Monson’s new system leads to early success

by Michael Dougherty

Season ticket holders for the Minnesota men’s basketball team are getting more for their money thanks to some exciting play from coach Dan Monson’s squad.
With Tuesday night’s thrill-a-second tilt with Virginia, the team is 4-0 and building an identity. Monson’s up-tempo style is sinking in with the players, and the results have been fun to watch.
Junior guard Terrance Simmons is finally coming into his own after struggling through glimpses of great play and long stretches of mediocrity last season.
Simmons is second on the team in scoring (12.5 points per game) and leads the team with 22 assists with only 10 turnovers. He is shooting 55 percent (6-of-11) from beyond the arc, and Monson said Simmons is finally becoming comfortable with a system he fits with.
The transfer from LSU averaged only 2.8 PPG and 12.5 minutes per game last season. But his ability to run the point, penetrate and create without turning the ball over is spreading through the team.
“I was most impressed with our poise,” Monson said after the game. “I thought the team showed poise when they needed to down the stretch.”
Redshirt freshman guard Kevin Burleson has also played effective minutes since taking over at starting shooting guard for Mitch Ohnstad after the first game.
Ohnstad played 12 minutes in the first half of the Virginia game, but played only one minute after halftime.
Jacobson plays waiting game
After getting cut by the Lakers on Nov. 12, former Gophers star Sam Jacobson is still searching for an NBA team to play for.
Sam’s dad, Chuck, said his son was ready to make a deal with Golden State on Tuesday, but the Warriors signed former Timberwolves guard Chris Carr instead.
“There was an opportunity there, and management was totally in favor of bringing Sam on board, but (coach P.J. Carlesimo) decided he wanted to go with a veteran, plain and simple,” the elder Jacobson said. “Sam played against Chris Carr all summer in the leagues here, and they’re good friends. They both can shoot the ball and everything else, but it was just a matter of how the coach feels.”
He said Sam is still receiving checks every two weeks from Los Angeles as part of his three-year, $2.16 million contract he signed when he was drafted 26th in the first round of the 1998 draft.
Due to NBA rules, teams are restricted when making roster moves until Dec. 15. In all likelihood, Chuck said his son will sign with a team after that date. He said at least four teams have shown interest in Sam.
Dry run for the Big Dance
The men’s athletics department will host a men’s basketball game at the Metrodome tonight between St. Thomas and Concordia (St. Paul). The junior varsity teams will play first at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity game at 7:30 p.m. Admission for both games is free.
Jeff Schemmel, associate men’s athletics director, said the NCAA requires all host schools hold a “dry run.” Officials from the NCAA arrived in tow Wednesday afternoon and are mainly concerned with the media facilities that will be used during the tournament.
The old floor from the St. Paul Civic Center will be used tonight, but a special floor will be trucked in when the real show comes to town in March.
Athletics department officials will use the game as a warm-up for the first- and second-round games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Metrodome on March 16 and 18, 2000. The University will host the men’s Final Four in 2001.

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