Boone developing into consistent player most expected

Excluding the loss at Northwestern, Boone has averaged 10.8 points and 3.5 assists.

Adam Fink

Minnesota’s men’s basketball coach Dan Monson has tried several different combinations for his starting lineup this season.

But against Michigan on Wednesday night, Monson pulled a first for the season: He had point guard Adam Boone come off the bench.

Boone, who along with Kris Humphries had started every game, responded with 11 points, five assists and five rebounds against the Wolverines.

Just as important, the Gophers won their first Big Ten game of the season, 81-78.

Heading into Saturday’s game at Michigan State, Boone has shown – like the Gophers starting lineup – an ability to adapt. And in the process Boone has quietly become the consistent performer many Gophers fans expected all year long.

Entering the season atop the team’s depth chart at point guard, the junior was expected by many outside of the program to be an instant answer at that position.

Although he contributed assists and kept the turnovers to a minimum, Boone was erratic after sitting out last season following two years at North Carolina.

“As a point guard, you really can’t have that inconsistency,” Boone said. “I don’t know what it was, whether it was a year off or what.”

However, since the Gophers lost at Purdue on Jan. 21, Boone has shown flashes of why he was a top recruit out of Minnetonka High School.

Excluding the loss at Northwestern in which the entire team struggled, Boone has averaged 10.8 points, 3.5 assists and has shown he can effectively run the offense.

“I think he was getting situated,” Monson said. “It has taken him awhile to get his own offense going and get comfortable.”

It all seemed to come together against the Wolverines on Wednesday.

With Monson wanting to start the energetic Aaron Robinson and maintain a bigger lineup, someone had to be the oddman out.

Boone came off the bench, a role he handled gracefully, and provided the calming influence the offense misses without him on the floor.

“I am feeling comfortable the way things are going,” Boone said. “Everyone is dedicated to one thing and that one thing is winning.”

The Gophers (9-13, 1-9 Big Ten) will need another solid performance from Boone – and the rest of the team – against the highly favored Spartans on the road.

Michigan State has rebounded nicely from its tough non-conference schedule and sits in second place in the Big Ten with a 7-3 record.

Also, not far from many of the Gophers minds is the fact the Spartans defeated Minnesota 79-78 in overtime Jan. 28.

Monson said Thursday he hasn’t decided on a starting lineup against Michigan State.

For Boone, it’s not a big deal whether he is starting or coming off of the bench.

“I just want to play,” he said. “And I just want to win.”