June 29, 2007

Blogging on Trev's questions

Once again I am following the herd but if Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan can answer Trev's questions there is no reason to keep Gopher Nation out of the party...

I won't lie to you, the responses from the other Big Ten teams (linked above) are pretty funny. I'm unimaginative and boring but read it anyway.

Give the more zealous portion of your fanbase a religion. What's this cult following? Feel free to give the splitters a derogatory nickname.

Gopher fans are pretty much split into 2 categories both are extremely zealous (and by extremely I mean not at all). Category 1 are the Combine Crazies. This group is made up of old farmers who either attended school at the St. Paul campus to learn to farm. or they didn't attend the U but they listen to the games on WCCO while harvesting their crops. Category 2 I'll call the Carlson Crazies. This group attended the Carlson School of Business, live in the suburbs and attend the U games because it is a much cheaper season ticket package than the other local major sports. Both groups are passive aggressive. Minnesota Nice to your face but love to rip the coach/team when discussing Da Gohfers at the grain elevator or Starbucks (respectively).

Your biggest rival is in town, and College Gameday is coming....to your citaaaaaaay... Create a blatant corporate sellout promotion to appeal to the mass unwashed.

Let's see... a Goldy bobble head? Already done. Make people buy tickets to North Dakota State if they want to go see Wisconsin or Iowa? Already done.

Stadium Giveaway - hand out loud noisemakers that will play the MN Rouser or say "Go Gophers!" Sounds lame, but this way maybe the Metrodome will appear to have more Gopher fans than Badger or Hawkeye fans. If all else fails maybe the U can borrow the Viking's old crowd noise CD.

Add one local delicacy to your stadium's concessions. Post-tax pricing is optional.

Badger-on-a-stick! Hawkeye meat sounds good but it is usually OVERRATED!

With an unlimited AD budget, add or subtract one thing to your school's gameday experience that has nothing to do with football.

What exactly is a gameday experience? This term is unfamiliar to me. How about a new stadium, on campus. 2009, I can't wait!

Coin a hilariously unrealistic stereotype that you would like to "make stick" for this upcoming season.

Wisconsin students DON'T have a drinking problem.
Iowa student's siblings are NOT also their cousins.
Lou Holtz is NOT a backstabbing, selfish SOB who should rot for all eternity in the depths of all despair. (sorry, got a little emotional there).

Redesign your conference or independent schedule with reckless abandon. Be prepared to include compensation for jilted schools and conferences in your explanation.

I don't care who is out (probably Northwestern) but if we are going to be the Big Ten, then I think it would be a novel idea to have 10 teams. This greatly confuses the folks in Iowa City. I would love to see 10 teams and put all 9 opponents on your schedule. I know this makes for a few quirks to work out but not playing 2 teams is ridiculous. Even if you only play 8 of the 9 and miss 1 team at least that's an improvement.

Following up on your new realignment, blow up the BCS and devise a national playoff system, money grabs and missed exams be damned. Using your new fantasy conferences is optional.

BCS sucks so much. Minnesota hasn't been within 30 teams of sniffing the BCS but even I can see it is a complete joke. 12 team tournament. Give the 6 major conference winners an auto bid and 4 of them get a 1st round bye. Then you have 6 at large berths. 5 weeks playoffs with the semis and finals rotating around the current BCS Bowls (one gets shafted every 4th year to a quarter final game).

Really I don't care how it is aligned, get a real playoff for college football! It is ridiculous and embarrassing that the champion is computed by averaging the votes of various groups of people. Let the winner be decided on the field. And let the Boise States, Rutgers and Louisville's of the world have a shot. The Boise State comeback over Oklahoma last year was exciting but it was utterly meaningless. Now if that was to get into the Football Final Four, that game goes down in history and puts Boise State on the map for more than just having a blue field that kills birds.

Elect one public figure to replace NCAA president Myles Brand. Anyone with proper name recognition is eligible.

George Bush. His style of crony-ism, nepotism and mismanagement of pretty much everything he touches would be a dramatic improvement over the current NCAA leadership. If Bush isn't up for it I would throw out there Jeff Skilling, Rosie O'Donnell, Paris Hilton or Kevin McHale as candidates who would be an improvement.

June 28, 2007

Big Ten Nation

IlliniTalk - Not sure how I missed this or even when it happened but Michael Jordan's son is going to play basketball at Illinois. Maybe this old news but here are quotes from MJ on his son.

