Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

Email Patrick.

Gophers benefit from big minutes for Eliason

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: March 23, 2013 - 9:11 AM

The wide-eyed believers who went along with the "the Big Ten is so tough'' as the theory to explain the Gophers' fall from grace this winter had no problem deciphering what was witnessed on Friday night in Austin. Tex. They watched Tubby and the Underachievers destroy UCLA 83-63 and said:

"I knew this team was good enough to make a tournament run. All our players needed was to get back their confidence.''

Surprise though it might be to occasional readers, I don't aways embrace the rosiest view of local sports teams. Thus, for now, I'm sticking with the theory that this has been one of the most-disappointing, even most-disgusting, efforts witnessed from a team with high expectations in the annals of Minnesota sports.

Which leaves me to break down the responsibility for Friday's result in this manner:

Forty percent for the very good play of the Underachievers after the first TV timeout; 30 percent for the putrid play of the Uclans for the entire evening; 20 percent for the tight officiating that made success remote for the too-thin Bruins; and 10 percent for the decision of Tubby Smith and his coaches to put the Gophers in a zone.

What was clear to me once again -- as it was after the upset victory over Indiana in Williams Arena last month -- was many of us were way off base in early January when he pined for this to be Tubby's lineup for 30 or more minutes per night:

Trevor Mbakwe at center and Rodney Williams at power forward, with Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman on the outside.

Those have been the starters since Big Ten play opened, with only a couple of variations. Included was Williams missing the home loss to Illinois with a shoulder injury.

The wide-eyed believers said after that game, "The Gophers would've have won if Rodney had played.''

The fact is, Rodney had a horrible final season of Big Ten play. He wasn't Ralph Sampson III of 2012, so bad that Tubby stopped playing him, but he was dang near Lawrence Westbrook of 2009 ... downhill in realibility as a senior rather than uphill.

Here's my conclusion: Ruggedness is an asset for the Gophers. And the Gophers are much more rugged when Elliott Eliason gets plenty of minutes. And that makes the Gophers better when Eliason is on the floor with Mbakwe to beat the Hades out of people in the post, than when Williams is on the floor with Mbakwe.

The Gophers are going to start Rodney again Sunday vs. Florida, and why not? Why make him feel any worse about his disappointing last season? But the most minutes should go to Mbakwe and Eliason on the inside, the Hollins lads at the guards, and Williams getting his time in shifts with Coleman.

OK, you see a ball bounce off Eliason's hands on occasion. Go ahead, scream "Elliott'' at the TV. This is still a big man with as much to offer as did Colton Iverson, who left the Gophers unfulfilled and became a star at Colorado State.

Conclusion: I like the Gophers with Eliason on the floor. More importantly, I think opponents like playing the Gophers more when he's not on the floor.

Rodney can make an opponent feel bad with a dunk. Eliason can make an opponent feel bad with sore ribs.




NY Yankees - M. Pineda 12:07 PM
Toronto - D. Hutchison
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Sale
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 10 3rd Qtr
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Colorado 3:00 PM
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Chicago 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
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




question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question