Coleman shines in preseason play

Andrew Krammer

Sophomore Joe Coleman has emerged as an offensive force through two exhibition games.

The combo guard racked up 36 points in the season’s first two contests, affirming his knack to score around the rim.

Coleman contributed to the Gophers massive 112-34 advantage in the paint during both contests.

But teammate Rodney Williams said Coleman’s still a guard, despite looking comfortable near the iron.

“He’s more of a guy that can create with the ball in his hand,” Williams said.

Coleman has only three assists to six turnovers in exhibition play, but Williams insisted his passing has been the key to his scoring.

 “When he’s passing good like that, they have to commit to the big man, and he’s been getting to the rack easily,” Williams said.

Coach Tubby Smith praised Coleman for his offseason work, saying he’s gotten stronger and more experienced.

“He’s been the most consistent player in practice,” Smith said. “And he’s shown it in the games.”

Smith said Coleman’s older brother and former Gophers basketball player Dan Coleman has been helping him with his game.

“I think that inspires, motivates and helps him,” Smith said.

Joe Coleman said he’s more comfortable in his second year in Smith’s system.

Coleman averaged only 8.8 points per game during the National Invitation Tournament — and fewer during last year’s regular season.

“I’m able to have more confidence in myself,” Coleman said. “Something I lacked a little last year.”

He’s focused on the short run, but the Minneapolis native said he’s got long-term goals with the Gophers

“Hopefully make it to the [NCAA] tournament for the rest of my years here,” Coleman said. “Maybe go down in record books like my brother did.”

Dan Coleman finished his Gophers career with 1,317 points — just outside Minnesota’s top-10 all-time scoring list.