Basketball Preview: We've previously looked at returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. Today, we take a look at what to expect from the new faces that will roam Wlliams Arena. Expect the basketball preview to continue throughout the week in anticipation of Friday night's season opener.
You know their names. You know what positions they play and where they are from. You know that if Tubby Smith's 2008-09 Gophers are to improve on a 20-win NIT season from last year, our five-man incoming class is going to have to contribute.
We know that Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson are going to have to play big minutes. With the graduations of Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman, both Sampson and Iverson will be forced into large roles, whether they are mentally or physically ready. Paul Carter and Devron Bostick will be asked to contribute athleticism from the wing positions. The Gophers will need at least one of the two to step forward in a big way to give the team another offensive element.And Devoe Joseph enters a relatively shallow backcourt. Al Nolen is your starting point guard and Lawrence Westbrook is your two guard. Joseph should be able to play both positions and will likely be asked to do a bit of everything. They'll need him to do that.
Fact is, we know we need these newcomers, but aside from knowing that we need them to play large roles, what should our expectations be? We saw with the recent criticism of Bostick that the masses are demanding a lot. Afterall, this recruiting class has been pitched as one of the best the university has ever put together. Your expectations are probably high.
I want to temper those expectations a bit, especially for the five newcomers. Look over to your right at FortyYearCatFan's fanpost. In it he points to 2011 for the Gophers to make a big time run nationally. Why 2011? Well, RSIII, Iverson, Joseph and Carter will be upperclassmen. Royce White and Rodney Williams will have a year of experience. Simply put, they won't be learning on the job.
Forced into action this year because of a lack of depth, all five newcomers will go through ups and downs. RSIII will need to learn to play a physical style of basketball. Bostick, Joseph and Carter, all three had the green light all of the time on their previous teams, will have to learn to excel in a sophisticated offense. All of the newcomers will need to learn Tubby's ball-line defense. They'll need to learn how to play full-court defense and transition to offense.
In previous posts on the Minnesota roster, I centered around what to expect from each player this season. For all five freshman I offer only this: They'll have good moments and bad. Don't get too excited about the good moments and too down when things are ugly.