The Hoosier Report - reports that the Sporting News is reporting a new Big Ten recruiting rule. I haven't seen this anywhere else but it is interesting. Big Ten schools are not allowed to recruit players who have verbally committed to other Big Ten Schools. Tough to enforce and if put into effect it will probably be ignored by everyone.

Hawkeye State - the realignment of conferences is sweet and I'm not sure which Hawkeye fan group is more crazy the "win or lose we still booze" group or the "potential national champions" group.

SpartanTailgate - it is official that Draymond Green is not going to be a Gopher. The former Tubby fan is going to be a Spartan.

The M Zone - reports that ESPN Gameday will open the season at Virginia Tech. I think that is a good move.

Buckeye Banter - get to know your OSU QBs.

Zombie Nation - Will Derreck Williams ever live up to the hype?

Wisconsin Badger Sports - answers the same set of questions as Hawkeye State does. "Boozin' Buddhas" is probably fairly accurate. He fails to mention how the stadium is 1/2 empty in the 3rd qtr cause the fans can't wait 2 more qtrs to start drinking again.

Blog Roll Thursday

Well it looks like the popular thing to do in the Big Ten Blogworld is update your blog roll then write a post displaying your new blogs.

Blogs now linking to Gopher Nation...

Blogs I added to my roll...

June 26, 2007

the NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 3

How quickly can either of these programs win a Big Ten title?

The NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 3 of 8

Intro - Turning point for Gopher FB and BB
Part 1 - What can we expect in 2007? - FB
Part 2 - What can we define as success (short term)? - FB

This is THE important question. With any new coach there is an initial period of excitement and anticipation. This is followed by collective patience while the new guy implements his schemes and recruits his players. But following that there has to be some meeting of the fan base's expectations.

Coach Brewster has certainly passed the test on generating excitement and anticipation within Gopher Nation. As if creating Gopher Nation wasn't enough he has generated ticket sales that this team hasn't seen in a number of seasons. It is expected that the every home football game will have the lower deck completely sold out (can you hear the laugher from Madison, Ann Arbor and Columbus? the lower deck? whoo hooo!). This bump in ticket sales (along with basketball season ticket orders) will allow the athletic department to pay off the former mediocre coaches (Mason and Monson) quicker than originally anticipated.

The second phase will play itself out this fall and probably the fall of 2008.

But taking this program to levels of success that Mason only dreamed about is another thing altoegether. One thing that I love about Coach Brewster is that from his opening press conference he hasn't been shy about his goals to win the Big Ten and go to Pasadena (again the collective midwest laughter is deafening). You haven't heard him tell us how bad the program has been in the past or list the difficulties that this program has for recruiting and sustained success. Instead he put in out there right away, "We're going to take Gopher Nation to Pasadena." Now, I hope he didn't mean as a tour bus for all of us to go watch USC vs. Michigan after we have won the Music City Bowl. While that would be fun to road trip with Brew and crew, I'd much rather witness the Gophers competing in the Rose Bowl in my lifetime. But how realistic is this and how quickly can it happen? Here is my timeline...

2007 - my magic 8-ball says "outlook not so good" (and by not so good I mean, not possible). The talent gap between the top tier of the Big Ten and mediocre tier is too great. Even if Brewster surpassess all expectations finishing 1st is just not realistic no matter how much maroon Kool-Aid you drink. Surpassing expectations and showing success on the field will however greatly help with recruiting. Currently Brewster is getting close to very good recruits but his lack of game experience is the opening for negative recruiting and makes it hard for these kids to committ. Winning some games and showing a style of football that will be fun to watch and play in will help to get some kids to committ.

2008 - Still probably a transition year. Brewster has to bring in more talent and even if he lands a top 10 recruiting class this year (which the 8-ball says "my sources say no" and so do mine) then those kids are freshmen in the Big Ten. Maybe we see some improvment and maybe a glimmer of hope but again winning the Big Ten isn't likely. This recruiting class has to be better than the Mason classes and I think it will be. It will have players who will contribute but won't be full of "difference makers."

2009 - I still say no. This freshman class and the soph class "should" be getting us to the point of a much more talented team from top to bottom but they are still so young. We will be in the new stadium and hopefully this will be the year that we break into that top tier of the Big Ten. Finish top 4 and be competitive in all of our games, then with a young team we have tremendous anticipation for 2010. This freshman class nees to have some difference makers, some 5-star recruits and be noticed nationally as one of the best recruiting classes in the country. And maybe a Jan 1 bowl game? That would be refreshing.

