Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gophers/Northwestern Game Blog

Absolute must win here for the Gophers. They probably need to win three of the last four to feel good about their NCAA bid chances, and this is the easiest of the bunch. Easiest on paper of course, ignoring Northwestern's earlier ass-whooping of the Gophers. And don't forget they went into East Lansing and beat the Spartans, so they aren't just a home threat.

A couple of keys before we get started:

1. Gophers offense. Stagnant, lazy, perimeter oriented, and it needs to get healthy while going against it's absolute nemesis - the Northwestern 1-3-1. The one, and only, shred of good news on this front is that the Gophers showed they have the ability to go against a 1-3-1 in the opening minutes against Michigan, where they attacked and penetrated and got good shots. Of course, the bad news is that they quickly abandoned that strategy to swing the ball around the perimeter and take bad shots.

2. Gophers defense. Lazy and not smart lately. Giving up a lot of open shots, and Northwestern has the shooters to knock them down. They can't give up as many wide-open looks as they did against the Wolverines, or this one will be over quickly.

Anyway, on to the game:

- God damn overtime in the stupid Iowa/Michigan game, as if anybody cares about that. Meaning, of course, that we won't get to the Gopher game until, like, the 12 minute time out. Which, I suppose, makes it just like pretty much every other Gopher home game.

- Ooh, live look split screen style at the Gopher tip off with Iowa up by 10 and up less than a minute left. Hello NIT Wolverines, enjoy yourselves.

- We're here, 17:45 left and Northwestern up 3-0. I'm going to assume the Gophers let the Wildcats have a wide open three. It's just what they do.

- Wide open NU layup as Sampson and DJ get confused on a screen, followed by an Al Nolen airball from three. I kind of want to turn this off already.

- Northwestern is in a man-to-man. I repeat, Northwestern is in a man-to-man. This makes zero sense. You don't need to play mind games and try to mix things up when the other team can't handle your base defense. This would be like having the spread gun in Contra but deciding, you know what, I'm going to go with the Laser instead.

- Defense looking very tough and very aggressive, creating turnovers and transition opportunities. Plus Devron Bostick just scored. Things starting to look a little more positive.

- Joseph fouled on a three point attempt about a foot behind the three point line. Of course, whoever the dumb announcer is says, "that's well outside Devoe Joseph's range." the way he's been shooting lately, I'm pretty sure if he's inside the half court line, he's in range. Watch a game once in a while, ass. 2-3 for Joseph, 11-5 Gophers.

- Defense looking even better. Northwestern is, at this point, chucking up threes but they aren't open. Generally they are a foot or two behind the line, and there's a Gopher flying out in the shooter's face each time. I am encouraged.

- Hugh Jackman is hosting the Academy Awards? What the F?

- I've thought about it, and I'm now convinced that Travis Busch is the worst player in the country averaging more than 12 minutes a game. And I'm including those guys on NJIT and other joke schools.

- My wife has really bad strep throat, and tylenol isn't helping, so we dug out some old Percoset she had from after she gave birth to WonderbabyTM. She's now wandering around the house saying, "this feels really good" and "I really like this." I'm concerned. And yet, the Gophers interest me more. Seems like they are dominating the game, but their only up seven (with 7 minutes left). Bostick looking great though with seven points already and a lot of PT. Maybe he won't transfer after all. I'm still hoping he doesn't, at least.

- And HERE'S the 1-3-1. This will tell the tale of the game right here. And they never cross the three point line, settling for a Westbrook heave with 3 left on the shot clock. I am now worried. Also worried about Mrs. W, who is now yelling at her Mac & Cheese for having clumps in the sauce.

- Announcer guy: "I think Minnesota sometimes struggles when their guards overhandle the ball, and they don't feed the big guys." Ok, so maybe he does watch the games sometimes.

- Halftime, Gophers lead 36-18 and are looking very good doing it. A very aggressive, high-pressure defense is forcing Northwestern into bad shots, and despite a lack of turnovers, they are able to get out and run thanks to a lot of missed Wildcat shots. In the halfcourt offense, they have for the most part utilized both dribble penetration as well as finding the big man on the block in order to get inside, not to mention attacking the 1-3-1 from the high post well enough to get NU to abandon playing that defense (although Paul Carter is far superior to DJ in that high post position). The Gophers have been helped by some cold Northwestern shooting, as they had some wide open shots they've missed, but overall it's their defense, reminiscent of the Illinois game, that's forcing the Wildcats to look bad. Excellent half.

- Player of the Half = Devron Bostick, with 9 points and, aside from one blown defensive assignment, has looked great and basically kept Hoffarber on the bench. Interestingly, it's also his birthday today. Happy birthday Devron, please keep this shit up in the second half.

- Mrs. W is now accusing me of deleting all the playlists off her Ipod, despite the fact that I've never used it and have my own synced to a completely different computer.

- Hm, the halftime summary thing is trying to tell me that Lawrence Westbrook has 11 points to lead the team, but I'm having trouble buying that.

- Northwestern going with that hell of a 1-3-1 to start the half. Gophers need to keep attacking and not try to sit on their 18 point lead. Also I just ordered Baseball Prospectus Guide for 2009. And Ralph made 2 free throws to stretch the lead to 20. Life is good.

- A Northwestern 3, followed by a shot clock violation after Nolen passed up an open three with about 4-5 on the clock. I feel less good. Kind of like before was eating fire sauce on a Taco Bell taco and it feels so good, but now it's kind of like about a half hour after that, when it feels like that alien from that movie about an alien is trying to burst out.

- Another shot clock violation, but the Gophers still lead by 20 because Northwestern is so awful. I think Northwestern vs. Kerwin Fleming, Kevin Payton, Travis Busch, Zach Puchtel, and Steve Esselink would be a pretty damn good game.

- "Colton Iverson playing like Allen Iverson." Ugh. How do these guys get jobs? Still up 19.

- Busch with a breakaway due to playing suckhole aka Spehar style, goes up for a layup and is "flagrantly" fouled by Nash, who was almost my new hero when it looked for a moment like Busch was injured. I know it's not very classy to hope for an injury, but.....well.....I got nothin' here.

- Al Nolen's new nickname is, "I suck at basketball"

- I dislike most of the fans who dress up like idiots because it's stupid, but the dude in the Paul Carter jersey with the Flava Flav clock that says "Tubby Time" is money.

- Mrs. W now talking about our Vegas trip in May with Snacks and his wife, Optimator and his wife, and two randoms including some chick who made out with Grand Slam at Snacks' wedding. Nothing particularly funny about it this time, but it did get me fired up for Vegas.

- 62-37 with 5 minutes left after an excellent pass from Hoffarber to set up Paul Carter for a three point play. I'm going to go ahead and say that's pretty much an allegory for the season. Hoffarber has two sides to him: the one dimensional shooter who doesn't do much else, and the all-around good player who can put it on the floor and do some things. I don't remember where I was going with this but your mother's a whore.

- 67-40 with four minutes left. I'm calling this one. Excellent win for the Gophers, and if they can figure out a way to play like this all the time there's no doubt the NCAA tournament is in their future. Let's hope they keep this up for the next three. And I'll close with yet another picture of WonderbabyTM. This is her climbing her walker thing while I watch the Northwestern/Michigan game. It would be pretty easy for her to tip that over and hurt herself, but on the other hand it looks cute and in order to stop her I'd have to stand up, so, you know.

Hey! Shamala hit a three, good job. Announcer guy just called him a pretty good player, so I can only assume that dude will be fired by the end of tonight.