The Gophers didn't impress Wednesday night in a win over Akron at Williams Arena. But they did just enough to win, so that's good, right?
The Zips are just the latest team to take advantage of a flat Gophers squad in the first half. This time, an uninspired first half allowed Akron to build a 5 point half time lead. But the Gophers were able to up the energy for portions of the second half to spurt to a 66-58 win. The energy Minnesota came out of the halftime locker room with is what they'll need to play with come Big Ten season, or this team will be in for a rude awakening.
Some of Minnesota's first-half struggles can be attributed to shots simply not falling. They shot under 30 percent in the first half. Some of that was good Akron defense. Some of it was poor half-court execution. And some of it was Minnesota's bigs simply not making shots around the rim.
Perhaps the ugliest part of the game for Minnesota was the failure to take care of the basketball. Minnesota turned the ball over 17 times. Devoe Joseph was sloppy again. He had 5 turnovers himself. There's a lot of talk about Joseph playing out of position and that he's just simply a shooting guard playing out of position. I agree he's a better shooting guard, but Joseph played point guard for the entire second half of the season last year and performed much better.
It wasn't pretty last night. But a win is a win. There are some items to be positive about in the notes below the jump.
- Minnesota owned the glass for the most part. Trevor Mbakwe had another double-double (13-13) and Rodney Williams showed some life on the glass with a double double of his own (12-10). It was the most active I've seen Rodney on the glass.
- More on Rodney. Yes, his offense was almost exclusively on dunks. But he was moving without the basketball and attacking the rim as he should do. He skied over Akron players for rebounds. This is the Rodney Williams we need to see more of.
- Congratulations to Blake Hoffarber in joining the 1,000 point club. He is the 36th Gopher to reach that milestone.
- The defensive energy for spurts in the second half was great. The Gophers finished with 12 steals and 8 blocks and a lot of deflections. But that energy needs to be present for 40 minutes per game.
- Tubby shortened the bench. And that's a good sign, in my opinion. I like the freshman, but I think this team was at its best in Puerto Rico playing the experienced players more minutes. Maverick Ahanmisi and Austin Hollins logged 7 minutes. Chip Armelin played 4 minutes. Maurice Walker, who continues to demonstrate a deft passing touch with the basketball, played 12 minutes. Once Al Nolen returns, I envision the Gophers giving him, Joseph, Williams, Sampson, Hoffarber, Mbakwe and Iverson the majority of minutes. That's a solid 7 man rotation. And depending on match-ups, who is playing well and needs, Ahanmisi, Armelin, Walker and Hollins supplement that core 7 players.
- The Gophers don't play again until a meeting with the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State on Dec. 23. The Jackrabbits are a capable Summit League team. They won at Iowa earlier this year.