December 31, 2007

Breaking Down the Box - UNLV

Duel in the Desert

Minnesota - 77
Nicholls St - 32

Gophers force 29 turnovers, hold the Colonels to 11 made baskets. Dominated an inferior team.

Minnesota - 83
Kennesaw St - 66

Won handily riding Coleman's 24 points

Minnesota - 64
UNLV - 81

Just losing this game isn't what is so disappointing. Getting dominated for 40 full min is what frustrates this gopher fan. I said in my preview that UNLV is solid. They get balanced scoring and they don't turn the ball over. If the Gophers were going to win they'd have to force turnovers and dominate the glass. Well rebounding was essentially even and the Gophers were the ones giving away possessions while the Running Rebels committed just 4 first half turnovers. And they had 4 players reach double figures (a 5th with 9 points) to keep the Gophers guessing on defense.

GAME BALL - Wink Adams

Adams had a 20 point night but his stat line doesn't end there. 7 assists, 5 rebounds and zero turnovers is what made his night special. We knew going into the game he was the player to stop but we didn't and in the process he also got his teammates involved


For the tournament things didn't look too bad. But the only game that really counts is the UNLF game. If you compare the UNLV stats to the Florida State road loss we clearly played better vs. the Running Rebels than we did vs. the Seminoles. We scored more points per possession, rebounded defensively much better and turned the ball over less. But clearly it wasn't good enough to beat a talented UNLV team. We gave up too many open 3's and we only turned the Running Rebels over on 14.4% of their possessions (worst of the season for the Gophers).

All in all you could argue that we played "better" on the road against a good team, but that and a quarter might get you a cup of coffee.

What Does This Mean?

This could have been a little boost to the NCAA resume, but really if you are going to continue to lose on the road to teams that are beatable then clearly you don't belong in the Big Dance. That of course is the goal but now it will take a strong run in the Big Ten schedule to get it done.

The first course of action is to learn to play better on the road. If FSU and UNLV are losses by 14+ then what is going to happen in East Lansing, Madison and Bloomington? Our three best players are seniors who are capable of carrying this team to tough wins. But for some reason they fail to lead us on the road. At some point Tollackson, McKenzie and Coleman are all going to have to develop some mental toughness and lead us to some conference road wins.

All in all can we really complain about a 10-2 record? Easy schedule? Sure, but nobody believes this team would have the same record under a different coaching staff. 10-2 is nice, but now the Big Ten season starts. We are a mediocre team but we are playing in a conference that has plenty of opportunities for a team to step up and finish on top of the mediocre heap in the middle.

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