Gophers' balance gives foes multiple challenges

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2013 - 6:40 AM

Joe Coleman, who scored 29 against Illinois, is the latest to step to the fore.

hide

Minnesota guard Joe Coleman

Photo: Andy King, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- It's hard to believe that a player who finished with a game-high 29 points Wednesday night against Illinois could be the most undervalued member of the Gophers' starting lineup -- but then, that's Minnesota this year.

Joe Coleman has substantially improved from a season ago, scoring 10.9 points per game as a sophomore after averaging 5.8 as a freshman. That his accomplishments have been overshadowed is an indication of just how balanced and productive the starting five has been this season.

But just as each starter has had breakout games, Wednesday in Champaign once again was a reminder of just how critical Coleman is to the fabric of this up-tempo team as it takes a 15-1 record and No. 8 national ranking into its showdown at No. 5 Indiana on Saturday.

"It's really important," Coleman said of the Gophers' ability to push the pace and score on the fast break. "Coach [Tubby Smith] has been harping on, we've got to get out and run and that's our best game. I don't think he thought we did too well with that against Northwestern, so we were able to focus in on that [against Illinois]."

That's for certain. Against a team that thrives on the run, the Gophers were able to establish that as their identity while holding Illinois without a single fast-break point.

And Coleman -- one of the Gophers' best tools in transition -- was in fine form. The former Hopkins standout scored 24 of his 29 points in a second half that saw the Gophers nearly lose their 12-point lead and then build it all the way back on the legs of Coleman, who created a one-man highlight reel. He had a series of dunks and other scores around the basket, got to the line and battled with the physical Illini.

"It was a physical game and Joe's a physical guy, he's absorbs the contact," point guard Andre Hollins said. "This was one of his games."

In the Illinois victory, Coleman was the spark that represented a characteristic that has personified the Gophers this season: an ability to respond to momentum changes.

Against Memphis, Michigan State and Illinois, the Gophers have watched their opponent come back from a large deficit and make what might have been a devastating run a year ago. But instead of panicking, Minnesota has, in each of those circumstances, responded with grit and aggressiveness, making a strong comeback of its own.

On Wednesday, the Gophers got off track and watched a 42-30 lead shrink to 44-42 during a three-minute second-half stretch when Minnesota went 0-for-4 with two turnovers and two fouls. But the Gophers got a steal from Austin Hollins, who fed Coleman for a dunk. Those were two of his nine points during a 19-7 run that got Minnesota back on track.

"That's been the difference for our team this year," senior Trevor Mbakwe said. "The last couple years I've been here, when teams make a run, that's kind of it for us. But we were able to have that extra punch at the end."

For the Gophers, that blow was delivered by Coleman this time, an opportunity presented because Minnesota's balance won't allow defenses to concentrate on any one threat.

"It just makes us more of a tough team," Coleman said. "It's hard to focus in on one player if you've got a lot of guys that can pull it off any night."

 Note: Andre Hollins was named a Bob Cousy Award finalist, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced. The award is given annually to the nation's top men's basketball point guard. Hollins is one of 20 finalists.

  • NO. 8 GOPHERS AT NO. 5 INDIANA

    11 a.m. Saturday • TV: BTN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 2
Boston - B. Workman 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - G. Cole
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Washington - G. Gonzalez 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Hand
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Arizona - V. Nuno 7:40 PM
Colorado - Y. Flande
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc
Tampa Bay 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close