The Purple Reign Pregame Intel Report

Its been cold in Evanston, the several of the <b>Wildcats</b> have been battling the flu. <br>Then there are Aaron's shins, Winston and Jimmy's ankles, and some inconsistant play. <br>Its Northwestern Court Cat action on the road tonight...

NU Travels up to an even more frigid Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in an away game tonight.
Some of the the players will seem familiar: Former NU Guard Ben Johnson, a 2 year starter under Kevin O'Neil is a part timer for the Gophers - he averages 6.1 points a game, and then there's Sophomore Forward Rick Rickert.

is considered the best of the Gophers but he's scoring an anemic [for him] 14.7 points a game. When he turns up the heat, like he did against Michigan State [21 points], the Gophers get going. Minnesota is 9-1 when Rickert scores 20 or more.

Another starter who is struggling is 6-10 Senior Center Jerry Holman. After a shaky start, he had been playing well [14.2 ppg/6.5 rpg avg].  Then came the loss to Oregon, and his numbers tanked - he's shooting 5.5 ppg and 5.2 boards and getting in foul trouble, not good for a Senior Center.
he's not in a funk defensively and rebounding, Gophers coach Dan Monson said [Star Tribune]. But he's got to slow down and regain confidence in his offense.
The Gophers are putting a lot of weight on this particular game - they need a win and they've already lost one at home this year.
You've got to hold serve at home and every home game becomes critical, especially when we've already lost one," Monson said [in the Star Tribune today] . When you're kind of a game behind everybody, we've got to go dig some out on the road, which we haven't been able to do.
Looking ahead, Minnesota has 4 of their next 8 games against NU and Penn State, the bottom of the Big 10. But
This one's a tough one, because Northwestern is very resilient," Monson said. They're very hard to play because they don't play the same style as most teams in the league, so you only see it a couple of times a year. Even though they haven't had success this year, they've been in all four of their games until the last couple minutes
Both the Wildcats and the Gophers played their last game against the Wolverines - The Cats lost by 7 at home, the Gophers by 12 on the road. [Neil MIlbert /Chicago Trib did the math]
The Coach
Dan Monson - took over Minnesota after a pretty hot scandal - has improved the team's play, and fuels the expectation that they will be in the NCAAs this year.
The Starters
Forwards: 6-4 Sophomore Maurice Hargrow [#11 - 13.3 ppg/5.0 rpg], 6-11 Sophomore Rick Rickert [#1 - 14.7/6.3]

Center: 6-10 Senior Jerry Holman [#40 -  9.1/5.3]

6-3 Senior Kevin Burleson [#12 - 6.8/4.8 assists per game] , 6-3 Junior Ben Johnson [#22 - 6.1ppg]

The Big Gun(s)
The marquee player for Minnesota has to be Rick Rickert.  He's scored as high as 26 points in a game, but 14.7 is the teams leading scorer. He's also the top rebounder for the Gophers.

From the Arc:  Its Forward Maurice Hargrow - he's 17-38/44.7%, altho both Kevin Burleson [17-50/34%] and Michael Bauer  [32-85/37.6%] seem to like to put the long shots up also.
The Rest of the Team
The Gophers will be missing one, maybe three of their subs: Forward Brent Lawson who has a knee injury. Fellow forward Sam Gaines is also questionable with a hamstring injury and Wing Steve Esselink has had surgery to repair a broken finger.

Sophomore Center Jeff Hagen [#42 -  3.9 ppg/3.5 rpg] has been picking up the slack from Jerry Holman, but  Minnesota needs Holman's presence out on the court to guard away from the basket.

Another important part of the Gopher team is 5-9 Substitute Point Guard Aaron Robinson [#3].  "Little A's" importance has continued to increase as Minny has discovered both his talent, and the need for a backup to starter Kevin Burleson, who also seems to get into foul trouble.
I'm just going out and playing hard and trying to give my team energy," Robinson said [Pioneer Press]. "It's all about having that confidence, and coach is giving me more minutes.
The Challenge
  • Stop Rickert
  • Stop Burleson
  • Get Holman in foul trouble
  • Make rebounds
  • Score 3s
But you know that....
There is Chicago and Minneapolis Television.
And of course Dave Eanet on WGN AM720 and .

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