There’s been a lot of lineup shifting lately, and it’s not done yet.
You should get ready for what would be the ninth starting five of the year on Wednesday.
Coach Tubby Smith said on Monday morning that he plans to shake things up again against Michigan State. He wouldn’t give any hints yet as to who he might go with, and who he might subtract, so let’s take a look at the candidates:
Elliott Eliason: He’s one of the most aggressive players the Gophers have, he always makes a big effort to rebound and he looks like he cares a lot on every single play. At some point, on a team that has the tendency to look lackadaisical, the Gophers might have to go with heart.
Chip Armelin: Last game was not one of them, but the spunky guard has had some big performances lately. He’s good at sparking the team quickly, he doesn’t have any shortage of confidence and Smith has said he’s one of the best players he has at shaking off disappointment – and let’s be honest, the Gophers really need someone like that right now.
Andre Hollins: The freshman looked pretty good in his last start, and Smith thought so too, but he pulled him because he thought the combination didn’t work. It didn’t, but that doesn’t mean Hollins doesn’t have the opportunity to get in there with a different four.
Joe Coleman: His 12-point game/breaking of the 4-game scoreless slump might have earned him a spot once more. The Gophers need more physicalness against Michigan State, and Coleman is that. He needed a burst of confidence again, and now he’s got it.
Oto Osenieks: He didn’t have a terrible game on Saturday by any means, but he didn’t contribute much to the outcome or the dynamic, either. Osenieks is great for bursts off the bench, and Smith might put him back in that role for now.
Austin Hollins: He’s athletic and he has a great wing span, but his offensive production is so inconsistent. The biggest example of that, of course, is on Saturday – when he completely disappeared in a must-win game. That can’t happen. The question now is whether Smith makes the decision based on defense (where the Gophers need him) or offense (where they don’t).
Ralph Sampson III: As I've said before, I honestly don’t know whether Smith would ever bench a healthy Sampson. I also think if he ever does, it’s now. This is the Hail Mary, last-shot drive. And Sampson is not getting it done. The Gophers could use someone more physical in the paint against Michigan State. Whether that realistically could happen, I honestly have no idea.
Lineup I’d like to see:
For the most part, Smith has been tweaking rather than actually shaking things up. Why not try something totally different? This is what a Hail Mary is all about.
Yes, the lineup I just laid out is extremely young. It’s also extremely athletic, extremely enthusiastic and every one of those guys has something to prove, and wants to prove it. As a bonus, most of those guys have played together quite a bit, and have some ready-made chemistry to walk in with.
Julian Welch had a great game against Northwestern, so I’m not offering that lineup as a punishment in any way. I simply think the Gophers could benefit from a drastic change. If the team looks different, perhaps it will play different.