Shaking off more rust and giving Kendal Shell some actual playing time were two of the takeaways from the Gophers domination of Southwest Baptist University on Monday night. Much like the first game against Minnesota State-Mankato, it was difficult to really come to any conclusion about what we saw, since they were playing a directional D2 team. SBU was basically a Pop-A-Shot squad, hucking 36 three-point attempts and making only 10, so it didn’t really present a whole lot of legitimate opportunities for Minnesota to get real on-court experience against a competent opponent. Seriously, 36 threes! The Gophers, though,  didn’t suck it up on the court, and took advantage of their obvious physical and fundamental advantage to own the game from start to finish.

In short:

  • The Gophers shot a solid 52% and got to the free throw line 32 times.
  • Forced 22 turnovers
  • Outrebounded SBU 47-30
That was the good. The bad? They turned the ball over 17 times against a pretty inept team. Not the best of circumstances but, really, it’s the second game of the season, so they get a bit of leeway.And they only made 22-32 free throws. THE MISSING FREE THROWS THING NEEDS TO STOP. Seriously. There will be plenty of close conference games this year that come down to single points. We need confidence at the line.

Of course, these games are really just about getting the guys out running, cutting, dunking and getting into a bit of a rhythm before real games start. Once again no one got hurt, the team won easily, Trevor Mbakwe threw down his first dunk, and Joe Coleman had his second impressive game in a row, scoring 15 points on 5-6 shooting. In all, I’d say that qualifies as a success.

Quick notes:

  • In terms of Coleman, it’s too early to say that he’s made a huge leap, but he definitely looks confident grabbing control of the offense and taking the ball aggressively to the hoop. We’ll see how he fares against real D1 teams.
  • Mbakwe looks a little tentative out there on his knee. I’m not a doctor, but I would imagine that is to be expected. The more he tests the knee out and realizes that it’s not going to collapse on him, the more aggressive he’ll get. It’ll just take a few games.
  • I’ve already got a man crush on Charles Buggs. He might not blow the doors off this things this year, but he is going to be legit sooner rather than later.
  • Rodney is looking smooth, too. 13 points and 8 rebounds? That solid. Especially in fairly limited minutes.

That’s enough excitement for now. Let’s see how these guys do against American on Friday.