December 4, 2007

Breaking Down the Box - NDSU

Another dominating performance for the golden gophers. I sincerely feared the Bison. Overall I thought Minnesota was the better team and would win this game eight out of 10 times but I knew they had a couple guards who could take over and put up a lot of points in a hurry. But Tubby and friends did not let that happen, I continue to be amazed that difference in aggressiveness, tenacity and attitude from last year's team to this year's. This is especially evident on the defensive side. Jim Molinary was known for his ability to coach up defense and he proved that as the gophers actually made the NCAA tourney in 2004-05 in large part because of their defense (and a little help from Vincent Grier). But since that season the gophers have been soft and lost on defense. But this year is completely different and it is most visible on the scoreboard.

What was most enjoyable to watch was the team defense by the golden gophers. They were incredibly active and physical. We are not overly quick but we were active enough and continually bumped the Bison guards around enough that their shots were hurried and off all night. When Woodside and Nelson were able to get set they nailed their shots but those looks were few and far between. Tubby has preached getting defensive deflections and last night the gophers excelled at getting their hands on balls all night.

2 out of 3 - another sweep for the gophers. Rebounding and turnovers were not dominant but 3 extra possessions because of turnovers and +5 on rebounds helps. Obviously the stat that jumps out is shooting percentages. We shot great and we held them to a very low percentage. Great effort defensively and it appears like we made great decisions on our shot selection.

NDSU - 33.3%
Minn - 52.9%

NDSU - 43
Minn - 48

NDSU - 19
Minn - 16

Tempo-Free Zone - the gophers picked up where the left off last game. We scored almost 1.2 points per possession and held NDSU to 0.761 that differential of .432 is incredible regardless of your opponent. We not have an Efficiency Margin of .322 for the season (as opposed to -0.16 last year).

On the rebounding front we grabbed a third of our misses again and ended their possessions by rebounding 71.7% of their misses.

Virtually every category of the tempo free stats were largely in our favor.

X-Factor - hats off to Dan Coleman for having his first non-sucky game of the year. Coleman can effectivly score in 2 ways. First he is great about 9-12 feet from the basket, facing up the usually less athletic defender and using a quick first step to get by him and score around the rim. Secondly he is great at finding holes in the defense when they are rotating and then getting the pass for an easy score. He is NOT as good as an outside shooter as he thinks he is and he is NOT a great post scorer. Last night he finally played to his strengths and had his best game of the year.

Likes and Dislikes

LIKDED - Al Nolen, on both ends of the floor was great. He was highly efficient on offense and was great on defense being active and slowing down Woodside.
DIS - Abu-Shamala bleeding all over the Williams Arena floor. In case anybody was wondering he does not bleed Maroon and Gold.
LIKED - team defense. NDSU shot an ugly 33.3% and this was because their shots were hurried all night by an active and physical defense.
DIS - not much to dislike last night
LIKED - balanced scoring. 5 guys in double digits and Tollackson with 8.

What does this mean?

Not much except that there is no reason we shouldn't win our next 5 games and be sitting 10-1 heading into our road game with UNLV. This was a great defensive effort coupled with offensive balance. I'd like to think that this team is finally figuring things out. They are past the infant stages of learning their roles in this new offense and learning what it takes to play defense for Coach Smith. Now they have a handful of games to continue to gel and get in a rhythm before the conference season.

No comments: