Read my full story on Minnesota’s 67-56 win over Louisiana Monroe here.
Three thoughts as I pack my suitcase for Puerto Rico:
- This team is flawed, but it showed more poise than I saw through a lot of last year’s four-senior squad. Don’t get me wrong, today’s win was not the prettiest. Minnesota’s offense was just short of horrendous and the Gophers lost the rebounding battle for a second straight game. But they were clutch when it mattered and when all else failed, they got to the line. This bunch certainly has the potential to be a better defensive team than last year’s, but the Gophers probably benefit, too, from having so many young guys that weren’t scarred by last year’s close-game horrors (nine losses by two possessions or fewer, in case you have scrubbed your memory of that fact). Minnesota basically locked down a team that had been seeing stars just seconds before, for the rest of the game. Coach Richard Pitino pointed out that such a situation would have never happened last year, and I think he’s right.
- Best freshman debate: Murphy or Dorsey? No, it doesn’t really matter, but it’s fun to have such a debate to speculate over. Sunday, both Jordan Murphy and Kevin Dorsey put up good arguments. Murphy flashed his athleticism with a good rebound performance, a block, a steal and a nifty spin move for a dunk that made the eyes of most of the nappers in Williams Arena flutter for the first time. Dorsey, meanwhile, rebounded well from a seven-turnover night on Friday (he had just one on Sunday) and was fearless down the stretch, nailing a timely three-pointer that helped key Minnesota’s abrupt momentum switch. It’s not really a contest, but as long as it’s a debate, it means we’re likely being entertained.
- Joey King might be hitting a new stride. With another 20-point game coming on the heels of a new career-high (22 points) on Friday, the senior forward is looking as sharp as we’ve ever seen him. He’s always been steady and he’s always been a good shooter, but his jump shot might be better this year. And when it wasn’t falling quite the same tonight, he drew fouls and hit his shots. All that plus eight rebounds, which is certainly about as much as you can ask of someone with his frame. The Gophers needed him to make a big jump, and he’s doing it.