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. Georgia Tech lands commitment from 6-foot-9 three-star center

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Sylvester Ogbonda

    The first commit in 2015 for Brian Gregory.

  2. Wisconsin forward joins lawsuit against NCAA

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Wisconsin forward was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman.

  3. Five-star power forward sets tentative dates for official visits to Kansas, Arizona

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti1yzy1ymy3ytizody1zwrhyzfhmme2odcxyjawntbi AP

    The Bay Area big man is considered the No. 7 overall player in the senior class.

  4. Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is happy where is at

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Louisiana Tech coach has averaged 28 wins the past two seasons, and is poised for a NCAA tournament appearance in 2015.

  5. Drexel starting guard to miss the entire 2014-2015 season with ankle injury

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Injuries are becoming a far too common problem for Drexel.

  6. Syracuse senior to have a bigger role in offense

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    For the past two years, the Philly product has averaged five points per game.

  7. While uncommon, Kentucky’s expected 10-man platoon isn’t unprecedented

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Another SEC school used a similar system on its way to a national title game appearance in 2000.

  8. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Despite 29 wins (13 in conference play) Louisiana Tech missed out on the NCAA tournament. Michael White looks to change that this season, although, his team will have to go through the likes of UTEP and newcomer Western Kentucky, first.

  9. Sophomore guard decides to leave Kansas program

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    Iona v Kansas Getty Images

    With the number of guards in the Kansas program, playing time was likely to be scarce for Conner Frankamp.

  10. All-Big West forward declared ineligible at Hawaii

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Isaac Fotu Isaac Fotu

    Isaac Fotu’s part of the NCAA’s investigation into the program, and other schools have attempted to poach some of Hawaii’s remaining players.

  11. Top 25 Countdown: No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Malcolm Brogdon (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Virginia is coming off of a dual-ACC title and returns the majority of the key players from that team.

  12. Kentucky sits atop Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    AP AP

    No surprise that Kentucky’s on top. Also of note: No. 3 Wisconsin received more first-place votes than No. 2 Arizona.

  13. Foot injury to sideline Ball State guard eight to ten weeks

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    North Carolina State v Cincinnati North Carolina State v Cincinnati

    The Cincinnati transfer was expected to factor into a rotation that’s replacing five seniors from last season’s team.

  14. Illinois declares home floor fit for play following flooding issue

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

    Twitter/IlliniHoops Twitter/IlliniHoops

    Quick action by construction workers ensured that it was declared ready for play two days after being flooded.

  15. Officiating controversy results in multiple suspensions

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:41 PM EDT

    Chris Collins, Bo Boroski Chris Collins, Bo Boroski

    Some officials are in hot water after compromising a system used by 20 different Division I conferences.

  16. Canadian forward/center verbally commits to Saint Louis

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:58 PM EDT

    crews AP

    Saint Louis adds more depth to its front court with this verbal commitment.