I took some time too look at the current Gopher roster's career stats and then compared that to the Gopher record book. It is kind of amazing just how many current Gophers are on pace to finish at or near the top of the record books in a number of different categories. Before we get to the numbers and projections and records I want to start with the analyzing of the numbers.
First of all this little exercise made it painfully obvious that we really are lacking on the offensive side of things
. We make our living on doing some of the other little things very well. Nobody on the current roster (freshmen excluded from this conversation) is going to land in the top 20 all-time scorers. Westbrook, Hoffarber, Joseph and Sampson are all potential (or likely) 1,000 point scorers but 1,200 is what is needed to crack the top 20.
This team is also very poor at rebounding, despite sporting a couple 6'11" centers and a do-it-all forward in Damian Johnson. Ralph Sampson and Johnson are likely going to sneak into the top 10 for all-time Gopher rebounders but it will be very close. Iverson with an increase in production from his current rate could also creep into top 10 status but once again it is very close and they'll all three be at least 100 rebounds from finishing in the top 5.
What this team does do well at is steals, assists, blocks and even making threes. Doing these little things well is what helps this team win basketball games. We are not going to outscore anybody but when we force opponent mistakes and when we move the ball on offense we are capable of beating just about anyone. This current Gopher squad has a individuals who have a very good shot at finishing their career as the all time leader in threes made, assists, steals and blocked shots. And behind those individuals there are guys on pace to finish top 3 in the same categories.
What I have done is taken the actual totals for all players on the roster. I've also taken the player's individual average for this year and extrapolated that out over the rest of their career. So the older the player the more accurate the projected career totals. Westbrook and Johnson have three years of actuals and obviously just this year's averages which should have a decent degree of accuracy. The Sophomore class on the other hand has just a year+ of actuals and their current year average is used to project their JR and SR seasons. Obviously their numbers are a bit less reliable and so much can change for them over the next couple years with more (or less) PT and as they mature they may become more (or less) of a focus on either end of the floor.
I also think that some areas are more or less predictable than others. Scoring is harder to project than say blocked shots. I anticipate that Devoe Joseph will score more as he goes along than he currently does off the bench. But I also think that Sampson's block numbers are relatively reliable as this seems to be bit more of a consistent number. So all of these numbers are best guesses. The older the player the better the guestimate, but this is fun to look at.
With all that stated here are my projections.
Three Pointers Made - The first is kind of the hot topic lately with Blake Hoffarber lighting it up from behind the arc in the last couple weeks. 294 as a career projected total is probably on the high end. He hit 70 as a freshman, 45 during sophomore slump and has already hit 29 in this young season. To assume he'll finish his career hitting the same amount of threes per game as he has in 11 games this year is probably a strong assumption. But he does already have 144 and is currently in the top 5 with somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 games remaining. His current career average is 1.8 makes per game so even if you go ultra conservative and assume he'll make just 1 per game the rest of his career he will still be the first Gopher to make 200 threes. Of all the records I discuss, Hoffarber finishing his career as the most dangerous three-point specialist in Gopher history is a virtual guarantee.
After the Hoff we will likely see Joseph finish out his career as one of the top three or four three point "makers." Assume about 100 remaining games for Devoe who has made just under one three per game last year and just over one per game this year. His 179 projection could fluctuate up to 15 or 20 in either direction depending on how his role evolves over time. Either way he'll make a lot of threes before he is done. Finally Westbrook's career is much closer to the end but he should easily get himself into the top 5 or 6 (for now).
Rebounding - This area is rather weak and I am not anticipating this roster to produce a great Gopher rebounder. There is plenty of time for the most likely candidates, Ralph Sampson and Colten Iverson, to start devouring errant shots but neither has shown that knack for really racking up this stat.
Sampson and Johnson are likely going to sneak into the top 10. Randy Breuer is currently 10th with 730 rebounds. But as you can see top 5 is going to require Sampson to kick his average up a notch (or two). He and Iverson still have well over two seasons to increase their totals but just a quick top 5 snapshot looks kind of tough for these guys.
