November 30, 2007

Brewster's Recruiting Grades

With Willie Mobley committing to Ohio State this morning we can now assess how well Brewster has done recruiting in state kids.

In the past there was much criticism that the previous coaching staff did a poor job of keeping the best kids home. This was very true as the list of successful college players from Minnesota who excelled at other schools is longer than the list of gophers who stayed home. Brewster has clearly stated that keeping Minnesota's finest at home is a top priority. I am going to say that while coach Brewster has had an outstanding recruiting class he is failing at keeping MN kids in MN. I know this is basically his first year and going 1-11 isn't going to help your cause, but there are some very talented individuals playing in this state that Brester was unable to land.

The Can't Blame Them Camp - There were two highly rated high school seniors this year. Two players who project to be impact players at any program. And these were the only two players who were legitimately recruited by the best of the best programs (Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, etc.).

Mike Floyd (pictured right) - WR - committed to Notre Dame
Willie Mobley - DE - committed to Oho State
Sam Maresh - LB - MINNESOTA

When you are a player being courted by the likes of Notre Dame and Ohio State, I really can't blame you for choosing them over Minnesota. If you feel that you will play and contribute on a team that most years will be competing for a BCS Bowl game, why would you choose Minnesota? I know that Brewster is engaging and has people believing he'll bring the gophers to a championship level, but why not take the sure thing? Really, there is no good reason that players like Floyd and Mobley should choose MN over those fine schools. We want them here and we want to seem them lead the gophers to a Rose Bowl, but can you really blame them?

Landing Maresh was a great get, but getting a third of your state's best isn't a good average. I also don't think Maresh had quite the same options as Floyd/Mobley. The real loss here is Mobley for a couple reasons. First of all we have a pluthera of WRs coming in and losing Floyd isn't the end of the world but we NEED help on the defensive line in the worst way. Mobley would have played and been an improvement from day 1. Secondly, it appeared that he was truly on the fence. We were so close and when it is close we have to land the hometown guy.

Good Players, Gotta Have 'em - this is your group of good players who are not the best of the best but they'll still help you win football games. These guys will contribute to most programs even some of the top notch programs. Land enough of these kids and you have a solid team. These are the kids we HAVE to land. This is where we lose good players to Wisconsin and Iowa each and every year. Then we watch them contribute to winning programs that go to decent bowls.

Joe Schafer - OL - committed to Wisconsin
Brendon Kelly - DE - committed to Wisconsin
Shady Solomon - RB - MINNESOTA
Roszell Gaydon - OL - MINNESOTA
John Nance - QB - MINNESOTA

Honestly I'm disappointed how this one turned out. Landing 4 of these 5 would have been acceptable (especially considering our young talent on the OL), but year in and year out we need to go 5 for 5 with this level of athletes. What makes this sting more is that Wisconsin landed them. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep these kids at home.

Ultimately when you rank the players within the state of Minnesota we are keeping one of the top five. I don't find that this is an improvement over what we saw in previous years.

Brewster's Recruiting Grades - being critical of this recruiting class is like being upset you won the powerball when it was "only" 15 million, not 200. This is arguably the best gopher recruiting class in my lifetime. But I'm going to be unusually critical anyway.

National Recruiting - A - I can't complain about Brewster's recruiting efforts outside of Minnesota. He is pulling kids from winning programs in Florida and Texas. He has 4-star recruits seriously considering and even committing to being golden gophers. Landing kids like Brandon Green(WR), Spencer Reeves(LB), Traye Simmons(CB) and Troy Stoudermire(Ath) are great recruiting gets for Minnesota. And we still have chips in the game. Other top rated players like MarQueis Gray(QB), LaMichael James(RB), Keanon Cooper(S), Nolan Brewster(S) and Jewhan Edwards(DT) are still on our radar with good chances of landing a handful of these kids.

Minnesota's Finest - B minus - I really don't fault Floyd for choosing Notre Dame or Mobley for choosing Ohio State when the gophers have a long history of playing somewhere between bad and mediocre. Maresh is a good get and I'm looking forward to watching him help the gophers over the next 4 years. This is hard to grade cause these guys were going to be difficult to keep. I'm frustrated that we didn't get Mobley and that is probably keeping this grade down the most. Had we landed him I would be very happy with this group.

Minnesota's Next Best - D+ - As frustrated as I am that we lost Mobley, missing out on the 2 best in this group to Wisconsin is unforgivable. Kelly committed originally and then de-committed for a Badger scholarship. That flip flop makes all the difference in the world. Getting a good DE to stay here would have been very helpful for this class. The border bleeding has to stop and it starts with this caliber of player.