2010 and 2011 - these are the years that Gopher Nation should be looking forward to (who is laughing NOW!?). 3 years for Brewster to establish his style of play, get the kids for his system here, upgrade the overall talent and now we can compete with the best of the Big Ten, not the "rest" of the Big Ten.

The first 2 season I really don't care how good of a coach Brewster is, improving the talent level is priority #1. Beginning in 2009 I care very much how well Brewster can coach, because now his job is to take this team to the next level ON the field. Winning with current talent just isn't realistic no matter who is coaching, but eventually it will be his talent and then he has to start delivering on the goals that he set forth and Gopher Nation is buying into.

June 22, 2007

Recruiting UPDATE

Well within 24 hours of my recruit list 2 have committed to other schools..

Matt Scott (California) - 3-star, dual threat QB who attended last weekends camp on campus. Signs pointed to Scott making a quick decision and quotes from he and his dad indicated that MN was at the top. Matt Scott... Arizona.

Joe Schafer (St. Paul) - 3-star OT had offers from Wis, NW, Stan, Mizz and Ill. Schafer is the first hometown kid that we failed to land. Joe Schafer... Wisconsin (I think I just threw up a little in the back of my throat!) Ultimately lets hope this doesn't affect Mike Floyd's college decision. Although if he does decide to leave MN I expect it to be for Ohio State, Notre Dame or Florida (not Wisconsin).

So my list is down to a dozen and with Scott committing to AZ that may not help anything in the recruitment of Bass (RB on Scott's high school team). But it is a LONG time till signing day in February and a lot is yet to happen.

June 21, 2007

Football Recruiting

Keeping track of football recruiting this spring has been exciting and exhausting. Coach Brewster and his staff have been working their tails off to get Minnesota in front of many of the top recruits in the country. With the list of scholarship offers upwards of 100 it is difficult to track.

Based on reading various sites here is a list of 14 talented kids who will 1-drastically improve the talent level on the team and 2-are seriously considering Minnesota. If we have a scholarship in front of a top 10 player but we don't have a realistic shot at signing him I didn't put him on this list.

