Coleman impressed Smith with his comeback performance against Northwestern on Saturday

Coleman impressed Smith with his comeback performance against Northwestern on Saturday


Coach Tubby Smith reiterated on Tuesday that he planned to make another move in the lineup for Wednesday against Michigan State.

Per his tendency, he wouldn’t reveal much about his thinking, but he did give a few hints about players he had concerns with, and ones he was impressed with. This is probably not a complete list, FYI – merely the names that Smith mentioned in answer to the question:

1.      Austin Hollins: Smith noted that Hollins has been struggling offensively lately and his defense – his key role on this team – has slipped in the meantime.

2.      Julian Welch: Smith praised his scoring, but said Welch’ digressing defense is a concern as well.

3.      Ralph Sampson III: Smith knows the Gophers will need Sampson – or a different center – to be tougher against Michigan State. “We need him to have a presence inside,” Smith said. “We can’t have five guys running around the perimeter. We’re not that good.”

4.      Oto Osenieks: Smith said he liked Osenieks’ performance against Michigan State and that the team could use his size once more.

5.      Joe Coleman: Smith was impressed with the way the freshman responded to being benched for a game, scoring 12 points against Northwestern.

Other notes:

•       Smith announced last week that he would be participating in On the Line statement week – an initiative to help raise awareness about prostate cancer. Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, but he is cancer-free now. Smith, like other coaches across the nation that are participating in the awareness program, will be wearing a bow tie to this week's games as a symbol of his support. “This is a big part of my life and I’m excited about sharing what it means, and what we’re trying to do,” he said.

•       Joe Coleman said he was able to break his scoreless slump against Northwestern because he was able to cut behind guys in the zone and score in the situations he’s used to scoring in. He said the first two scoreless games didn’t bother him as much because he knew he was still helping the team with rebounds and assists. “But those last two games I felt really out of sync and I couldn’t really get into a rhythm,” he said. “That’s all I can say that really bothered me.”

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