January 10, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Northwestern

Northwestern - 63
Minnesota - 82

On paper this game should have played out about like it did. But gopher fans (the ones who paid attention post-Clem and pre-Tubby) know that this is a game the gophers often lose. So when the Wildcats started shooting 75% and jumped out to a 20-14 lead I was worried we'd witness another meltdown. But Travis Busch nailed a free throw that "sparked" a 20-2 run and the gophers dominated the rest of the way.

The only stretch that really concerned me was late in the 2nd half the gophers appeared to throttled down a little bit. They had built up a 17 point lead with just under 12:00 left, but then seemed to coast for the next 8 or 9 minutes. Now the Wildcats didn't make a huge run (10-18) and it wasn't as thought we completely quit, but it was enough to let an inferior team chip the lead to single digits and have some life in the last 3:00. We aren't good enough to do that. Wis, Ind, MichSt and OhioSt will kill us if we do that. Illinois, PennSt, Pur will make the runs to get the game back if we do that. It just got sloppy and we didn't take control of the game. I'm getting picky and I didn't need to win by more points, I just didn't want to see NU get back into it.

What I liked? The zone by Tubby was well timed and the perfect call. It mitigated the dreaded backcut and forced NU to get all of their points from behind the arc. And while their shot appeared to be open the Gophers did a great job of running at shooters forcing them to hurry their shots just a bit. In the 16-0 run the Wildcats took 5 three point attempts and only 2 FG attempts inside the arc missing all seven shots of course. Bill Carmody then called a timeout and on their next possession they took the ball to the basket and finally scored. The zone was the right move and was the key to victory.

GAME BALL - Dan Coleman

19 points, 14 reb, 1 ast, 1 blk, 2 stls
68.2% shooting

DC had his most complete game. It was clear that early the gameplan was to attack the NU zone in the high and low post. Coleman started well catching the ball high and attacking the rim. He finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but the key stat was 9 offensive rebounds.

Coleman is now the 17th player in team history to record 1,000+ points and 500+ rebounds.

As I said it was his most complete game this year and hopefully this can carry over into Saturday's game at Penn State. Whether he is guarding Claxton or Cornley it will be a key matchup for the Gophers.

Tempo-Free Zone

Pnts / Poss - 1.119
Def Pnts / Poss - 0.867
Differential - +.252

eFG% - 60.0%
Off Reb% - 36.4%

Statistically this was a much better game than Michigan State. You can't really compare the B10 games to the non-conference games and we are only 2 games into the B10 season so it is hard to get a good grip on what these stats mean.

Up Next?

This win means we have a little momentum going into Penn State. The next 4 games are undoubtedly the toughest stretch on our schedule. @ Penn State is the easiest and the one we need to win. The Nittany Lions are playing well winning their first two conference games (both on the road) and 7 in a row. We need to bring the defense and the rebounding aggressiveness again.

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