Skip to content

Christmas Wish Lists: Minnesota can contend in the Big Ten with improvement in key areas

Dec 24, 2012, 5:58 PM EDT

Trevor Mbakwe AP

Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: Improved work on the defensive glass 
Tubby Smith’s team is the best in the country when it comes to hitting the offensive boards, as they’ve managed to grab 48.9% of their missed shots to this point in the season. But the Golden Gophers haven’t been very good in regards to keeping the opposition from doing the same, as their defensive rebounding percentage of 64.5% ranks dead last in the Big Ten.

With players like Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams Jr. in the front court it may be easy to gloss over the fact that just one player averaging double figure minutes is taller than 6-9 (6-11 Elliott Eliason, with 6-10 Maurice Walker playing just 8.9 minutes per game). But if the fundamentals of rebounding (boxing out) are followed this shouldn’t be a serious issue for Minnesota, regardless of height. With the Big Ten opener against Michigan State next on the docket, this is the most glaring issue that the Golden Gophers have to address.

Stocking stuffer: Trevor Mbakwe remains healthy 
The sixth-year senior (8.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) has started just one of Minnesota’s 13 games this season (the reason was just as much disciplinary as him returning from a torn ACL, to be fair), but he’s put forth some solid performances to date. Mbakwe’s best games came against Stanford at the Battle 4 Atlantis (19 points, 12 rebounds) and North Dakota State (14 points, 18 rebounds), and if Minnesota is to carry their start into Big Ten play he’ll need to be a consistent performer. But to simply have Mbakwe is a bonus for Minnesota, as he’s the difference between a team fighting for an NCAA tournament berth and one that won’t lose any sleep the night before Selection Sunday.

Planning on re-gifting: Three-point shooting 
If there’s one other negative to Minnesota’s start besides their issues on the defensive glass it would be their three-point shooting. The Golden Gophers are making just 32.2% of their shots from beyond the arc, a number that currently ranks eighth in the Big Ten. To be fair the shot isn’t something that Minnesota relies on a great deal, as only 20.1% of their points come via the three-pointer, but players like Andre Hollins (39.7% 3PT), Austin Hollins (32.1) and Maverick Ahanmisi (43.5) will need to hit the shots they do take at a higher rate as Minnesota encounters teams better equipped to deal with their front court.

Stats courtesy of statsheet.com

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Dismissed Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt turning pro

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt

    Former Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt is turning pro after being dismissed from the program in June.

  2. Iowa State’s Georges Niang provides visual evidence of his weight loss (PHOTO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    niang Getty Images

    Didn’t believe Niang when he stated that he’d reshaped his body? Here’s visual evidence that he did.

  3. Rawle Alkins carries the torch as one of New York’s next great guards

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    New York City guard Rawle Alkins is one player to monitor in the Class of 2016.

  4. College Basketball Talk’s Class of 2015 Draft

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    If allowed to do so, how would a draft of the Class of 2015′s best players go? Here’s our attempt.

  5. Marcus Foster still hasn’t forgotten, or forgiven, those pulled scholarships

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Texas native isn’t happy some Texas schools pulled their scholarship offers.

  6. Las Vegas Thursday Recap: Skal Labissiere, Stephen Zimmerman perform well

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Two of the nation’s best big men were on the same court Thursday, with Zimmerman’s Oakland Soldiers getting the win.

  7. UTPA head coach Dan Hipsher announces addition of Willie Watson to staff

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    UTPA Athletics UTPA Athletics

    Hipsher worked with Watson from 2009-11, when he was associate head coach at Alabama and Watson a grad assistant.

  8. Forward Nikola Vujovic won’t be joining Monmouth program

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    King Rice AP

    Despite the fact that Vujovic made it through the NCAA Eligibility Center, Monmouth has decided to not admit him.

  9. Report: With Tennessee, FGCU in the past, Eric McKnight finds new landing spot

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Florida Gulf Coast Eagles v San Diego State Aztecs Getty Images

    Eric McKnight’s waiver to play immediately was denied by the SEC.

  10. Head coach John Groce receives contract extension from Illinois

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    John Groce AP

    Groce is under .500 in Big Ten play in his two seasons at Illinois.

  11. Florida State announces non-conference slate that includes Florida, Nebraska

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT

    hamilton AP

    Florida State will play five non-conference games against teams that reached the NCAA tournament last season.

  12. Kentucky’s freshman try on their uniforms (PHOTOS)

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    @specialk44 @specialk44

    The four latest five-star recruits that Cal landed all showed off their Kentucky threads on instagram.

  13. Tennessee gets some big news regarding freshman Detrick Mostella (VIDEO)

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 5.58.11 PM

    Mostella has travelled a long road to get to Knoxville.

  14. Former Oregon guard Brandon Austin has found a landing spot

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    image

    Austin has found a landing place, but it’s still a long way from the Division I ranks.

  15. Stanford’s non-conference schedule is strong

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    dawkins Getty Images

    Three true road games and a visit from the reigning champs?

  16. Thon Maker’s guardian: It’s ‘not very likely’ that he will reclassify

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Adidas Hoops Adidas Hoops

    Thon Maker is a top five recruit in 2016 and would be a top two or three recruit in 2015.

  17. Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg returns to practice, but not to recruiting

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Hoiberg had surgery to replace his pacemaker last week.

  18. Two new regular season college hoops events headed to Vegas

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    IjMOm5u

    The events will be played in November and December

  19. Kansas recruit Svi Mykhailiuk scores 19 in U18 Euro debut

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Mykhailiuk is playing in the B Division of the event.

  20. Las Vegas Wednesday Recap: Corey Sanders working to become a better leader

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    The final open period has begun, with Corey Sanders and Jalen Brunson among the standouts.