Monday, December 7, 2009

Morgan State is Great Great Great!

I had assumed that Morgan State was going to be a total pushover, mainly based on the facts that 1.  They are in the MEAC and 2.  They were one of the programs you could choose to start with in NCAA Hoops 2k6 Career Mode.  Then of course, Dawger had to ruin it and tell me they weren't that bad and also remind me that they actually made the NCAA Tournament last year.  So let's take a look, shall we?

First off, while they aren't awful at 5-3, they aren't very good either.  Their losses were by 9 to Louisville (respectable), 1 to Appalachian State (bad), and Loyola-Maryland (quite bad).  Their best win isn't actually against Arkansas, who has been terrible this year, but against East Tennessee State, who is also terrible.

The real good news for Gopher fans is that Morgan State is a bad defensive team, but they are also one of the worst shooting teams in the country.  Starting on the defensive end, they don't turn opponents over (303rd in the country) but make up for it by constantly fouling (320th).  They are slightly - just slightly - above average in all other defensive metrics, so the contantly fouling might be a good idea, considering the Gophers are shooting just 65% from the line this year.  Offensively, the Bears can't shoot the two (45.3% - 230th) or the three (31.1% - 244th), but they do take care of the ball well (83rd in TO percentage), crash the o-boards (41st), and both get to the line and make their free throws (both rank 40th).

Morgan State has three guys you need to concern yourself with - Reggie Holmes, Kevin Thompson, and DeWayne Jackson.

Holmes is your perimeter threat, and comes into the game averaging 24.6 points per game - good for fourth in the country.  He's already broken 30 points three times this year and is the very definition of a chucker.  He's taken twice as many shots as any other Bear besides one despite shooting just 44%, and has doubled everyone in three point attempts despite hitting at just 39%.  If you need more, his assists per game averages in his four years:  0.3, 0.6, 0.5, and 0.4 - it's safe to say he's not a point guard.

Before you dismiss him as another Benny Valentine or TaJuan Porter, however, there is one thing about him (other than the ability to score 30) that is very dangerous - he really knows how to get to the free-throw line.  So far this year he's attempted six or more free throws in every game except one has gotten to the line more than 10 times twice.  And he makes him when he gets there, shooting at 87% this year.  At 6-4, I'm a little concerned that he might be too big for Nolen, and I don't trust Westbrook.  Keep an eye on this matchup.  If they can make Holmes shoot jumpers it's going to be a runaway for the Gophers, but if he gets into the lane and to the line he can make it a long night.

Inside the Bears have a nice pair of dudes in 6-8 Kevin Thompson, currently averaging a double-double, and 6-8 freshman Dewayne Jackson, who has scored in double-figures the last five games (including 21 against Louisville) and has a nice inside/outside game. 

Three keys for the Gophers:

1.  Keep Morgan State off the line.  I mentioned this a bit when talking about Holmes, but the whole team gets to the line and shoots a high percentage (74.7% as a team), and they've shot at least 20 free throws in every game this year, breaking 40 attempts twice.  Since they also foul a lot, and we know the Gophers can't make free throws, every time a Bear gets to the stripe that's points the Gophers don't get back.

2.  Contain Kevin Thompson.  It's not that Thompson is a monster scorer (13.4 per game) but he's had a double-double in each of his last five games (averaging 15.6 points and 14 rebounds per) and has just been a beast on the boards this year.  Seeing as how the Gopher interior players were made to look like junior high kids against a couple of nondescript white surfer doofuses against Portland, Thompson has me concerned.

3.  Be the better team.  I haven't seen them play but the numbers tell me this team isn't anywhere near as athletic as the Gophers (the blocks, steals, and turnover numbers are usually a good tell) and they can't shoot.  Minnesota was able to destroy Brown in a similar situation and if they can employ that same aggressiveness they should be able to finish this one in similar fashion.  Be smart, crash the boards, move the ball to find the open man, and knock down the open shot.  They did it exactly as they needed to on Saturday, they just need to do it again.

Overall, I think this will be more of a challenge than Brown, but the Gophers should handle their business without too many problems as long as they play smart.  I almost want to make two predictions, one if they play intelligently and one if they don't.  Since I doubt they will, I'm going to say they win, but it's a lot closer than it should be:

Gophers 84, Morgan State 76.


Dawg said...

On a baseball notes, the Twins are in need of a 4th outfielder after the departure of Snacks' guy, Go-Go. I was thinking a veteran with some legitimate power. Somebody that would be cheap but could come off the bench and clear the bases with a single swing. I'm not talking about Randy Bush either. The man that the Twins could sign to probably the veterans minimum is none other then Barry Bonds. The Twins 2 World Series championships both included a grizzled old veteran (Baylor and Chili). Barry Bonds with the Twins = 2010 WS champions!

snacks said...

Nice idea, but I doubt that Bonds would be interested in coming back just to come off the bench and pinch hit occasionally. And with the loss of the greatest defensive centerfielder ever, it would make sense to have an outfielder off the bench who is solid in the field. It's not so much the drop from Gomez to Span (which is bigger than most people realize), but the loss of Span at one of the corners because both Young and Cuddyer are terrible outfielders (range-wise).

snacks said...

holy crap I just read that Pavano accepted arbitration, which was unexpected. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing though. I guess it depends on his salary.

Dawg said...

Snacks, I'm not sure if you heard the desperation in Bondsy voice last year, but that is a man who desperately wants to play baseball. He could look at it this way, the only thing standing between him and an everyday job is Delmon Young. Personally, I think he would be up to that challenge. Plus he would have an opportunity to play for a winning team in a brand new ball park. He would do it in a heart beat. In the same year we would have Brett Favre and Barry Bonds. If we added a Japanese baseball player, Minneapolis would become the media capital of the world.

Additionally, I think the Denard Span drop in defense when he plays center can be attributed to a smaller sample size and still learning the position.

WWWWWW said...

I would LOVE to see the Twins add Bonds, but there's no way it's going to happen. The club is way too caught up in "clubhouse chemistry" and other stupid crap.

Helton said...

The Boof is gone, damn you Carl Pavano for forcing this move. There goes the whole chemistry theory. How do you replace such a player like this, it will be tough, fingers crossed this works out.

Don't be surprised if the Rockies pick him up just to piss me off.

Aar Man said...

Sorry for not continuing the baseball talk, but why the hell would any school be interested in Tim Brewster? I heard today that Kansas is and Maturi apparently said that he can't guarantee that he'll stay. Well good riddance. I just hope we can get someone good to replace him. May be someone that is actually worth the money we are paying Brewster.

WWWWWW said...

Somebody wants Brewster? There's no way. That sounds like something he twittered about himself.

WWWWWW said...

Oh sweet christ I just saw they released Boof. Between this and Gomez, Snacks is going to have a stroke.

snacks said...

Someone please tell me how people can think someone like Manship have more potential than Boof, or why they think Crain can be more effective in relief than Boof. What a stupid move. I hope he catches on with the Royals and owns us for the next 5 years.