I don’t know what Hillary Clinton meant, but it was a good line, and Dan Coleman had a great game. Leading the Gophers to a 19 point win over Northwestern, Dan Coleman scored 19 points and collected 14 rebounds, and for at least one night, seemed to scratch the surface of what he can be capable of. Taking the ball aggressively to the basket and flying in for rebounds on both ends of the court, he looked nothing like the foul prone forward who disappeared, again, against Michigan State last Saturday night.
It certainly helped that front-court mate Spencer Tollackson took the ball aggressively to the basket, making 6-7 field goals, and going to the free throw line 5 times (where he only missed 60% of them). No one laughed at Spencer’s “go to” move, and Kevin Lynch didn’t struggle to describe the flailing pirouette that is as likely to result in a basket as a dizzy-spell induced turnover.
With the inside players dominating, Northwestern was forced to pack in their zone even more than usual, creating open shots on wings. Jamal Abu-Shamala and especially Blake Hoffarber were able to exploit the opening. Hoffarber made all 5 of his three point shots in the first half. Abu-Shamala chose a more balanced approach and finished with 8 points in his best game in weeks.
Good shooters can’t beat a zone unless they get the ball at the right place and the right time, and the Gopher guards saw to it that the shooters were able to catch the ball in rhythm. Al Nolen and Lawrence McKenzie each had 6 assists and played together more than any other time this season. Playing both at the same time is a liability if for some reason they need to leave simultaneously, but when both are on the floor they provide solid ball handling, shooting, and leadership. With one more capable ball handling guard, the Gophers could be an NCAA lock.
As has been the case too often this season, the Gophers came out sluggish in front of an energized crowd (more energized than any crowd for a Northwestern game since the Clem era). But after the the first timeout line change, the Gophers went on a 22-2 run and Northwestern didn’t make a field goal for the next 10 minutes. After that, the game was all but over. The Wildcats strung together a few runs, cutting the Gopher lead to the single digits with less than five minutes left in the game , but the Gophers turned it on when they needed to. They could have won by 25 or 30, but a home win over Northwestern is something that Dan Monson teams all too often couldn’t accomplish
Who did what:
- Dan Coleman could be a first round draft pick if he always played like this. Dan, please don’t disappear anymore.
- Jamal Abu-Shamala hit open shots and wasn’t afraid to get a rebound. Though, his black eye is not looking too good.
- Spencer Tollackson, try this: BEND YOUR KNEES WHEN YOU SHOOT FREE THROWS.
- Lawrence McKenzie played great defense and ran the point like a senior should, but it sure would be nice if he could still score when he decides to be team oriented.
- Lawrence Westbrook played excellent defense and played within the offense more than anyone who once averaged 40 points per game should be able to.
- Reason #432 that Al Nolen can’t be a freshman: With less than two minutes left in the game he shot a lay up on breakaway instead of attempting a highlight reel dunk.
- Kevin Peyton made two impressive consecutive blocks, and then went to the bench for the rest of the game.
- Travis Busch is too good to miss a three pointer by 5 feet with a minute left in the game. You aren’t Hosea Crittenden.
- Jonathan Williams might have a call go his way if he wasn’t trying out for volleyball everytime he attempted to block a shot.
- Blake Hoffarber, everywhere in the first half and nowhere in the second half.
- Damian Johnson will start to lose playing time if he can’t make free throws. Most 8th grader can make three of eight.
- Ryan Saunders might have missed the game. I couldn’t seem him. Hair gel poisoning?