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

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 59 2nd Half 2:11
Wright State 61
Western Ky 48 2nd Half 8:25
Saint Josephs 45
Michigan State 52 2nd Half 13:56
Rider 21
UCLA 41 1st Half 0:26
North Carolina 29
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 0 1st Qtr 8:20
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 3 1st Qtr 7:50
Texas 0
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 32 2nd Half 15:50
Montana 44
Illinois 66 2nd Half 2:59
(9) Kentucky 61
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close