University of Minnesota Golden Gophers vs, Saint Cloud State University Huskies
7:00 pm at Williams Arena (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Radio: WCCO 830 AM
Tv: None, but streaming live on Bigtennetwork.com
Tickets: plenty still left, a few even in the lower deck
When the Gophers tip off the 2008-2009 season on Monday night, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will suit up five new players, none of whom have played one second of major college basketball or played together. The team will be recognizable, only three players left the team, but at the same time will be more athletic and younger than any team in recent memory. While the score should not be close, Minnesota’s talent level and coaching should be more than enough to win even if they do struggle, the opening game of the season could be a bit of a challenge. How the young players react to adversity and success will in all likelihood be the determining factor of the seasons success.
Saint Cloud State, the Division II program best known for their hockey fights, racists, less than steller academic reputation, and meth, are coming off a 17-11 season, but were the second worst team in their conference. Things apparently are looking up though, as they were picked to finish fifth in their conference preseason poll. They return three starters and add Theo Rothstein, a 6’5” wing from St. Michael-Albertville who should see many opportunities to be a local boy who makes good.
Keys for the Gophers
- Come out to a quick start. On paper the Gophers are the much better team. There is no reason they should let the Huskies hang around.
- Limit mistakes without being too careful. A lot of new players with a lot of nervous energy could lead to some sloppiness.
- Find a rotation that works. The talent is their, but it is important to find the best combination of players to maximize the teams many strengths, and to compensate for the inevitable weaknesses.
Keys for the Huskies
- Keep it close. If the Gophers get off to a fast start, it will could get ugly fast.
- Remember to have fun. Most of the Huskies dreamed of being Gophers. This will be as close as they get.
- Learn something even if they lose. This will be the best team the Huskies play this season, and there will be plenty of opportunities to get used to playing more talented and more athletic teams. If they find something that works against the Gophers, it will work a lot better against Division II teams.
Key Players for the Gophers
- Paul Carter, the lanky junior college transfer, will be thrust into the spotlight as Damian Johnson continues to recover from a broken hand. Watch how he handles the spotlight if his defense can match his many offensive skills.
- Devoe Joseph is the first legitimate back up point guard the Gophers have had in years. Watch how big of a drop off there is when Al Nolen leaves the game and Joseph comes in.
- Colton Iverson came to the Gophers to rebound, but watch to see how he plays on offense and defense. He should have a height advantage, and because of that, a big game.
Key Players for the Huskies
- Matt Shneck, a 6’8” forward, is the Huskies leading returning scorer. He shot 58% from the field last season.
- Brett Carmichael, a 6’3” forward is the Huskies top defender, and they are going to need him.
- Brett Putz, a 6’1” freshman guard average 27.5 ppg in high school. He’ll need at least that amount to keep the Huskies close.
This is not hockey and it will not be close. Gophers 93 – Saint Clouse state 65.