Overall - B - this is tricky. As I mentioned above this has been a great recruiting class. But stopping the border bleeding has to happen now. So grading a great class with the disappointment of our inability to keep kids home is tough. I feel like I'm getting picky and acting as though it will never be enough. But at Minnesota building a winning program has to start with keeping our best home. That can't be something that "eventually" happens when we start winning. It has to start with that. Brewster has done a nice job of getting talented kids from Chicago, Texas and Florida to come here but he'll never get their best and he won't be able to get enough of them to build a Big Ten challenging team. A dream class that has Floyd, Mobley, Maresh and then several kids from around the country is what we need to build a winning foundation.

It should be noted that it ain't over till it's over. I think there is a good chance that a few players who have already committed elsewhere will change their minds and become golden gophers. Nolan Brewster leads that list and in-state guys like Mobley and Kelly are possibilities in my mind. This game is far from over but as it stands I'm not as happy as I probably should be.

Next year will be a huge upgrade in talent because of this outstanding class. I am pleased but not satisfied.

November 28, 2007

Breaking Down the Box - FSU

DISCLAIMER: I like box scores! Of course they never paint a true picture of the game they tell you so much and I love staring at them for a long time and gleaning whatever I can from the box. The game itself is a story of punches and counter punches that is fascinating. The numbers in the box can't capture the defensive battles, the minor coaching adjustments or the one or two significant plays that often determine the outcome. But more often than not the team that does the right things (rebounding, not turning it over, taking good shots, etc) more than the other team will come out victorious.

I think this will be a regular post-game segment here at GopherNation (I know you'll eagerly await each segment!), with 3 sub-headings...

2 out of 3 - In any game if you win 2 of the 3 stat battles (shooting%, rebounding, turnovers) you will usually win that game. In several years of coaching at the college level (around 200 games) it was very rare when somebody lost a game winning the "2 out of 3".

MN - 33.8%
FSU - 42.3

Reb - 36/37 - essentially even

TOs - 18/16

So we lost 3 out of 3. Rebounds were basically even, you could argue we did better on the boards when you factor in that we had 19 offensive boards. But we were severely out shot and we gave them 2 extra possessions with our turnovers. And to compound our shooting woes, when the gophers 3 best players combine for 25.8% shooting (8/31), they will struggle mightily and lose those games.

Tempo-Free Zone - I really am enamored with "tempo-free stats." Explained HERE, but in a nutshell if gives you things like rebounds, turnovers, assists, etc based on your possessions. Current offensive stats are skewed towards teams that play "up-tempo" and therefore have many more possessions. And on the flip side defensive stats are skewed towards teams that play a slow "pace" and then hold teams to fewer points. Not because they play great D but often because the other team just has fewer opportunities to score. Anyway, these stats are fascinating and when applicable I'll give my thoughts here.

I'm new to this temp-free business so I'm not exactly sure how to analyze this. The only games I have to compare the FSU stats to are the previous 3 gopher games. I'll make this game the elementary version...

Possessions = FGAs - orebs + TOs + (0.475 x FTAs)

Once we know the amount of possessions in a game we can accurately get the following key stats...

effective FG% - this gives your total FG % but it gives a little boost for 3s. Because 3 > 2.
Off Reb% - what % of your missed shots do you get back
Def Reb% - what % of your opponents missed shots do you get, ending the possession
TO % - % of possessions you turn the ball over

Off Points per Possession - this is a key stat. It is basically points per game but it balances out up-tempo teams with your teams that slow the pace.
Def Points per Possession - read off PPP
Efficiency Margin = OffPPP - DefPPP (roughly 60% of teams with EffMarg of .10 or better make Sweet 16)

FSU game? - the numbers that jump out are our lack of points per possession and our eFG%. This was by far our lowest PPP output. Prior to the FSU game we were scoring at a rate of 1.124 ppp, we ended the FSU game at .816 PPP. That is a dramatic drop, which was probably determined by our eFG% which was a season low 38.7%. Surprisingly this wasn't our worst game in regards to turnovers. 24.1% of our possessions ended in turnovers (C Mich was 34%!).

X-Factor - this is that 1 stat in a game that often overrules any other stat. Something like shooting 32 free throws to my team's 10, but I'll get to that in a moment. If there isn't a statistical anomaly this is where we throw out the box score and give credit to an outstanding performance or a great coaching move.

If you watched only the first half it would be easy to say that Isaiah Swann was the X-Factor. But he was held in check in the 2nd half and really was a non-factor. There were 2 X-factors in this game.

1. the gophers 3 seniors who combined to shoot 25.8% from the floor. Since there is very little depth, talent or experience outside of the three seniors, we won't win when they barely make a quarter of their shots. They were bad and that killed us.

