Minnesota basketball wants to remain energized

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2012 - 5:05 PM

So far this fall, the Gophers have looked like a team playing at full speed on both ends of the floor.

hide

Gophers Andre Hollins and Rodney Williams Jr. trapped American University's Daniel Munoz on Friday night.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Quick: What is the biggest difference between last year's Gophers men's basketball team -- the one that went 6-12 in the Big Ten and missed the NCAA tournament -- and this year's group?

No, it's not the return of Trevor Mbakwe and Mo Walker -- not yet, anyway. The big men have looked good in their comebacks but haven't been difference-makers yet.

The answer, at least going into Monday's Game 2 of the season against Toledo, is energy.

In two exhibitions, the Gophers completed two routs from start to finish; compare that to a year ago, when they needed last-minute revamps to power past similar competition. Friday, they took it up a notch, drubbing American in the season opener by 36 points and showcasing an energy throughout that didn't slip, no matter how large the lead grew.

"We played really good as a team," junior guard Austin Hollins said. "Everybody came in and gave solid minutes and everybody played solid D."

The Gophers put full-court pressure from the start, harassing American into three turnovers before the Eagles even had any points on the board. The Gophers had 15 steals in all, including five each from Hollins and Joe Coleman.

On the other end, the Gophers got out in transition, making good on American's mistakes and jumping out to a 15-0 lead.

Stiff competition or not, the Gophers looked in many ways like the team they have long stated they want to be, an up-tempo group of athletes who press on the defensive end and run a quick, smooth offense.

Said coach Tubby Smith, "We like to play that way."

But here's the thing: They haven't, or at least they haven't consistently or for long stretches at a time.

Friday was different. They pressed until the end and maintained their energy.

"[Smith] preaches that every year, he tells us to go do it. But that first five minutes when you're going, running, you get a little tired," said senior Rodney Williams, who called the performance one of the Gophers' better games in that sense. "But it seemed like we had a little bit of juice and we were able to do that basically the whole game.

"We've been talking about that for a lot of years now, and we weren't able to really put a whole complete game together, but I think tonight we started out strong and we finished out strong."

So what changed?

Williams offered the theory that this team -- with a starting five that thrived at the end of last season -- is simply more comfortable with each other, and can more confidently make defensive shifts in games because they know teammates will adjust accordingly.

Whether the Gophers will be able to keep up the pace against better competition is a question yet to be answered, but after a successful showing of the strategy, they seem motivated to try -- perhaps again Monday.

"We've definitely been working on that. In practice, we wanted to get out there and force them to have to handle the ball full court the whole game, and I think it really worked out," Hollins said. "With the depth we've got this year, the full-court press is something we'll use a lot more."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 75 3rd Qtr 1:22
LA Clippers 79
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd 15:52
Anaheim 2
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close