Gophers shore up in second half, pound Concordia

Leading only 35-27 at halftime, Minnesota then turned on the jets en route to a 95-59 win.

by Adam Fink

It’s a start – or at least the second half was a building block.

After dismantling Concordia-St. Paul by a 95-59 score in a tale of two halves Friday night, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team reviewed film Saturday and immediately went to work on making improvements.

The Gophers were happy with their rebounding, shooting (55 percent) and passing (20 assists). Minnesota’s coaches, however, weren’t happy with the carelessness of the ball and defensive lapses.

“That’s why they call this an exhibition game,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “We have a lot to work on.”

The first half against the Division II school proved how far the Gophers must go if they want to improve on last year’s 19-win season.

The Gophers committed 15 turnovers, including at least one by nine of the 10 players to see action in the half.

On more than one occasion, Gophers were running into each other during offensive sets and leaving opponents open on defense.

And in an almost comical move, first-year starter and North Carolina transplant Adam Boone was subbed out of the game less than two minutes into the contest after Monson thought he signaled for a breather. Boone was only asking what defense the team was in.

“Everyone was excited,” guard Ben Johnson said about the opening stanza in which Minnesota only led 35-27 at the break. “We realized we were rushing things.”

If the first half showed Minnesota’s flaws, the second half highlighted the Gophers’ explosiveness.

Minnesota was seven-for-10 on three-point attempts. The Gophers tallied as many points in the first half (35) as they did in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

The flow of the offense – especially with Boone settling down – was smooth in the final 20 minutes. In addition, the team experimented with a two-three zone for about a half-dozen plays.

Freshman Kris Humphries led all scorers, with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Johnson added 16 points, and Moe Hargrow was the only other Gopher in double figures, with 10 points.

So, which team is the real Gophers?

“I think it is both,” senior Michael Bauer said. “We can be really good and we can be really bad. We aren’t blind to that.”

Minnesota has one exhibition game remaining before the nonconference season begins.

And the Gophers want to see two consistent halves when they face the Pulley Panthers on Wednesday at Williams Arena.

“We have both teams in us,” Boone said. “We’re getting there.”

Smriga sits

Matt Smriga, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, was the only Minnesota player not to see action Friday night.

Monson said Smriga was forced to sit out one game per NCAA rules after playing in a Howard Pulley game this summer before his paperwork was submitted.

Randy Chall played the least, tallying only four minutes of game time. However, Chall notched eight points.

Nine Gophers saw double-digit playing time, including four playing more than 22 minutes.