Men’s hoops win despite iffy rebounding

Anthony Maggio

What was the Gophers’ reward for their 96-74 victory over Minnesota State, Mankato, on Friday night?

Forty minutes of rebounding drills on Saturday.

The men’s basketball team showed positive signs on both ends of the floor in its first exhibition game but gave up 16 offensive rebounds to a vastly undersized Mavericks team.

“The biggest concern for me was our rebounding, mostly in the first half,” coach Dan Monson said. “It was a little bit better the second half, but they ended up with 16 offensive rebounds. Any time you give a team 16 extra opportunities you’ve got problems.”

Monson said he was pleased with the rebounding efforts of Michael Bauer and Jeff Hagen, but they needed help from their teammates.

Both Bauer and Hagen pulled down 11 boards.

Hagen (redshirt), along with Ben Johnson (transfer), played in their first games in over a year after sitting out last season.

Despite Monson’s concerns, Minnesota still managed to out-rebound the Mavericks 49-40.

“Once we get a little fatigued, it’s easy to try to just out-jump everyone, which you really can’t do,” Hagen said. “You have to lay your body on them. We just have to keep working on being mentally tough when we get fatigued.”

The other big concern for Monson was his team’s defense. Despite holding the Mavericks to 37.5 percent shooting for the game, the Gophers showed some mental lapses on the defensive end. Monson said his team played too passive in the first half and too aggressive in the second.

The defense did come up with a few big plays, including huge blocks from Bauer and Kevin Burleson that ignited the crowd.

Offensively, Minnesota looked fairly sharp for its first game of the season.

The Gophers shot 49.3 percent from the floor and 56.8 percent in the second half.

The decision making on the offensive end was decent, but Minnesota still committed 15 turnovers.

“We played pretty smoothly,” forward Rick Rickert said. “But there were times we were careless with the ball and got turnovers, so we have to eliminate those.”

Rickert led the way offensively with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Hagen added 19 points, and three others scored in double figures.

Despite the rebounding and defensive concerns, the team consensus was Minnesota is about where it expected for this early in the season.

“We didn’t play bad; we did a lot of good things, but definitely our defense wasn’t up to par,” Burleson said. “But we’re close to where we need to be in the exhibition season.”

ï Jerry Holman, Maurice Hargrow and Kris Collins sat out Friday’s game for a violation of team rules. Monson would not specify why the three were disciplined but did say he expects all three to play in the next game.

The Gophers play their final exhibition game Sunday against Team Nike at 1 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Anthony Maggio covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]