Having finally been able to watch the replay of Tuesday night's here are my quick thoughts on your 2011-12 Gopher roster.
PG - Andre Hollins - I thought Hollins played with confidence and didn't look like a true freshman. It has been noted that his stat line was very good and when I finally got to see the game it was pretty clear that me made good decisions offensively and made some very good passes. Two very nice passes to Mbakwe in the first half come to mind, both of them in a half-court set that resulted in uncontested dunks. His shooting percentage was pretty low but at least three of his misses were good shots that just didn't fall. He's not afraid to take a shot and as long as he's not forcing bad shots I think we'll appreciate his aggressiveness. Defensively I thought he was in the right position when away from the ball and although his ball pressure wasn't outstanding it was fine. I maybe was most impressed with the charge he took at the end of the first half. Considering he is a true freshman playing in his first live action I thought he did a good job. Nothing stood out to tell me he's guaranteed to be all-Big Ten but he looked goood.
SG - Austin Hollins - I like Austin as a solid player who runs the floor well, plays pretty good defense and is capable of knocking down a shot. I was a little disappointed that I don't think I saw anything in the exhibition game that I didn't see last year. I don't know what I was expecting exactly but in this one game I didn't see much improvement. He is who we thought he was. He is a solid shooter, he really does run the floor well in transition, and he is very reliable defensively. He's just a good player who will make few mistakes but rarely make significant offensive contributions.
SF - Rodney Williams - Every year we hope to see Rodney take a couple steps forward and become more than an athlete. Through one game, and I know this is only one game, Rodney looked all too familiar. He made a nice move blowing by his defender for a dunk early in the game. But his jumper wasn't impressive and defensively he gave good effort but he, more than anyone else, was slow to respond when away from the ball. He just doesn't get what it takes defensively and that more than anything else is what will always hold him back. It was just one game and he never really did anything bad, he just looked far too similar to last year for me to hope for anything more than what we saw last year.
PF - Trevor Mbakwe - Exactly what we expected. Powerful inside, great with body positioning, a dominant on the boards and exactly what we expected to see. On the Gopher's second offensive possession Mbakwe caught the ball at the top of the key, just inside the three-point line, and calmly nailed the open jump shot. I hope the rest of the Big Ten got that on tape because if he is able to knock down some open jumpers he becomes much more difficult to defend.
C - Ralph Sampson III - Might have been the most impressive of the Gopher starters (he and Andre Hollins). On two different possessions in the first half Sampson showed us a very nice jump hook. He was quick and decisive, at least on those two possessions as he made legit center moves. On defense I did not notice him much, neither in a good way or a bad way. He only managed four rebounds, which was disappointing. But if he is the same defensively as he was last year with a slightly improved offensive game then he has at least improved. He ended the night with 15 points against DII competition so how well he does when the talent level rises will determine his season.
Bench Players that Impressed Me
G - Joe Coleman - The freshman was the first off the bench in both halves. He seems to get it defensively and he has received high praise by Tubby as our best offensive player. He played aggressive and looked good although his actual production didn't stand out. Encouraging that he appears to be a kid who will be very good on both ends of the floor.
C - Elliott Eliason - I was impressed with his size and mobility. He wasn't overly productive offensively 0/5 shooting and one point for the night. He did manage five rebounds in 13 minutes (compared to four rebounds in 26 minutes for Sampson). I like what I saw.
PF - Andre Ingram - didn't play very many minutes but I like the size and look of Ingram. I know that isn't very scientific but given some time to grow I like his upside.
It was fun to watch some Gopher basketball finally. Up next is Augustana on Tuesday. There is room for improvement and still more than a week to get ready for the real season on 11/11/11.