bigler is a great coach.

Sun., Nov, 17--St. John's 93 St. Scholastica 83

The Johnnies ran out to a 51-29 half-time lead and coasted to the finish line. Alex Schmitt came off the bench to score 22 while Mitch Kuck had 19 and 4 assists. Trevor Morlock was a one-man gang for St. Scholastica with 27 points and 13 rebounds.

Player of the Day--Trevor Morlock, St. Scholastics 27 points 13 rebounds. Coach of the Day--Jim Smith, St. John's, now in his 50th season at the Collegeville school.

Sat., Nov. 16--Minnesota Gopher men 74 Richmond 59

With 7 minutes remaining, Minnesota trailed at Richmond 59-55, but a 19-0 run to finish the game made the Gophers the winners.

Player of the Day--Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men 26 points. Coach of the Day--Richard Pitino, Minnesota Gopher men.

Meanwhile, at the half, the Minnesota Gopher women were shooting 44 percent, Creighton 42 (for the game it was 45.5 percent to 39 percent), and the Gophers led in the rebounding 18-16. Oh, and the Gophers trailed 38-22. How is that possible? Turnovers. By game's end the turnovers were 23-7 and the points off turnovers 23-11. The final was 63-52. And most of the turnovers were not made by Minnesota's ball-handlers but by Sari Noga (5), Amanda Zahui (4), Micaella Riche (3) and Jackie Johnson (3 in 3 minutes). If the bigs can't hold on to the ball, the Gophers are in trouble.

Fri., Nov. 15--Pomona-Pitzer men 80 St. Thomas 77, and Whitman women 77 St. Thomas 76

#15 St. Thomas, 30-2 with a trip to the D3 Final Four last year, lost their opener this year at Pomona-Pitzer. The Tommies trailed the whole way but used a late 15-6 run to get within 79-77, but could not get another score on their final possession.

The Tommies women are also favored by MIAC coaches to win the conference title this year, but they too lost their opener on the west coast, at Whitman in Spokane (WA), as the hosts shot 58 percent from the field. On the brighter side, center Maggie Weiers, who missed all of last season with injuries, returned with 13 points, 7 boards and 3 assists.

Player of the Day--Zach Monaghan, Minnesota State-Mankato men, 22 points, 7 assists, 3 steals, and Coach of the Day--Matt Marganthaler, Minnesota State-Mankato men, who won their opener over Waldorf (IA) 94-50.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tyus Jones going to Duke

But you knew that.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Player of the Day, November 8-14, 2013

Wed., Nov. 13--Minnesota Gopher women 90 Charlotte 55

Very impressive and on signing day, too. That is, Carlie Wagner and Grace Coughlin signed their national letters of intent and became Gophers today. Then the team went out and did this. I mean, demolition. 49-27 at the half, and the lead just kept growing in the 2nd half. Rachel Banham scored 20, Amanda Zahui 19 with 12 boards, Micaella Riche 12. Minnesota shot 48 percent to 25 percent for Charlotte.

But the Player of the Day is Kevin Love again, with 33 points and 8 boards as the Minnesota Timberwolves also blew their opponent away, the Cleveland Cavs, 124-95. The margin was 39 at its peak at 115-76. Corey Brewer added 27, Ricky Rubio 16 with 16 assists. And all of this with Kevin Martin sitting it out tonight.

Coach of the Day--Pam Borton, Minnesota Gopher women, who just may be in the process of saving her job. After 18-14 and 19-17 the past 2 years, this team looks much improved. 20 wins and an NCAA bid are required, of course, for Pam to continue, but right now those look like modest goals. 25 wins and top 3 in the Big 10 seems possible.

Tues., Nov. 12--Minnesota Gopher men 84 Montana 58

It was a pretty impressive performance by the Gophers, pulling out to a 40-26 halftime lead, using 12 extra possessions to build an early lead. In the 2nd half the lead ballooned to 54-28, then 80-53 and 84-55 at its highest. The 3 guards dominated: Andre Hollins with 24 points, DeAndre Mathieu continuing his impressive play at the point with 15 points and 5 assists, and Austin Hollins had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Player of the Day--Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men 24 points. Coach of the Day--Richard Pitino, Minnesota Gopher men.

Mon., Nov. 11--Los Angeles Clippers 109 Minnesota Timberwolves 107

The L.A. Clippers led the Wolves most of the way but Minnesota fought back with 7 straight 4th quarter points to lead 87-86. L.A. then scored 12 unanswered points to take a 98-87 lead. The Wolves almost caught up at 101-99, 107-105 and 109-107. Kevin Martin missed a shot to tie it with 3 seconds left.

Player of the Day--Who else but Kevin Love with 23 points 19 rebounds and 7 assists. Coach of they Day--Rick Adelman.

Sun., Nov. 10--Minnesota Timberwolves 113 Los Angeles Lakers 90

A 23 point margin, better than one for each of the 22 straight losses the Wolves have suffered to the Lakers since 2007. Who'da thunk?

Player of the Day--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves, who else 25 points 13 rebounds. Coach of the Day--Mandy Pearson, St. Mary's women. Sure, they lost, but D3 @ D2 usually works out that way.  But they kept it close, 39-37 at the half, 62-51 at the end.

