Game Preview: Gophers vs. North Florida 12/1/12

North Florida Ospreys (3-4) at #21/rv Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-1)
Saturday, December 1, 2012 | 1pm CT | TV/Online: Gopher All-Access

Minnesota returns to Williams Arena for the first time since a November 18 victory over Richmond. Since then the Gophers had a productive trip to the Bahamas and Tallahassee, Fla. , winning three games and losing only to then-No. 5 Duke.

Saturday’s matinee against North Florida shouldn’t be much of a thriller. The Ospreys began their transition into D1 basketball in 2005 and 16 total wins last season set a program record.

Minnesota should dominate in all aspects of this game. North Florida does have a strong pair of 3-point shooters in seniors #3 Parker Smith and #15 Jerron Granberry, but Granberry has taken a leave of absence from the team and may not be in Minneapolis. In 2011-12, those two combined to shoot 165/401 3FG (41.1%).

The Gophers obviously have concerns in the area of turnovers, but from a defensive perspective the team has also struggled with consistency on the defensive boards, especially in the second half of games. Playing Trevor Mbakwe more would help and we continue to believe this should be done.

Trevor’s minutes and who he plays with is one of a few interesting roster utilization decisions Tubby Smith and his staff must make. Playing Mbakwe with Eliason, for example, should help address the team’s lack of success in defensive rebounding, however it could detract from other areas of the team’s game.


  • #3 Parker Smith played a year at Tennessee State before transferring to North Florida. The 6’3” guard, a career 40% 3-point shooter, has a quick trigger that he’ll pull often. Smith will need to get hot in order for the Ospreys to keep this game somewhat close, but if Granberry is out of the lineup Minnesota can afford to focus on Smith him even more.
  • Smith should reach 1,000 North Florida-career points scored at Williams Arena.  He comes in just 6 points shy of the mark.
  • North Florida is 0-12 against Top 25 teams. Prior to this season, they had never finished within 20 points of a Top 25 team, but did scratch their way back from a 22-point halftime deficit to finish the game down 15 against then-No. 17 Memphis earlier this year.
  • The Ospreys were picked to finished 4th and and 5th by the coaches and media, respectively, in the Atlantic Sun conference before the season began. Teams projected ahead of North Florida include Mercer, USC Upstate and Florida Gulf Coast (Editor’s note:  keep an eye out for FGCU next year… should be a good team).
  • #21 Andy Diaz, a 6’7” senior forward, has been out with injury and is questionable for the game. His little (in age) brother, Adrian, is a 6’10” sophomore forward at Kansas State and is averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for Bruce Weber’s team.
  • #34 BaeBae Daniels’ given name is Demarcus, but BaeBae is still fun to hear and say.
  • An Osprey is a bird that can be found near water all over the world. They’re fish-eating raptors with wingspans of around 6 feet.
  • North Florida, located in Jacksonville, is the reigning Atlantic Sun sand volleyball champion.

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