Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Links: Nolen Expected To Play

Most importantly today, we learn via GopherGold and Myron Medcalf that Al Nolen practiced Tueseday and is expected to play against Ohio State. This is a very good development. The Gophers still should have been able to win against Michigan State on Sunday, but it was obvious that without him the Gophers lack any real point guard. Lawrence McKenzie can fill this role well in stretches, but when he needs a breather the point guard play became rather hard to watch.

Hopefully Nolen will be at or near 100 percent. They'll need him in a hostile environment.

Now, on to a few other interesting tidbits.

** For a good laugh, you really ought to check out this photoshopped image of Tubby Smith that RandBall found while perusing the Internets. It's very well done.

** This same-day feature piece by John Millea in the Star Tribune is a must-read. Millea chronicles the football and basketball recruitment of Cretin Derham Hall's sophomore Seantrel Henderson, a 6'7", 305 pound offensive lineman (and apparently power forward). Millea reports that Seantrel's recruitment could be higher profile than what we just witnessed with Notre Dame bound Michael Floyd. Also, Jon at TNABACG gushes over Henderson and suggests the big man is "the official Next Big Thing in the state of Minnesota."

** Starting a new blog isn't easy. But your readership grows instantly when you knock one of your first pieces out of the park. That's what the blogger at The Legion of Cats did with this look back at Tubby Smith's departure from Kentucky. Many bloggers, columnists and television pundits have tried to lay out the complicated situation Tubby was involved in at UK, and in just the second post in the blog's history, The Legion of Cats succinctly has accomplished that feat. I'm not going to quote the post extensively here, because it's worth a read in its entirety if you are at all interested in the UK back story.

** Speaking of UK, the Wildcats pulled the upset over a very talented Tennessee team last night. Tru at A Sea of Blue has more. I'll give you a taste:

"The very best victories are the ones you don't expect. That's true in life, for sure, but nowhere is it more axiomatic than in sports. An unanticipated win against a superior opponent just causes those little endorphin thingys to run wild, giving you a wonderfully sated sensation."

While many of us have quietly enjoyed UK's struggles in the early portion of the season, I'm somewhat happy for the UK fan base today. They've been through quite a bit since March and they very much needed a win like this to keep their spirits high.

** The Pioneer Press' Charley Walters has a handful of University of Minnesota tidbits in his column of tidbits today. But, most interesting is his lead to the piece talking with Glen Mason. The coach who came to be known as "Mediocre Mason," suggests that Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney weren't appreciated in Minnesota by "local people." I'm going to assume Mason is referring to the media and fans. I'm not sure I agree with that. I think most everyone looked at the Barber/Maroney tandem (combined with the power running game in general) as one of the best in the nation. But Mason's players didn't get the ink the professional sports teams in Minnesota do because, simply, they weren't winning enough at a high enough level. This seems like a strange comment for Mason to make. What do you think?

** Lastly, I'd like to bring your attention to a blog I've added during the last couple months on the sidebar titled Hoopraker. First, the site is aesthetically pleasing. But more importantly to me, the writing is top-notch. Take this lead to a post from Jan. 14 for instance:

"Sometimes lost in the premature and tunnel visioned emphasis on the NCAA tournament as the only metric of a team’s worth is the appreciation for the moments at hand. Obscured in the bid or bust equation, betrayed by the singular emphasis on the March endgame is an enjoyment of the season as a journey where each individual game, whether win or defeat, whether RPI bolstering or not, tells its own set of compelling stories."

Very well stated point. I check out this site often, and because many blogs get lost on my sidebar, I wanted to take a moment to highlight these guys because they're doing a fantastic job.


lurker said...

Why is Shooter even talking to Glen Mason at this point? That's all.

snyde043 said...

I think Mason is full of crap. Again. I expect he's looking to gain some backhanded recognition for himself because he was Maroney's and Barber's coach.

All of us fans knew how special those two players were as well as how dominant the rushing offense was. Which only made it that much harder to accept the mediocre records those teams produced and the many ridiculous losses that the team posted after running up huge leads to begin with...

PJS said...

I keep reading about Mason wanting to coach again. It looks like he's taking a second year away from the sidelines. Too bad, it's fun following Monson at LBSU.

Truzenzuzex said...

Thanks for the linkage, PJS.

Good luck against Ohio State.

snyde043 said...

On a more positive note, Tubby took some time yesterday to make an appearance at the campus Chipotle. Here's the Minnesota Daily's coverage of the event:

Toby Ritt said...

Mason's comments were nothing short of idiotic... Everyone here knew exactly how good Maroney and Barber were, but in typical Glen Mason fashion he wants to talk about how genius he was to know this while the media and fans (who Glen really loved to converse with by the in the dark. My cousin was the marketing rep for Gopher Football throughout the Mason tenure and said that he flat out, "refused to promote the program." Seems like sour grapes about being run out of town to me... Nice that we were able to get ourselves in a few two bit bowl games with two of the best running backs in the world on our team for 2 or 3 seasons... If they were so good why couldnt he do anything with them?

PJS said...

snyde, I saw that. Good for Tubbby. Obviously it was a sponsorship thing, but it's good to see him actively out in the community. This program needed someone who would do things like that.

hoopraker said...

Thanks for the props PJS. You're always a solid read as well. Now see what Goldy can do to get McKenzie under control before the ship goes under water!

Goofer said...

I read the Tubby article that you linked to. He points to lack of conditioning of the Kentucky players as one reason for their poor performance. I think he's reaching there. I thought Tubby this year had put the players through quite a off season work out. He also runs pretty intense practices. The players should be in pretty good shape. I wonder if he isn't just looking for something. Also, Why does everyone always bring up the "He won with Pitino's players" line? It's almost become a cliche. It's just not that easy getting to a final four.

PJS said...

I agree Goofer about the Pitino-players cliche.

And I don't know if the conditioning criticism holds water or not. And you're right that there were reports of big-time conditioning going on with the Gophers--but some of that could have just been because Tubby's conditioning program was simply more strenuous then what the previous regime put the kids through.

Friend Of Tubby said...

PJS, it clearly does NOT hold water.

The 2003-04-05 UK teams were 87-15 (#1 W-L % record in Div I hoops).

100% Tubby recruits. And 100% Tubby conditioning program.

He won 79% of his games (75% in NCAA) his first 8 years at UK.

Then 64% (50% in NCAA) his last 2 years.