Gophers Look Shaky in First Game Without Devoe Joseph


devoe joseph

If Gopher fans were looking for encouragement after their program’s week from hell, they didn’t find it Tuesday night.

In what was their first game without Devoe Joseph, something that was made official Wednesday when Joseph was granted a release from his scholarship, Minnesota looked a tad lost.

That was never more true than in the last five minutes of the first half in which the Gophers were outscored 19-3, a stretch that largely featured freshman guards Maverick Ahanmisi and Chip Armelin together in the backcourt.

Along with those two, Austin Hollins also saw significant minutes, with only Ahanmisi tallying any points.

It was an ugly sight, but after going into the half down six, Tubby Smith got his team to believe in playing on the offensive end again, as the team shot over 51% in the second half on their way to holding on for a 67-63 win. 

Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen had their normal productive nights, scoring 16 and 14 points respectively, with Trevor Mbakwe adding 11 points and 16 rebounds.

trevor mbakwe

 The other man that needed to shoulder some of Joseph’s load was Rodney Williams, and for the first time this conference season Williams scored in double figures, putting up 12.

Williams has long been hyped as a top tier prospect for the NBA, but has only shown flashes of any basketball skill outside of pure athleticism.  He continues to struggle with his jumper (2-20 from three on the season), but for the first time against Big Ten competition in his career showed the ability to consistently create his own shot, get to the bucket, and finish.

That is encouraging for Minnesota, but against what might be the worst team in the Big Ten, having to gut out a four point win at home was not convincing. 

They continued to show they can not put together a complete game, with the five minutes at the end of the first half being the issue this game.  The first ten minutes of the second half against Michigan State was the problem last game, while the last ten of the first half was the concern against Wisconsin.

They continue to struggle offensively, once again shooting under 42% for the game, a mark they have failed to reach every conference game thus far.

Indiana’s frontcourt struggled with Minnesota’s length, something most teams likely will this season, but Indiana’s guards got off, scoring all but eight of their team’s points.

That should come as surprising considering Al Nolen’s lockdown D, but it isn’t as surprising considering Blake Hoffarber’s lack of interest on that end of the court.

blake hoffarber

With Devoe gone and the Gophers schedule getting no easier (#2 Ohio State Sunday), the performance against Indiana doesn’t give fans much hope that anything but a slaughter is awaiting Minnesota in Columbus. 

Perhaps keeping the game close would be somewhat of a moral victory for a team that has been lacking in that department since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.

-Mike Gallagher

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