Now that we have had a few days to sit back and reflect upon the season, it is time to assess how well the Gophers played, given our expectations for them coming into the season.
The grades given out below are based upon a curve in the sense that a player could receive an "A" without being the team's leading scorer or rebounder provided that they have exceeded what was expected of them prior to the start of the season.
Conversely, a player could be among the top scorers or rebounders and receive a "C" if he did not play up to his potential.
Bostick took a step back this season, starting off the year with a seven-game suspension. Devron likely never got himself in a position with coach Tubby Smith or his teammates where he was truly comfortable contributing to the team.
Bostick struggled to find his shooting stroke, shooting less than 42 percent from the field. The most disappointing aspect of Devron’s game this year, however, was his poor free-throw shooting, where he shot less than 65 percent.
Best game of the season—Bostick scored eight points in shooting 4-for-9 on the road in Iowa City against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Grade—C-minus. Bostick was not expected to see significant minutes this season. Bostick’s suspension earlier in the season for an off-court incident clearly negatively impacted his playing time during the Big Ten season.
During Big Ten play, Devron only once saw more than ten minutes of playing time in one game that wasn’t a blowout; Devron didn’t play in five games. Bostick did keep working despite being in the doghouse and was rewarded with 22 minutes on senior day.
There is nothing flashy about Carter’s game. Carter is a solid complimentary bench player for Coach Smith.
Paul moves well without the ball, finding opportunities to shoot from beyond the arc in transition. He is much more comfortable playing as a small forward but because certain recruits were not able to play this year, Carter occasionally had to slide over to the power forward position.
Carter will need to pick up his energy when playing low-post defense to force passes to his weak side help when called upon to match up with big bodies.
Best game of the season—On January 17, Carter scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Indiana in Bloomington.
Grade—B. Carter’s shooting improved dramatically from last year, especially from the three-point range. He has nice shooting touch from within 15 feet of the basket. Carter occasionally was not able to adequately defend the smaller power forwards in the conference; however, this may be due more to skill level as opposed to heart or desire.
As an incoming freshman with several guards ahead of him on the roster, Cobbs could not have expected to see significant playing time this year. However, Cobbs saw an appreciable amount of playing time, averaging 11 minutes a game.
Cobbs' shooting from the field and from beyond the arc is disappointing; Cobbs’ shooting stroke is decent, so his trouble shooting from the floor is likely attributable to not getting into the flow of the game due to his lack of playing time. Cobbs is shooting .870 from the free-throw line, which is the best on the team.
Best game of the season—Cobbs scored six points on three of four shooting from the floor in 16 minutes against Penn State on December 29.
Grade—C-plus. When Nolen went down this season Cobbs wasn’t able to push Joseph for additional time at the point guard spot. If Cobbs is going to get into the starting rotation next year he will have to improve his shooting and increase his intensity on defense.
Hoffarber appeared to be lost after his sophomore season, as his scoring average, rebounding average, and turnover-to-assist ratio regressed from his freshman year.
Blake appeared to work hard in the offseason, improving the range on his jump shot, and his effort paid off as he his best season for scoring, rebounding, and assist-to-turnover ratio.
In addition, Hoffarber shot 47 percent from behind the arc and shot 85 percent from the free-throw line, which is an improvement of 12 percentage points.
In the beginning of the season, Hoffarber struggled with his man-to-man defense, but his defensive game improved to the point where he did not need to be hidden in a zone defense.
Best game of the season—Hoffarber scored 27 points against Ohio State on January 9, where he shot 7-for-9 from beyond the arc and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Grade—A-minus. Hoffarber occasionally had moments in games where he struggled to get his shot. Blake improved in every facet of his game; if he can figure out how to get off a couple of shots off the dribble he could continue playing ball at the next level.
Iverson is the bad cop on the Gophers front line who brings a necessary nasty intensity on the defensive end. Unfortunately, Iverson occasionally lets his intensity spill over and commits silly fouls, which limits his time on the floor. Iverson has committed the same number of fouls as Sampson yet he averages 12 fewer minutes a game.
The number of blocks for Iverson dropped dramatically due in part to teams realizing his shot-blocking prowess. Last year, Iverson blocked nine shots against Bowling Green.
Teams also realized Iverson only feels comfortable shooting from the block and kept him from establishing quality low-post position, which in turn resulted in his poor field goal shooting percentage.
Best game of the season—Colton scored 13, grabbed 11 rebounds (five offensive), had two assists, and two blocks coming off the bench to be the difference in the game against Butler on November 26.
Grade—C-plus. Iverson is a solid passer and does a good job finding his teammates. His intensity, effort, and energy is unmatched on the team.
Iverson, however, failed this year to expand his offensive game skills to be more of a threat. Hopefully, Gopher fans will continue to see Iverson make improvement from the free-throw line.
Every team needs a senior player who is willing to do the dirty work and be a team player. Johnson flies around the perimeter to block shots, sticks his nose among the trees in the low post, and is generally the first on the floor for loose balls.
