JF

Despite beings arguably the best player on the Gopher roster last year, Lawrence Westbrook some how flew under the radar. Even though he started every game, was the team’s 4th leading scorer, 3rd in assists, second in steals, and 4th in rebounds, a certain member of the media predicted he would transfer because he couldn’t cut at the Big Ten level.  Well, that guy who could not cut it is now one of the only “knowns” coming into this season. He is Minnesota’s leading returning scorer and assister, and will be crucial to the team’s success.

The legend of Lawrence Westbrook should be well known by now. In highschool, he put up ungodly numbers, averaging over 40 points per game to lead the country in scoring. After a year at prep school in Massachusetts, he came to Minnesota and all but disappeared. Whether there was a personality issue, or Dan Monson simply was a poor judge of talent (ha!), Westbrook never just got his chance. He played in only 21 minutes, and the most he played all season, 21 minutes against Montana, did more to emphasize that he did not fit than it to lift his confidence. But then Tubby came to town, and the rest is history.

What we like

What don’t we like? He was the best perimeter defender, best penetrator, most intense player on court, and he did every game. And any guy who is maybe 6 feet tall on stilts who finds a way to average more than three rebounds per game will help a team find a way to win.

What needs to improve

Last year, Lawrence Westbrook did everything he needed to do. But this is not last year. The Gophers need more than Westbrook putting his pedal to metal. This year the Gophers will need steady leadership. With no clear back-up point, he may be called on to fill this duty. Westbrook also will need to cut down on unforced errors, while somehow still maintaining his intensity.

What to expect

Lawrence Westbrook’s breakout season became even more impressive after the season, when it became known that he was nursing several injuries. He eventually had off season surgery to fix a broken hand. With a year under his belt and a hand that actually works, Westbrook should be the top scorer this year. He won’t score  40, but he should average at least 15 points per game.  He should also play point guard much more than last year, and in more than just emergency situations. Hopefully, with interior players that should average more than 2 rebounds per game, he won’t need to pick up the slack in that area.