Tollackson gets off the pine to help Minnesota to another home victory

C.J. Spang

It hasnít been the season Spencer Tollackson would have hoped for.

ìIt hasnít been the year that he expected it to be when youíre laying in your bed in July dreaming of the season,” coach Dan Monson said. ìBut he stayed ready and stayed in the moment and really took advantage of his quality minutes today.”

The sophomore center played 18 minutes off the bench against Iowa ó the most heís played since Jan. 18 against the Hawkeyes when he logged 22 minutes ó and scored all 10 of his points in the first half.

Tollackson was 5-of-6 from the floor going against two of the Big Tenís best big men in Greg Brunner and Erek Hansen.

He showed no signs of intimidation as he muscled his way inside, almost making Brunner and Hansen look nonexistent.

ìSpence played absolutely huge today,” senior forward Zach Puchtel said. ìHe was a monster. Just going right at Brunner, right at their defense. Spence did a great job.”

With Monson juggling the lineups, inserting walk-ons Puchtel and freshman guard Jamal Abu-Shamala, Tollackson had seen his playing time cut extensively.

Thatís quite a surprise considering the sophomore center was expected to be the Gophersí go-to man this season.

But, he was against Iowa.

Monson explained that Tollackson got the extra minutes because Minnesota needed someone with more size to fight with Brunner and center Hansen down low.

Senior forward Jíson Stamper had been playing as of late, but Monson felt that he didnít have enough size to play with the 6-foot 11-inch Hansen.

ìWe couldnít take J and put him on Hansen; Hansenís just too tall,” Monson said. ìJ is, if you took out a stick, he is probably only 6-foot 3-and-a-half, 6-4, and Hansenís a legit 7 foot so youíre talking 7 or 8 inches.”

Hansen spent much of the game in foul trouble and had just three points and one rebound. It was a subpar performance compared to his 20 points and six rebounds the last time the teams met.

Even when he was sitting on the bench, Tollackson made his presence felt with constant cheerleading from the sidelines ó something that had been missing the past few games.

ìIíve been trying to stay positive and trying not to give up,” Tollackson said. ìIt feels good to contribute in such a big win. I stepped up when I was called upon.”

And one more guy that the team can rely on will help the Gophers in their final few regular season games, as well as the Big Ten Tournament.

ìSpence was big,” Monson said. ìIf thereís anything weíve missed this year, itís to have an inside presence to free up guys on the perimeter.

ìHis play was as important as anybodyís.”