2. free throw discrepancy. Both the first and second halves started with FSU gaining a 7 to 1 foul advantage. Minnesota racking up quick fouls and FSU's aggressiveness to the hoop led them to a +22 free throw attemps advantage. That is huge. They scored 21 more points from the line than did the gophers. Tough to overcome that.

Likes and Dislikes

LIKED - Blake Hoffarber, looks more and more confident also was team's leading scorer.
DIS - Dan Coleman's shooting. 3/12 is just bad and it didn't stop him from trying.
LIKED - Tollackson's rebounding. 10 boards, 5 offensive is good effort by the big man.
DIS - Lack of any interior presence. Tollackson rebounded, but we didn't even look at the post in the first half and the 2nd half we looked pathetic trying.

What Does this Mean?

Ultimately I'm disappointed that Tubby actually lost a game. I was kind of hoping for an undefeated career record, but I guess even the great ones lose once in a while.

Hopefully this will be a wakeup call and in the long run will benefit this gopher squad. They aren't a great team, but the team they lost to was not much better. Often making mistakes throughout a game but still winning doesn't drive home the message that we have to play better. Losing the game will hopefully remind them that they are vulnerable and they'll improve. That's all I'm asking. They work hard and give max effort on the court, but they need to improve every game or the Big Ten season will be a rough one again.

November 27, 2007

Big Ten / ACC Challenge from Tallahassee

Below I have what I am certain will the Gopher's starting lineup.

This should really be a fun game to watch.


PG - Nolen vs. Douglas - Nolen has been playing really well lately but if I gave him the edge here, one could accuse me of being a homer. I'll give the edge to the Auburn transfer, but it's a slight edge. If Nolen can give some scoring spark, not turn the ball over and even create some steals that would go a long way towards a gopher win.

SG - Westbrook vs. Swan - I'm sure you'll see at least 4 different gophers guarding Swann. He is shooting great and keeping him down a little is critical to a win. It is tough to win on the road when the home team's best player is filling up the stat sheet. Defending Swann is critical and somebody has to do it. I actually am looking forward to watching McKenzie guarding him most of the time.

G/F - McKenzie vs. Rich - here is where we start to gain an advantage. McKenzie should be able to have a big night tonight, assuming his hammy is healthy and assuming he is shooting well. Rich is solid and likes to post up smaller guards but our bench should give us greater size at this position. Lawrence is a key every night but we'll need him on both ends tonight.

F - Coleman vs. Reid - once again this might be the pivotal matchup. The sophomore Reid isn't (shouldn't) going to dominate the scoring or even rebounding, but this is a game that Coleman really has an opportunity to step up and lead us tonight. Coleman just outscoring Reid isn't going to be enough. If he can play good D and chip in 16+ tonight then our chances of pulling out this huge road win go up significantly.

F/C - Tollackson vs. Echefu - advantage, Tollackson. Echefu is having a decent season but Tollackson is the heart and soul of this team. I am certain that he will have a really big game. But we need to not just win this matchup we need to dominate the paint. Echefu can't score and we need to dominate the boards.

Bench vs. Bench - I'm a big fan of the gopher bench tonight. I think that Johnson will matchup very well in this game with Mims and Rich. But everyone on the bench for Minnesota is slow and especially in the backcourt can be a defensive liability tonight. Abu-Shamala and Williams may both contribute with their 3-pt shooting and rebounding respectively but neither are complete players and could also be a liability with their lack of foot speed and scoring ability respectively.

Keep an eye out for everybody's favorite FSU alum (pictured right)!

Starting Lineups


PG - Nolen
SG - Westbrook
SG/F - McKenzie
PF - Coleman
C - Tollackson

key sub - Johnson (SF)
key sub - Williams (C)
key sub - Abu-Shamala (SG)
key sub - Payton (G)


PG - Douglas - 6'1"
SG - Swann - 6'2"
SF - Rich - 6'3"
PF - Reid - 6'9"
PF - Echefu- 6'9"

key sub - Mimms (G) - 6'3"
key sub - Vaugn (C) - 6'10"
key sub - Breedan (F) - 6'8"


The more I think about it the more I like our chances, but I just can't give the edge to Minnesota. The win at Iowa State was a nice road win, but it doesn't exactly make us road warriors. Tubby has these guys playing hard but the overall talent is still limited. If 3 or 4 things go our way we could win and we could even win going away. Florida State isn't exactly a great team, but they are good. They beat the Gators in Gainesville but they also lost to Cleveland State and South Florida.

Coleman and McKenzie are the key. Coleman needs to dominate his matchup for the first time this season and McKenzie needs to score in bunches. But I think on the road we lose to the talented backcourt of Florida State.

