Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Defensive issues aside, Gophers win 82-72 over Chanticleers

Well we might as well start with the obvious - the defense was atrocious last night.  Facing their most skilled and most athletic opponent of the season so far (and in fairness, I didn't see this coming) the press got shredded and the half court zone wasn't much better.  The Gophers did manage to cause enough havoc to win, forcing 20 turnovers by the Chanticleers, but if they weren't getting a turnover that probably meant one of Coastal Carolina's capable guards was penetrating the lane to either score or find a teammate for an open shot.  Allowing 52% shooting to a Big South team is not something that's supposed to happen, although it fits with the season long trend of allowing opponents to shoot 51% on 2-point attempts, which ranks 216th in the country.

Therein lies the problem with a pressing team, because by throwing so much of your defense into your opponent's back court it leaves holes if they get by the front line.  You can solve this with perfect technique and rotations (although only partially), great athletes who are faster than most opponents, or with great interior rim protection and ideally you'd want some combination of the three.  The current Gophers lack all of these.  I expect they'll get better with their rotations as the season goes on and they get more experience, but at this point there's not much you can do with the athletic ability on the team (they're not exactly unathletic, just not as quick as they need to be right now) and unless Mo Walker changed more than I thought they aren't magically going to get a rim protector.  This is going to lead to some ugly losses and some long nights.

But hey, a win is a win, and after getting to see Coastal Carolina last night I expect they'll likely win the Big South and could conceivably beat Clemson in a couple weeks.  The three headed guard monster is turning out to be very good for the Gophers, and although I just spent two paragraphs talking about their poor defensive showing, the 20 turnovers is very good especially because they only gave it away 10 times themselves. 

We saw some flaws, exposed more than they had been yet this year by a better team than the Gophers had seen, but even so the Gophers remain undefeated.  Hopefully they can tighten up their rotations and post broken press defense with more practice and experience, and if not Pitino doesn't strike me as the type of coach who will just stick with something because it's what he wants, even if it doesn't work with his personnel.  Or at least that's the hope.

Bring on Wofford.

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