- Minnesota went on the road this week and lost to Draymond Green and his merry band of Spartans. Despite what the lower score would indicate, the game was frequently up-tempo, and the Gophers hung around in striking distance most of the way. The difference was MSU’s suffocating defense and ability to clog the interior, cutting off the slashing Joe Coleman, and keeping Rodney Williams away from the rim. I turned off the TV on Wednesday night very impressed with the play of MSU big man Derrick Nix, and the Spartans team rebounding. Oh, and Izzo grabbed his 400th win, and was his usual over-the-top emotional self.
Trevor Mbakwe will formally apply for a 6th year of eligibility with the NCAA, due to medical hardship. Even if he is granted a 6th year, he’s not officially committed to come necessarily come back to school, but he wants to have options when he finally gets healthy. His draft stock has clearly fallen off with the injury issues he’s displayed, and Trevor has mentioned that he may want to come back to Minnesota to demonstrate that he is healthy and can play. Obviously Gopher fans would love to have The Beast Mbakwe back for one final healthy year, but what are the chances of this happening? Given that he missed his freshman year at Marquette due to injury, and now the bulk of his senior year at Minnesota, and he’s already graduated, that bolsters his chances. However, the fact that he missed the 2009-10 season because of legal issues, probably has the opposite effect. My gut says that even if he gets the elusive 6thyear he’ll leave, probably for overseas, so he can get paid while he demonstrates to the NBA that his knees can hold up.
- Critical mini-stretch of winnable games coming up now – Illini at The Barn this weekend, followed by road games in Iowa and Nebraska. Winning out this stretch is critical if the Gophers are to get to 8 or 9 conference wins.
- With National Signing Day nearly here, the big news was that 4-star WR recruit Andre McDonald, decided to (hopefully) end his vacillating ways, verbally committing to the Gophers, after first committing to them, then Vanderbilt, then a dalliance with Ohio State, and finally back to the Maroon and Gold. The 6’3” 200lb McDonald was considered the top recruit in the state by Rivals.com, and if the verbal commitment holds, Kill will have added a big receiver who may likely start this Fall, in support of a rather thin receiving corps. It would also mean that Kill successfully defended the State boarders, by collecting 7 of the top 10 rated (Rivals) players in the state, and not allowing Wisconsin or Iowa to grab any of them (the 3 defectors ran to Stanford, West Virginia, and Western Michigan).
- The post holiday break split-streak has begun, (Gophers are 2-2 since resuming WCHA play), and Minnesota is still plagued by their sluggish Friday nights. Look for them to try correct that tonight vs. in-state rival St. Cloud State (on the BTN 7pm).