Offensive execution and defense on exhibition menu

by Adam Fink

Minnesota men’s basketball coach Dan Monson said the score doesn’t matter.

No, Monson said, he wants to evaluate the team on offensive execution and the ability to play defense when the Gophers face Concordia-St. Paul tonight in an exhibition game at Williams Arena.

“Guys individually can get the shots they want,” Monson said. “We want to execute and defend.”

Both have been emphasized since practice began almost three weeks ago.

In last week’s scrimmage, the team’s rebounding was exposed. Against the Bears, Monson wants to see improved rebounding – and that means using correct techniques instead of overpowering the Division II institution.

“We want to hustle down balls,” Monson said.

The starting lineup will put pressure on each player to rebound. Monson announced he will use a small, three-guard, two-forward lineup – Adam Boone, Moe Hargrow, Ben Johnson, Michael Bauer and Kris Humphries – to start the game.

Center Jeff Hagen – the Gophers’ biggest returning player at 7 feet – will come off the bench.

“We have been stressing rebounding,” Bauer said. “We will be able to judge ourselves on technique.”

Aside from the small starting lineup, the playing surface will also have a different look tonight.

The Williams Arena floor will have white tape marking a new three-point line and an expanded, wider lane. The change is because of the NCAA experimenting with international floor layouts.

The tape will be in place for the two exhibition games and any game played in the preseason NIT.

Humphries, a freshman from Chaska, Minn., said making sure to avoid three-second violations in the lane won’t be difficult.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Humphries said. “We used it when I played on the U.S. (Junior) Team (in 2002).”

Tonight’s game likely won’t be remembered much beyond next week. It won’t count in the standings.

But it will help the Gophers realize what they need to work on prior to the nonconference season beginning Nov. 17 against Missouri-Kansas City.

“We want to see where we are at,” Monson said. “It’s a different team (than last year) with different personnel.”

Wooldridge will redshirt

Gophers forward Kerry Wooldridge will redshirt this season, he announced Wednesday.

“I think it is best for me and the team,” the freshman from San Leandro, Calif., said.

Wooldridge made his decision after talking with his family last week. In addition, he met with Monson on Tuesday after practice.

Monson said the 6-foot-8-inch product needs to improve his shooting consistency and get stronger.

Despite adding 20 pounds since the beginning of last year, Monson said he’d like Wooldridge to add 8 to 10 pounds of muscle to his 211 pound frame.

“He needs more reps on offense,” Monson said. “Kerry’s going to be a better player five years from now than if he had played this year in a backup role.”

• Minnesota’s women’s basketball team defeated Zala Volan 77-57 Wednesday night in an exhibition game at Williams Arena.

The Gophers are ranked No. 13 in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the season.

Minnesota is one of four teams from the Big Ten to crack the top-25 poll.