Tubby Smith announced late Thursday night that guard Devoe Joseph has been suspended indefinitely for a situation that will “take more than a few weeks to resolve.” The reason for the suspension is pure speculation at this point, but one fact is certain: the Gophers will be without one of their expected leading scorers for the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
The suspension is frustrating for several reasons, one of which was the expectation of a rare, drama-free season for the Gophers who dealt with inordinate amounts of off-court problems last year with Royce White and Trevor Mbakwe. Minnesota entered this season with one of the strongest teams in recent memory, at least on paper, with Joseph expected to be a key member of the offense. Hoping to compete with Al Nolen for starting point guard duties, Joseph was slated to play key minutes for the Gophers as one of their few dangerous offensive weapons.
Joseph played only nine minutes in Minnesota’s first exhibition game against Northeastern State, leading to questions about the guard’s health after an offseason leg injury. His failure to see the court in the team’s second and final tune-up led to more questions about just what was going on off the court.
With Joseph out for much of the non-conference season and possibly longer, the questions turn to who will fill the scoring void he leaves. If nothing else, it puts to rest any questions of who is starting between Nolen, Blake Hoffarber and Rodney Williams. Williams will get the chance to prove that he is capable of shouldering the full-time load at small forward, and Hoffarber will be the unquestioned shooting guard.
We won’t have to wait long to see what Tubby’s game plan will consist of, with the Gophers opening up the season against Wofford on Friday. It will be interesting to see who ends up filling Joseph’s void off the bench. Perhaps Austin Hollins will be thrown into the fire quicker than we expected.
Who’s going to fill the void? Comments are welcome.