Does today feel like a bit of a drag to anyone else? I mean, it's Friday, but for 2 days I've been starting the day coming off a big Gopher win over a big time opponent. Just feels a little flat. Anyway, NUGZ!
- As GN noted with yesterday's Nugz, the Illinois win earned the team some major respect nationally. Here's Seth Davis in his Thursday Hoop Thoughts column:
• I watched Minnesota up-close-and-personal for three straight days in the Bahamas. The two reasons they're better now are: a) Trevor Mbakwe has regained most of his explosiveness following knee surgery, and b) the Gophers are clicking much better in their halfcourt offense. They have both playmakers and shot makers, and not a lot of teams can say that.
He predicts a close game for Saturday but picks Indiana by 2:
Minnesota at Indiana, Saturday, Noon
I honestly still don't know what to make of Indiana. The Hoosiers have been beating up on bad teams since they lost to Butler, and freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell has been putting up some lousy numbers. But this is a statement kind of game, and I think they'll make it.
Indiana 70, Minnesota 68
Because one thing we know from the narrative side of things is that when you're playing a good team on the road, a run is coming. A run is always coming. One of my favorite things about basketball, and sports in general, is that no matter how good the players get, they're still influenced by an enemy crowd. We never get past that sense of — what would you call it? — Fear? Intimidation? Panic? Whatever it is, the added momentum of a wild crowd introduces an element of stress that's like a wave, and the wave can make some strange things happen.
With 16 minutes left in the game, Minnesota found itself up 42-30. That's when the wave started building. The Illinois guards, especially Tracy Abrams, began penetrating and making layups. The Illini crowd, silenced till then, started to get really, really loud. The usual wave-type things were happening; Minnesota's reliable guards started turning it over, they couldn't buy a bucket, and Tubby Smith tried a timeout that didn't work. Suddenly, the lead was 4. We pick up the action at 44-40 with 12:56 remaining:
To me, that 1:16 of real time was "the moment." That was when someone from Minnesota had to do something that would reassert their dominance and make it clear that the home team's run would become an irrelevant footnote in the larger narrative of the game. Those two steals swung the momentum, the under-12 timeout gave everyone in the arena time to think of the opportunity they'd just missed, and Illinois never got closer than 44-42. The blowout was on.
I'm sure for all of us, that was the moment of greatest dread. That's the spot where we'd seen the Gophers fold time and again. I know that how worried each of us will vary, but I will not believe any Gopher fan who claims they weren't worried even a tiny bit during that Illinois run. I think Shane Ryan captured the moment well. It's a nice piece and I urge you to read the whole thing.
- Amelia takes a moment to play "what if" and discusses what the Gophers might be ranked coming into the Michigan game if they beat Indiana this weekend.
- Indiana blog "Inside The Hall" breaks down the matchup against the Gophers.
- Still haven't read enough about the win? More postgame notes from Amelia.
- Amelia also takes an excellent in depth look at why the Gophers are such a great offensive rebounding team (1st in the country according to KenPom) while being so bad on the defensive glass (271st says KenPom). Her big takeaway?
Here’s the most interesting thing I’ve discovered: regardless of the opponent, the Gophers are getting dramatically different in defensive rebounding, although they were so poor earlier in the season it will take a while to be reflected in the national rankings.
According to my own math, the Gophers defensively rebounded at a percentage of 60.8 (219/360) in the first nine games.
In the last six games? Well, the Gophers have catapulted more than 11 percentage points, to 72.1 percent. At the same time, their offensive rebounding has remained remarkably consistent – getting 49.3 percent (147/298) in the first nine games and 50.2 (105/209) in the most recent six.
The improvement in defensive rebounding is extremely significant. Will the Gophers continue that trend? That, I cannot tell you. The Gophers grabbed 76.4 percent of available defensive rebounds against Northwestern, a pretty poor rebounding team, but only 60.9 (below their average) against Michigan State. The Gophers are playing some strong rebounding teams ahead, that is certain.
Even so, I find it notable that the Gophers have rebounded so much better, even against mid majors, than they did against the same caliber team earlier this season
- Andres Hollins is one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award.
