Gritty play puts Gophers past Virginia

Michael Dougherty

Like he rolled around on the floor and fought for a few loose balls himself, Virginia coach Pete Gillen sported some nasty sweat rings around his collar during the Cavaliers’ 74-62 loss to the Gophers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Williams Arena.
But as Gillen was most likely trying to run down a jug of Wisk to spruce up his shirt, the Gophers were reveling in the fact that their blue-collar play won the game.
Hustling for loose balls and battling for rebounds, Minnesota (4-0) left enough skin on the floor to require a new sanding before Saturday’s game with Valparaiso. And the Gophers continued to impress the fans with their enthusiasm and hard play.
“It wasn’t a work of art by any stretch of the imagination,” Monson said. “We made them earn their points.”
Minnesota was the only Big Ten team to win in the first four games of the battle of the super conferences.
Junior point guard Terrance Simmons led the team in scoring for the second straight game with 15, including a 4-of-4 stretch from the charity stripe in the last minute to ice the game.
“Terrance is getting better and the biggest thing with Terrance is confidence, and his confidence is increasing,” Monson said. “This system fits him well.”
Monson’s up-tempo system seems to fit everyone well. The team runs the court well and gets scoring from different people each game. He watched his team shoot 65 percent (15-of-23) in the first half, including 12-of-18 from his frontcourt duo of center Joel Przybilla and forward John-Blair Bickerstaff.
Przybilla scored 14 points and had six rebounds; Bickerstaff contributed 13 points and led the team with 10 rebounds.
But it was the play of Nick Sinville off the bench that opened some eyes. The sophomore from Shreveport, La., had career highs in both points (12) and rebounds (6). His biggest points came off a pass from freshman guard Kevin Burleson with 1:56 remaining. The bucket put Minnesota in front for good at 66-60.
Sinville played a career-high 20 minutes because fellow sophomore Dusty Rychart was in foul trouble much of the game.
“Nick stepped it up when Dusty got into foul trouble,” Bickerstaff said. “We needed him to step up and he was there.”
Gillen said his team played 25 minutes of hard basketball, but the remaining 15 minutes his team got “outscrapped and outhustled” — particularly by Sinville.
“We didn’t box him out,” Gillen said of Sinville. “He is a hard blue-collar worker and we didn’t put a body on him and he just outhustled us.”

Michael Dougherty covers football and men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]