BKB Pregame Intel: Minnesota Golden Gophers

You might think Minnesota would be distracted by all the shuffling over in the football office ... but the Golden Gophers have their sights set on beating the Northwestern Wildcats, who are going for their 6th consecutive win against the Gophers. Who's really down in 2007, and who might be coming to play....

This has been a long season for the Gophers so far.
They're 1-3 in the Big 10, after their long time head coach Dan Monson suddenly resigned after a 22 point loss to Clemson at home in the Big 10-- ACC challenge droppped the Gophers to 2-5.

They appeared to turn their non-conference season around after Jim Molinari took over - winning 3 games against 2 losses, but after beating Purdue in their Big 10 opener, they've dropped road games to Wisconsin and Iowa, and then lost at home to Illinois.

They've got the talent, and a pretty good "interim" head coach, but the loss of their Junior Center in the Wisconsin game has crippled their attack - Spencer Tollackson as the team leader in FG percentage, making over 50% of his shots from under the basket.

Interim Head Coach?
After a dismal start [2-5 with an exhibition loss to Winona State], and the resignation of Dan Monson, the Gophers promoted assistant Jim Molinari to lead the team through the rest of the season.

Molinari's been in charge before - he was the head man at Bradley for 11 years, 1991 - 2002 and headed up Northern Illinois before then. He also helped Ray Meyer at DePaul for 10 seasons, turning into a highly regarded recruiter.

He's a defensive guru, his teams typically play great D and prior to his elevation this year, was considered one of the top defensive assistants in basketball. As a side note, he has his law degree from DePaul.

Minny is 5-6 since he took over, wit wins against Arizona State and Purdue at home on the plus side of the ledger.

The return of Smith

Highly regarde Forward Brandon Smith was suspended for the first 3 games of the big 10 season [team rules violation] but came storming back against Illinois with 7 points, 5 rebounds and a block.

He had started 9 games prior to his suspension and the Gophers' are glad to have him back....
Brandon has done everything well since he has come back," Molinari said [Minnesota Daily].
He scored 7 points in 3 minutes against the Illini that sparked a 2nd half rally by the Gophers. Not bad for sitting out 3 games...

Dynamic Duo
It was a trio, but without the injured Tollackson, your defensive scheme has to be about stopping guard Lawrence McKenzie and forward Dan Coleman. Both Juniors, they lead the Gophers in scoring, averaging over 15 points per game each.

In Big 10 play, McKenzie has been Mr. Outside - hitting 8 of 20 attempts [33.3%] from outside the arc., while Coleman has done his scoring inside. He's 22 of 54 [40.7%] for field goal shooting. McKenzie can also drive to the basket, he's 40.8% on FGs overall.

Both are hitting the boards but Coleman also gets offensive rebounds. He has over 2 offensive rebounds per game, and is averaging 8.2 per game in the Big 10.

Add Coleman's 6 blocks and you can see who is playing the inside game for the Gophers.

All told, these two have 11.7 rebounds per game, and 29.7 ppg in conference play.

Injuries?
Spencer Tollackson injured his wrist in the first half of game at Wisconsin. At the time he had 11 points but has not played since. The Gophers have not won since that injury.

Tolackson is still the Gopher's most accuarate shooter

The Last Word


Minnesota Frosh Guard Brandon Smith talking about playing NU this weekend...
We've had a lot of ups and downs so far this season, but we need a big win and we're going to work hard for it. [Minnesota Daily]

Coach Roy's Purple Reign 'Cat'egories:
Based on games played thru 1/5/07
The Big Gun #1 Lawrence McKenzie
15.8/15.5+  ppg*
Deadeye Dick #33 Jamal Abu-Shamala
50% FG avg, 45% from the arc.+
The Bomber McKenzie
123 from the arc
Off the Boards #13 Dan Coleman
8.2 rpg +
Charity Stripe McKenzie
76% from the line
Super Sub #3 Kevin Payton
2.2 ppg in 19 mins
Pickpocket #5 Lamar Wilson
17 Steals in 18 games
Helping Hands #3 Kevin Payton
49 assists: 46 TOs
Mr. Defense Coleman
22 Blocks/77 def rb

Notes: *  The Gopher's Dan Coleman is also averaging 15.1 ppg
+ In Big 10 Play


Expected Starters
From the last game


PPG RPG
Guard #1 Lawrence McKenzie
#5 Lamar Wilson**
15.7
4.5
3.5
3.0
Forward #13 Dan Coleman**
#33 Jamal Abu-Shamala**
15.4
5.2
8.2
4.2
Center
#54 Bryce Webster 1.3
2.0

Totals:


Notes:  ** Have Started all 4 of the Gophers Big 10 games. McKenzie missed


Off the Bench

[Have Played in most games, or Averaging 9+ mins]:

Games -
Starts
Mins* PPG RPG
C #30 Jonathan Williams
G #3 Kevin Payton
F #34 Damian Johnson
F #23 Brandon Smith*
4 - 0
4 - 0
3 - 1
1 - 0
14.0
19.0
5.3
19.0
1.2
2.2
0.0
7.0
2.5
1.8
0.3
5.0
Totals




Notes
:  *Smith was suspended for 3 games for violation of team rules

Challenges for the Wildcats:
  • Corral McKenzie and Coleman the way the Illini did Wednesday
  • Don't let Smith cut loose the way they talk, he's been holding back until lately. He says he's going to make up for the loss of Tollackson's scoring.
  • Shoot the ball and get it in the basket - against OSU, the Cats just couldn't make shots early and lost control of the game.

Game Starts at 1:30 PM Wildcat Time
Television:
  • ESPN+ [WCIU in Chicago] Dick Bremer & Tim McCormick
  • DirecTV Channel 656
Radio:
  • WGN 720 AM, Dave Eanet and Bob Hildebrand
  • Gopher Radio Network - Mike Grimm, Kevin Lynch
You can also Chat in the New Purple Reign Free Chat room

Statistics from the Michigan State official site official release
Links are to the original story source of the quotes
You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy
or on AIM: CoachRoy74
Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
Talk about it on the Purple Boards
[Click Here]
Copyright 2006 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign
Quotes Copyright 2006 by original holder as noted

Purple Wildcats Top Stories

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