Minnesota big man Reggie Lynch is unquestionably one of the best shot-blockers in country, and easily the best in the Big Ten. He averages 3.5 blocks per game, and he has racked up 5 blocks or more 11 times this season.
For the record, Lynch was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and that average leads the conference by nearly a full block and is second in the nation.
The response from the Middle Tennessee big men, who will face the Gophers on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament?
“All year we’ve faced guys who were bigger than us and considered more physical before the game,” Jacorey Williams, the Conference USA Player of the Year, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I think me and Reggie (Upshaw) play well off each other and cause mismatch problems.”
In some ways, Williams is right. For starters, he and Upshaw do play well together, and they’ve had plenty of success against opposing bigs. Upshaw discussed a specific situation with the paper, as well, essentially comparing Lynch to Vanderbilt big man Luke Kornet.
“The whole time leading into that game, we just heard about how he kind of alters shots and he’s basically going to dominate us in the post,” Upshaw said. “It was a different story when we got out there.”
The Raiders beat Vandy by 23 early in the season.
Lynch didn’t take particularly kindly to the comparison:
“Luke Kornet is really not like anything close to me,” (Lynch), the 6-foot-10, 260-pound junior from Edina said. “If they want to talk trash, they can. We’re just going to not think about that and try to prepare the same way. But Luke Kornet is a 7-footer who blocks half as many shots as me and is kind of soft. So it’s not speaking too much about how I play. I’m much more physical and a defensive presence than he is.”
Regardless of who’s right or who’s wrong here, it certainly makes for an interesting subplot to the Gophers’ tourney opener.