I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that the Gophers are on TV (assuming you have Big Ten Network). The bad news is that we have yet another uninspiring opponent. I know the Gophers are young and full of new players, so a weak out of conference schedule has its benefits, but I'm getting tired of every game being agaisnt a team that has very little chance of making the game remotely competitive.
I know this game was close a year ago and SDSU returns some of their key players, but this game will do nothing to improve Minnesota's strenght of schedule (281st according to Sagarin rankings and 212th by Ken Pom standards).
The Facts are These...
|Off Reb %||34.1%||37.4%|
|Def Reb %||66.6%||63.9%|
Assuming things play out as we can reasonably expect our defense should make thing difficult for them offensively and we should shoot well enough to win.
Turnovers though are still a significant problem for this team. We have a handful of talented perimeter players but Nolen is our only true PG. And while Absolute Zero (Nolen for those who didn't know) has done a fine job taking care of the ball, some of our other backcourt players really need to improve in this area or it will really hurt us by the time we get into the Big Ten schedule. We simply cannot give the other team that ball on slightly more than one out of every five possessions.
|Total TOs||TOs per 40 Min|
Key Players for the Jackrabits
|Likely Starters||Size||Class||Pos||Pts||Reb||Ast||3pnt %|
Mark Engen (MN native)
The guy to worry about here is Callahan who had the best game of his career scoring 28 points on 11/18 shooting last year in the Barn. After seeing what the Gopher defense did to Sylven Landesberg of UVA, I am not spending my afternoon fretting about what Callahan is going to do to us tonight. The rest of the roster is pretty balances with four guys scoring in teh 8 - 14 ppg range.
Stories to watch tonight
I see two things to pay close attention to tonight. The first is turnovers. Against a team that so far has not been a great defensive team this is a chance for the Gophers to lower that turnover percentage. Not lowering the stat for statistical ranking purposes, but hopefully a game where we can learn to be efficient on offense by taking care of the ball and getting a shot every time down the floor. The guys to wach will be Westbrook and Joseph.
The other storyline for tonight will be Colt 45 facing the D1 team from his native state. The fact that Iverson is from SoDak will make things interesting but added to that is the need for the Gophers to dominate the frontcourt tonight. The Jackrabbits are undersized with only one guy over 6'7" who sees any significant minutes (and Engen is solidly their 8th man). This should be a great chance for DJ Swat, Colt 45 and RSIII to dominate the paint scoring and rebounding.
SDSU killed us on the boards last year which largely contributed to the final six point margin. I fully expect that will not be forgotten and DJ Swat, Colt 45 and RSIII will be focused on ending possessions with a rebound.
- Minnesota reversed the rebounding disparity and outrebounds the Jackrabits by +6.
- The losses of Hoffarber and Carter really do not factor in as this is the kind of game tailor made for guys like Abu-Shamala and Busch. They both see big minutes and play well.
- This one is a 12 point cushion for the final 30 minutes of the game and the Gophers cruise to victory.