Player of the Week: Trevor Mbakwe
It is not for a lack of candidates that Trevor Mbawke wins the award. For a blog on a draft website, I am obligated to praise freshman Jared Sullinger’s first week. He was thoroughly impressive in his first road game at Florida dropping 26 points on 13-17 shooting and adding 10 rebounds. Draymond Green showed his full array of skills against South Carolina with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 steals, and 4 blocked shots. Even Demetri McCamey also deserves praise for his games against Southern Illinois, Texas, and Maryland. Mbakwe, however, stole the show for the most impressive team of the week. He is averaging 14 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and earned Puerto Rico Tip-off tournament MVP. He has a tremendous combination of length (6’8” with a reported 7’2” wingspan), strength (240 lbs), athleticism (35 inch standing vertical), and motor. He is a guy who can fill a stat line and have a huge impact on the game while not being the focal point of the offense. He leads the team in scoring for the year despite not leading them in any one game. It speaks to how young the season is, but also the way in which his activity on the offensive glass and around the hoop is going to add a new dynamic to the Gopher attack.
Hot Team: Minnesota
They did not start last week in the Top 25, but they will this week. With wins over Siena, Western Kentucky, UNC, and West Virginia, there is no doubt that the Gophers are deserving of a top 25 ranking. Like a typical Tubby Smith team, this year’s squad has protected the paint and controlled the glass. The team’s attacking help defense flummoxed North Carolina’s youth in the half court, and limited their ability to get out and run. What makes this team different is that when a team like Siena is making their jumpers all night long, or Casey Mitchell starts out a game on fire in a Siena-esque fashion, the Gophers have the multitude of offensive threats to allow them to counter them. In the past, if a team could get to 70 when facing Minnesota away from home, it was safe to assume they were going to win. That will not be the case this year. In many ways, their defensive focus and offensive balance is reminiscent of the West Virginia team they beat for the tournament championship. Al Nolen, Blake Hoffarber, and Ralph Sampson III have each had games where they have led the Gophers in scoring over the first five games. As mentioned earlier, Trevor Mbakwe leads the team in scoring for the year. The team had all five starters score in the game against Western Kentucky. Freshman Austin Hollins contributed a much needed 12 points against Siena. Colt Iverson chipped in 15 points against West Virginia. Showing this much depth while Devoe Joseph is suspended is a tremendous sign for the team’s year long potential.
Looking forward, Minnesota could be a top 25 team and still finish around the middle of the conference. As good as they played, it does not change the regard in which Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois, and Wisconsin are held. Those are also legitimate top 25 teams. The non-conference schedule softens before they start conference play, but when it arrives, it will come in hard. They start at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, Indiana, at Ohio State, and Purdue. What this week shows, however, is that the Gophers are not going to simply be a pesky defensive-minded team that can cause problems will cause problems for teams on their home court but struggle to score on the road. They have significant length, athleticism, and the multitude of scorers to compete with anyone in the conference regardless of where they play.
Cold: Alabama’s Second Half against Iowa
The season did not start all that well for the Haweyes. Double digit losses on the home court to South Dakota State are not building blocks for a rebuilding team, but the Hawkeyes showed some resilience in their come-from-behind win against Alabama. While the Tide is not all that good, they were the more talented team and had an early ten-point lead. Iowa battled back, took a ten-point lead of their own, and held off a team that could not hit a shot outside the paint, literally. They had one field goal that was not a layup or dunk in the second half, and they hit it at the outset. Alabama is not exactly known for their perimeter shooting, but that is special.
Top 5: Non-Minnesota highlights of the week, because I think I touched on those
1. Ohio State’s freshmen- It is more than just Jared Sullinger. DeShaun Thomas has had scoring outputs of 24 and 17, Jordan Sibert put in 11 points and 5 rebounds against UNC-Wilmington, and Aaron Craft is making a run for the starting point guard spot. If nothing else, he is earning Thad Matta’s trust with 16 assists and only 4 turnovers in his first three games.
2. Illinois’ guards are ahead of their bigs- The 4-1 start is a solid beginning to a season of high expectations, but the team is far from performing up to its potential. Right now, the team is being carried by Demetri McCamey, Brandon Paul, and D.J. Richardson. The bigs have not played up to their potential. The Illini struggled with the big men of Texas and Maryland. Both the Longhorns and Terps got 15 offensive rebounds, and Mike Tisdale fouled out of both games in New York. The front line should have a bit of a reprieve this week, but Tisdale and Mike Davis will need to play better when North Carolina heads to Champaign on the 30th.
3. Indiana’s 4-0 start- The Hoosiers appear to have scheduled themselves a winning non-conference record with an incredible lineup of guarantee games, but to be fair the team thought they did so last year only to go into the conference season at 6-6. It might be a baby step, but at least they are making some progress.
4. Roe’s got range- Delvon Roe played the role of Charles last Tuesday and Wednesday in the Theatre Department’s production of “As You Like It.” It was the theater major first performance on stage. The play’s Tuesday performance began at 7:30pm. Roe followed it up with an appearance to the Breslin Center for the 10 p.m. tip-off against South Carolina. By the way, he just put in 15 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds.
5. 34-4 – Even if one cuts through the guarantee games, the Big Ten from top to bottom has been the best in the country. Right now, only the Big 12’s 34-6 record can compare. Iowa’s loss to South Dakota State is the only major blemish on the conference resume. The other three losses to UNLV on the road, Texas, and Xavier are to strong programs. They also pale in numbers to wins over UNC, Maryland, West Virginia, at Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Siena, Western Kentucky, St. Joseph’s, and Oakland.
I love this post........
I really need this...
Thanks a lot
It is a nice post I very much love it.
Thanks for sharing.
It is a nice post I very much love it.
Thanks for sharing.