Monson sees solid progress

by C.J. Spang

After a dismal showing against Southwest Minnesota State in the team’s first exhibition game, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team needed to regroup for its game against Duluth.

The Gophers did just that Thursday, downing the Bulldogs 78-64 at Williams Arena.

It was a much-needed win for the Gophers in their final exhibition game before opening regular-season play Nov. 18 against North Dakota State.

“We have some things that we can take out of this,” coach Dan Monson said. “And, obviously, some things that we’ve got to work on to compete at the level we need to.”

Minnesota jumped out to an early 5-0 lead but was 1-4 on three-point attempts, which had Monson yelling from the sidelines, “No more threes!”

The Gophers quit hoisting treys and held the lead until the 6:24 mark, when the Bulldogs tied the game at 18 and eventually took the lead 26-23 after making five straight from the floor.

Then Adam Boone took over.

The senior point guard dropped in eight consecutive points for Minnesota to grab a 30-28 lead with 1:06 remaining in the half.

“Offensively we were a little bit stagnant,” Boone said. “You can kinda feel when you’re in a decent flow and I just continued to shoot them.”

The Gophers closed out the half with a 13-2 run to take the lead at 36-30, and that was as close as Duluth would get the rest of the way.

Boone had 17 points in the first half on five three-pointers and didn’t slow down in the second half.

The sixth-year senior added 11 points and three threes in the second half to lead all scorers with 28 points.

“It’s a little bit different in an exhibition game,” Boone said. “I just feel like I have to be able to carry it over to the real thing.”

Along with Boone, three other starters scored in double figures.

Senior guard Vincent Grier had 17 points, senior guard Maurice Hargrow added 13 and senior forward J’son Stamper had 10 points. But even more impressive were his seven rebounds – five on the offensive end.

“I feel comfortable out there and it’s only gonna get better,” Stamper said. “Today was definitely a positive for me.”

The one thing that the Gophers weren’t able to do was get their freshmen involved as much as they had hoped to.

“I would have liked to have played the freshmen three or four more minutes,” Monson said. “But we got them all a look.”

However, it wasn’t too clear a view, as the three true freshmen combined to go 0-7 from the field.

But Minnesota accomplished what it had hoped to.

“We wanted to come out here and improve,” Stamper said. “We want to progress every game and do things that we know we can do.”