Gophers 2010-11 Basketball Review

Posted: October 12, 2011 by Kodi in Gopher Redemption, NCAA

Goodbye Boys, It’s been sweet. . .

Hate reliving what a let-down last season was but it’s time for some #GopherRedemption

This is a breakdown of the Gophers Basketball team and the players we’ve lost coming into 2011-12

The Gophers Men’s Basketball team came into the 2010/11 season with high expectations and started off with a bang. Minnesota beat Western Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia to walk away as the Puerto Rico Tournament Champions. This was all after the Gophers had suspended Devoe Joseph for 6 games who later transferred to Oregon.

Minnesota had won 6 games before losing to Virginia during the ACC/B1G Challenge but rebounded with another 5 game winning streak. The Gophers were 11-1 coming into the B1G regular season but lost 3 of their first 4 against Wisconsin, Michigan St. and Ohio State. The Gophers showed promise against the #2 ranked Buckeyes and lost by just 3 points. Minnesota won their next 4 B1G games including huge victories over #8 Purdue, Michigan and Northwestern.

The game against Northwestern was the first the Gophers played after Al Nolen was injured with a broken right foot. Nolen eventually missed the rest of the season and the Gophers struggled to find any viable option to play the point. This was a huge hit to the team and HC Tubby Smith was forced to play SG Blake Hoffarber at PG and the chemistry was never there.

Hoffarber was a great catch and shoot option but he wasn’t able to make big plays offensively. The young talent like Austin Hollins, Chip Armelin and Maverick Ahanmisi showed flashes of greatness but their youth and inexperience ultimately got the best of them and Minnesota. The Gophers lost 10 of its final 11 games to close out the year to finish the season 17-13 and 6-12 in conference play just ahead of Iowa and Indiana. They were eventually bounced from the B1G Tournament by Northwestern in the first round and didn’t even receive an invite to participate in the NIT Tourney.

The Gophers were 11-6 at home, 3-7 on the road and 3-4 against the Top 25. Their largest victory came against North Dakota State, winning by 19 and their worst defeat came from Ohio State when they lost by 13. The Gophers were ranked 166 overall in points per game at the end of the ’10-11 season averaging just 68.9 points per game. They were however a great rebounding team, led by F Trevor Mbakwe, and spread the ball around. They averaged 38.1 rebounds a game, 32nd in the NCAA and 15.7 assists per game, ranking 22nd.

Trevor Mbakwe was the brightest star on the Gophers squad averaging 13.9 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 blocks per game and had a 58 percent field goal percentage. He finished the year with 431 points, 97 offensive rebounds and 230 defensive rebounds leading the team in each category. He had a total of 327 rebounds more than Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson combined, just 322 total rebounds. Mbakwe is a great talent and will be the focal point of the Gophers during his Senior year but Tubby Smith and Minnesota need to find their PG first.

Minnesota started hot and fizzled quickly after the injury to PG Al Nolen because HC Tubby Smith didn’t have the depth at Guard when Devoe Joseph transferred. Smith had to rely on true freshmen who struggled at times but showed flashes of what they could be. Smith and the Gophers are going to have to rely on those players and some other young recruits because last season was Nolen’s Senior year. The four year starter ended his collegiate career with 495 points, 297 rebounds, 394 assists, 205 steals and 174 turnovers. His ball handling and court vision will be greatly missed and he was one of Smith’s best perimeter defenders.  Hopefully Smith can mold one of these young guards into the next Al Nolen.

The Gophers also lost Senior SG Blake Hoffarber, the coveted “Bullseye Blake”, who set the Gophers record for most 3 point shots made in a game, 8, and a season, 85 in his Junior year. In 2011 Blake was named an Academic All-American the first Gopher Basketball player to achieve that honor in team history.  He will leave Minnesota as the Gophers career 3 point shot leader and was the 35th member of the University to hit the 1,000 point club. He shot better than 40 percent from the 3 point line in his career which is impressive considering he had 681 attempts.

The other big name that the Gophers lost was Colton Iverson who transferred to Colorado State because he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time behind Sampson and Mbakwe. Iverson was an underachiever who seemed to play incredibly soft for being such a big presence down low. He was given every opportunity to play his way into more game time but realistically he deserved to be in the game for the 17 minutes Tubby had him in there. He lacked any force to the bucket and didn’t have a great post up move for the Gophers to utilize him offensively and he turned the ball over.

Defensively the guy just didn’t impress, he had 41 blocks in his freshman year, 32 in his sophomore and just 20 during his junior season. He rebounded well but not magnificently pulling down 422 boards in his 3 years at Minnesota. The Gophers will need to find some big men help off the bench but with Sampson and Mbakwe firmly in the starting line-up; Tubby can focus on the PG position before he starts worrying about Center.

 

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