Friday, February 20, 2009

Sigh.


Well I can't say I'm surprised. Hell, I damn near called the score exactly. But it's still a let down, and it's still disappointing.

Looking just at raw numbers, you'd be tempted to say that the Gophers were unlucky and caught a poor shooting team on a hot shooting night, and based on their season 3pt percentage of 32% compared to last night's 46%, that would look right. However watching the game gave a different story, and that was horrible, horrible defense.

The Wolverines made 13 three-pointers, and damn near all of them were wide open. Whether in transition, swinging the ball around the perimeter, or a penetrate and kick, Michigan could get a wide open there pointer any time they wanted. An absolute lethargic, lazy, pathetic defensive effort in every single way - with the exception of Damian Johnson doing a very good job on Manny Harris. Every other player hurt. Nobody could stop Kelvin Grady from getting into the lane. KELVIN GRADY! They let DeShawn Sims do whatever he wanted, which, thankfully, was mostly shoot jumpers. Michigan got countless open layups and dunks in transition due to lazy defenses not getting back. And they let a little white guy who does nothing but shoot threes shoot open threes whenever he wanted. They only managed to turn the Wolverines over 8 times in the entire game (5 by Harris), and they are in no way a strong team with the ball. Just pathetic.

The offense might have even been worse. After a promising start, which saw them get the ball inside against the 1-3-1, penetrating it's seams, getting open shots, and finding Ralph in the lane, it all fell apart. Michigan switched to a man-to-man, and suddenly the Gophers had no idea what to do anymore. They abandoned penetration and trying to find the big men in the lane, and fell back into the old swing it around the perimeter until the shock clock winds down and then have to force a stupid shot. At one point Westbrook had taken it into the lane and scored on three straight possessions, but, just as miraculously as that appeared, it disappeared just as quickly.

The worst part is, the offense was working when they attacked. For the game, the team ended up shooting 24% from three, but 58% from two. This team's strength clearly does not lie beyond the arc, so their reliance on it is mind-boggling. I have no idea if it's coaching or simply players unable to do what they are asked/told, but they need to concentrate on getting the ball inside one way or another. I'm starting to think this team might be as stupid as last year's, and I didn't think that was possible.

As far as the season outlook goes, normally losing four road games in a row to possible NCAA tournament teams in conference wouldn't necessarily be cause for alarm. The alarm should be ringing loud and clear due to the way they are playing.

Al Nolen has gone far past regressing, and needs a new word invented for him (Voshon Lenarding, maybe?) Westbrook shows flashes from time-to-time of the fire he seemed to once have, but might be the laziest player on the floor at others. Hoffarber does one thing right now, and isn't doing it well. Earlier in the season it looked like he might have developed a little more to his game in terms of putting the ball on the floor, but that's gone *poof* lately. Devoe Joseph has developed into a legitimate scorer, but still struggles with his ball-handling and decision making. If there was better all-around guard play that would be a great compliment, but as it stands there is really nobody you can trust with the ball - and thus the offense stagnates. The guard play that was the team's strength earlier in the season seems to have gone the way of Delmon Young's power.

There is still hope. The team has four games left, and three of them are very winnable at home. A 3-1 record to close out the season puts them at 10-8 in the big ten and gives them 22 wins. That would almost certainly put them in the tournament. Going 2-2 makes it dicey, and you would probably need a win in the Big Ten tournament to get in.

They need to give the defensive effort they gave against Illinois, and concentrate on getting more offensive opportunities for the big guys (no, that doesn't include Travis Busch who still sucks and shouldn't see the floor). Sampson, Iverson, Johnson, and Carter are all playing well. Last night the four combined for 8-11 shooting, 16 of the teams 28 rebounds, and blocked six shots. The problem? They only got 11 shots, while the perimeter guys took 41. Read that again. You just can't win that way.

The team has the players and the coaching to absolutely go 3-1 and get into the NCAA tournament. But something needs to change. Effort is #1, changing the offensive flow/philosophy is #2. I hate to say it, but these things sound a lot like coaching issues - although the players still deserve the biggest portion of the blame for what's happening. Of course, this last loss could be my fault for using the wrong picture in my preview, as well.

6 comments:

snacks said...

"The guard play that was the team's strength earlier in the season seems to have gone the way of Delmon Young's power."

You mean, its gotten better in the second half of the season like Delmon's power did? I don't see that at all.

Bye-bye NCAA's. There is no way this team wins 3 of its last 4

Dawg said...

I strongly disagree that Mich had wide open 3's all game yesterday. Probably less then half.Do you think Iverson should have bellied up on Simms beyond the arc? That lucky f'r was canning long jumpers like an Eastern European in the 2nd half.

Bottom line is that Mich hit 13 3's last night and you have no chance of winning when that happens. They couldn't miss. Congrats to the dirty Wolverines.

On a side note I thought that was one of the better officiated games that I have seen this year. Evenly called fouls, no traveling, palming, double dribble BS that was called excessively in the PSU game. The refs actually let them play which was refreshing.

The gophers have lost 2 home games this year to superior opponents and squeaked out one ugly win against IU. Otherwise they have been fairly dominant. They beat PSU and Illinois by 20 and soundly beat OSU. All 3 home games are very winnable.

The biggest game of the year IMO, will be the Sconi home game. We may be able to lock up an at large bid with a win and cock block Sconi from getting in. Speaking of that game, W didn't you promise me a ticket to that game?

WWWWWW said...

It seemed to me that Michigan had wide open shots all night long. And yes, you have very little chance of winning when that happens, but the Gophers let it happen, at least in my opinion.

And yes, when Sims can hit a three pointer, you should probably guard him out there.

Where has Bear been, by the way? Anybody know?

Siouxper Sioux Fan said...

I killed him for saying that baby dawger looked like Jason Blake. FYI

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