Chip Armelin is known for his instant offense. In fact, we’re so accustomed to saying that, that maybe we sometimes take it for granted. But when he became the star on Saturday, I was reminded of just how critical Armelin’s production is.
Some notables on the sophomore:
• Against Illinois, Armelin finished with 14 points – tying a career-high – and seven rebounds.
• With the starting five looking flat, Armelin helped pace the game. By the end of the first half, the bench guard had eight points, five rebounds and a pair of assists.
• One of the beautiful things about Armelin is, he takes no time to get game-adjusted: his second three-pointer of the game was literally seconds after he subbed in.
• He was dishing out some really nice passes as well. One of them – that made No. 2 on ESPN’s top ten (You can watch the video here) – showed Armelin’s behind-the-back, through-opponent-arms pass to Oto Osenieks.
“What can I say about him? He was probably player of the game,” coach Tubby Smith said. “Chip was just spectacular. He made his threes and that was huge.
He’s one of our worst three-point shooters, but now since we’ve been playing in the Big Ten he’s been one of our better three-point shooters and he’s got a lot of confidence.”
For the most part, Armelin is perfect for the role Smith has given him. In spurts, Armelin will come in warm, confidently make shots and provide that talked-about instant offense. But Saturday, he was needed to be more, give more, and he responded. Those kinds of bench performances will be huge for the star-less Gophers going forward in conference play.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.
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