Minnesota - 64
Florida State - 68

Blog Poll Week 13

I'm on the road and just crammed this in to get it in on time. I hope I didn't move somebody up that actually lost. Help me out if you catch anything.

1 Missouri 4
2 Ohio State 1
3 West Virginia 1
4 Georgia 2
5 LSU 4
6 Florida 3
7 Kansas 5
8 Virginia Tech 2
9 Southern Cal 2
10 Oklahoma 2
11 Oregon 2
12 Illinois 3
13 Arizona State 6
14 Boston College 2
15 Virginia 3
16 Auburn 4
17 Clemson 2
18 Wisconsin 3
19 Hawaii 3
20 Texas 12
21 Cincinnati 5
22 Brigham Young 1
23 Texas Tech 1
24 Arkansas 2
25 South Florida 1

Dropped Out: Tennessee (#14), Connecticut (#17), Oklahoma State (#25).

November 25, 2007

CMU down, FSU to go

There was a lot of talk about Central Michigan being a "trap" game as it was sandwiched in between Iowa State and Florida State. Clearly the ISU and FSU games are significant in that they are against major conference teams. The trap game is out of the way and the gophers played solid for the last 20:03 to win the game. Before I get into the FSU game here are some CMU thoughts.


Al Nolen - Kevin Payton did not start, but his spot wasn't given to Nolen. I don't understand why, but he continues to play as though he is more experienced than a true freshman. Only 4 points in 26 min but he chipped in 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and most significantly only 1 turnover. I am guaranteeing that Nolen will start vs. Florida State tomorrow night.

Balanced Scoring - Rather than 2 guys giving us 40+, the gophers had a nice balance in the scoring column. 14, 11, 10, 9, 9 and 7 for their top 6 scorers. I know we have 3 that need to carry our scoring load but it is nice that we can get contributions from everyone when Tollackson and McKenzie don't carry us.

Rebounding - again we dominated the boards which is remarkable considering how bad we were on the glass last season.


Sluggish Start - We can't win by just showing up. I am on record multiple times that I think this gopher team is much better than most anticipated (they'll jump on the bandwagon soon). BUT I am not delusional enough to believe that they are a great team that can beat bad teams just by showing up. I don't care who we are playing, if we don't play well we are suseptable to losing. We have 3 legit players, a good freshman and a couple decent subs. Every team we play has talented players who are capable of beating us. We started sluggish last night and fortunately won with our defensive pressure in the 2nd half. But there are a number of games on our schedule that will end in losses if we don't start applying that pressure from the opening tip.

Turnovers - 24 turnovers is just too many. If you want to keep a less talented team in the game then give them 24 extra possessions. Fortunately the Chippewas gave 23 back to us, but that can't happen against better teams or we'll get killed.

Three Point Shooting - 7/20 isn't terrible but in 2007 that isn't very good. When you are shooting 35% there is not reason you should be taking 20 threes. On the bright side Hoffarber had his best game as a gopher and was 3/5 from behind the arc.

LOOKING AHEAD to Florida State

1-I am going to the game. I'm SO excited I can't even tell you. I signed up for and have my spot reserved to accompany the team to Tallahassee. Hopefully I'll get some good blogging material from this excursion.

2-Florida State was a solid team last year. They won @Duke and beat Florida during the regular season, finished with 20 wins (9-7 in ACC) but were left out of the tourney. The bad news for the gophers is they return 4 starters from that team, the good news is they were a 1 man show and the 1 moved on to the NBA.

Projected Starting Lineups


PG - Nolen (this is going to happen)
SG - McKenzie
SG/F - Abu-Shamala (maybe Johnson?)
PF - Coleman
C - Tollackson

key sub - Johnson (SF)
key sub - Williams (C)
key sub - Westbrook (G)
key sub - Payton (G)


PG - Swann - 6'2"
SG - Douglas - 6'1"
SF - Rich - 6'3"
PF - Reid - 6'9"
PF - Echefu- 6'9"

key sub - Mimms (G) - 6'3"
key sub - Vaugn (C) - 6'10"
key sub - Breedan (F) - 6'8"


Well, we match up well. They don't have great size or depth. They have all guards and forwards. We have all guards, a couple forwards and a center. Ultimately this team has a couple of nice wins this year and a couple of crappy losses. I'm not sure which team we'll see.

This is a serious test on the road but I think it is a winable game.


1 - Dominate the paint - I think both backcourts will score all night. The team that owns the paint will win.

2 - Stop Swann - he's been hot and shooting the ball great. Swann is 51% from behind the arc this season and is averaging 16.6 ppg.

3 - TAKE CARE of the BALL - we had a TON of turnovers vs. Central Michigan. That cannot happen against a better team with an experienced backcourt like Florida State.