- Wally Ellenson doesn't regret his decision to play this season. And in reading this article you can definitely tell it was a decision driven by him. Given what I've read here, I'm now fully behind the move. I think he'd have benefited more from a RS season but it's also clear that doing that would have made him unhappy. In the long run I think the team is better served with a happier Wally.
- Chris Monter has a long Q&A with Tyus Jones. ESPN has Tyus ranked #1 and Rashad Vaughn ranked #10 in their latest recruiting list. Here are highlights of the 2 from their recent game in Target Center:
- Get to Know Your Gophers puts the spotlight on Joe Coleman.
- Rick Reilly's latest column focuses on former Gopher Eric Decker and teammate Demaryius Thomas:
They're the same size, same age and both went from Tim Tebow (F-150) to Peyton Manning (F18).
They're both country, both unmarried heartthrobs and both as quiet as a Las Vegas Sunday morning.
They became the youngest teammates in NFL history to go for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in the same season.
They have the same agent, same marketing guy and once lived together as rookies.
"They're the exact same guy," says Denver Broncos teammate Greg Orton, "just different colors."
Until game days, that is.
- Gopher Sports highlights the fans who went to Houston, especially the students.
- Tyler Mason talks about the huge role Adam Wilcox has played in the Gophers' success.
- Roman says UAA is not a typical pushover.
- Gopher Sports has a preview video of this weekend's series.
- Gopher Sports brings us a video preview up of the Gophers Jan 26th matchup against Iowa.
- Coach Robinson will not travel with the team to their dual this weekend because of a knee infection.
- Speaking of J Rob...This is a little old but I just saw it on the Gopher Athletics YouTube page. Head coach J Robinson was tapped to get folks to Do The Gopher and I found that amusing.
- The NCAA is proposing some pretty big changes to recruiting for college football. The specific proposals include:
• The elimination of legislation that limits only full-time coaches to communicate with prospects and their families. Support staff and administrative personnel would be allowed to call recruits but not to visit them off campus.
• The elimination of the "baton rule," which allows only seven of 10 full-time coaches on the road to recruit at once. All 10 coaches could recruit simultaneously.
• The elimination of regulations on printed recruiting material mailed or distributed to prospects.
• A change in the time that the NCAA defines the transition from recruit to student-athlete. Currently, recruits cannot receive many of the benefits available to student-athletes until they begin college coursework. The legislation would define a recruit as a student-athlete after he or she signs a letter of intent.
Land Grant Holy Land looks at the changes and sees good news for Ohio State and other big programs but possible trouble for everyone else (i.e. Minnesota):
The new legislation also expands who exactly contact prospective students athletes. Currently, only full-time coaches are able to communicate with prospects and/or their families. Under a new proposal, support staff and administrative personnel would be able to call recruits as well (though still unable to visit them outside of campus). This would allow wealthier programs of the ilk of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and yes, Ohio State, to hypothetically build super staffs that would be able to get on the radar of a lot more kids a lot more often. As one coach, Kansas o-line coach Tim Grunhard, expressed trepidations about the proposal, "You've got to keep up with the Joneses. If the University of Kansas isn't calling a guy every day and K-State is calling every day, then he thinks we don't like him as much."
College football's cold war could be about to get a whole lot colder.
Perhaps the biggest take away from them all (besides NCAA President Mark Emmert's clear overwhelming agenda to try and streamline things to cut down on the self-policing load currently required by member programs) is the potential inequality generated by some of these. With the NCAA already weighing rule changes which could shift the climate of things to further minimize so-called "Group of 5" schools into de facto farm schools for the sports' heavyweights, rewarding schools who have the resources and abilities to create gaudier and gaudier pitches, to hire the most seasoned full times salesmen, and to build super staffs which could be oversaw by make shift "General Managers" who would run these efforts almost like a major league organization.
- Stewart Mandel takes a look at the noticeable attendance issues facing bowl games and what the upcoming changes in bowl structure might mean for the current system.
- SB Nation ranks the "watchability" of every bowl game.
- Serious Dunk Of The Year candidate. Throwing yourself an alley-oop from behind the arc in a live game? Impressive!
- CBS Sports shares their "Midseason Awards" for college basketball.
- The Best Table Tennis Shots of 2012. Don't blow this one off just because it's ping pong. There's some crazy stuff in these clips.