He takes shots in the flow of the offense and Gopher fans likely can’t recall Johnson shooting an ill-advised shot during the season. Johnson equaled or approved upon in every statistical category from last year. Johnson will be missed next season.
Best game of the season—On February 20, Johnson scored 16 points and 10 rebounds against Indiana in the 23-point victory over the Hoosiers.
Grade—A-minus. The most telling statistic that demonstrates that Johnson is the consummate team player is that he had 11 assists on senior day.
Joseph had the difficult task of moving from the off guard position to the point guard position. Joseph had some growing pains with knowing when to try and set up his teammates for a shot as opposed to looking for his own shot.
He ended up shooting 73 percent from the free-throw line and 39 percent from beyond the arc; both numbers were sizable improvements from his numbers his freshman year.
Devoe is not an elite defender but the intensity of his defensive play did improve over the year. Expect Joseph next year to inherit the starting point guard role with Al Nolen coming off the bench.
Best game of the season—Joseph scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists against Michigan State on March 12.
Grade—B-plus. Joseph made some occasional bad decisions when he took over as the team's point guard, but by the end of the season he appeared to be much more comfortable in the role. He is fearless in shooting shots when the game is on the line.
Nolen is the classic defensive point guard. His value to the team became clearly evident during the stretch run of the Big Ten season, when the Gophers needed someone to stop their opponent’s top scorer in crunch time.
Nolen is a solid passer. Nolen, however, has to become a better shooter off the dribble, become a consistent threat when he penetrates into the lane, and draw more fouls when he goes to the rim. Too often, opponents would sag off him when he drove the lane because of a lack of respect for his offensive game.
Nolen’s shooting beyond the arc was a good sign; his numbers are likely inflated slightly because of the open looks he received due to attention shown to Hoffarber.
Nolen was declared academically ineligible after the January 17 game against Indiana. Nolen also missed a start in the Anaheim Classic early in the season due to violating team rules.
Best game of the season—Nolen whet Gopher fans expectations for a big season with when he grabbed five rebounds, dished out seven assists, and scored 11 points against the Buckeyes on January 9.
Grade—D-plus. Loss of several games during the season because of being declared academically ineligible hurts your score.
Last year, Sampson appeared overmatched on several occasions, and would commit silly fouls which would result in him finding a seat next to Coach Smith on the bench. Sampson has figured out that contesting and altering shots is as important as attempting to block any and all shots in his area.
Sampson has already played 40 more minutes than he played last year, yet has committed 20 fewer fouls. As a result, Sampson is on the floor more scoring and rebounding for the Gophers. Sampson is very good passer from the top of the key but needs to become a better passer from the post position.
Best game of the season—Sampson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Purdue on February 24. Sampson was a presence inside, getting to the free-throw line seven times.
Grade—B-plus. Sampson has improved in all aspects of his game. The late-season unveiling of his sky hook is a promising development for next year. Sampson needs to be committed to becoming a consistent 12-point, 10-rebound player for the Gophers in the 2010-2011 season.
Westbrook earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors for the second consecutive season. Lawrence played very well at times during the season; however, he also had games in which he literally disappeared. For example, in the two games against Michigan State Westbrook averaged 15.5 points.
However, in his two games against Michigan Westbrook scored only 10 points, and in his two games against Purdue he only scored 13 points. Westbrook lost a start against Texas A&M in the Anaheim Classic because of disciplinary reasons.
Best game—Westbrook’s best game of the season was likely against Northwestern on January 26 when he scored 18 points and six assists. Westbrook also poured in 29 against Penn State in a duel with Talor Battle on December 29.
Grade—B. Westbrook epitomizes the Gophers' season in many ways. At times, Westbrook could be very good and on some days you wondered if he had been abducted and replaced with a poor replica.
Westbrook has publicly indicated that he has a desire to continue playing professionally, but as this season demonstrated, he can’t consistently create his own shot in crunch time. Lawrence’s game is not ready for the NBA; however, he may be able to play in a mid-level European league or Australian league.
A few professional basketball scouts believe that from a pure raw-talent perspective that Williams is the player of the Gopher basketball team that has the best chance of playing in the NBA. Williams can jump out of the gym, and if the Big Ten had a dunk contest he would have to be one of the favorites to take the title.
Williams needs to develop his intermediate offensive game. He tends to only shoot from beyond the arc or dunk the ball. Thirty-five percent of Williams’ shots came from beyond the arc where he shot only 29 percent. If you eliminate his three-point attempts, Williams shot 71 percent from the floor, and most of those shots were dunks or lay-ups off rebounds.
Best game of the season—Williams scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field while grabbing four rebounds against Ohio State on January 31.
Grade—B. Williams' job coming off the bench this season was to provide quickness and energy for the Gophers, and he did a better-than-average job in that role. Williams struggled when he had to play stronger, more experienced players in the post. Williams will need to hit the weight room this summer to hold his own in the post.
Fortunately, he appears that he is still growing into his body. Fifteen more pounds on his frame next season and Williams may find himself among the best players in the conference.