So, where did the summer go? I had all these ambitious plans for in depth reviews of every aspect of Minnesota’s most successful season in several year. The rain never came though, and neither did the heat and humidity that would force me inside and look back on the cold nights of February and March. Even though it feels like summer, or what was allegedly summer this year it is somehow suddenly the middle of September, barely a month until “Tubby’s Tip-off”, and less than two months until the Gophers take to the new floor at The Barn for their most anticipated season since, well, I couldn’t tell you. Everyone of significance is back, and five new players arrive ready to contribute. It is a good time to be a Gopher fan.
It is also back to school time. Around this great country of ours children have resisted the socialist indoctrination (or standard “stay in school” speech if you have more than a few sputtering brain cells) by the president, and are honing their skills to someday give a good speech themselves by describing their summer vacations (my trip to Iron World in fifth grade certainly didn’t inspire anyone to beg their parents to drive them to Hibbing). In an effort to get caught up on the Gopher off-season, we’ll take a look back at the returning players’ summer vacations. If there is something I missed (I certainly wasn’t going to spend the summer scouring the Internet for new when it was so gorgeous outside) please let me know.
Al Nolen: The junior point guard had a quiet off-season, with most news focusing on his potential in the upcoming season and beyond. His future professional possibilities got a bit of ink, but it is just as likely that he may not be starting by the end of the season.
Paul Carter: The junior forward probably logged more miles than all his teammate combined. Playing for Sportsreach in several exhibition games in China, Carter put up big numbers and shot 67% from the field. The competition was clearly not Big Ten caliber, but most of his many missed shots a year ago were wide open lay-ups. If he finally figured out out to finish around the hoop, he will be one of the most versatile and dangerous players in the conference.
Devoe Joseph: The sophomore didn’t make much news on the court, but has undoubtedly been pushing his younger brother, uber-recruit Cory Joseph, to play along side his big brother. In his own-right, the elder Joseph had his name dropped as the best player out of Canada last season in the Worcester News, that’s right, the Worcester in the West Midlands of England 30 or so miles of the River Severn from Gloucester. Who knew that Canadian basketball had such a global reach?
Lawrence Westbrook: The senior guard/bowling ball allegedly lost 25 pounds. I guess we will have to see. If true, is this a good thing? I rather like watching him bounce through, around, and oh so rarely opponents. He never had the typical point-guard body, but he made it work. At least it should be easy enough to put the weight back on if he needs additional padding.
Devron Bostick: The former juco transfer spent his summer with Caron Butler trying to find a consistent jump shot. No word if other famous Racineians Tony Romo or Jim McIlvane lent their moral support.
Blake Hoffarber: Mr. Bigshot has apparently found his shot again, and put up big numbers in summer league games.
Damian Johnson: The senior co-captain graduated, and will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sports Management. Note to aspiring basketball players everywhere, this is your role model.
Colton Iverson: The sophomore junior played a little summer league ball. Being the good South Dakotan that he is, I’m confident he spent the rest of the summer at Wall Drug, the Corn Palace, and Mount Rushmore, but hopefully not with these folks.
Ralph Sampson III: The sophomore forward won the publicity prize, spending a few days as the ESPN college basketball cover boy in a story pointing out, yet again, that he is indeed the son of his father.
If you have more information about what the Gophers did on their summer vacations, and I am sure you do, drop a comment or two down below. In the coming days (weather dependent of course) we’ll take a look at newcomers to the Gopher basketball team.