January 5, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Michigan State

Minnesota - 59
Michigan State - 65


I think we should be happy that we gave the Spartans all they could handle. Unfortunately our standards have been lowered so far that we appreciate moral wins. I'm irked that I'm happy but at the same time I don't know what else to expect. I like this current team but we aren't in the same class as the Spartans. Losing by 6 in East Lansing isn't a bad loss but it is still a loss.

Ultimately, this was the best the gophers have played on the road, maybe at any point this season. They battled and with under 4:00 it was a 1 point game with a team that was deeper, more athletic and more talented in their building. What was disappointing was that when we got to within 1 point we completely fell apart. We didn't box out and we were completely incapable of executing on offense.

4:18 - 57-58 - D. Johnson layup - this is when we quit executing
MSU turnover
Minn turnover
3:35 - 57-60 - K. Lucas free throws
3:15 - McKenzie takes a bad 3 and misses
MSU turnover
2:27 - lack of execution and McKenzie is forced to take a bad 3
1:58 - Neitzel miss, Offensive rebound
1:49 - Lucas miss, Offensive rebound

NOTICE IT IS STILL A 3 POINT GAME, the Gophers had 2 possessions without a good shot and gave up 2 extra possessions to MSU on their offensive rebounds. 1:50 without any scoring since the Lucas free throws before Morgan hits one below.

1:45 - 57-61 - Morgan free throw - sub in Hoffarber for Tollackson (kind of interesting)
1:28 - Coleman takes an off balance shot
1:16 - 57-63 - Morgan layup
0:58 - missed a decent post fade away for Tollackson, that is a shot he can make. At least it was in rhythm but a 3 would have been preferable coming out of the timeout.

now game is essentially over. Neitzel misses another shot but MSU gets another offensive rebound then they find Walton for a wide open layup.

We cut the gap to 1, MSU goes on a 7-0 run before Hoffarber scores a meaningless layup. There is the built in excuse that the Spartans have been there before, they are more talented and on the road. Hopefully we can learn from this.

I was pretty happy that Tubby called a timeout with 0:20 left, down 8 to voice his displeasure when his team didn't foul anybody and then gave up a layup. The game was over at this point, but addressing the issue right then was SO MUCH MORE effective than waiting a few min to chew them out in the locker room. Maybe (just maybe) we'll learn something from this.

Nobody expected the Gophers to win this game, but maybe the lessons learned here can be applied to road games in Champaign, East Lafayette, Ann Arbor, Evansville, etc.

Game Ball - Raymar Morgan

Morgan > Gopher seniors (Tollackson-12, McKenzie-10, Coleman-6)

31 pts, 10 reb, 2 assists

This guy was incredible. One player accounted for 47% of the team's points, 6 offensive rebounds and 67% shooting on the night. Incredible.

What Does This Mean?

Who knows. If the Gophers play this well defensively and this hard for the next 680 minutes (17 games) then they could finish 5th, maybe even 4th in conference. But if can't execute down the stretch then we will see a lot of close losses especially on the road.

The next two games are critical.

vs. Northwestern - must win
@ Penn State - must win road game

After that we need to steal one of the next 3 (Ind, MSU, @OSU), but chances are we'll be 2-4 through a third of the conference season. If we hit 3-3 I think gopher nation should be ecstatic.

This was a fun game to watch and it was fun to see them competitive. But we need to see them grow from this or it was meaningless.

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