Despite fast start, Gophers basketball to-do list exists

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 1, 2012 - 9:31 AM

The Gophers cannot be content with their recent successes. They have to prepare for the Big Ten season.


Richmond's Darien Brothers, left, attempted to knock the ball away from Maurice Walker.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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In a way, it almost feels like the week after Christmas for the Gophers.

For a few months now, we've been looking ahead to that one big stretch on the nonconference schedule. We've been anticipating each game like an unopened present (unsure whether it would be something shiny and new or whether it would be coal) and hypothesizing about just how the gift spread would go.

Now, a week later, the Gophers have shredded the wrapping paper to reveal three good wins in four tough games away from Williams Arena. (OK, so they didn't get the new car, but they got the golf clubs and the flat-screen TV.)

But while it's tempting to sit back and gorge on the holiday buffet, the Gophers still have plenty to improve in on the remainder of the nonconference slate -- so they can keep partying hardy through New Year's. Here are three things the Gophers need to accomplish over the next five games:

• Sweep: These are all games they should win. Still, there are a couple of notable challenges. After North Florida on Saturday (should be a double-digits win), the Gophers have a good two-game stretch next week with South Dakota State at home and then Southern California on the road.

The Jackrabbits have plenty of talent, including Minnesota native Nate Wolters, on a squad that has gone 5-2 with two very close slips to Alabama and Hofstra.

USC, meanwhile, has lost some tough games (Illinois, Marquette, San Diego State), but the transfer-heavy Trojans (3-3) are no pushovers either, especially at home. The Gophers have traveled a lot, but they will have to keep up their energy to avoid any December sluggishness.

• Figure out the rotation: Is coach Tubby Smith going to go with the same starting five -- Andre Hollins, Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins, Rodney Williams and Elliott Eliason -- through Big Ten play? If not, it wouldn't hurt to get a few trial games in with a future group -- possibly including Trevor Mbakwe -- so chemistry can be smoothed out by the time the Gophers open against Michigan State on New Year's Eve.

Do the Gophers want to stick with a bigger or small lineup for the most part? Who are the core reserves and how deep should the bench typically go to find the ideal intersection between freshness and continuity? These are the questions that need to be answered. Right now, there are two Gophers lineups that stand out: Hollins, Hollins, Williams and Mbakwe with Coleman or those four with Eliason.

• For goodness' sake, take care of the ball: Ever since the Gophers' season opener against American (when they had a season low of eight turnovers), Minnesota has turned over the ball at an alarming rate in almost every game -- with at least 15 giveaways in every game except Tuesday at Florida State. Tuesday in Tallahassee was an improvement in that the Gophers had only 12 against a pretty good team.

Against weaker competition, the Gophers will need to keep up the trend and continue to cut their turnovers heading into conference play.


• Wally Ellenson recently had his cast taken off his left hand -- which he broke before the season started -- Gophers coach Tubby Smith said.

"He still has some protection on his hand, and the doctors want to make sure he's completely healed," Smith said.

The freshman has been participating in the team's shooting drills but hasn't been in any contact situations. Smith said the team would evaluate Ellenson's progress in the coming week or so before deciding whether the guard would redshirt.

The Gophers already have decided to redshirt forward Charles Buggs, their other freshman.

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San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
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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 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
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




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