A great day for Soldier Field Hockey

Soldier Field Hockey

Since opening on October 9, 1924; Soldier Field hockey happened for the first time in its storied history. 52,000 lucky fans got the chance to be a part of the experience as CCHA rivals 12th-ranked Notre Dame and third-ranked Miami of Ohio began the festivities.

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#23 Minnesota Golden Gophers: College Basketball 111 in 111

tubby smith minnesota

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With Trevor Mbakwe returning from a torn ACL, Tubby Smith boasts his most talented roster since arriving at Minnesota.  Now the question becomes whether or not the Gophers can pull it all together and live up to their preseason Top 25 ranking.

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Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Gophers 70, Bucknell Bison 58

 

The Bucknell Bison gave the Minnesota Gophers all that they could handle in the season opener on Friday night.

Winning by a score of 70 to 58, the Gophers were challenged all night by a pesky Bison team.

Trevor Mbakwe led the way for the Gophers, which will have to be the theme on most nights throughout the 2011-12 season. [Read more…]

Minnesota Gophers, Bucknell Bison Open Season in Moments

The 2011-12 Gophers basketball season will tip off momentarily, as the Bison from Bucknell come to town.

The Gophers, who ended last season losing 10 of their last 11 games, look to get off on the right foot against the perennial NCAA tournament darling Bison.

The Gophers will rely heavily on the shoulders of senior forward Trevor Mbakwe. [Read more…]

Will Minnesota Gophers Trevor Mbakwe Leave For the NBA?


Minnesota Golden Gophers starting forward Trevor Mbakwe put together a more-than respectable season in his first year in the maroon and gold.

Mbakwe averaged a double-double with 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. His number of boards were good enough to make him the Big Ten rebounding champion and he earned Second-Team All Conference as well.

With NBA scouts in attendance to catch a glimpse of Purdue’s JuJuan Johnson and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger in the Big Ten Tournament, did Mbakwe do enough against Northwestern to put his self on the radar of prospective pro teams?

By: Nick Grays

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NCAA Tourney Hopes Still Alive For 20th Ranked Gopher Hockey Team

The Minnesota Gopher Hockey team is playing its best hockey of the season at the right time.

 

A program that was once a staple of the NCAA Frozen Four, winning the National Championship in 2002 and 2003, has struggled to get back to the Mecca of college hockey.

 

The last two seasons the Gophers have watched the 16-team NCAA tournament from the comfort of their Dinkytown homes. Their last Frozen Four appearance was back in 2005.

 

While reaching this season Frozen Four is still a long shot for the 20th ranked Gophers, getting back into the field of 16– which was at one point this season a long shot– seems more than realistic. [Read more…]

#1 Ohio State Stomps #20 Minnesota on Super Bowl Sunday

diebler

How They Won: Jared Sullinger will always be priority number one for opposing teams, but when the Ohio State guards are playing the way they did today they are nearly unstoppable. Minnesota witnessed this as they trailed the entire game after the first two minutes, ultimately losing 82-69.

It was a total team effort from the Buckeyes on Sunday as all five starters scored in double-digits. Per usual, Ohio State was able to move the ball around effortlessly, hence the even distribution of points. Unlike the Evan Turner-led team last year, this team is able to score in a number of different ways, which was evident against the Gophers.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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#1 Ohio State Stays Unbeaten With Win Over Michigan

osu logo

With the 62-53 win over Michigan on Thursday night, the Buckeyes move to 23-0 – their second-best start in school history. For those thinking this team will lose one of their next eight remaining games, history begs to differ as Ohio State is 37-1 against the Big Ten when ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Mbakwe, Gophers Look Better in Narrow Loss to Ohio State

trevor mbakwe

Ohio State is on another level. [Read more…]

Jerry Kill Was All Gophers Football Could Hope For

Jerry Kill

And that is not as much of an insult as it sounds. [Read more…]

Mbakwe Dominating Around the Rim for Gophers Basketball

Trevor Mbakwe

The Minnesota Gophers Basketball team struggled rebounding the ball at times last year.

While they ranked third in the conference in rebounding, some of their bigger losses came due to a lack of dominant inside force to clear the boards and not give the opponent second chance opportunities.

The last man that could be legitimately considered a competent rebounder for the Gophers was one-and-done Kris Humphries in 2003-04, and no one since has approached the 10.1 boards a game Humphries put up that season.

