Tubby Smith's Gophers head into tonight's tilt with South Dakota State unblemished. So?
I'm a diehard Gophers basketball fan inside. I get all giddy like a school boy when they fare well. But looking at this 8-0 mark from a rational perspective tells me this team hasn't proven all that much. I agree with the assessment of Storming the Floor, which calls the unbeaten streak a "paper tiger."
If we throw out the Non-D1 win, what we have is seven games, with six hosted at Williams Arena. The most impressive is the win over Virginia, which has some fine athletes and could certainly have won the game based on that factor alone. On the other hand, the lone road win, at Colorado State, is a bit troubling, as the Rams are bound to be one of the worst teams in the MWC this season. Plenty of teams have beaten them in their place, and plenty more will, and by larger margins.
Sometimes, in college basketball, winning easy can actually hamper a team. Taking some licks early on from strong teams can expose weaknesses that a coach like Orlando probably knows how to address. Minnesota might have been well served to hit up Tubby's former boss CM Newton for an invite to the preseason NIT, where they would have had a shot to play the likes of OU, Purdue, BC, and Davidson. Their next shot at a very good team comes December 20th, when the Gophers take on Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals on a neutral court (Should we call it the UK old-timer's Invitational?), and the rest is sub-red line fare.
The Big Ten season starts with a visit from Michigan State on New Year's Eve. Even if the Gophers reach that point with an 11-1 record, their campaign for the NCAAs begins on December 31st. Even if that assumed loss to the Cards turns out to be a win (we picture Tubby on the phone to Western Kentucky night and day), a bad Big Ten showing will doom them.
So, this gaudy 8-0 is nice for the early recruiting efforts, but for now, it's a paper tiger. Re-evaluate this one in late December. Then again in late February.
UK Old-Timer's Invitational? I prefer the "I Don't Miss Lexixington Showdown." But I digress.
What we have with our Gophers is a young team that has been mostly impressive. But they have plenty of faults--scoring in the hafl-court being the foremost issue in my opinion. I'm excited about this season as I always am. But, in reality the team still has much to prove before even I'll start talking about an NCAA Tournament bid.
- If you haven't read it, Myron Medcalf of the Star Tribune has a nice story on Colton Iverson playing, well, not like a freshman. Good read. Colt 45 has been one pleasant surprise. Not that I thought he'd be bad, but he's been a tad better than advertised.
- WTF is with the injuries??? The AP reports both Blake Hoffarber and Paul Carter are out for the SDSU game with sprained ankles and Devron Bostick also has an ankle issue.
- Off topic entirely, but I've been so ultra busy with work--I'm not complaining, more work is good in this economy--that I've missed the last two episodes, maybe three, of both Fringe and Heroes. I like both shows though Fringe had started to annoy me and Heroes isn't what it once was. Any fans? Should I care to watch them online if possible?
- I'm wondering, does Kevin McHale's total and utter ineptitude in running an NBA franchise have any negative impact on the maroon and gold? I haven't followed the NBA in years for myriad reasons, but McHale's connection with the Gophers can't be a good thing. Also, Canis Hoopus covers the Glen and Kevin Show. A good read.
- Minnesota v. Kansas in the Insight Bowl is the 23rd worst match-up in the coming bowl season, according to this blog that I stumbled upon. Thank God for the bowl system. Can you feel the excitement? (heavy sarcasm intended).