This game would be a great win, but my money is on Florida State winning a close game.

November 21, 2007

The Future of Gopher Basketball

I'm on record as thinking the current season is going to be successful. BUT things are looking great for the future of the program. Tubby has landed a great class that will be on campus by next fall.

JUCO Transfers

SF - Devron Bostick - will come to the program as a junior. Last season Bostick was 2nd team All-American at the JUCO level. Back in the day in Racine, Wisconsin Bostick averaged 17 ppg and 6.4 rpg on an undefeated team. Bostick is a slasher and should come in immediately and help pick up the scoring that will be gone with the graduation of McKenzie, Tollackson and Coleman. The downside is that he'll come in and really be a stop-gap guy. His first season as a gopher will likely be a struggle with such a youthful team. His senior season might be more successful but he also might see limited min as we HOPE to have another outstanding recruiting class (you reading this Rodney and Royce?).

F - Paul Carter - I've read that the incoming sophomore has NBA talent. Currently he is having an outstanding season at the JUCO level. His first game of the year was a 28 point, 14 rebound performance on his way to winning the MVP of the season opening tourney. I expect that Carter will be an immediate starter but probably at the SF. This week Carter's team was in Minnesota for a couple games. While Gopher Nation was eager to land some help in the frontcourt it appears that Carter is more of the SF ilk than PF.

Incoming Freshmen

PG/SG - Devoe Joseph - At the last hour Joseph signed with Minnesota over Texas, Vanderbilt and along the way held off schools like Kansas and Illinois. Joseph is one of the top shooters in the 2008 recruit class and will likely have an immediate impact on the gophers. He wants to get a lot of work at the PG spot, where he'd be more suited in the NBA. But he also seems to be perfectly suited as a SG at the college level. So expect him to get plenty of minutes right away playing both positions.

As far as talent goes I think that Joseph is the best player in this class. But I am concerned a little bit about him. Throughout the recruiting process he has been very persnickity and high maintenance. A significant reason he is coming to Minnesota was that he'd get more exposure here. "“If he would have gone to Kansas or Texas, he would have been just another player,” said his Canadian AAU coach, Ro Russell. “Here, he’ll get more recognition.”

AREA of CONCERN? - I'm concerned that if this all doesn't turn into the "DJo Show" then he'll get disgruntled and his numbers will be secondary to winning.

PF - Colten Iverson - the 6'9" Iverson is going to be your reliable, hard working kid who will rebound and give a little scoring help. I was able to get him to answer a few questions for me a few weeks back. Iverson flirted with Florida a little bit then chose Minnesota over Nebraska.

From what I have read I would expect that Iverson will be a very good rebounder, a decent low block scorer and will work hard to be a great defensive post for Tubby. Every recruiting service raves about his rebounding. He has decent scoring moves in the post but I don't anticipate that he'll have more than 1 or 2 reliable moves that will work at the B10 level. He is agile and works hard so I expect he'll better over his full 4 years here.

AREA of CONCERN? - not a great offensive threat, but this doesn't concern me too much if he contributes as a rebounder and defender.

C - Ralph Sampson III - 6'10" son of Ralph Sampson the great college and NBA player. Tubby has been after Sampson for months, long before anyone else was after him. Eventually Minnesota won out over Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Maryland. Sampson did not have a great junior season but improved a ton and had a great summer. He is a lanky shot blocker with a good scoring touch. He may struggle against more physical posts in the B10 but I think he'll come in as an immediate contributor.

Let the speculation begin as to who will start next year at C, Williams or Sampson? My money is on Sampson as Williams has no business starting in the Big Ten.

AREA of CONCERN? - he is lacking in girth. Sampson may not be a great rebounder or 1-on-1 defender. I think he will have great touch around the rim, will run the floor well and will block a lot of shots as a helpside defender.


This is the best class Minnesota has seen since the Bobby Jackson, Quincy Lewis, Courtney James, Charles Thomas and Miles Tarver class that was instrumental to the Final Four run that never actually happened. It isn't at that level but it is very good for a number of reasons...

1 - They'll be here for a full career. The JUCO kids could have immediate impact, Joseph and Sampson could potentially play ball after their careers here at the U, but nobody is going to be leaving early from this group. When the current freshmen are seniors you should have a solid group of experienced players hat will hopefully compliment some younger studs. Having an experienced team is rare at the college level these days and with the right mix could be a dangerous tournament team.

2 - There are good complimentary players here. A scoring guard who can play both guard positions, a hard working PF who will rebound with tenacity, a C who will block shots and can score within 15 feet, a long SF/PF who will have position versatility and a SF slasher who hopefully can come in and start scoring from day 1. It looks you have some leaders here who will work hard and set the right tone for the next recruiting classes.

