Gophers vs. Stephen F. Austin Game Wrap-up


I was at the Gopher Basketball game last night and came up with the following observations.



As per usual, Tubby has his team playing lights out D.  I did notice that by being able to platoon Sampson and Iverson at the C and not have them out there at the same time, the interior shot blocking ability has improved and allowed our perimeter D to really gamble on steals.  On numerous occasions our guards and small forwards would gamble for a steal, miss and the SFA player still wouldn’t drive into the lane (because they would get blocked).  I would expect us to see one big half of blocks and the other half will be full of steals.  This will depend on whether or not the opponent is a shooting team or a driving team.


Out rotational D was also looking pretty good.  There were only a couple of instances where the D didn’t rotate properly and SFA got an open look from the perimeter.  But they were few and far between.



The Gophers started off a lot like they played all of last year…cold.  Sampson missed some short open looks and they had to rely on the D to keep it close while SFA was hitting nice contested shots to pull ahead.  The Gophers were then able to figure out the D and find the seams to get guys open. 


I can’t stress how much better their lineups mesh this year.  The ability to have Williams and Westbrook paired with Nolen to offset the lack of his offensive game and take advantage of his passes will make them much better.  In addition, not having to play Joseph at point is a huge boost for the offense.  By pairing him with Cobbs, Joseph has much more freedom to go all “Westbrook” on opposing team’s second units.  Plus, his experience handling the ball helps if Cobbs gets overwhelmed in his freshman year.


Instant judgment on the best lineup rotations:



Second Unit:

Sampson III











It even appeared that Tubby was doing a lot of complete lineup rotations during the game (Lucia Style…so to speak).  These two seemed to work out pretty well and were fairly well rounded.  This lineup is weak against teams with strong power forwards, which would be easily corrected with the inclusion of Mbakwe and White (fingers crossed).


Player Observations:

Rodney Williams is a stud.  Not because he can take over a game, but that he is playing to his strengths and taking what is there.  His opponents tend to sag off of him a little to prevent him from getting into the lane and he has done a nice job of drifting out to the three point line and knocking down the long ball.  We should expect to see a lot of layups, dunks and threes with very few jumpers from Rodney this year.  If he can add about 10-15 pounds of muscle without loosing any explosiveness he should be able to replicate what he has done so far against any big ten opponent.


Damian Johnson has to be the best utility defender in the Big Ten.  Period.  If the shooters can continue to hit threes, he will get a lot more room to score points off of drives into the lane and scoring from the post.  If a player can get 5 steals, 5 assists and 5 blocks…that’s just all kinds of versatile.


Ralph Sampson no longer looks like Gumby.  That man has really filled out and it shows in his rebounding numbers.  Plus the summer he spent with his dad working on his post game shows.  I was pumped when he hit that sky hook in the first half.  If he can get that to fall regularly…look out.


Devoe Joseph…needs to be allowed to play primarily shooting guard.  His stroke is so much nicer and quicker than anyone else on this team.  I am crossing my fingers that Cobbs can be a good backcourt mate with him for the entire season.


I plan on making a number of Gopher’s basketball posts this year, so if anyone has any suggestions for great sources for info and stats…just let me know.

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