In fact, the only two people to average six rebounds/gm for the squad since that season were center Jeff Hagen at 6.1 in 2004-05, and shooting guard Vince Grier in 2005-06 at 6.3.

The fact that the team’s second leading single-season rebounder in the last eight years is a guard says a lot, but Tubby Smith may have found the long-awaited answer he and previous coaches had been looking for.

Two full years away from a Division 1 court and one court case later, Minnesota fans will tell you it’s been worth the wait.

Trevor Mbakwe’s journey back to prominence has been a long one, but he has seemed to learn a few things along the way.

Not only has Mbakwe matured physically, now nearly 22 years old as a junior, but it seems his court case and off-court struggles have taught him something.

Mbakwe has been a quiet force for the Gophers, just the way Tubby Smith likes it, on his way to 13 points and 10 rebounds/gm early on.  Not hearing from him off the court is the main issue at this point, because one more injury or suspension could doom the Gophers early conference season in which they face three ranked opponents in their first five conference matchups.

Mbakwe’s is a rebounding maven.  However, he is not just a one trick pony. Shooting an ungodly 61% from the field, obviously aided by his ability to offensive rebound at a 3.3 per game clip, Mbakwe is contributing in a number of different ways.

Creating second chances and getting to the line nearly eight times per game is giving a boost to the other two members of the Gophers front line, Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III, who are able to stay within their comfort zones since neither are particularly good offensive rebounders.

ralph sampson

Sampson is more interested in shot blocking, which he does better than anyone in the Big Ten, but that can also be dangerous without a strong rebounding presence to pick up the slack on the boards, leaving the door open for second chance opportunities.

Iverson tends to be rather soft inside at times, not getting physical enough and sometimes shying away from contact.  Mbakwe brings a nice workmanlike attitude and way of playing the game that compliments Sampson’s risk-taking defense and Iverson’s more passive offensive game.

colton iverson

Mbakwe has used his strength inside to get to double figures every game this year and record six double-doubles in the Gophers 10 games.

Not much else needs to be said about how Mbakwe plays after looking at his stat line from the Cornell game.

Mbakwe did not have the offensive touch, going 0-4 from the field, but still managed 12 points and 16 rebounds.

All 12 of those points obviously came from the line, and quite honestly he should’ve done better, with his poor free throw shooting being really the only hole in his game to this point (57%, 12-20 vs. Cornell).

He simply finds a way to be productive, even on his worst shooting day.

Mbakwe has yet to be tested by any dominant big men, but has shown that he can put up these types of numbers against some of the nations top teams (12 and 9 vs. UNC, 16 and 7 vs. West Virginia).

His athleticism should keep him near the top of the Big Ten rebounding stats, which he currently leads at 10.2 per game, with Ohio State Fab Freshman Jered Sullinger checking in at #2 with 9.9.

Considering his points are coming off second chances he creates, if he can continue to rebound at this rate his shooting percentage should be near the top as well, as he sits at 61%, second in the Big Ten to Michigan’s Jordan Morgan (61.4%).

There are no guarantees that Mbakwe can keep up this play in the Big Ten season, which is where his first real test will be, but his athleticism and strength project well in the conference.

Should he be able to find a way to keep it up, it will be a huge asset to Tubby Smith’s team and should be a way to keep some semblance of an offense regardless of what happens.

-Mike Gallagher

Al Nolen’s Defense Desperately Needed for Gophers

Al Nolen

It is rare that a player affects a team on the defensive end of the floor as much as Al Nolen does for the Gophers.

In what seems to be an annual me-praise-Al event this time of year, in 2010 it seems more clear that his defense should be what’s applauded, rather than my claim last year around this time that he was “the key to the Gopher offense.”

I’d continue to make the claim that he is ONE OF the keys on the offensive end of the floor, especially considering how savvy he is with the ball and how little he turns the ball over.

But in the four games without him so far this season, the more important issue is how lost the Gophers look on the defensive end of the court.

The Gophers will continue to put up big offensive stats the rest of the non-conference season with or without Nolen, as Blake Hoffarber rains threes and the return of Devoe Joseph gives the Gophers a playmaker and sparkplug.

But consider these stats defensively when looking at the importance of Nolen to this team.

In the six games they were with Nolen, they gave up 67 points per game.  In the four games without him, they have given up 71.

That may not seem like a large difference, but consider this:  The Gophers first six games included four 2010 NCAA tournament teams and two of those opponents were ranked in the top 30 at the time they defeated them (#8 UNC, #27 West Virginia).

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