Blocked Shots - let's stick with the big men for one more stat category before we ignore them. This is an area that the current roster absolutely excels at. While we don't rebound very well, this roster is very likely to put at least two players into the top five of all time Gopher shot blockers. Damian Johnson should get into the top five before we are halfway through the Big Ten season and then he'll just scratch and claw and block his way higher up the list. But the one to watch here is Sampson.
Sampson's current pace puts him on a path to be the best Gopher shot blocker of all time. His current season average is rather high so his numbers may be a big skewed, but as he ages he should also see a bit more playing time and opportunities to block more shots. 50 as a freshman and 22 already this year, he should finish his sophomore season with 100+ career blocks and two full seasons to go. Iverson is also a major shot blocker. He had 41 a year ago but his sophomore average has been less than Sampsons, thus the lower projection. Ralph's projection may be a tad high but Iverson's is probably a bit low. Either way he should finish ahead of Przybilla and end up somewhere shy of Johnson's career total.
The point here is that we block a lot of shots and this goes a long way towards our defense being considered as good as it is.
Assists - Now we get into the Al Nolen categories. Despite what many feel about Nolen and what he does or does not do for the current Gophers. Statistically he will go down as one of the best point guards to wear the maroon and gold. Ariel McDonald is arguably the best Gopher PG ever. He is the school's all-time leader in assists and he threw in 1,273 points to go along with those impressive records. Nolen will not approach those points, he'll be lucky to hit 800 for his career. But he is currently on pace to overtake McDonald in assists and will also finish as the school's all time steals leader (more on that later). Great scorer? No. Best Gopher PG? In the conversation.
Nolen is already top 5, will finish this season just shy of Burleson and then has his senior year to make a run at the record. One of the rare instances when we can give a big thank you to Dan Monson.
The surprising player on the roster is Devoe Joseph who has a very real shot at finishing top 5 on the recordbook for assists. His numbers may change dramatically depending on his role in the offense and what position he ends up playing. As he gets older he may be required to shoot more which would likely see his number diminish. But you may recall that part of his recruitment centered on him desiring to play PG at the college level, hoping it would prepare him for the NBA. If he gets that chance he'll easily crack the top 5, if he moves towards more of a traditional SG he'll be a top 10 guy but his current assist pace will slow.
Steals - As I mentioned above, what Nolen lacks in scoring he makes up for with his defense and steals. McDonald is currently the Gopher's all-time leader in assists and adds 1,273 points to go with all of those assists. Nolen will possibly surpass him in assists but will fall short of McDonald's point total by 500 points but he'll also end up as the Gopher's all time leader in steals. Scoring PG? Nope. But clearly he does a lot for this team and usually sets the tone on both ends of the floor. The projection of 320 is probably too high. He current season's pace of three steals per game is quite a bit higher than his career average of just over 2 per game. He won't play the rest of his career with 3 steals per game but another 55 steals over what will be about 55-60 more games is a virtual guarantee. He'll be the schools all-time steal leader, the question will be by how much.
Johnson is not to be forgotten here. He is currently just barely outside of the top 5 and should likely finish second all time (third when Nolen is factored in). He really is the do-it-all forward as he gets his hands on balls, blocks shots, rebounds fairly well and will come awfully close to 1,000 points for his career.
Overall this is a record breaking squad. When this current roster is finished we'll possibly have the new record holders for threes made, shots blocked, assists and steals. If only we had a legit scorer to add to this roster. I did not add Williams or Cobb to this project simply because it is WAY too early to project anything for them. Assuming Williams evolves as a scorer he is this roster's best shot at a 1,500 point scorer but clearly we'll need to see more before we can make any assumptions about his career.
Fun little project to throw together and I'll revisit maybe at the end of the season when we have more concrete numbers for all players involved.