Thursday, December 6, 2007

NDSU Review: The Lightning Rod Known As Dan Coleman

Monday night it was proven just how much impact Tubby Smith has had on the Golden Gophers. The defensive intensity was abundant--traps were set quickly and aggressively, defenders were quick to deny passing lanes, tip passes and be a complete pest nagging at the North Dakota State Bison.

And thank the heavens that Tubby Smith has arrived, because North Dakota State isn't a bad collection of basketball players. And had the Bison come into Williams Arena and won, our friends of Fargo-fame would have bragging rights in both football and basketball.

And while Minnesota's 88-56 win can't be described as anything but dominant, there were certainly some areas where the Gophers still need to improve. I'll go through a handful of items that stuck out to me, both good and bad.

** Let's start with the lightning rod known as Dan Coleman. The burgeoning Minnesota Gophers blogosphere has been all over him. Here are a few takes.

Down With Goldy wrote: Danny Coleman scored 15 points, had 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Sounds like a pretty good line, and if you hadn't watched the game, you'd be pretty impressed. Don't be. Coleman hasn't developed at all. Against this team, he should have completely controlled the game, and he most certainly didn't. He floats around, looks lost half the time, and just seems kind of out of it.

Jon at The National Anthem Before A Cubs Game wrote: Coleman was, up until tonight, probably the lone Gopher not meeting expectations for the year. The head coach had questioned Coleman's effort and heart, and he was losing minutes to Damian Johnson. But on Monday, Coleman came out and showed again why he's one of the "big three" on this Gopher team, leading the team in points (15, tied with Nolen), rebounds (eight), and assists (four, tied with Kevn Payton). Not surprisingly, Coleman was also the only Gopher to play more than 30 minutes.

In writing that Coleman and Kevin Payton led the Gophers to victory, From The Barn noted: The Gopher forward is on his way back. Though he still needs to return to form in a few areas, he filled the stat sheet last night. ... Most importantly, he showed determined effort on both ends of the court, at one point rebounding his own miss three or four times before getting the tip in. He also stuck to what he is best at, finding openings in the zone for easy dunks and 10 foot jumpers. Of course, in what has so far been a disappointing season for Coleman, the story was not all positive. He committed four fouls in what was a very strangely officiated game, and also had four turnover including a dunk he missed by 10 feet (really). The stats were a bit inflated due to the opponent, but it was at least a game that can be build on.

Finally, we have Gopher Nation with this take: Hats off to Dan Coleman for having his first non-sucky game of the year. ... He is NOT as good as an outside shooter as he thinks he is and he is NOT a great post scorer. Last night he finally played to his strengths and had his best game of the year.

The consensus? I guess it's that Dan Coleman didn't suck, put up some numbers but is still disappointing. I don't want to be too hard on Coleman. It's no doubt difficult to transition to a new offensive scheme, with a coach that is probably demanding that you do different things. It would be good to push Coleman out of his comfort zone, and that's what I think Tubby is doing. If by mid-season Coleman can combine his outside shooting and quick first step with an ability to effectively penetrate and get to the basket and score inside without fading away, Coleman will be a much improved version of his former self. My feel is that we're living thruogh some growing pains right now. Or that could be the long lost optimist in me talking.

What do you think?

** Jonathan Williams continues to shoot mid-range jump shots and not look awful. While I previously teased Williams about his shooting prowess, I'm starting to think that Tubby wants him to shoot that open 15-footer when he has it. I'm changing my position and am now encouraging Williams to take the shot when he has it.

** People can question Spencer Tollackson's talent (my brother played against him in high school and trashes him incessantly) but no one can question his desire and intensity. The boy brings it, whether his game is going well offensively or not. It's a pleasure to watch you, Spencer.

** I'm loving the defensive intensity and the trapping in the post and the corners. The Gophers didn't play horrible defense last season, but this new version of Gophers seems to be playing with a certain tenacity on the defensive end.

** Damian Johnson was not a one or two game wonder. He's playing with confidence and continues to be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor. I'm excited about his future. I've previously suggested that one way to measure Tubby will be by watching the progression of the younger players. Johnson, at times, has been the best player on the floor for Minnesota. That's quite the endorsement for Tubby. Who thought Johnson would be this solid game in and game out?

** I predict that when things get tough in the conference season, Tubby will shorten his bench to at least nine, and maybe eight. I think Blake Hoffarber has earned time with his shooting and all-around play. That means that when the bench shortens, I beleive Kevin Payton and Jamal Abu-Shamala will see their playing time limited. Though Abu-Shamala will continue to get minutes when we need his outside shooting.

** Finally, a personal note. I had intended to offer this synopsis yesterday, but my life, professional and personal, got in the way. It was a great pleasure to know--as I made a long drive home tonight--to know that I had begun this blog post yesterday. I knew I was going to escape into the process of finishing it. I'm flattered by how many of you show up here everyday, but I'm pretty sure I'd continue this blog if it were still just me and my brother reading it. It's been an escape for me, while I've tried to forget about the highly insane world of my daily life. For me, that's a job in politics, which these days--I guess always, actually--is much more about personal destruction and spin than an actual desire to do good things. So, thanks for reading. It's a pleasure having you along for the ride.


Friend Of Tubby said...

Those who enjoy politics or hot dogs shouldn't watch either being made.

PJS said...

I've transitioned from political reporting to political communications. And let's just say it's easier to be idealistic as an underpaid scribe.