January 18, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Indiana

The title of this post should really be something like "Emptying the Kleenex Box" or "Throwing the Box at the TV when we missed another %#C$ING Free Throw" Something like that.

PJS's title is also very apt...Pulling Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Indiana - 65
Minnesota - 60

This game lived up to the hype and ended about the way it was expected. Ken Pom gave MN a 49% chance of winning, the Vegas line was IU by 1, so all in all things played about about right. It could have gone either way but in the end the better team pulled it out. Tollackson had the perfect quote to sum up this game...

"I'm crushed right now, heartbroken," Tollackson said. "I really thought we were going to win. I thought they played better than us, but I thought we wanted it more."
The Hoosiers are certainly more talented (thank you capt obvious), the Barn held true, the Gopher defense did their thing but when it mattered most talent won out.

The Good? - I love knowing that this Gopher team can compete with anybody. I absolutely love their determination and heart. And I love they way they play defense, Hoosier fans can claim it was just a sloppy or bad game by their players but the Gophers have forced teams into turnovers like that all year. Michigan State has a couple "true" point guards, 19 turnovers on their home court for example.

The Bad? - Free throw and three point shooting. Spencer going 0/7 from the line (including at least two 1-and/or-1s) was bad and the easy target for blame. But just as bad was the Big Ten's leading three point shooting team was 3/17! Including McKenzie going 0/5 most of them being wide open looks, like the potential tying basket with 0:14 remaining. Blame for this one extends beyond Tollackson at the line.

The Ugly? - Indiana's passing/ball control for one, but the L is the ugliest. Playing good teams close is acceptable for now, but how long? I am as optimistic as they come but I fully expect another close loss when Michigan State comes to town. Last season is fresh enough in our minds that being competitive is not just acceptable but it is applauded. This team is gritty, gutty and gosh darn fun to watch (needed something that started with a 'g'); but the loss still sucks.

Game Ball - Lawrence Westbrook
5 pts
3 ast
3 reb

Not the highest scorer or best player on the floor but he was more of a factor than at any point in his Gopher career. Westbrook played great D, got some key rebounds and played well on the offensive end. His shooting was not very good (1/7) but most were good shots that should usually go down for the former high scorer.

Others had better numbers but Tollackson couldn't make free throws, McKenzie couldn't hit a three and Coleman was solid but unspectacular.

Tempo-Free Zone

After creating 26 turnovers last night your Golden Gophers now lead the nation in defensive turnover %. We create a turnover on 27.9% of our opponents' possessions. Last night we turned the Hoosiers over on 37.9% of their possessions.

Unfortunately our problem wasn't on defense last night. We held IU to under 1 point per possession last night (they averaged around 1.14, last night were 0.947) and turned them over a lot. But we gave up too many offensive rebounds (40.7%) and had trouble scoring-especially when it mattered most.

Offensively, 42.2 eFG% and .870 points per possession were our lowest since Florida State.

Up Next

BREAKING NEWS: Raymar Morgan has just scored (again)!

No time to sulk about this one, we have Michigan State coming to town on Sunday. Another chance to upset a quality team at home. The Spartans should be fresh in our memories.

The Spartans have been hot and cold. I fully expect they'll take better care of the ball this time around so the Gophers may need a new formula to win this one. I predict more scoring and better execution down the stretch.

This team of "experienced seniors" has no experience closing out games and this has bit them @Michigan State and last night. They were able to pull it off at Penn State so hopefully the 3 recent tight games have helped them to learn on the fly. We executed very poorly in the last several minutes in East Lansing and we had 1 critical possession late vs. Indiana where we were unable to get a shot off (Nolen's shot clock chuck). This can't happen anymore and hopefully they have rehearsed this enough to better execute and pull out a close W on Sunday.

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