  • QB
    • Matt Scott (Cali) - 3-star, dual threat QB who attended last weekends camp on campus. Scott appears to be nearing a decision and it appears that MN has a VERY good shot at landing him. Tough to say where he would fit in with the current group of QBs (Mortenson, Weber (rsFr) and Brewster (Fr)), but landing the 8th overall dual threat QB (according to Rivals) would be an upgrade in overall talent.
    • Darron Thomas (TX) - 3-star QB who also attended camp last week. Thomas is not a likely sign as he is favoring LSU.
  • RB
    • Ryan Bass (Cali) - 4-star and Rivals top 250 RB who is teammates with QB Matt Scott. Bass mentions MN along with Ole Miss, San Diego State and Arizona. Of this list Bass would be in my top 5 I want to land.
  • WR
    • Deion Walker (Virg) - 5-star and #20 overall according to Rivals. Also, not a likely future gopher. We are on his list, have offered a scholarship but his list is extensive. We may be helped out by the fact that he could have an immediate impact in an offense that will feature the WR position. I'm not holding my breath though.
    • Mike Floyd (MN) - 4-star, #52 overall and 8th best WR. Floyd attends Cretin and is being heavily recruited by Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan (among others). I've said this before but Floyd is a MUST HAVE for Brewster. We need WRs and we need to establish that we can keep our best here at the U. He is currently on a trip to take unofficial visits to Wis, Mich, Ohio St and Notre Dame this weekend. Pray for rain!
    • Brandon Green (Chicago) - 4-star and Rivals top 250. Green has offers from most other Big Ten schools but my gut tells me he will end up wearing maroon and gold on Saturdays in 2008.
  • OT
    • Joe Schafer (St. Paul) - 3-star OT with offers from Wis, NW, Stan, Mizz and Ill. Schafer is another hometown kid that we should land. He won't be challenging for the Outland Trophy or anything but the 6'5", 262 lb kid would be a welcome addition to the OL that will be graduating soon.
  • DE
    • Willie Mobley (Eden Prairie) - 4-star and Rivals top 250. Mobley is #2 on the list of MN kids we have to get. I would bet he'll be a Gopher but he is also entertaining offers from Ohio State, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona, UCLA, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
    • Kapron Lewis-Moore (TX) - 4-star DE who would provide more talent to the side of the ball that needs it most. Kapron has offers from Neb, OK, ND, OK St, Tex A&M, TTech, Vir and Wis.
    • DJ Marshall (TX) - 3-star recruit, not ranked as highly as commit Brandon Kelly but again this side of the ball needs all the talent it can acquire. Only has offers from Iowa State and Minnesota but is gaining interest from other D1 schools.
  • LB
    • Leonard Hubbard (Illinois) - 3-star who has narrowed list to Iowa, Minn and Wis. It would be nice to start winning some of these little recruiting battles with the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes. Hubbard would be a solid addition to the LB core. I think that Sam Maresh (already committed and #15 LB) is going to be more of a stud but Hubbard would surely contribute.
    • Spencer Reeves (Dallas) - 3-star OLB says that Kansas State and Minnesota are at the top of his list but that can always change when higher profile schools come calling. I don't know much about Reeves, but he is one of a handful of kids we are recruiting from Dallas Skyline High School. Landing 1 could lead to landing a 2nd and then a 3rd, etc.
  • CB
    • Prentiss Waggner (Clinton, LA) - 4-star corner who has offers from the likes of Aub, Minn, S Miss and LaTech. 70 tackles and 16 INTs as a Jr. As previously stated (10 times) we need more talent on defense. I know little about Waggner but a 4-star recruit indicates he has some talent and if we can wrestle him from Auburn we could have ourselves some help on defense.
  • S
    • Keanon Cooper (Dallas) - 3-star safety with some speed. Cooper is another Skyline kid who would help our pass defense. Cooper has offers from KanSt, LSU, Mich, OK, Pur and Wis so he has a number of big time schools on his recruiting trail.
So who are my top 5 you ask?
  1. Mike Floyd (RB) - highly talented and the best in the state. I've said it 20 times on this blog, he is a MUST HAVE for Brewster
  2. Willlie Mobley (DE) - another in state stud. Mobley would greatly help our beleaguered defense and would be another in state kid that Brewster kept home.
  3. Brandon Green (WR) - we need good WRs to run this new offense. Green is the 36th best WR according to Rivals and would certainly help us.
  4. Matt Scott (QB) - I don't know much about this QB but the coaching staff seems to love him and maybe he's the guy Coach Dunbar could develop as the next Brett Basanez.
  5. Ryan Bass (RB) - We'll need someone to carry the ball next year with Pinnix graduating. I know this is an offense happy list but we've already received LB and DE commitments.
The 14 kids listed above are not the only kids being recruited. This is just MY list of guys who are very good and we have a realistic shot at landing. Now we wait and see what happens!

June 18, 2007

the NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 2

What can we define as success (in the short term)? - Football
The NEW Golden Gopher Era - Part 2 of 8

Part 1 - What can we expect in 2007?

This was partially addressed in Part 1, but there is more to it than previously discusses. There are a number of ways to define success in 2007 both on and off the field. First and foremost I don't think that the team's final record will be a true indicator or a fair assesment of Coach Brewster's success this season. This is his honeymoon season. If he overachieves to a 9-3 or 8-4 record then they'll start erecting a bronze statue to be ready in 2009 (Brewster Field at TCF Stadium). If he stumbles by losing to one of their less talented non-conference foes or only win 1 or 2 Big Ten games then it is because he has Mason's recruits. I can already see Sid explaining that you can't run the spread offense with Mason's "pound the rock" kids.

So if record can't define success what does? Unfortunately I don't think there are many tangible benchmarks that would clearly define success in 2007. I see 3 things that will mark a "successful" season...

1. RECRUITING - This is a tangible measure and one that started months ago. Brewster needs to upgrade the talent on his roster. He needs to bring in more talented players than we've previously seen with M's on their helmets. Mason had his moments but it was a simple formula...

great RB + very good OL - average QB - terrible defense = MEDIOCRITY

If Mason lacked a RB and a couple OL that were some of the best in the country he struggled to achieve that mediocrity he strived for.

Brewster has to show everyone that he can bring in more talent. This 2008 recruiting class doesn't have to be top 10 nationally but it should be good enough to garner some respect and open some eyes that Minnesota is a program you'll have to fight with for some top notch talent.

