February 11, 2008

Breaking Down the Box - Iowa

Iowa - 50
Minnesota - 63

I'll try to make this quick (although I tend to ramble).

This game really did feel as though we were in control whenever we wanted to be, but letting them back into the game was troubling.

Iowa made a nice 2nd half run to take a brief lead at what I 'think' was 42-41, but that was it and the Gophers dominated the rest of the game. I got the feeling that the Gophers were more disinterested than anything else. Tubby called a time out, they looked up at the scoreboard and thought "what? we're losing?" Then they flipped the switch and won. The problem is we are not nearly good enough to flip a switch or take 10 min off during the game.

Some threes from Freeman and Johnson were expected (7 combined), what was nice is that they didn't shoot a great percentage and the Gophers won the other necessary battles.

Here is what I liked...

** We rebounded. If you were able to watch the game you might have heard the announcers mention that Iowa did not get an offensive rebound until very late in the game (if you didn't get to see it, they may have mentioned that stat only about 39 times). That is something we just don't see from this team and it helped a lot towards this W.

** Abu-Shamala starting. I am NOT a big fan of Jamal's game or talent. BUT he adds a steadying influence on the game. He boxed out well he kept his guy in front of him and he took a charge to start the 2nd half. He is not all that talented but he isn't skiddish either.

** Al Nolen is back. He was given credit for 3 steals but once again I think our stat crew was watching goldy spin his head around and missed a couple. His ability to anticipate and get his hands on balls reminds me of Bobby Jackson. Offensively he has plenty of room to grow but defensively he is a LOT of fun to watch. Oh, and he had 8 assists!

What I didn't like? - I didn't like our lack of focus for about 6 min in the 2nd half. We were controlling the boards, getting steals and beating Iowa at their own game, but we let them creep back into it and take a brief lead. We won't be able to get away with that tomorrow vs. Illinois.

Player of the Game - Al Nolen

11 pts (all in 2nd half)
8 assists
4 reb
3 steals

Just a great game for the freshman. Any thoughts of him hitting a wall were dispelled for now. What are his chances for making the All Big Ten Defensive team as a freshman?

Tempo-free Zone - just the stats m'am

Rebounding 90% of their misses and turning them over 35% of the time more than makes up for their shooting percentage.

Up Next? - Illinois
This will be a great home test. To date we have lost to every team with an RPI in the 1-100 range and we have beat every team with an RPI of 101 or greater. Illinois stands at an RPI around 123 so history should suggest that we will win this game.

The Illini are starting to play better. They have lost three in a row but @MSU (by 10), Pur (by 8) and Indiana (in OT) is no worse than what you'd expect MN to do in that stretch. They are playing better and this will be a very good test for us. It won't be that defining win we so desire but it is a win we'll need to be at least 9-9.

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