3 - It sets a tone. This is a consensus top 20 (pushing top 10) recruiting class. Tubby Smith came in and gave Minnesota instant credibility to land some very talented kids. No longer do in state kids have to look elsewhere for a top notch program. This year's high school junior class, within Minnesota has 2 kids who are consensus top 50 in the country. Now they know there is talent in front of them and opportunities to come into a program primed to win and win for 4 years.

There is 1 scholarship still available for next year but my money is on it being saved for next year. Where I expect we will land 3 outstanding players.

1 - Royce White
2 - Rodney Williams
3 - a top rated (4-star or better) PG or SG to compliment Joseph

I couldn't be more excited for the future of gopher basketball. I don't expect greatness in the 2007-08 season but it will be a lot of fun to watch this group of three freshmen and Carter develop.

Devoe Joseph is a gopher

Many of you may know this already but on the last day of the early signing period, Devoe Joseph signed on to be a gopher.

Joseph is a 4-star combo guard out of Canada. Joseph is by all accounts a fantastic basketball player. As a junior he led his team to a 42-4 record and averaged 24 points, 4 reb and 5 assists per game. Not bad, eh?

According to Joseph's AAU coach he picked Minnesota over the late, hard-charging Texas Longhorns, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. Kansas and Illinois also made strong pushes for Joseph but for various reasons were not in the final running.

This signing moves Tubby's recruiting class from good to great. I wouldn't put it at the level of Clem's gem of a class (Bobby Jackson, Quincy Lewis, Charles Thomas and Courtney James) but it is certainly is one of the best "legal" classes the U has ever seen.

I'm really excited about this signing and the class in total. I'll post my thoughts more later, but wanted to get it out there as quick as I could.

Welcome to Gopher Nation kid

Well there have been a few common themes for the 2007 gopher football team.

  1. The defense is terrible each and every game. Holding a team to under 500 yards was something we got excited about and looked at as an improvement.
  2. We lost. A LOT. We lost games and we lost by a lot of points usually.
  3. Following a home loss, we would usually land a significant recruit or two.
Last week was no differentPublish Post. The gophers lost to Wisconsin. It was a close game and we held them to under 450 yards (WoooHOOO!). And then we followed up the loss with a string of recruits committing to the program.

Please take the time to welcome the following kids to Gopher Nation

Hey-Hey, We've got Big Play Traye!

CB - Tray Simmons (pictured right)is our fourth, 4-star recruit. BPT is expected to come in and be an immediate starter. I couldn't be happier that we are landing highly ranked kids at key positions. This was one of they key guys that gopher fans (who are paying attention) wanted Brewster to land. He is a more experienced than a high school kid and should be ready to contribute immediately. I'm afraid that I'm heaping too many expectations on him but he should be an upgrade over the current group of corners. This a big signing!

ATH - DaJon McKnight - The potential Skyline-4 is up to the Skyline 3 (just waiting on Keanon Cooper)! McKnight is clearly the lowest rated of the 4, but he is big (6'3") and fast so I'm sure he'll be able to help us out. I don't know yet where he'll play, my guess is WR, but there is speculation he'll play defense.

McKnight's Skyline Raiders have won their first game of the Texas big division playoffs (5A) and are in the final 16 remaining teams. They won @ Tyler Lee 28-10 with Troy Stoudermire having another great game rushing for 171 yards and 2 TDs. Next up the Raiders will play against Rowlett (6-5) @ Texas Stadium. Rowlett upset previously undefeated Allen (#3 in Texas) 37-32.

RB - Maurice Greer (pictured right)- another Denver Mullen kid. Greer is a JUCO transfer who was a highly rated RB out of high school. In fact he was the #1 rated player in Colorado as a senior and committed to the University of Colorado. Fans in Gopher Nation are pretty excited about this one. Personally I am a big fan of Duane Bennett but if Greer comes in and brings more to the field than Bennett who am I to complain.

WR - Xavier Brandon - a 2-star recruit out of the Atlanta area, and is actually a classmate of basketball recruit Ralph Sampson. Brandon is 6'2" and runs a 4.48 40. Brandon makes 3 WRs in this recruiting class with the potential for a few of the "athletes" to eventually be a WR. A position that once was very thin on depth (and talent) now looks to be a position that will be a strength over the next several years.