Most importantly is keeping the best kids in the state of Minnesota. So far every MN kid who they deemed worthy of a scholarship offer has accepted with the exception of WR-Mike Floyd who has yet to commit. Floyd is the best in the state, has offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame, and this is a statement recruit that Brewster has to keep at home. Keep Floyd and keeping the top MN talent in the future becomes a little bit easier. Then add some 4-star recruits from around the country and things start to look up for Gopher Nation.

2. Learn to snatch victory from defeat (not the other way around) - this one is pretty simple. Don't blow a 28 point, 4th qtr lead at home (and you have 424 rushing yards), don't blow a 10 point lead with the ball and under 3:00 left (also at home), and don't blow a 35-7 half time lead in a bowl game. I don't need to link these games or even tell you the opponent cause if you are a member of Gopher Nation you are well aware of these debacles.

These games were certain wins that Mason's teams lost on a regular basis. I haven't even touched on the games we lost in OTs cause we were screwed on a pass interference (Penn State) or the ref didn't know what the end zone out of bounds line was (Purdue). In other words I hope Brewster teams have better mental toughness and discipline to overcome bad calls and learn how to finish teams off.

3. Play with some toughness - this is clearly not tangible but I would never characterize a Mason coached team as tough. We had guys in the trenches that opened holes and let our RBs run wild. BUT it's been 10+ years since we've seen a defense that could shut down an opponent when it counted. And I mean any opponent, Indiana and Northwestern have been just as unstoppable as Ohio State and Michigan.

In this category I also throw in some of the blow out losses. I know that we are lacking in talent but we need to have the toughness to compete with anybody in the Big Ten. 44-0 losses should not be acceptable. I don't expect victories over OSU and Mich this year but at least show that we want to be on the same field with them.

I think that if Brewster can demonstrate that his teams will compete with some desire, toughness and play till the final zeros, fans will be content for a year or 2. Eventually, like all in his profession, his success will be judged on his record. But this is looking only in the short term future. In 2007 and even into 2008 he will be shown grace from Gopher Nation and the U's administration. This is Mason's roster that has to be upgraded but show us something (anything) that Mason was unable to do.

June 16, 2007

Big Day for Gopher Football recruiting...

Today was a one-day camp hosted by the U that was primarily meant for some of our top prospects to come to campus to work with the coaches, compete and see the campus. There were many big names from the recruit list and it seems they all had great things to say about Coach Brewster, his staff and Minnesota. All of my info comes from GopherIllustrated.com. This requires a membership so I don't want to be the one who is giving all of their info away for free but here are a few highlights.

Some of the players attending...

WRs Mike Floyd(Cretin DH) and Brandon Green(Chicago, IL) - both are highly sought after by this coaching staff and both seemed to have positive experiences as well as dominating performances.

QBs Matt Scott(Corona, CA) and Darron Thomas(Aldine, TX) are both very talented. Scott's father had a LOT of very good things to say about Coach Brewster.

add CB Craig Loston(Aldine, TX) to your watch list as he had a good camp day and the coaching staff is hoping he'll rethink his soft verbal to Tex A&M. In fact here is his top 5...Tex A&M, Florida, Miami and Oklahoma - the fact that Coach Brewster and staff are getting Minnesota listed with those schools (and Loston isn't the only one) is amazing.

LB Sam Maresh(Champlin Park) is already committed for 2008 but was at the camp to get better.

There is a lot of very good info on Gopher Illustrated and quotes from players, coaches and parents. I encourage you to subscribe, but I don't feel right re-posting after someone else did all the work.

Ultimately this was a big day for the football program and we can all HOPE that a couple of these kids will give a verbal commitment before they get on a plane back home. Before Brewster and crew can realistically think about a Rose Bowl they have to upgrade the talent and hopefully this will be a small step in the right direction.

June 15, 2007

Gopher Nation quick hitters

It has been a slow blogging week. I'd REALLY like to put together a comprehensive football recruiting list but I haven't had the time to put that together yet. Basketball is MUCH easier as they only have a handful of scholarship offers out there. The future of Gopher Football on the other hand has 100 scholarhip offers out there (give or take a dozen). So this is a much more daunting list. To get the blog rolling again here are a few tid bits from around Gopher Nation...

