Hartman: Gophers have enough talent to make tournament run

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2013 - 11:33 PM

Now that the Gophers are fortunate enough to have been selected to play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there is no reason they can’t advance if they play like they did in beating Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State. The 11th-seeded Gophers face UCLA, the sixth seed in the South Region, in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

The top six Gophers players are probably as good as or better than any of the middle seeds who made the NCAA tournament.

Trevor Mbakwe has the ability to help win every game if he plays up to his ability. If Rodney Williams would return to the form he showed late last season, and if Andre and Austin Hollins would regain their ability to hit long-range shots along with Julian Welch, who was fifth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage last year (43.8 percent), there is no reason the Gophers can’t surprise some teams and advance.

This is one of the most talented teams the Gophers have put on the Williams Arena floor. This was the year for the Gophers to make hay. It will be a lot tougher to win with four seniors leaving.

This team has to quit turning the ball over and making stupid mistakes and return to the form it had when it was 15-1 and playing the second-toughest schedule in the country.

A couple of years ago, a group of Gophers hockey boosters tried to get hockey coach Don Lucia fired, but then-athletic director Joel Maturi stood behind Lucia. Now look how well the hockey team has done. It’s no secret there now is a group who would like to see the University of Minnesota buy out Tubby Smith’s contract for $2.5 million and replace him.

Basketball titles have been few and far between. In the 1971-72 season, the Gophers won a Big Ten title, but coach Bill Musselman was later fired for recruiting violations. Jim Dutcher coached the Gophers to a Big Ten title in the 1981-82 season. And then Clem Haskins won one in 1998-99, but the NCAA voided that title following the academic fraud scandal.

This Gophers team has a chance to make amends after losing eight consecutive conference road games. It has the ability to go a long way in the NCAA if the players just use their brains and play like have in their 20 victories.

Memo to Tubby Smith: Here is a friendly suggestion for change. It might help the Gophers advance if you dropped the philosophy of removing star players such as Mbakwe, Williams and Andre Hollins when they get two fouls in the first half and keeping them on the bench until the second half. The Gophers probably would have won against Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament if Mbakwe and Andre Hollins had not warmed the bench for much of the first half.

Dozier impresses

Going into spring training, the only Twins infielder who had a starting job locked up was first baseman Justin Morneau.

The other three positions were wide open.

Now, according to Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, Brian Dozier has pretty much won the second base job.

“Dozier looks good,” Ryan said. “He’s made some unbelievable plays at second base here in the last week.

“He’s probably got about eight of those [great plays] that he’s made, which is very good for all of us to see. His at-bats have gotten better each week. So I don’t have anything that I could tell you that’s concerning right now about Dozier. He’s played good baseball. His hitting has been fine. He’s putting good at-bats together. As we get deeper into March, he’s going to get better.”

Ryan said the team has some depth at shortstop with Pedro Florimon and Eduardo Escobar.

“Both those guys have done fine,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a couple of nonroster guys. Ray Olmedo is a pretty good defensive player in his own right. So we certainly could move around with Jamey Carroll and Dozier if you want. So we’ve got enough people right now that would allow us to pick and choose, but right now Florimon and Escobar are playing pretty good baseball at shortstop.”

Then there is third base, where Trevor Plouffe had a productive early part of last season and then went into a hitting slump in the second half. He has been limited recently after aggravating a right calf injury, but the Twins will start with Plouffe at third and hope he retained the power he showed by hitting a career-high 24 homers last season.

  • related content

  • Gophers to play UCLA in first round on Friday

    Monday March 18, 2013

    Perhaps if things had gone differently, Sunday’s announcement would have been viewed as more of an accomplishment.

  • Trevor Mbakwe (32) was guarded by Ray Gallegos (15) in the second half...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close