Newcomers I anticipate will be immediate starters...
  • LB - Sam Maresh
  • LB - Spencer Reeves
  • S - Simoni Lawrence
  • CB - Traye Simmons
  • CB - Troy Stoudermire (also PR and maybe WR)
  • WR - Brandon Green
  • DE - Anthony Jacobs (currently redshirting)
My Top 5 remaining Uncommiteds...
  1. DL - Willie Mobley - immediate starter
  2. DT - Jewhan Edwards - immediate starter
  3. QB - MarQueis Gray
  4. S - Keanon Cooper - could start
  5. CB - Prentiss Wagner - could start

November 20, 2007

Gopher > Cyclone

A year ago the Dan Monson led gophers were "Cycloned" at home and never recovered. Two days later they headed to the Old Spice Classic (traditionally tough, I know) and lost 3 in a row. Marist, Southern Illinois and Montana weren't as bad as it seemed at the time (NIT, NCAA and 17 win teams respectively), but it was enough for Monson to get fired resign. I look back at the Iowa State loss as the demoralizing defeat that, like I said, "cycloned" us.

Anyway, the Tubby Smith led gophers "avenged" last year's home loss with a solid road win over the Big 12 Cyclones.

68-58 - WoooHoooo

This isn't a "great" win, but it is a very good win.


Spencer Tollackson - 21 points, 6 rebounds (4 offensive) - even with a bit of foul trouble

Lawrence McKenzie - 20 points, 7 reb and only 1 turnover - plenty of points but a couple of really bad shot attempts in the last few min that let ISU back into it, Tubby still has work to do here.

Rebounding and turnovers - +12 in rebounds including 16 offensive. Forced ISU into 13 turnovers to our 10.

Damien Johnson - another solid performance off the bench with only 4 points but 7 rebound (4 offensive) and 2 blocks. If we get this out of him all season that will help us a lot.


Dan Coleman - I thought his matchup (pictured right) with the talented freshman, Brackins, was one of the keys to the game. Coleman didn't take care of business as Brackins put up 23 points on 11/16 shooting. If he had not been injured in the last several min of the game the outcome of this game may have been very different.

3-point Shooting - 6/20 from behind the arc. McKenzie was solid at 5/9 but the rest of the team combined for 1/11. Fortunately ISU was worse at 4/20 (good D? not even I'm that optimistic).


Going into the game I really didn't think ISU was very solid. They aren't great but they are better than I thought. Brackins is better than I ever thought, Clark is a solid forward, when this team gets improved shooting from their guards and they get their best player back from injury (Wes Johnson) they could rack up some wins. I don't know if they'll do much damage in the B12 but after we beat them I want nothing but Ws for the Cyclones.

There were only a few "lose-able" games the gophers had on their non-conference schedule. This was one of them and they came away with the win. Florida State, North Dakota State and UNLV are the remaining "lose-ables" but it's good to land this one.

The most important thing is that there is no let down after this game. Central Michigan is next and this win is meaningless if we drop that one.

Gophers vs. Iowa State - Preview

Paging Jim Shikenjanski garnered a nice preview from The Clone Chronicles regarding tonight's Gopher / Cyclone border battle.

Projected Starting Lineups


PG - Westbrook
SG - McKenzie Abu-Shamala
SG/F - Payton
PF - Coleman
C - Tollackson

key sub - Nolen(PG)
key sub - Williams (C)
key sub - Johnson (SF)
key sub - Abu-Shamala (SG)


PG - Peterson - 6'1"
SG - Garrett - 6'4"
SF - Clark - 6'6"
PF - Brackins - 6'10"
C - Hubalek- 6'11"

key sub - Haluska (G) - 6'3"
key sub - Johnson (F) - 6'7"
key sub - Boozer (G) - 6'3"

Analysis - I hesitate to go into full analysis mode because I am usually wrong (see my Indiana football preview). But here goes anyway...

These teams have a few glaring similarities.

  • Both are teams expected to struggle in their respective major conferences.
  • Both are coming off disappointing seasons
  • Both have a relatively new coaching staff
  • Both are VERY thin on depth!
A year ago ISU came into the Barn and stole a game from the gophers that sent them into a tailspin they never recovered from. The were "Cycloned" if you will. The eye of this season destroying cyclone was Mike Taylor who scored 33 points with 18 from behind the arc to lead ISU over Minnesota. Fortunately for the gophers Taylor has been dismissed from the cyclones, it seems he enjoyed making the APD's (Ames Police Department) blotter. Coach McDermott should lighten up what kid doesn't violate vehicle registration laws, vandalize campus apartments and steal cold medicine. Anyway, Taylor is gone, good for us. ISU has moved on and so will I (but I hate that Mike Taylor, season killer).

Both teams are light on depth but Minnesota has far more experience than ISU. Of the Cyclone's top 9 minute eaters 6 are freshmen, 1 is a sophomore and 2 are seniors. Their freshman class was a relatively talented recruiting class but it isn't full of McDonald's All-Americans and ultimately it isn't talented enough to overcome the gophers experience and talent.


