Friday, January 9, 2009

Escape!


Despite playing the worst game in Gopher history (including the Monson years) our beloved Gophers managed to escape from the shithole that is Hawkeye arena last night with a 52-49 victory, mainly due to the Hawkeyes sudden inability to hit open shots in the second half. I don't have much time to write, thanks to my stupid job, but here are a few observations I had, other than if that was the first basketball game I had ever watched, I would never watch another one again.

- I believe Al Nolen is morphing/needs to morph further into TJ Ford/Jacque Vaughn. Despite the huge three he hit in the second half, he seems to not only be generally unable to hit an outside shot, but also unwilling at times. He can certainly help the team with his defense and I maintain that he's nearly unguardable when driving to the rim. He seems, at times, to embrace that and at this point I'd be happy with a creating, driving and dishing point guard. We have Hoffarber, Joseph, and Westbrook (ok fine, and Shamala) to hit the threes, so maybe this is the right direction for the team. Funny thing is, I had my phone off because I had to watch the game on a slight tape delay because of stupid Wonderbaby, and when I turned it on after the game I had a text from Snake which said, "Al Nolen needs to turn into Jacque Vaughn." So it's unanimous.

- I don't understand the seeming unwillingness to dump the ball into the paint against the smaller Hawkeyes, particularly after Tate went out with that injury. Sampson looked awkwardly unstoppable, hitting 3 of his 5 shots, and Iverson only ended up with one attempt on the night and only played 11 minutes. My only thought here is maybe Tubby thought they needed a smaller lineup against the tiny Hawkeyes, but I didn't notice any worse defense when the big guys were in there than not. And that doesn't excuse the refusal to get the ball inside. Iowa is one of the most three-pointingest teams in the nation and attempted 23 three pointers last night; the Gophers chucked up 22. Falling in love with the three for the Gophers is not the way to win, and is troubling against a team that small.

- I love Westbrook, truly I do, but at times his "I scored 40 points a game in high school" mentality shows through. Sometimes I think it's a good thing, such as in the second half against Michigan State when nothing was working and somebody needed to try to take over the game; it didn't work, but I understood it and liked it. But at other times it boggles the mind. Last night at one point a loose ball kicked over to the corner where he grabbed, and pretty much shot a turnaround jumper from three point land. I have no idea why he thought that was a good shot - but it wasn't unless you played for Loyola Marymount in the late 80s. I'm not particularly concerned, as I think Tubby has him reigned in pretty good and like I said, sometimes you need a guy like that, but this one was so out there I had to mention it.

- Man or Zone or switching defense, I thought the defensive effort the Gophers gave was absolutely brutal last night. The only difference I saw was that the shots weren't falling in the second half, despite being open (although yes, in the first half they were able to get to the rim more successfully than in the second). One thing that frustrated me was after Anthony Tucker came in Willis Reed style, the defense seemed to focus far too much on him. On consecutive possessions he started to drive and got maybe a half step when a perimeter guy would leave their man to help. Perhaps fundamentally correct, but in both cases the guy they left was Matt Gatens, the leading three point shooter in the big ten who, of course, knocked down both open threes. There was really no need to help that far out on the perimeter when help was available further down in the paint, especially to leave a shooter like the next Chris Kingsbury. The other thing about Gatens I noticed is that he probably needs to get more aggressive if the Hawkeyes are going to have any success. He shoots 54% from three and was 4-5 last night, but I noticed he only shoots if he's very open. He might need to be willing to bring his percentage down a bit and take more chances shooting. He's good enough that if he can get his shot off, he should probably be taking it, even if he doesn't have that extra second to totally set himself.

- A commenter somewhere down below said, "The Gophers don't beat Louisville without Travis Busch" which I thought was laughable. But I'm going to say "The Gophers don't beat Iowa without Travis Busch" which truly hurts my soul to type, but I believe it today. Maybe somebody else steps up by the end of the game and takes the Gophers to the win, but I didn't see any likely candidates out there. Busch hit some big shots, and as much as I'd like to I can't ignore that. Let's just move on.

- Paul Carter made his biggest impact of the season last night, despite playing just nine minutes. He scored five points and three offensive rebounds on the night, and his athleticism will come in handy as the season advances. Bostick looked good as well, playing 15 minutes and picking up six points and a couple of steals. There really is a lot of talent on the team this year, hopefully Tubby can find the right combinations.

- Finally, the biggest highlight of the night was ESPN2 announcer Doug Gottlieb giving a shout out to our friends at From the Barn and complimenting their article on the Minnesota/Iowa rivalry. Very cool. On a related note, my mom recently told me I need to "clean-up" my blog, so I'd say things are moving in the right direction for both of us.

9 comments:

snacks said...

pretty sure he sat the big guys when they went to the switching man defense in the second half so that they wouldn't end up with any mismatches. and i disagree, i though their defense was much better once they went to that approach, iowa got a lot fewer open looks.

As for busch, this is the rare, rare team that he is not a defensive liability and might actual be more athletic that whoever is guarding him (indiana is probably the only other). so with his scoring ability it made sense to have him out there.

WWWWWW said...

I disagree, I think the defense was pretty much awful no matter what they did.

Dawg said...

I have a cure for The Hoff's shooting woes. He needs to take a page out of Mark Grace's play book. The boy needs to go hoggin' big time. Since he probably doesn't have enough time to swing through Green Bay (hog capitol of the midwest)I suggest he goes down to the Mermaid on ladies night and finds 2 of the plumpest juiciest hogs and makes sweet sweet love to both of them all night long. I gurantee if he does that tonight he will scorch Penn St with a 7 for8 3 pt shooting extravaganza.

PS Todd - send him a facebook message and let him know the best place to hog hunt in the Twin Cities. I know you hate to divulge your honey holes but The Hoff and Gopher Hoops future depends on it.

mama D said...

WWWWWW check the DWG Email.....there is a surprise for you in there... :)

.v.. said...

W, Don't check it. It's gone way beyond embarrassing.

Mama said...

SHUT UP .V..

CHECK IT WWWWW, CHECK IT

The Todd said...

You got it, consider it done. It's Hoffbauer right?

Does anyone know if Hair Pie is on Facebook? I would kill to be his friend.

WWWWW, your comments that I'm a loser about my hockey playing status was not appreciated. I'll have you know I won the soggy cracker pregame game that night.

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