Sat., Nov. 9--Minnesota Gopher women 73 Northern Iowa 55

A nice official opener for the Gopher women who romped to a 40-15 half-time lead with Amanda Zahui on the bench and Rachel Banham there, too, most of the way. Banham's problem was merely fouls. Zahui has some eligibility issue, which doesn't sound good until it does. Anyway, Banham scored 15, Shayne Mullaney 14, Micaella Riche 13 and (get this) Jackie Johnson 13. All you Jackie Johnson doubters out there, get over it.

Player of the Day--Jackie Johnson, Minnesota Gopher women 13 points 29 minutes. Coach of the Day--Pam Borton, Minnesota Gopher women.

Fri., Nov. 8--Minnesota Gopher men 81 Lehigh 62

What a day. Reid Travis picked Stanford. Mo Walker was suspended for 6 games. Oh, yeah, and Richard Pitino's official debut took place and it was a pretty good effort. Joey King continues to excel. I don't know if he was their MVP but he is the big surprise so far. Last night 20 points off the bench.

But the Player of the Day is Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves who had 32 points and 15 boards and the Wolves defeated the Dallas Mavericks 116-108 to run their record to 4-2.

Coach of the Day--Richard Pitino, Minnesota Gopher men.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Reid Travis picks Stanford

Ouch! The Minnesota Gophers and new coach Richard Pitino were never given much of a chance to recruit the Big Three 2014s of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis. But rumors swirled--in fact, we were guaranteed by one source--that Travis would pick Minnesota when he announced his decision today.

That made it all the tougher to hear that Travis will be going to Stanford. He liked their academics or some stoopid thing like that.

There is little or no chance that Jones or Vaughn will pick the Gophers.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Player of the Day November 1-7, 2013

Thurs., Nov. 7--Concordia (St. Paul) men 85 St. John's 71

This is more like it. DII is supposed to beat DIII and that's just was the Golden Bears did, beating the Johnnies by 14 in St. Paul. Concordia didn't dominate anything, but they out-played St. John's just a little bit in most aspects of the game. Mostly they out-shot 'em 47 percent to 45 and 56 percent to 27 from long-range.

Player of the Day--Terez Van Pelt, Concordia (St. Paul) men 22 points 4 assists 2 steals. Coach of the Day--Jim Smith, St. John's, now in his 50th year at Collegeville. I know he didn't win, I just think he's a better coach than Kelly Boe.

Wed., Nov. 6--St. Thomas women 66 St. Cloud State 56

Ruth Sinn and her #5-rated, defending MIAC champions from St. Thomas are rarin' to go into 2013-2104 after an exhibition win over DII St. Cloud State 66-56. The Tommies opened with a flurry to go ahead 13-3 and despite a few back and forth's, that's how it ended, a 10-point game. The Tommies may have found a new star as sophomore point guard Katie Stone hit 3 3s and finished 11 points. Kelly Brandenburg and Maggie Weiers scored 10 each for the Tommies, while Jessica Benson scored 20 and Sam Price 3 3s and 13 points for St. Cloud.

Player of the Day--Taylor Young, St. Thomas women 16 points. Coach of the Day--Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women.

Mon., Nov. 4--Minnesota Gopher men 101 Concordia (St. Paul) 67

I missed Rick Pitino's exhibition opener, a 79-57 win over Cardinal Stritch but now in game 2 of the Pitino era, things look better. Here is Pitino's rotation so far, accounting just for the "major" minutes.

C--Eliason 14.5 minutes Walker 20
F-- Osenieks 15.5 King 22.5
PG-- Mathieu 22 Ahanmisi 14.5
SG1-- Andre 23.5 Ellenson 12
SG2-- Austin 21 Smith 19

Key stats would include:

C-- Eliason 6.5ppg 4reb 5/5FG Walker 13ppg 9reb 12/17FG. Walker has been more productive offensively but Eliason is a more advanced defensive player. In a Big Ten context, this is not going to be a strength, but it might not be a weakness.

F-- Osenieks 5ppg 4.5reb 4/11FG King 11,5ppg 3reb 10/17FG. At this rate, King will be starting soon and Oto's minutes may start to diminish any time now. OTOH Oto was much better in game 2 than game 1. Even so King looks like he belongs at high D1 for now. The Gophers are exceptionally lucky to have him after Tubby ignored him the first time around. Depth is a problem unless Oto gets it together.

PG-- Mathieu 9.5ppg 8asts 7/13FG Ahanmisi 6ppg 2.5asts but also 2.5TO. A true point who has fully 40 percent of the Gophers assists so far. He should help the Hollinses to be more productive on offense by relieving them of primary ball-handling duties. Ahanmisi is an acceptable back-up despite what some people say.

SGs-- Andre 13.5ppg 2 asts 10/19FG Austin 12.5ppg 1.5asts 10/19FG Smith 6.5ppg 3.5reb 4/9FG Ellenson 5ppg 2reb 4/6FG. Pretty solid here.