Baseball Recruting - the recent Big Ten runner ups have announced the signing of lefthanded pitcher from Phil Isaksson to a letter of intent. We stole him from the Badgers (oh wait, Title IX has left them without a baseball team). Isaksson is from Eau Claire and thus far in his Sr. season he is 6-0 with a 0.29 ERA (2 ER on the season) with 80 Ks in 47 innings. For his career Isaksson is 23-2 and was third-team all state as a junior. I'm assuming he'll pitch for the Golden Gophers but he is also batting .400 with 4 HRs this season. I don't know how high school stats translate into college level success but Isaksson seems to be pretty solid, we'll find out.

Tim Brewster Football Camps - Began this this past week. These camps seem to be more and more of a recruiting tool more than anything else. Some of Coach Brewster's top recruits were amoung the 430 kids here for the camps as well as some of the coaches of other recruits came to MN for the camps. Getting the kids here as well as getting their coaches here is an opportunity for the staff to land a handful of upper-tier talent that they are coveting. Players who were here either this week or will be here this weekend for 1-day camps include...

  • DE - Will Mobley from Eden Prairie, 4-star according to Rivals.
  • WR - Brandon Green from Chicago
  • High School coach Art Walker who is the offensive coordinator and father of WR Deion Walker. Art was here coaching the camps, Deion was not but according to Rivals Art says they will be back for an official visit.
  • QB - Matt Scott from Corona, CA.
  • QB - Darron Thomas from Aldine, TX. Thomas is a 3-star QB but has offers from the likes of Miami, LSU and Nebraska.
  • OLB - Anthony Lewis (Aldine, TX) - teammate of Thomas.
  • RB - Jonas Gray from Michigan. Gray is a big time RB who will likely be here next weekend for an unnofficial visit.
A top notch Gopher Blog, Pagin Jim Shikenjanski has a nice 2 part post giving a point / counter point on Tubby Smith. Myths and Realities of Tubby Smith and Countering Tubby's Buddy.

Kyle Okposo is returing to the frozen pond for the Gophers this winter. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about hockey but this seems to be a good thing.

I hope to get out Part 2 of my 8 part series on The NEW Golden Gopher Era. Part 2 will discuss What can we define as success for the 2007 Football season. You can read part 1 HERE.

June 6, 2007

Gopher Baseball

It has been a busy week at work which means slow posting. But I feel the need to congratulate the Gopher baseball team on a great season. Here is a brief rundown and link list of what happened at last weekend's San Diego Regional...

  • Gophers ousted the #1 seed (#8 overall) and host San Diego (W 6-5). The Gophers were 3 outs from a shutout win before the Toreros score 5 quick runs to tie it and send it to extra innings. But freshman 2B, Derek McCallum delivered the game winning hit in the bottom of the 10th to extend the season.
  • Minnesota was unable to get the clutch hit and they allowed a couple BIG innings in losses to Cal State Fullerton (L 1-7) and Fresno State (L 6-11).
  • All-Regional team included
    • 2B - Derek McCallum (Fr)
    • 1B - Bryan Jost (So)
    • SS - Dan Lyons (Sr)
Here are some of the highlites of a very good season for these Gophers...
  • Record 41-18, most wins since 1999, 2nd place in the Big Ten
  • Defeated 3 teams ranked in the top 10 nationally
  • Mike Mee...
    • Set Golden Gopher record for games played
    • highest season batting average (.392) since Sam Steidl in 2001
    • ended 3rd all time on gopher hit list
  • 7th consecutive season playing in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game

So it was a fine season, but what does the roster initially look like for 2008? Here is what is returning for players with 75+ at bats in 2007.

