Maverick Ahanmisi was a big part of the Gophers' success in the second half

Maverick Ahanmisi was a big part of the Gophers' success in the second half

 

It’s taken some time, but there were plenty of signs Monday that the Gophers’ second unit is starting to click.
 
With Trevor Mbakwe hurting a little, it was players off the bench that really stepped up to deliver the win.
 
The success made coach Tubby Smith look really smart for the five-player platoon offense he’s been running and perhaps offered bewildered fans a first glance at just why he likes doing this.
 
Late in the second half, the Gophers showed a renewed intensity – spurred from guys off the bench – and pushed their way to a strong lead.
 
“That’s the goal,” Smith said. “We feel like we’ve got a deep bench and the way you utilize that is you’ve got to play people and extend our defense.
 
“The energy level by guys like Andre Ingram and Joe Coleman, [Maverick] Ahanmisi, Oto [Osenieks], I thought they really got us going and their aggressiveness helped us a lot. And that’s what happens at the end of games. We’re throwing a lot of people at them.We’re trying to keep the pressure offensively by pushing the ball up the court and keep pressuring defensively to make them work for everything they get.”
 
It’s taken a while for players to get comfortable with the system that subs an entire second rotation for the starters, but at least one aspect of it -- keeping guys strong at the end – seems to be working.
 
“I think we’re all going to have to get used to it really,” Ahanmisi said. “But that’s what coach wants to do this year – bring in fresh bodies so we can keep the tempo up, keep the pace up and keep the pressure up too.”

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Video: A look at the Gophers' point guards and the second unit