PG - Iowa State (slightly) - Westbrook could go off, but the freshman Peterson is averaging 11 ppg. If Minnesota can apply ball pressure like they seem to be emphasizing this year this one could turn to MN's favor pretty quick.

SG - Minnesota - McKenzie over the freshman Garrett and this one isn't close imo. In all 3 of ISU's games the opponents SG has been the primary (or close) scorer for them. I expect McKenzie to have a monster night, assuming he's healthy.

SF - Iowa State - this is more of an indictment on Payton than it is a vote for Clark. Clark is a nice player and could be a spark for the Cyclones. If Johnson can be the spark he was for MN against Army then this could swing in the gophers favor.

PF - push - KEY MATCHUP - the 6'10" Brackins is the Cyclone's leading scorer, Coleman is a talented senior who the gophers need to step up on defense and rebounding. If Coleman wins this battle then I think Minnesota wins going away. If he gets into foul trouble or Brackins has his way with him then it will go down to the wire.

C - Minnesota - Tollackson had a big game last year with 24 pts and 13 reb. Hubalek didn't play and I expect he'll mitigate Spencer's numbers this year but my money is still on Tollackson to win this battle.

Bench - Minnesota - both are thin but Nolen, Williams and the recently hot Johnson instill more confidence than Haluska, Duluth native Corey Johnson and Boozer. The ISU trio is young and erratic. Were it the older Haluska and Boozer this would be a different story, but it clearly is not. The Minnesota bench is more stable and Williams provides some big man depth that the Cyclones just don't have.


Rebounding - when ISU has won they were +14 in the rebounding department both times. They seem to have trouble scoring but limiting their opponent's possessions keeps gives them a chance to outscore. The gophers had 17 offensive rebounds against Army, I don't expect that to repeat but if they can attack the glass with that kind of tenacity they should get more looks on offense. And Minnesota needs to limit ISU's possessions, don't give a bad offense enough chances to score cause eventually they will.

Foul Trouble - unfortunately this is what I think the game will come down to. Neither team has much depth. ISU essentially plays 6 guys with a couple more who get 6 or 7 min per game. Minnesota has 8 players they can count on. If any big men get in foul trouble that is an opportunity for the other team to dominate the paint.

Guard Play - ISU has let opposing guards get loose on offense a little bit. Daniel Ruffin of Bradly put up 20 and Centenary's two starting guards combined for 34. I expect that McKenzie could do some real damage early then I'd LOVE to see some open shots for Abu-Shamala and Hoffarber.

Pressure - I think that the gophers are really going to do their best to put pressure on the cyclones and speed their guards up a little bit. There is a good chance that this will lead to inexperienced turnovers leading to easy gopher baskets. Creating turnovers will be a key to just about every gopher game this year and this one is no exception.


I know I'm a homer (always have been, always will be), but the more I look at it the more I see a gopher victory. The gophers are more experienced, deeper and should be able to exploit the cyclone's weaknesses. I'll be more specific.

Minn - 72
ISU - 59
  • McKenzie scores 23
  • ISU has 18 turnovers
  • Minn outrebounds ISU by 11
  • Johnson has another solid game with 8 pts, 7 reb and 2 blocks
This is actually a huge game for Minnesota. It is VERY winable against a major conference school on the road. ISU will struggle this year so it won't really boost you SOS but a win here is huge. I'm not actually sure that this is a resume building win, but a loss is certainly a tourney killing loss. Lose this game and you have to win 2 that you weren't supposed to, to make up for it. This game won't define our season but it will certainly go a long way to telling us what kind of a team we are looking at.

Blog Poll Week 12 -

Fine, I'll put LSU on top.

OSU will still be in the BCS Championship.

The winner of KU, Mizz will lose to the B12 South winner and eliminate any B12 member from the BCS Championhip. West Virginia still has 2 games to drop one. And really LSU could very easily lose to George in the SEC Championship game.

1 LSU 2
2 Kansas 2
3 Ohio State 2
4 West Virginia 2
5 Missouri 2
6 Georgia 2
7 Arizona State 2
8 Texas 2
9 Florida 2
10 Virginia Tech 2
11 Southern Cal 2
12 Oklahoma 10
13 Oregon 12
14 Tennessee --
15 Illinois 3
16 Boston College 1
17 Connecticut 4
18 Virginia 2
19 Clemson 4
20 Auburn 1
21 Wisconsin 1
22 Hawaii 2
23 Brigham Young 3
24 Texas Tech 2
25 Oklahoma State 1

Dropped Out: Cincinnati (#22), Alabama (#23), Michigan (#25).