Game won, but Grier possibly lost

Star guard Vincent Grier was injured during Minnesota’s opening game win.

C.J. Spang

At first glance, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team seemed to start out the season on the right foot with their 70-57 win over North Dakota State. But all that may have changed in the final few minutes of the game.

As early as Saturday morning, there were unconfirmed reports that star senior guard Vincent Grier broke his shooting hand ” a potential catastrophe for an already depleted backcourt.

Grier left Williams Arena after the game Friday and was not available for comment after the game. The team stated: “He’s being taken to the team doctor to be examined.”

The All-Big Ten senior showed his invaluable skills against the Bison, as he single-handedly outscored NDSU in the final eight minutes of the first half.

Using an array of lay-ins, jumpers, off-balance floaters and one emphatic alley-oop slam, Grier scored 11 of his 21 points and put Minnesota ahead for good. The Gophers went into halftime leading 32-26.

The alley-oop was sure to make highlight reels.

After a J’son Stamper steal, senior Maurice Hargrow took the outlet pass and sprinted up court, looking to drive in for the lay-up.

Grier, running up the near court pointed one finger to the sky, calling for the alley-oop.

Hargrow lobbed it up, slightly behind and below Grier, but Grier caught the ball with his left hand and skied over the defender to slam the ball home.

“Oh I knew (he would get the ball), there wasn’t a doubt in my mind,” Hargrow said. “That’s something that me and Vince do on a regular (basis in the) offseason and the summertime… so that’s a normal play for me and him.”

If the game was an indication of the norm Minnesota could expect from their star senior, then if he’s out for an extended period of time, he will be sorely missed.

Grier finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, leading the Gophers in every statistical category except assists.

However, Minnesota wasn’t just a one-man show.

Defensively, the team showed great improvement over its two exhibition games.

The Gophers forced 26 turnovers and had 14 steals, with all five starters collecting multiple steals.

“I think our defense was definitely better today,” coach Dan Monson said.

Monson’s players echoed his thoughts.

“We were defensively satisfied,” senior Adam Boone said. “But we left some shooters open, let them get some offensive rebounds… and we definitely want to shorten that up.”

But the Gophers played far from flawlessly.

Minnesota was outrebounded by the Bison 34-30 and didn’t fair well from the free-throw line, shooting a mere 60.9 percent from the line.

“I thought (NDSU) was more aggressive on the boards than we were,” Monson said. “That’s definitely a concern of ours going in (to the next game).”