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Gophers surge in the second half to top Siena 76-69

The Siena Saints dictated tempo for the first 20 minutes in The Barn but the Gophers were able to overcome the Saints (and Clarence Jackson) to come away with a 7 point win over a solid mid-major team. Here are some quick hitters from the first game I was able to watch this year...

Player of the Game - Clarence Jackson in the loss was the most impressive player on the floor. I don't recall this but according to the box score Jackson did not sit. He played for 40 minutes, scored a game-high 29 points on 11-18 shooting. Five threes, five rebounds and four assists. Ryan Rossiter was tabbed the MAAC preseason player of the year but it's not like Jackson is chopped liver. The senior shooting guard is preseason first team all-MAAC, he was 6th man of the year in 2009 and was second team All-MAAC in 2010. He did his best to lead the Saints to an upset win over the Gophers on a night when their best player, Rossiter, scored just eight points.

Absolute Zero - Al Nolen is Absolute Zero, as in when he is guarding you expect to be ice cold. Kyle Griffin, for the Saints scored just three points with four turnovers. Al Nolen's point total was a meager seven points but he also added six steals, six assists and he shot 67%. There was one possession where Griffin was picked up by Nolen in the full-court. Griffin took a couple dribbles then gave the ball up like he wanted nothing to do with bringing the ball up with Nolen guarding him. He got the ball back, tried to drive and eventually turned the ball over. The Saints turned the ball over 24 times and Siena coach, Mitch Buanagura has this to say about turnovers.

"The only difference in this game was the turnovers. It’s as simple as that."

and in the second half it seemed like Nolen was at least partially responsible for most of them.

Shooting Woes - The Gophers 3 of 13 from behind the arc in the first half. That is not very good and there are games when that will happen but it cannot happen very often or we'll be in trouble. Especially when our inside game isn't as dominant as it was in the Wofford game. Sampson and Iverson combined for 11 points total after combining for 29 in the Wofford game. Sampson shot only 4/10 so when our inside game isn't scoring we really rely on our outside shooting. We don't have a great penetration game (although Armelin is impressing me greatly) so we need our outside game to compliment or pick up the slack for the inside game. Fortunately things picked up in the second half and really helped to finish off the Saints. Hoffarber's three with 2:26 put us back up by double-digits and made thing very difficult for Siena. The real catalyst for the 23% in the first half was the lack of a half-court offense. In the second half we were forcing turnovers and in transition, this loosened things up.

TREVOR-TREVOR - the guy is a double-double machine. Two games and he's averaging 10.5 reb and 12 points per game. OK, so it is only 2 games but I love the way Trevor-Trevor is dominating the glass and attacking the rim. The guy has made nine field goals and how many of them are dunks? I would say at least four, maybe five. He is an aggressive and athletic forward. I love watching him play.

The Freshman - Austin Hollins and Chip Armelin have been impressive. Hollins started the second half against Siena and played a lot of minutes. Armelin is great at getting to the basket and has really been impressive in his first two games as a Gopher. Hollins was confident taking six threes in the game and finishing with 12 points. The two did combined for 11 points against Wofford and added 16 in the Siena game. For those of us used to the Tim Brewster method of pimping players that would surely disappoint, apparently when Tubby praises young players it is because they really are doing well.

All in all it was a solid game and it is very nice to be 2-0. We'll need to play better if we want to advance in the Puerto Rico tourney but we've played a couple solid teams.