Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gameday Vs. SDSU: Thoughts On The 6-1 Start

You're excited. I'm excited. We're all excited for Tubby-ball. And we have reason to be pleased. A year ago, the Gophers were 2-5 at this point and Dan Monson was on his way out.

I don't mean to rain on our collective parade with this post, but I just want to start a discussion about the 2007-08 Gophers. What do we really know at this point? By this time tomorrow the team should be 7-1 after romping South Dakota State. Then the Gophers host Santa Clara (8-1) and head to Las Vegas for three games: Nicholls State (9-1), Kennesaw State (10-1) and UNLV (????).

At worst, the Gophers should enter the Big Ten season at 10-2. But I submit that we won't know until the end of January exactly what kind of team we have on our hands. To date, the Gophers have proven the following:

** Scoring will come easier this season because of a high-intensity pressure defense and because the addition of Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen gives increased scoring output. If one of the three seniors has an off night, the Gophers can still score more than 45! That's a big improvement over last year.

** Damian Johnson can be a difference maker on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He's exactly what the Gophers needed--considering their lack of depth in the frontcourt--to be successful. And Johnson is the exact type of player the Gophers will need in the Big Ten season.

** Tubby Smith is pushing his players out of their comfort zone. I will wager that Dan Coleman is far and away this team's best player come the middle of the Big Ten season. He's had to change his game to fit into Tubby's plans, and in Coleman's case this is a good thing. Attacking the basket will only make Coleman a better perimter player.

** The Florida State game tells us that Spencer Tollackson--God bless his hustle--will struggle against more athletic big men. That game also tells us that the Gophers' guards will be out-classed from time-to-time by more athletic playmakers. Thankfully, the Big Ten isn't loaded with explosive guards and Greg Oden is sitting on a bench somewhere in the pacific northwest.

** Most importantly here, we've learned the Gophers will destroy the cupcakes on their schedule. And, frankly, this is why we're all so excited for Tubby ball. In year's past, a tilt against South Dakota State would be worrisome.

What I'm trying to say is, while we've seen some positivies, it's far too early to judge this team. We can be pleased that it's a fun team to watch--who would have thought that this crew could put up near 100 points? But we shouldn't blow this early record out of proportion.

Down With Goldy said it well here: As much as the optimism is flying, they really haven't done anything special, which is a clear sign of just how far the program had fallen. The win at Iowa St, while wouldn't mean much to many programs, was a huge win for the Gophers. No shame in losing @ FSU. With only the game @ UNLV remaining as a quality game in non-conference, we'll likely have to wait for the Big Ten season to know just how good this team is.


That said, I'm sure Tubby would rather be off to a potentially misleading 6-1 start then to still be dealing with this nonsense.

The Gophers tip-off tonight at 8 p.m. CT at Williams Arena. The game is on the Big Ten Network.


lonebadger said...

That's not nonsense. It's perfectly valid points brought up by an astute expert of college basketball! Anyone with any brains can see the reasons why Tubby is to blame for any multitude of undesireable circumstances experienced in the Northern Hemisphere including, but not limited to, the Dolphins 0-13 start, the lack of of a playoff in NCAA football, and Donna Shalala's ugly mug.

PJS said...

lb, you forgot Mark Mangino's waistline and Steve Alford's hair.