Monday, December 1, 2008

game preview: Minnesota

Virginia Cavaliers (3-2, 0-0) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-0, 0-0)

Possible starting lineups:


Who the hell knows?


PG: Al Nolen (8.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.3 rpg)
SG: Blake Hoffarber (9.3 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.3 rpg)
G: Lawrence Westbrook (14.2 ppg, 1.4 apg, 2.4 rpg)
F: Damian Johnson (9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 4 rpg)
C: Colton Iverson (8.7 ppg, 1.2 apg, 4.5 rpg)

I totally give up trying to figure out Dave Leitao's mind for now. It's pretty obvious the experimenting continues, five games into the season. Assane Sene gets the start, and Jerome Meyinsse leads the bench in minutes? Mike Scott plays damn near the whole Syracuse game. Jeff Jones and Mamadi Diane, effectively benched for going from inconsistent shooters to consistently bad. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see Meyinsse get the call tonight against Minny.

Anyway, it's the ACC/Big Ten Challenge! I confess to pulling for the Big Ten in all games but ours and the UNC/MSU clash because I happen to like this event and I want to see the Big Ten make it a game so they don't pull the plug on it. And we get Minnesota, which would have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Ralph Sampson's boy is in his freshman season with the Gophers. No, that would never happen in an event put together by a TV network.

Sampson is having a pretty decent season, too. Most of these Gophers are. The go-to guy is Lawrence Westbrook, but beneath him, you can't really zero in on anyone to stop. You just have to play some defense. Sampson is one of six players averaging between 7.0 and 9.3 ppg, and the rebounding load is shared just as equally. In that regard it will be a very good test for Leitao's mantra of playing defense.

They're beatable, too. If we can go on the road to Syracuse and come away with something of a moral victory, we can build on that in Minneapolis. Minnesota's undefeated, but they've had some close calls against teams they shouldn't, like a last-minute win against Colorado State. Of course, we look pretty damn beatable too. Obviously. But a good game can win this thing.

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