I'm working on a story for tomorrow's paper on Charles Buggs, after his impressive performance last night. I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts here as well:
*First of all, wow. I touched on this last night, but of course it was a very impressive performance for Mr. Buggs in the first Big Ten game where he's gotten real minutes. Raise your hand if you saw that coming (I know a few of you at home are stubbornly raising your hands and wishing I was there for you to tell me about how you just knew that this is how it would be). But in any case, I didn't. Although Gophers coach Richard Pitino saw lots of improvement in practice, he didn't. We don't even ever know if the Hollinses are going to do that. So just calm down and enjoy it for what it was: a great night for the kid and one of those awesome, timely surprises that catch you off-guard and change the game.
*Secondly, he was a game-changer. If you remember, before Buggs started hitting shots, the Gophers were looking pretty flat. Iowa has pushed out to an eight-point lead and was threatening to do more. Buggs got the defense a little flustered/ confused because they weren't previously sure there was a "Buggs" on the roster, and that helped free up other shooters and Minnesota just took off from there.
*Pitino said exactly a week before that he thought Buggs probably had the best potential on team. He said he's the only player that has "wow" moments in practices -- times when after executing a sharp, no-look pass or impressing with his athleticism, the staff just looks at each other in shock. The coach has called him extremely intelligent when it comes to the game. "He could be one of the smartest kids on the team and people wouldn't know that," Pitino said. "He knows every play we're running. It never screws him up. He could do it from any position." In the same breath, Pitino will note that Buggs has the capability to make the staff saw "wow" for opposite reasons. Thus, often using the word "raw" to describe the power forward.
*Many have asked me why Pitino didn't play Buggs much down the stretch last night after such an incredible performance. The answer lies above. Pitino sees both "good wow" and "bad wow" in practice, constantly. He had only seen "good wow" on Tuesday. He was playing the odds -- he had just won big at Blackjack, and he wanted to walk out with his money. Had the coach put Buggs in for the final eight minutes would he have picked up right where he left off, knocking down everything he could get his hands on? Maybe. But statistically, it wasn't likely.
*One of the Gophers' biggest desires is that Buggs continue to put weight on his 6-9 frame. Pitino said he won't let the forward on the court if he's not over 213. Buggs came into this year around 210, but dropped a little weight because of all of the conditioning the Gophers do in practice. Now, he's above that threshold. The staff wants him to put another 20 pounds in the off-season.
"I think the great thing about Charles is he understands this is a long journey for him," Pitino said. "And I think with another year of great strength and conditioning, I see great potential for him."
*Oto Osenieks is out for the time being with a left knee injury. Basically, he had surgery on it seven years ago and the cartilage has been slowly wearing away. He said it's really bothering him to put pressure on it when he runs and jumps. He was supposed to get a shot for it today. "We'll see how it acts after that," he said.