  • OF/1B/DH - Mike Mee - unanimous selection to All-Big Ten, team MVP, team batting champ. Mee batted 3rd in the order and will clearly be missed.
  • SS - Dan Lyons - .315 hitter with 9 HRs (2nd on team). Lyons was SS but he had 20 errors which seems high to me (but I'm not familiar enough to know if that is high or not for a college SS).
  • RF - Kyle Baran - .330 hitter who was also solid in the OF. Only 1 HR
  • LF - Tijl Vanderwege - .266 hitter, I would imagine that we can find somebody to replace Vanderwege without much of a drop off. Started about 1/2 of the games this year.
  • C - Kevin Carlson - the teams primary catcher starting 32/50 games. Likely to be replaced by combo of (Jr) Jeff DeSmidt and (Fr) Kyle Knutson. His numbers were not great (.279)but often a reliable catcher can be a team leader.
  • SP - Marcus McKenzie - 7-1, started 10 games but finished with an ERA of 6.61. #3 starter.
  • Closer - Josh Oslin - 11 saves and was one of the better closers in the Big Ten, Oslin's numbers and reliability will be difficult to replace.
  • RP - Bill Johnson - 2.27 ERA, 4-0 in 23 relief appearances, Johnson was as good as it got in the relief role.
  • OF - Matt Nohelty (So) - leadoff batter and CF. Nohely was 2nd on the team in hitting , 2nd in runs scored and led the team with 24 SBs in 30 attempts. Nohelty will be heavily counted upon next year at the plate.
  • 3B - Nate Hanson (So) - lead team in HRs and RBIs with 10 and 51 respectively, also batted .338. Hanson was usually cleanup and will also be key for next year's club. Started all 59 games for the team this year
  • 1B - Bryan Jost (So) - .303 hitter, 4th on team in slugging % and 6 HRs. Jost is solid and actually had a very good Regional tournament.
  • 2B/SS - Derek McCallum (Fr) - the freshman was 3rd on the team with a .340 average. His numbers indicate that he'll be a valued player over the next 3 seasons.
  • SP - Tom Buske (So) - team's #1 starter. 5-2 with 3.43 ERA.
  • SP - Gary Perinar (Jr) - 4-6, 5.75 ERA team's #2 starter by the end of the Big Ten season.
  • SP - Dustin Brabender (Jr) - 5-1 in 14 starts
  • RPs - Kyle Carr (So) and Ethan Vogt (Jr) - solid seasons mostly in relief roles (Vogt did have 6 starts), both will be given the opportunity to eat more innings and contribute more next season.
Here is my VERY uneducated guess at a projected lineup for 2008...

CF - Nohelty
SS - McCallum
1B - Jost
3B - Hanson
DH - ?
OF - Tom Steidl (?)
C - DeSmidt
2B - Jeremy Chlan (?)
OF - ?

SP - Buske
SP - Perinar
SP - Brabender
SP - Vogt
RP - Carr
RP - others

I see a solid nucleus of 4 returning position players (CF, 3B, 1B, SS), and really all 4 starters should be solid in 2008 as well. Then we should be able to replace the hitting numbers of C and LF. That leaves holes to fill at RF and 2B. Next year's team looks poised to build on the success of 2007 and get 45+ wins next year.

June 2, 2007

Bad Day...Better Day

Friday was not such a good day for Gophers competing at the national level.

Men's Golf - entered Friday morning sitting 1 stroke behind the tournament leader Stanford (MN was -6 through those 2 rounds). What did this group of Golden Gophers do on Friday? Well they went +14 and dropping from 2nd to 8th and essentially nullified any chance of winning the tournament.

Baseball - the baseball team opened their NCAA Regional against traditional power Cal-State Fullerton. It wasn't pretty for Minnesota as Cal-State cruised to a 7-1 victory. CSF's Wes Roemer had the Gophers guessing all day as he went 9 innings allowing 1 earned run and recording 7 strikeouts. A 5-run 4th inning for CSF really put MN in a hole that they just couldn't get out of.

Saturday was a better day...

Men's Golf - the team actually dropped 1 position in the standings but it was a much more respectable day as they shot +5 and finished in the top 10 for the second consecutive year. Soph. Victor Almstrom was the top Gopher finisher at 15th overall. Of the 5 Golden Gophers 2 will be graduating so there is a decent nucleus returning. But congratulations to Brad James and his golfers for another fine season.

Baseball - Things looked ominous for the Gophers as the #1 seed was upset yesterday and thus had a date with Minnesota today. This game was interesting but Minnesota managed to sneak out the win and bounce the host San Diego Toreros from the tournament. Minnesota took a 5-0 lead into the 9th inning. Put that game in the bag right? Wrong. San Diego knocked in 5 runs on 4 hits before Oslin came in to pitch and get the remaining 2 outs. Fortunately Minnesota came through in the 10th inning as freshman Derek McCallum singled with the bases loaded to give MN the W. Tomorrow they will face the loser of Fresno State and Cal-State Fullerton. It looks to be a tough day for Minnesota as they will need to win 3 games tomorrow to advance through the Regionals to next weekend's Super Regionals.