Gophers Questions Answered By Andy Weise
Short of winning the conference tourney can this team get in the dance?
At the beginning of the season I thought no way. Towards the middle of the season, I thought it was possible and now I am pretty sure they can’t. While Paul Banks enjoyed the crushing the Fighting Illini delivered to Minnesota this past week, that game showed that it’s clear Tubby’s crew doesn’t have the talent. Outside of the loss to Illinois, the Gophers haven’t lost a game they were supposed to win. That’s impressive, in a way. However, bubble teams get in based on the victories they get over teams that are clearly better. The Gophers lost to Michigan St. by five points the first time and six in the second meeting. If they would have gotten one of those games plus beaten Indiana at home (which they truly should have), we’d be talking about the tournament like it could really happen.
If the N.I.T. was a “dance,” yes. In order for the Gophers to make the NCAA tournament, the BIG DANCE, they would need some luck in winning the Big Ten tournament. It’s not out of the question because they’ve played tough with teams like Indiana and Michigan St. They have yet to play Purdue, but they don’t seem to match well with Wisconsin. And Ohio State gave them a pretty good beating. The Buckeyes and Gophers will meet one more time in the regular season. Like I said, the Gophers will probably be in the N.I.T. People have already wondered if a Gophers/Kentucky game could be in the works.
Sorry, butâ€¦.why does Illinois OWN you guys? 18 in a row with a meeting at Assembly Hall yet to come. Even during Illinoisâ€™ worst season in a decade, the Gophers still bring out the best in the Illini
Damn, has it really been that long? Even in â€˜96-â€˜97 when the Gophers went to the Final Four, one of the four losses that season was at Illinois. I think for the most part it’s the fact that Illinois has had better talent. Even in years when Minnesota had a decent season like â€˜04-â€˜05, the Fighting Illini finished 37-2. Not much you can do there! Champaign has always been a tough place for any team to play. The two teams still meet in Champaign this year, maybe the Gophers can get some revenge.
How does Minnesota always get these giant white boys? Is there a lumberjack prep school they recruit at or something?
If you are referring to senior center/power forward Spencer Tollackson, he definitely could be a lumberjack. The Minnesota population being predominantly white in areas outside the bigger cities is definitely a reason. Obviously, certain recent Gophers (Joel Pryzbilla, Kris Humphries, Rick Rickert, Michael Bauer and now Tollackson) support youâ€™re the assertion you made right before your question. This could be because the best player ever to come out of Minnesota might be Kevin McHale (the definition of very big white guy).
They’ll be getting another big white guy in Colton Iverson from South Dakota next year. The reign of big white men could be over though with Ralph Sampson III and Paul Carter joining the program next year. Wisconsin signed Jon Leuer (freshman this year) and Jared Berggren (freshman next year), taking two big white guys away from the Gophers. Kansas freshman Cole Aldrich is a Bloomington, MN native. There’s a surplus of them, that’s for sure.
Is Tubby going to schedule tougher teams in the pre-conference down the line?
Yes, definitely. I think he knew he was coming into a situation where talent wasn’t overwhelming this year. I like his approach of getting the team believing in itself and getting used to winning. This team didn’t even win 10 games last year so to come away with that number before conference games even started, that’s a big confidence boost for the players. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar schedule next year as Tubby brings in his first set of recruits. After the program gets some stability, that’s when you’ll see bigger names on the non-conference schedule.
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