Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How to Beat a Gopher

In previous editions of "How to Beat ..." I've generally come up with some straightforward measures that can be applied to the task. For example, a nice sized freshly cut Willow branch does the trick for a stubborn Bulldog. Since Gophers though aren't normally domesticated getting next to one with a stick isn't an easy task. Thankfully, a segment of our fine society has done all the thinking for me on this one. The difficulty here is distance. But that fun loving group to which I'm referring has a solution ... its called 4000 feet per second with a .223 caliber 40 grain bullet and a high power scope. Here's what all that will do for ya if ya need to Beat a Gopher ...



I certainly can't honestly advocate that method this weekend though. For the Seawolves purposes it just wouldn't seem sporting. Piercing "varmint" heads from 2 or 3 hundred yards is only metaphorical this week however apt it may seem. The real trick in getting into the Gophers heads will be to frustrate them.

Over the past several years it has become apparent to this blogger that while many aspects of Don Lucia's job are easier than any other D1 head coaching position the one that isn't easy is almost overwhelmingly difficult. That aspect is motivation. Donnie just has to point to the program in order to score the best players. He doesn't have to develop complex systems to play. There's no need for disguised traps and/or swedish torpedo's in the twin cities. They've got all the talent in the world; 12 NHL draft picks are on the roster by my count. That's half an NHL team. Heck, the Gophers would probably give this year's Edmonton Oilers a run for their money if they played since the Oiler's only have half an NHL team too. We all know draft picks = college hockey dominance don't we? Ok, I'm being a little bit facetious with that last statement but everything else is true. So all Mr. Lucia has to do screw everybody's head on tightly and get them to play up to their potential. Not that difficult sounding to you? Wrong. It has got to be difficult. Half his teams eyes are on the next level and their thoughts are more like "What can I do tonight to get more bonus money?" versus "How do I help my team win?". I feel a bit sorry for Don. Through the years he probably thought he was building a career to develop and teach hockey players at a high level and instead he has ended up with a job just managing the personalities of 20 year olds.

This season has seen the fruits of those difficulties as the Gophers have by failed to live up to the lofty expectations of the most demanding fanbase in hockey. I have to say here that the hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing lamentations of those fans has been very entertaining so far this year.

All that glee aside, that trend I mentioned over the past couple of years sure seems to be the case this year as well. Get the Gopher players frustrated and you can steal the game. Keep them off the scoreboard and they'll start playing like the primadonnas some of them are instead of like a team. Don't think for a second that 12 minutes into the game and zero goals on the scoreboard that virtually every draft pick on that squad isn't thinking to himself ... "I'll just go do this myself!" Once one guy on the squad starts playing like that they all will.

Frustrating them in this manner is for sure easier said than done. What does it require? It requires commitment. And by commitment I mean finishing checks, blocking shots and keeping their offense on the outside. Deny them the slot. Clog up the passing lanes. Drop down and block shots. That's how the Seawolves can frustrate the Gophers. If they do those things for 120 minutes this coming weekend then they'll have a good plane ride home.

15 comments:

Goon said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uZBMaaAzhE

Donald Dunlop said...

Goon:
A little description would be helpful. I'd hate if my readers decided to copy/paste that link only to figure out that it's just some chest-thumping Sioux highlight thingy from some random win over the Gophers.

Donald Dunlop said...

Oh Shnap:
Nevermind ... that's what it is.

gcoulson said...

My favorite had to be the pole vault. Anytime you can get a Gopher to hit the crossbar it's a good thing.
Glen

alaskanpunk said...

fyi if anyone read the weekly release gci (assholes) have dropped the duluth and north dakota series from the broadcast schedule.

Donald Dunlop said...

punk:
I'd have to believe the reasons for that lie with either the lack of a broadcast from those arenas or the inability for GCI to negotiate a reasonable price for retransmitting.

Since our broadcaster only originates then they rely on other outfits in those cities. My guess is that neither of those towns considers UAA an opponent that would get enough local viewers to make the production of a broadcast a money making venture and that they just aren't going to be doing it.

It is a shame and it does suck. But I'd bet dollars to donuts that it isn't GCI's fault. Much as I dislike my former (crappy) employer I'd tend to cut them some slack on this one.

I think a good example of this is that U of Minnesota fans have NEVER seen a broadcast when their team is up here. Even though one has been available for the last several years. Their school has a contract with FSN and FSN has decided that putting on a game at 10pm in Minneapolis just won't cut the mustard. So they don't send their broadcast team nor do they pick up the GCI broadcast.

This is all about money (even if it isn't huge dollars in reality) and the tight margins that many TV stations operate under.

Over the past couple of years we've seen a helluva lotta hockey games on the tube that we otherwise wouldn't have seen ... even though it meant sitting through some insipidly brutal homer announcers.

The upside? It'll give us all a chance to listen to the excellent job that Kurt Haider does.

Anonymous said...

I have it under good authority that FSN will be taking the feed from up here when the Gophers come to town in the spring. We have been contacted by Fox this fall asking if wee can send them a feed sans graphics or animation. They want to jazz it up live with the fancy Fox graphics (Dancing robots go over big with the focus groups apparently).

The difference is that we can send their radio announcers down the right channel so we don't have to share our fantastic Haider commentary over on the left. That way they can have "Fargo" and dancing robots. We can have that smiling Seawolf with our local radio team. I know the UAA/JPC Production staff is excited about the chance to produce this for a bigger market.

Anonymous said...

My only complaint about UAA's production is their inability to follow the puck or to anticipate the shot. They always seem a step or two behind the play.

Goon said...

Actually Donald I am sorry I should have prefaced that link. It's Jeff "Long Island Tea" Frazee's sieve job from last season's west regional.

To kill a gopher I suggest some kentucky windage, a scope and a .270 winschester.

Kris said...

So, what I have learned from your post, is that to please the French you must fail. Sounds about right. But that actually was the best one and should have had the gold just so that we could see it again.

Donald Dunlop said...

Goon:
I was just pickin on ya. It's my nature.

Goon said...

No problems where sports fans not dueling armies.

Donald Dunlop said...

glen/kris:
Regarding the video ... I didn't actually watch more than about 45 seconds of it. That was long enough to know it was what I wanted.

As to the practice of shooting prairie dogs with scopes for no other purpose than to see them blown up ... I find it distasteful, unjustifiable and puerile. I saw a documentary about it several years ago which left me amazed with the depth of depravity that some humans will go to "entertain" themselves.

Jason said...

Yeah, FSN will be in Anchorage this spring. It's been on their schedule on gophersports.com for a couple months now.

I hope a lot of MN fans can still make the trip, but I doubt they will. Might be a good time to combine a hockey trip with a ski trip at Alyeska.

annabelle said...

Good luck to the boys this week-end!

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