Gophers basketball team still has plenty to prove

A Thanksgiving work shift and a complete lack of desire to go Black Friday shopping meant only one thing: I watched a whole lot of sports these past couple of days.

For the first time this season, I got a glimpse at the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team. I watched the first half – and apparently, the wrong half – of Thursday’s game and caught almost all of Friday’s game at the Old Spice Classic.

The Gophers pulled out victories in both games, despite having halftime deficits in each of them. Neither opponent – DePaul and Indiana State – was overly impressive, as the Gophers find themselves undefeated at 6-0 heading into Sunday’s tournament title game against Dayton.

Despite the unbeaten mark, I didn’t like what I saw. The Gophers seem to lack the type of defensive intensity that head coach Tubby Smith‘s teams are usually known for. And I sure don’t think they have enough offensive firepower to overcome it.

Junior-college transfer Julian Welch gave the Gophers a nice boost on Friday with 17 points. Rodney Williams has had his moments on the offensive end, but the reputation as a “highlight dunker” has not been replaced by “complete player” yet.

And Pat Reusse‘s turkey column hit the nail on the head: How disappointing is Ralph Sampson III? There wouldn’t be expectations of him if he didn’t show flashes of being a really productive post presence. He’s earned those expectations, yet despite being a senior, he still disappears for stretches at a time.

Trevor Mbakwe is an absolute beast of a rebounder, maybe one of the best the Gophers have ever had. He’s a handful down low, and Minnesota should do more to try and get him involved offensively.

Undefeated or not, I need to see more to believe the Gophers can even be an above .500 team in Big Ten play.

Week 12 NFL picks

A 2-3 week last week snapped a pretty good run I was on of going 3-2. Here’s my picks for this week:

  • New York Jets by 8 1/2 vs. Buffalo: Bills
  • Houston by 3 1/2 at Jacksonville: Texans
  • Carolina by 4 at Indianapolis: Panthers
  • Tennessee by 3 1/2 vs. Tampa Bay: Titans
  • New Orleans by 6 1/2 vs. New York Giants: Giants

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