Friday, December 11, 2009

Gophers vs. Jameer Nelson U Preview

I really wish I had watched that St. Joe's vs. Villanova game, because St. Joe's put up a hell of a fight against the #3 team in the country before falling 97-89.  If not for that, I would be calling this a Gopher rout.  The Hawks have now lost five in a row, and the four previous losses were to Purdue by 25, DePaul, Rider, and Cornell.  Not very intimidating.  Their three wins were over Drexel (in overtime), Holy Cross, and a crappy Boston College team.

I'm looking at this boxscore against Villanova and I can't figure out what exactly they did well.  They didn't shoot particularly well (43%) nor hold Nova's shooting in check (47%), they turned it over (16 times to 16 assists), and got killed on the boards (23-39).  About the only real positives I can identify are they bombarded Villanova with threes (10-26), got to the line a bunch (29-38), and had five players in double figures scoring (5).  Based on all of the above information, I'm going to assume that hanging with Nova was more a function of it being a home game against a hated rival, and not so much that St. Joe's is anywhere near that class of team.  I'm also going to assume that they are likely a tough team and won't be a pushover.

So what do they do well?  Not much, really.  They are decidely average in almost every category.  The only stats that really stand out are that they get to the line quite often (33rd) and don't send their opponent to the line much (76th), and they shoot free throws well (73.8%).  On the flip side, they are terrible at both getting and preventing offensive rebounds (333rd and 307th), are a poor 2-point shooting team (45% - 224th), and don't turn their opponents over (270th) and don't register many steals (235th).  And although they are an average 3-point shooting team (34%) they do like to chuck them up (36% of field goal attempts are threes - 72nd), which has to be a concern.

As far as individual players go they are very balanced with five guys averaging between 9 and 13 points per game.  Four of those are guards and their sixth leading scorer is also a guard - this is a small team.

Their main scoring threat is 6-1 combo guard Darrin Govens, who averages 13 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists per game while shooting 36% from three.  He is definitely the team's main three point threat, hitting 2 or more in five of their 8 games, and has hit double figures in every game but two, topping out at 23 against Drexel and 19 against Villanova.  Purdue was able to completely shut him down however, allowing him just three points and four shot attempts.  I'm guessing this was do to Chris Kramer, and since Al Nolen is a better defender than Kramer he should be able to handle him.

As far as ball-handling, three guys split the role with the best being the 6-5 Garrett Williamson, who leads the team with 3.3 assists per game and chips in with an average of 12 points.  He's not much of a shooter (just 3 threes made this year, career high in four years of 5), but has doubled his scoring this year compared to his career average.  Unfortunately for him, he's also increased his turnovers ever year and is at a robust 3.6 per game this season, although that number is inflated by two games with 8 turnovers in his first three, and his last four games he's averaged less than 2 TOs per.

The other two point guards are both freshmen, both are six feet tall, both score in the 9-10 points per game range, and both have more turnovers than assists so far this year.  Carl Jones is more of a chucker, who has hit double-digits four times this year (and had a 45-point game in high school last year), but also has put up games where he shot 1-7 and 1-9.  Justin Crosgile is more of a traditional point guard and is more under control.  He missed the first five games of the season with an injury, but has scored 12, 4, and 12 in the three games he's been back for.

The only inside scoring threat is 6-7 Idris Hilliard who averages 12 points and 6 rebounds per game and put up 22-7 on 5-5 shooting against Villanova.  He's undersized, but uses his quickness to get to the line (two games with over 10 free-throw attempts) and can score.  He pretty much has to if they're going to get anything inside.  The only other big worth noting is Todd O'Brien, who is more notable since he starts and for his size (6-11, 232 lbs.) than for his play (5 points, 6 rebounds per game).

The last guy I am going to mention is Chris Prescott, who starts over the two freshmen guards I mentioned before.  Although he's not a huge offensive threat and averages just 5.6 points per game, he is also a big-time three point shooter and has hit at least 2 in four of the team's 8 games.  He will only be an issue if the Gophers can't contain penetration by the other guards.  I don't think that will be an issue, but I wanted to point it out here because at the same time I'm deathly terrified this guy is going to hit five threes tomorrow.

But that is pretty much all I'm deathly terrified of, but don't take the Hawks lightly.  They may be 3-5, but they have played a very tough schedule.  Even so, they are basically the very definition of an average team and the Gophers have a decided edge in both ability and in size, and that last one might be the biggest difference in the game.  I expect Minnesota to blow them off the boards, and use their size advantage both to not only get easy shots inside but to set up open shots on the perimeter as well, and the Gophers defense should be able to handle a team of mediocre ball-handlers.

Minnesota 85, St. Joe's 66.

I don't have my book here at work, but I'll be back later with your FUN FACT for St. Joe's, don't you worry your pretty little head.

And I can't find a picture of any St. Joe's girls, so please instead accept this picture of a catholic school girl which is what I picture the student's at St. Joe's look like:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, that idiot dawger thinks this is another tough team. Ban him already and bring back his chick!