Aloha and Happy Thanksgiving from Maui.
I hope everyone is getting their fill today, and finding things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for a good job that occasionally brings me to places like Hawaii, and I'm thankful for readers that help the Star Tribune to keep chugging away!
On this day, five things the Gophers should be thankful for:
1. They didn't lose to Chaminade -- Hey, the trip back from Hawaii could be a lot longer had the Gophers gone 0-for-3 and taken last place behind a Division II team. Instead the team gritted it out in the final minutes, giving them something to feel good about on the trek home.
2. Mo Walker is back -- The frontcourt has a little more girth and one more body. For a team that only had forward on the bench in the first six games, the addition is huge. And Walker started to shake off some of the rust against Chaminade, recording ten points and seven rebounds.
3. They're headed back to friendlier territory -- That is, Williams Arena, where the schedules will be normal (once they all re-adjust) and the routines will be too. No more parrots and boogie boards and 9 a.m. games. Minnesota gets the next seven games in the friendly confines of the Barn.
4. There are bright spots -- So the Gophers went 1-2 and the only game they won was against a DII opponent and even then they made it look hard? The trip wasn't all bad though. Minnesota's matchup against Syracuse -- in what should have been the toughest game of the non-conference schedule -- didn't look one sided. The Gophers battled and did a lot of good things. Malik Smith hit a new groove that we hadn't yet seen in a Gopher uniform. DeAndre Mathieu proved his value yesterday, pulling the Gophers out of a sticky situation. There are plenty of positives to be drawn from the midst of the disappointment.
5. They have tans. Five days in Hawaii? Who is to complain!