Player of the Day--DeAndre Mathieu, Minnesota Gopher men 12 its 6 reb 7 acts 4 stls 3 TO 5/7FG. Coach of the Day: Rick Pitino, Minnesota Gopher men

Sun., Nov. 3--Minnesota Timberwolves 109 New York Knicks 100

Say what? Another surprising win!? Already? The season is just three games old and the T-Wolves are already two games ahead of expectations. The real score was, well, 109-100, don't get all melodramatic. But another real story, let's say, is this: Kevin Love 34 Carmelo Anthony 22. The Knicks outscored the Wolves from the field 40 FG to 35, both teams shooting about 44-45 percent. But the Wolves got to the FT line 38 times to just 13 for the Knicks--Love 15 times, Anthony 5--and that, as they say, was the old ball game. It didn't hurt that the Wolves led 40-19 after one period. The Knicks closed to within 100-98 but Kevin Martin scored four of his 30 points to put it away.

Player of the Day--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. Coach of the Day--Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves.

Sat, Nov. 2--Minnesota Gopher women 69 Minnesota State Moorhead 54

The Gophers pulled away from a 35-34 half-time lead to defeat the Dragons, who look for all the world like a contender for the NSIC title this year. What might have happened had Moorhead guard Haley Thomforde hit more than 2-of-17 shots? But Rachel Banham scored 21 for Minnesota, with five assists. Freshman post had 14 points and 12 boards. Sari Noga and Micaella Riche scored 11 and 10. Shayne Mullaney was the fifth starter. Freshmen Joanna Hedstrom (19 minutes) and Stabresa McDaniel (13)  are already in the rotation ahead of sophomores Mikayla Bailey (9) and Kayla Hirt (8), and Jackie Johnson, who played sparingly a year ago as a freshman, has also leapfrogged Bailey and Hirt with 20 minutes last night.

Player of the Day--Rachel Banham, Minnesota  Gopher women, 21 points. Coach of the Day--Karla Nelson, Minnesota State Moorhead.

Fri., Nov. 1--Minnesota Timberwolves 100 Oklahoma City Thunder 81

What a turnaround. Two nights after beating a mediocre Orlando team at home in OT, the Timberwolves brought their A+ game tonight, jumping out to a 34-19 lead after one period, and 88-60 after three, and hammering the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-81.

Sure, OKC was without Russell Westbrook. But, hey, they (primarily Corey Brewer) also held Kevin Durant, who scored 42 the other night, to just 13 points.

For the Wolves, Kevin Love led again with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic, who got badly outplayed against Orlando, bounced back to score 15 with 10 rebound and 4 turnovers. Ricky Rubio had 14 points, 10 assists.

Player of the Day--Cory Brewer, Minnesota Timberwolves, for his defense of Kevin Durant. Coach of the Day--Rick Adelman, Minnesota Timberwolves.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Player of the Day October 2013

Wed., Oct. 30--Minnesota Timberwolves 120 Orlando Magic 115 (OT)

Almost a HUGE OUCH here. Kevin Love had to hit a 3 from the left elbow to send the game into OT. Here is the Wolves rotation at this point:

C- Pekovic 30 minutes Turiaf 16 Love 7. Got outscored by Vucevic, mainly, 24-21 and out-rebounded 17-14. Not what they are looking for from Pek.

PF- Love 34 Cunningham 19. Better. Outscored Maxiell, Nicholson and Jones 34-22 and out-rebounded 'em 19-16.

SF- Brewer 40 Martin 13. Outscored Harkless and Oladipo 22-16.

PG- Rubio 40 Barea 13. Got out-scored 23-21 but had a 14-8 edge in assists.

SG- Martin 30 Barea 7 Shved 16. Got hammered 33-23 by Aflalo and others.

So on Day 1, Pekovic and Martin got outplayed badly for the Wolves.

Player of the Day--Kevin Love, Team of the Day--nobody, Coach of the Day--Rick Adelman.

Tues., Oct. 29--Minnesota Gopher women 82 Winona State 44

We've published a list of 12 pre-season candidates for player of the year. But the PoY need not be one of the 12, ultimately. The PoY will be based on what happens during the season. And now, the winter 2013-2014 season is one day old and a new candidate has emerged. I don't care who you're playing, 28 points and 19 rebounds is a DEBUT! Amanda Zahui B. stole the show for the Gophers in their exhibition win.

Player of the Day--Amanda Zahui B., Team of the Day--Minnesota Gopher women, Coach of the Day--Pam Borton.

I should add right here, right now, that the 2013-2014 season really began earlier this year. The summer season goes with the following, not the previous season. So the real (as opposed to the pre-season) roster of PoY candidates as of October 31 would have to include:

• Love and Zahui
• the five starters plus Monica Wright of the Minnesota Lynx
• plus the following Players of the Summer.


2014--Tyus Jones, Howard Pulley
2015--Connor Flack, MN Fury Johnson
2016--Brock Bertram, D1 Minnesota


2014--Tia Elbert, North Tartan Elite
2015--Sam Trammel, North Tartan both with the 2015s and later on up with the 2014s
2016--Jamie Ruden, Fury Sinn
2017--Jas Martin, Stars Martin, playing up with the 2016s
2018--Kayla Mershon, North Tartan