Let's get right to it:
*Blake Hoffarber is having a very nice junior season. His overall game has improved. He's had at least 20 points in four of his last eight games. When he's on from long-distance, the Gophers are hard to beat. That said, we still have a nagging concern that he will typically continue to struggle against the upper echelon of teams because they tend to play better defense and because he isn't often going to create his own shot. Maybe we're wrong, but that's going to make it tough to depend on Hoffarber in hostile road games and potentially in the NCAA tournament.
In any event, one thing that can't be denied: as he has gone this season, so have Minnesota's fortunes. In Minnesota's five losses this season, Hoffarber hasn't cracked double-digits in scoring. In losses against Portland (neutral site), Texas A&M (neutral), Purdue (road) and Michigan State (road), Hoffarber has a combined 7 points on 1-for-13 shooting from three-point range. In every victory of consequence, he has shot well from long-distance.
*Corey Brewer's half-court shot ... an eventual triple overtime game ... Al Jefferson's monster 26-point, 26-rebound night that should help continue to restore both his and the fans' confidence ... that was not a good game to have the "no TV" label.
*An argument could be made for an all-Finn three stars from last night's Wild game (indeed, we think the Wild radio broadcast went that route. Russo went with 2 of the 3 and denied Mikko Koivu in favor of Kyle Brodziak). We only paid particular attention to the third period, but we feel as though we had a full game in just 20 minutes: three Wild goals and three fights (if Shane Hnidy's sweater-tugging affair is included ... but hey, he did get a fighting major). Every time we try to bury the Wild, the squad rips off a winning streak. Now, Minnesota is just two points out of 8th place in the West and only seven points back of the Northwest Division lead. The Wild dug quite a hole, but if there's a way out and into the playoffs, this could be a team that presents matchup headaches.
*And finally, we enjoyed this statement from former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer quite a bit, on many levels: “Over the last 24 hours I have been contacted by friends, great fans and media members, and I feel it is important to comment, as a man who loves the University of Tennessee deeply and shares this love with millions of great Volunteer fans and friends. Recent events have been painful and an embarrassment to all of us who care about UT. I love the University; I am loyal to my alma mater and am ready to help as the University makes one of the most important decisions in the history of our football program. However, to prevent any misunderstanding, I am not seeking to be a candidate for the head coaching position. I am looking forward to embracing the next coach and have some strong beliefs about the kind of man he should be. He must embrace Tennessee’s culture and traditions, be mature and of good character, and demonstrate integrity and leadership to our young men who desperately want to be shown the way. He must deserve, earn and keep the trust of our young men -- both present and future. Tennessee football has been successful for so many years because it has been rooted in values and traditions. We can’t take those values for granted – if we do not guard them carefully, we will lose them.”