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aMAILia BAG: The Big Ten tournament, the zone defense and the best Williams dunk

  • Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
  • March 5, 2013 - 9:45 AM

 

 

aMAILia BAG is a weekly installment on this blog where you send me questions (to @AmeliaRayno on Twitter or amelia.rayno@startribune.com) and I answer them here. Questions below are in bold, while my responses are in regular type.

Old aMAILia BAGS

Who do you want to see the Gophers play in the NCAA tournament? Or is there a seed you'd like to see them at that would give them the best chance to advance?

Thanks!
Brandon Proctor
Mounds View, MN

Ps. Sorry I wasn't in my chewbacca costume [Saturday]!

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Brandon – you have a Chewbacca costume and you didn’t wear it on Saturday? Did you not see my tweets of pleading? Did you not feel my sasquatch-less pain? At least loan it out to someone who WILL don the hairs of the intelligent beast.

I considered not answering your question for this offense, but I decided to use the opportunity, instead, to publicly scold you. But now we’ll move on. (I hope you’ve internalized my message and will show up as Chewbacca for the 2013-14 season opener).

There are a lot of teams I could enjoy watching the Gophers play. Personally, it would be very cool for me for the Gophers to match up with NC State or North Carolina. It would be very interesting for the Gophers to get Colorado State (former Gopher Colton Iverson is killing it with the Rams right now. California for the same reason (but swap in Justin Cobbs). VCU for obvious reasons (Shaka Smart bonanza); who out-coaches the other? Plus these teams are kind of striving to be the same kind of team – one that gets out in transition and creates “havoc” on defense. Missouri because the Tigers still intrigue me, and frankly I’ve been waiting for this matchup since the Gophers didn’t get it in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Those off the top of my head.

Here’s what else I would like: the Gophers to end up in the San Jose or Austin brackets so I’ll have somewhere cool to visit along the way.

How did Penn State beat Michigan? It was witchcraft, wasn't it? I bet it was. #aMAILiaBAG

@RandBallsStu

Witchcraft and 3-pointers, maybe. Combined with a lackluster Trey Burke and shoddy Michigan ball handling. But boy was it hard to reckon after the Gophers trampled them on Saturday.

Gophers finishing 6th in B1G. What will be B1G tourney seed and who will they lose to in the semifinals this year? #aMAILiaBAG

@MNSuperSport

Well, the Gophers are at sixth in the Big Ten right now, but they could end up anywhere from 6th to 9th, with Illinois, Iowa and Purdue all bunched around them. Whatever their place of finish is is also their seed in the conference tourney. Only the top four seeds get a bye, and the Gophers can’t possibly get higher than a sixth seed, so they will certainly play on Thursday. I do think the Gophers will win both of their remaining conference games and I think Illinois will lose at least one of their final games, giving Minnesota the 6th seed and putting them up against Nebraska (which will get the 11 seed after finishing 0-fer while No. 10 Northwestern tops Penn State).

If they win in the first round, my best guess is they would be up against Michigan State. And well, that would be a tough one to pull out.

Wrote more on that here.

Has [Minnesota] figured out zone riddle or did [Indiana] not play much [zone] and [Penn State] zone was just bad?

@Frantzka

I think it’s hard to put a “solved” stamp on the zone just yet considering it’s been just three games since the Gophers were stunned and abused by Iowa’s extended zone just a little over two weeks ago.

Indiana did use a zone, but only situationally and the Hoosiers certainly didn’t sit it in for long periods. Penn State was just completely overwhelmed in every regard, with their zone being no exception -- and the Gophers were making some shots around the perimeter as well. The Gophers handled Nebraska’s zone just fine that time around, but then, that’s a little bit of the same story.

The Gophers have been using a little bit of a “new” half-court offense, going back to the super simple flex from the end of last season. It’s treated them well so far, but it’s really meant to attack man defenses. So if Minnesota ends up seeing, say, Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament, the Gophers’ zone attack could certainly be a theme once more.

Your all-time fave Rodney dunk? [Saturday's] was just sick. #aMAILiaBAG

@matthewkrier

This question inspired me to seek out a whole bunch of Rodney Williams dunks highlights and that’s not always a quick trip, so thanks, Matt, for sending me down that rabbit hole.

If you’d like to do the same, there are some good ones here.

Re-watching and re-watching the one from the Penn State game – you know, when Williams defied gravity to snag a poorly tossed Julian Welch lob – it’s hard to find competitors. The only ones that come close, in my opinion, would be the first 360 (last year against USC) or this crazy baseline dunk he had against Nebraska last year, where he, once again, practically flew. But boy that Penn State one was good. I’m hesitant to say that’s his best, though, which really says a lot about the kid’s talent.

Hi Amelia:

Any updates on the Gophers' recruits for 2013? What do you see them doing with their remaining two scholarships?

Thanks!

Joel

My only real update for you, Joel, is that Gavin Schiling – the guy at the top of the list for scholarship No. 3 – has narrowed his list to four schools, one of which is Minnesota.

If the Gophers don’t get him, they’ll have to scramble – Schilling likely isn’t making a decision until sometime this spring and the cache of available and likely big men is already very thin.

After that, the Gophers will most likely stop and hold on to that final scholarship for the strong 2014 class.

Amelia,

It's a little early to start thinking about next year, but looking at the roster, it appears to be very thin - especially at PG and the front line.

Can we expect immediate contributions from their 2013 commits (Foster and Ellis)? Has there been any word on how Buggs has looked in practice? Will they look to add a PG in the 2013 class?

--
Jamie
Minneapolis

Never too early, Jamie.

No point guard is in Minnesota’s sights until 2014 – while Andre Hollins has his shortcomings at the position, the Gophers think he can handle it well enough (maybe with the help of Maverick Ahanmisi) to get them by.

As for Alex Foster and Alvin Ellis, the Gophers will need at least one of them to play significant minutes considering Minnesota is losing Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram. Charles Buggs is very athletic and has some capability as well – I liked what I saw from him in the exhibitions – but make no mistake, there is going to be a lot of trial-and-error, a lot of growing pains next season.

BONUS BIGFOOT QUESTION:

I find myself going on you tube watching random Bigfoot videos and think I know which are real and which are hoaxes. You?

@JrotesR

If you’re asking whether I sometimes spend a substantial amount of time on the internet looking at bigfoot videos, you are correct, sir.

Many of the hoaxes are easy to spot a mile away – just some really bad attempts. There have been some that have fooled me, though. I was really, sort of heart broken to find out that Todd Standing’s Sylvanic bigfoots, were, like, an elaborate hoax. I can’t understand people that do this. Also, this blog is really fantastic about breaking all the major sightings down. Kudos to them for really getting into the details and calling out some hoaxers.

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