Minnesota hosts St. Cloud State for first of two exhibitions

As a sophomore last season, Lawrence Westbrook quietly averaged 8.5 points per game, fourth on the team, as the starting shooting guard . When he steps on the court tonight in the teamâÄôs first game, a 7 p.m. exhibition against St. Cloud State at Williams Arena, he will be in a much different role. The three players in front of him on the scoring list âÄî Lawrence McKenzie , Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson âÄî graduated last spring, and five new players have been brought in. âÄúIâÄôm a quiet person, but I just have to be more of a leader this year,âÄù Westbrook said. âÄúIâÄôve made a conscious effort this year to get better at that, as well as picking up in every statistical category.âÄù HeâÄôs made a particular bond with freshman center Colton Iverson, out of Yankton, S.D . Iverson will likely come off the bench against the Huskies, behind senior Jonathan Williams . âÄúI like the way he plays,âÄù Westbrook said. âÄúHeâÄôs like a big bull. He gets rebounds and heâÄôs real tough. He dives a lot. I canâÄôt wait to play with him in a real game.âÄù Other incoming players are true freshmen Ralph Sampson III and Devoe Joseph , and junior college transfers Devron Bostick and Paul Carter . Bostick, a shooting guard and last yearâÄôs junior college player of the year, will likely be the only newcomer to start the game, but all five should see significant time. âÄúThis group is eager to please because there are a lot of guys starting for the first time,âÄù coach Tubby Smith said. âÄúThe returning guys know exactly what we want, and the new faces are pretty intelligent guys.âÄù The game will be MinnesotaâÄôs first with the new three-point line, which the NCAA pushed a foot from 19âÄô9âÄù to 20âÄô9âÄù. The Williams Arena floor already has the line in place, which players say opens up more passing lanes and frees up play down low because defenders have to get farther out to defend the three-point shot. âÄúI donâÄôt think it really affects the three point shooters a whole lot. I mean, itâÄôs just a foot,âÄù Jamal Abu-Shamala , fourth on the team in three-pointers last year, said . âÄúBut I think it will definitely affect the game in some way.âÄù The Gophers start their regular nonconference season Nov. 14 at home against Concordia-St. Paul .