So many storylines and so little time. Senior day, NCAA tourney bid probably on the line and PLAYING FOR THE JUG! What? That's only for football? How will we ever get it back? Maybe Rich Rod will be to Michigan football what Billie Gilispie is to Kentucky basketball!
Enough taking shots at Michigan and the Gopher football team's inability to win the Jug.
To begin with let's take a brief look at the seniors. Both have seen the teams they play on get more competitive as they progressed through their careers but they also saw the significance of their respective roles diminish.
Jamal Abu-Shamala - JAS is one of us and as a senior at Shakopee won a state title before deciding to join Dan Monson and be a Golden Gopher. JAS is known for his three point shooting and it is fitting that his first collegiate basket was a three against NDSU his freshman season. JAS put him self into the hearts of Gopher fans with a 14 point game which included 3/3 from behind the arc in a win over Arizona State his freshman year. During his career JAS took some enjoyment playing Northwestern. His last three meetings he did not see much time on the floor (avg'd 4 min/gm) but prior to that he notched games of 16, 19 and 15 points scored and 4,5,4 three made respectively. His career has been highlighted by shooting .431 from behind the arc his sophomore season (2nd best single season mark in Gopher history) and away from the Barn JAS was able to earn a spot on the Jordanian national basketball team and had some success. There is a reasonable chance that we will see JAS playing in the 2012 Olympics. A fine career and the co-captain should be proud of what he accomplished as a Gopher.
Jon Williams - Another Minnesota kid who stayed at home to play for Monson. The big man has always been counted on to back up big men in front of him on the depth chart. Not the most glamorous spot to be in but it is honorable that he stuck around and played his role as best he could. There is no way to really prove this out but I would make the assumption the freshmen big men have acclimated to Big Ten basketball as well as they have because of guys like Jon Williams pushing them in practice. Williams finished his career with two double-doubles, one as a freshman in a loss at Iowa and a second as a sophomore in a home win over Penn State. And even as his career is winding down and seeing fewer and fewer minutes he played well in some valuable minutes in the win over Wisonsin on Wednesday. Just 2 rebounds to show for it but Iverson and Sampson were fresh in the second half because of the eight minutes Williams gave in the first.
Hats off to these men, a thank you for what you gave to Gopher basketball and best of luck in the future.
Now on the the game at hand. There are some among us who believe this is a must win for the Gophers and there are some who believe we can afford a loss as long as we win our first round Big Ten Tourney game. How about we not worry about our Tournament fate and take care of business by winning the game. I promise you all that if we win this game we are IN, I'm wrong I'll start writing for BHGP.
Personally I believe this is a bad match up for the Gophers. Last game Michigan toyed with us and did whatever they wanted on offense. For a while they drained wide open threes on us. Then when we were too aggressive to the arc, they back cut us for layups. Then they made threes again. It was painful to watch and one of the few times I felt we were outcoached.
This is a chance to redeem ourselves and prove once again that we can play perimeter defense and assert ourselves as the better team on the floor. I'd like to see more offensive rebounds and I'd love to see Michigan's shot percentage come down to 40 or 41%.
Michigan is playing for their tourney bid, a loss tomorrow would effectively send them to the NIT, so you can expect some passion from the Wolverines. If we can match their intensity and execute I like our chances, but are too relaxed following the Wisconsin win (remember what happened @Northwestern?), then this may be a frustrating afternoon for the fans.