Post-Game Impressions: Northeastern State

The Gophers opened their exhibition season last night against the Northeastern State Riverhawks of Oklahoma. Minnesota looked dominant from the start and never let up to win the game by a score of 109-59.

From the opening tip, it was easy to see what the outcome of the game was going to be. The Gophers put a starting lineup on the floor of Rodney Williams, Al Nolen, Blake Hoffarber, Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III. The group looked to mesh well together, making crisp passes and finding the open guy.

Sampson and Iverson dominated throughout the game due to their size advantage against the smaller Northeastern State forwards. Sampson showed an improved jumper and a softer touch around the hoop. He ended the game with 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Iverson also looked good, powering his way through defenders in the post. He looked to pick up where he left of last year of being a stronger, more aggressive player, especially in the paint. Iverson seemed to have a wide array of post moves and worked hard on the boards. He totaled a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The crowd was not surprised to see Rodney Williams show off his leaping ability on some impressive dunks. On a fast break he took an alley-oop from Blake Hoffarber and threw it down with authority. Besides the dunking ability he is known for, Williams also looked better shooting the ball as well as making cleaner passes to his teammates. He shot six for eight from the field for 13 points and three blocks.

Senior Blake Hoffarber looked to be in rhythm last night, hitting seven of 11 field goals, including six of eight from deep for 20 points. He knocked three three-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Gophers, igniting the crowd. When asked if his shot felt better this year, Hoffarber said, "I feel the same. I knew I was capable of doing it. Guys were hitting me in transition, throwing some good passes to me. Anytime your team is really looking for you like that and expecting you to shoot it, it definitely gives you confidence."

Some of the new Gophers impressed as well. Austin Hollins had a solid game with nine points on three for six shooting to go with three steals and four rebounds in 17 minutes. On one play, Hollins stole the ball at the three point line and took off down the court, went by the defender with a behind the back dribble and laid it in for two. Hollins looks to be a good second option at the small forward position.

Junior transfer Trevor Mbakwe looked strong in the post, bullying defenders and getting easy shots. He used his size and athleticism to get inside and score on four out of five shots for 13 points. After the game, Mbakwe expressed his disappointment in only pulling down three rebounds. "He said, I was disappointed with how many rebounds I had, but it was game one and it's going to be a long season."

Gopher commit Joe Coleman was in attendance on Tuesday. The Hopkins High School Senior said the Gophers played well and was excited to play with his future teammates next season.

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