Friday, November 23, 2007

Preview: Minnesota vs. Central Michigan

Let's just say that the Central Michigan Chippewas aren't the class of the Mid-American Conference. The Chippewas (0-3) have started the season with three losses. An opening day loss to Missouri is excusable. But the Chippewas followed that up with a loss to DII Central Missouri State. A few days later, the Chippewas lost to Niagra.

There's no reason to believe the Chippewas' slide is going to end Saturday against the Gophers. Minnesota has the clear size advantage, and I expect senior Spencer Tollackson to dominate the paint. This is a game where the Gophers should win the day on the boards.

Minnesota's point guards will be challenged, however, as the Chippewas have a senior floor leader by the name of Girodan Watson. A quick point guard who can fill up the net could cause problems for someone like Kevin Payton (not quick enough) or Al Nolen (not as experienced as Watson). It will be interesting to see if Tubby puts Lawrence McKenzie on the point guard.

Anyway, here's a quick look at a few Central Michigan players.

Names to know:

Giordan Watson, Sr. Guard - At 5'10, Watson has racked up the minutes in the Chippewas last two games. After fouling out against Missouri, Watson has averaged more than 32 minutes per game. He can be a threat from beyond the arc (about 37 percent career) but has been in foul trouble in every game.

Jeremy Allen, Fr, Guard - Slashing guard Jeremy Allen had a nice coming out party against Missouri in his first collegiate game (17 points, 3-for-6 from three-point land), but came back to Earth in the Chippewas last two games.

Nate Minnoy, Jr. /Forward - Minnoy you might remember from his stint at Purdue, where he put up 10 points per game for the Boilermakers in 2005-06 before suffering a knee injury. He then made a stop at the JUCO ranks before signing on with Central Michigan. While Minnoy had some success at Purdue, he's certainly a different type of forward. He's bruising (270 pounds) but stands at only 6'3. Despite his stature, Minnoy leads the team in rebounds with 7 per game.

Marcus Van, Jr. Forward/Center - Van, a JUCO transfer just beginning his career at Central Michigan, was supposed to be the guy to help the Chippewas on the boards. But he was injured halfway through the team's second game and didn't play against Niagra. If Van is healthy, he'll be back in the starting lineup (I couldn't find an update). If not, he'll be replaced by 6'8 junior Chris Kellerman (outside shooter) or 6'7 senior Chris Blevins. But no matter who makes up the Chippewa frontcourt, the Gophers have an advantage in size with Tollackson and Coleman.

A couple posts down I suggested this could be a trap game of sorts, after the nice road win at Iowa State and before the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and a trip to play Florida State (also struggling, by the way). But what I'd like to see Saturday night (on ESPN 360 in case you were wondering at 8et/7ct) is a dominating performance, where the Gophers get up early and bury the Chippewas. A big lead would allow someone like Blake Hoffarber to get his feet under him at this level, allow Damian Johnson to get more minutes and allow the team to get more comfortable running the half-court trap.

I predict an easy Minnesota win, with Spencer Tollackson leading the way with his back to the basket. Prediction: Minnesota 88, Central Michigan 62.


Anonymous said...

game is over PJS. Let's get an update here. sheesh

Anonymous said...

I predict 77-59 Gopher win.