Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Golden Gophers vs. Bemidji State Beavers: A Fan in The Stands Opinion


Full Press Conference.

With the season getting underway: Exhibition Style - the Gophers looked prime and ready to make a run at a B1G Title.

Ok, maybe that is a little optimistic, but they did look good. Even the student section, which some could say was bigger and louder than any football game thus far, looked ready to help carry their guys to a title.

Again, that statement might be a little exaggerated, but not really. Big ups to the students for showing up in full for an exhibition game on a school night.

Back to basketball. Playing together for the first time with a couple of new faces, the Gophers didn’t seem to skip a beat. The starting lineup included one of those new faces.

I was excited to see Andre Hollins join the starting line up with Ralph Sampson, Trevor Mbawke, Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins. All of whom looked bigger than last year.

For everyone looking for the fast paced “Tubby Ball” this year, you got it. The Gophers ran and they ran often. It helps when you have Trevor Mbawke to clean up any miss, on both sides of the court.

The Gophers jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first 2 minutes. Something the fans appreciated greatly. Myself included, I know I have been forgiving of the Gophers and their notorious slow starts; but deep down I was furious.

On the defensive side, the press was back. Another thing I was excited to see. Everyone knows the Gophers are better when they press. Helps when you have a deep bench; some might say the deepest in Tubby's Gopher career.

So, we all knew the game was going to be a fairly easy one for the Gophers, or so we thought. No one is here to read a breakdown of the play by play. I’ll give ya the score and that is about it for stats I wanted to focus more on the "eye test" and what I saw from the players that made it into the game.

At halftime it was 30-21 Gophers. Not a great score, and the second half didn't prove much better as it ended 71-58

Alright, so let’s get to my opinions of the play of the guys. You can love it, hate it, add to it or just read it and keep it with you forever and always, it’s up to you. However, I would like it if you gave me your opinion in the comment section.

I will let you know that my opinions are based mainly on the first half. Why? Because that is when the Beavers were giving their best effort and the game wasn’t out of hand.

Trevor Mbwake – Beast. There really is nothing else to be said. He grabbed the first 6 rebounds of the game and even showed a nice mid range jumper. Something that will have to be prevalent this whole year if he wants to see his stock keep rising.

Austin Hollins – Bigger but maybe not better…yet anyway. He didn’t shy away from shooting, but just like last year, he was off.

Rodney Williams – Still shy. It’s almost like that really pretty girl from your high school that would just sit on the wall during a dance. Just not sure of what they are working with. It’s a shame really.

Ralph Sampson III – Seems to be more aggressive then years past which is a good thing. We all know he can shoot, but we need to see him use his size and length to his advantage. He did that early in this game and it continued throughout. Not to mention, that hook shot is looking very polished.

Andre Hollins – Didn’t look overwhelmed. That is the biggest key. With him in the drivers seat for the starting point guard spot, we need him to be cool, calm and collected. He didn’t shoot all that well, but he didn’t shy away from taking the shot.

Oto Osenieks - Again more length. This is a really long team and I love it. He showed some moves on a breakaway up and under layup. No one said anything about that, but if he has it, I’ll take it.

Joe Coleman – I can see why people are saying he could earn the starting spot over Rodney. He is bigger and more aggressive. He won the dunk contest this year, so we know he can fly. What does Rodney do better than him? That will be the interesting thing to see throughout the year.

Maverick Ahanmisi – Well, 2 fouls in about 2 minutes of play early. Pretty much sums it up. It is kind of scary to think of him guarding the likes of Jordan Taylor this year. No wonder Tubby mentions him behind Welch and Hollins.

Chip Armelin – Spark plug. This guy wants minutes and it shows. Sometimes he is a little out of control, but that doesn’t worry me. It’s ok to have players that aren’t “predictable”. Will he ever start?  No, but his value is coming off the bench.

Elliot Elliason – Looks young. He will do fine in back up time for Ralph or Trevor, but he still seems a little uncoordinated. It is the first game of the year, so I will cut him some slack and hope for the best.

Andre Ingram – Big body. He is almost as big as Trevor. If he can play half as well as Trevor, we could be in for a surprise next year. I say next year, because I don’t see him getting a ton of time this year.

Julian Welch
Maurice Walker
Chris Halverson
Kendal Shell

Positive from the game:

The team looked like a team. They were smooth, well as smooth as a team can be in its first game.

Trevor was Trevor. It’s hard to believe this is only really his second year of playing collegiate ball. Like everyone else, I expect huge things from him.

Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman didn’t look like freshman. They looked ready to compete and compete hard. If these kids stay the full four years, we will see some good things in Gopher Land. Yes, they both had some "welcome to college" moments, but nothing that made me worry all that much.

Negatives from the game:

Perimeter defense was brutal. Lucky for the Gophers, they didn’t make very many, but the Beavers had a ton of open looks. I have a feeling it will be this way all year. Would you want to go inside on us?

Slow play making it’s way back in. The game started out promising, but they fell back into their old ways. Hopefully this was just Tubby trying to let everyone play and get on the same page. If not, Tubby lied. He doesn’t seem like a liar so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Free Throws: Looks like that could be another bug a boo for the team. We didn't take many, but the ones we did, we missed. Well most of them anyway.

Overall I would give the team a B grade.

And if I was going to place them in the Big Ten after just one game, I would put them 6th or 7th. I see them finishing no lower than 5th when all is said and done.

They have some things to work on, but they are farther ahead then I thought they would be. I look forward to seeing how they progress from this game to the next.


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