Morris Brown is in town

by Sarah Mitchell

Know anything about Morris Brown’s men’s basketball team?
Minnesota (5-1) doesn’t know much about the Wolverines, either.
That’s all about to change, though, as the Gophers host Morris Brown (2-5) tonight at Williams Arena in the team’s first series meeting.
Minnesota enters the game off a come-from-behind win over Florida State. In the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, the Gophers defeated the Seminoles 76-71.
The Gophers have won three games in similar fashion this season, surging from behind with six minutes remaining.
Minnesota’s ability to rally hasn’t surprise coach Dan Monson.
“If they play well together and do it as a team, they can beat anybody in the country,” Monson said.
But at the same time, Minnesota can’t take any team, including the NCAA Division I independent Wolverines, lightly.
“We don’t have that luxury a lot of teams do or past Minnesota teams have had,” Monson said.
In looking to build a two-game winning streak, Minnesota tips-off against its little-known opponent tonight with a new-look starting lineup.
Junior college transfer Kerwin Fleming will get his first start of the year. With sophomore Shane Schilling bothered by a sore right ankle and sophomore Kevin Burleson performing well in his role off the bench, Monson opted to start Fleming and senior Terrance Simmons in the backcourt.
For Fleming, the nod is quite a change. He has not played more than 11 minutes in a game this season.
Until now, Fleming usually substituted into the game in what Monson called “two to three minute segments.”
“Kerwin is not comfortable now,” Monson said. “At some point we have to give him enough time to be comfortable.”
Freshman forward/center Michael Bauer and forwards Dusty Rychart and John-Blair Bickerstaff join Fleming and Simmons as the Gophers starting five.
From those five and the rest of the Gophers’ bench, Monson said he is looking for a defensive stand.
“Our offense has had to carry us,” Monson said. “We’ve got to win some games with our defense. We have to make a statement defensively.”
While they have areas to improve, the Gophers have made a statement this year. Despite having a roster of relative unknowns, Minnesota has shown it can win games the old-fashioned way.
“They’ve been very intelligent on their limitations,” Monson said. “They listen to the coaching staff on what they need to do to be successful.”

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected].