Did I ever mention that I love the balance and depth of this team? After the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament where Andre Hollins, Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams led the Gophers to a very respectable 2-1 record; the Gophers get great performances from Joe Coleman and Elliott Eliason to carry the Gophers to a big 77-68 road win over Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Eliason finished the game with four points and 10 rebounds. He played 23 minutes and was crucial in the 2nd half when Minnesota opened up a 21 point lead. He played good defense getting 2 blocked shots and gave his team 5 extra possessions with offensive rebounds.
The Gophers remain undefeated when Joe Coleman gets 10 points, tonight he led the team with 16 and was second on the team in rebounding with six.
As a team the Gophers cut down on turnovers, committing a manageable 12. They shot the ball very well making 47.3% of their shots. And they played great team defense. With under 14 minutes remaining Florida State had just 31 points and the Gophers held an 18 point lead! This was a quality opponent, one that will certainly be in the NCAA Tournament and a team that had been averaging 82.8 points per game after their bad loss to start the season.
Five years ago I went down to the Tallahassee to watch this game and on the flight home I heard some Gopher donor telling everyone around him that we just lost to a very good team that was sure to be an NCAA Tournament team. Well, they weren't and anybody who knew much of anything knew we had just lost to a mediocre ACC team. But this year is different, Florida State really is a good team that will absolutely be in the NCAA Tournament. They are not as good as last year but they are very good, this is easily our best win of the young season.
Defensive rebounding was still an issue, but we tend to counter those extra possessions we give our opponent by getting a lot of offensive rebounds ourselves. This will have to be corrected or teams like Michigan and Indiana are not going to beat us, they will destroy us. But we don't have to worry about that for now. Right now we are ranked, we are 7-1, we just beat a top 4 ACC team in their house and we have a pretty favorable schedule until we start the Big Ten season.
Good win, we still have things to work on and we better still pay attention to the next five games.