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Gophers vs. the Portland Pilots - OFFICIAL GAME THREAD

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Rencito provided us with a solid preview earlier this morning, so I won't replicate that. Portland advanced to the semi-finals after the Pilots absolutely killed UCLA in palindrome fashion, 74-47. If you had done just some cursory research the outcome is not all that surprising. UCLA is down this year and Portland is returning a lot from what was a pretty good team last year. But to beat UCLA by 27 points is astonishing and the 76 Classic officials have to be a bit disappointed as any boost they may have received in attendance is now gone. Here are the stats, starters and keys...

Stats
Portland Minnesota
Pts / Poss 1.254 1.045
Def Pts / Poss 1.014 0.755
eFG% 61.7% 57.4%
Def eFG% 46.0% 38.8%
Off Reb % 40.1% 31.3%
Def Reb % 64.7% 74.1%
TO % 22.2% 18.0%

Keys to the game
  1. Defend the Three - Portland shoots the three a lot and on the season they are shooting 53.7% from long range on the season. To drive this home they are leading the nation in effective FG% at 61.7% (tempo-free stat weighted more heavily for threes made). The Gopher defense is very good but this will test the discipline of the perimeter defense. They need to contain penetration without over-helping and they cannot get sucked too far into the paint so the kick-out is wide open.
  2. BOX OUT - We have done a nice job rebounding this year on both ends, but that has to continue. Portland rebounds just over 40% of their offensive misses, which ranks as 40th in the country. We need assert dominance in this area. The Pilots will jack up threes and obviously they'll miss their share. We cannot give them possessions where they get more opportunities to hit a three.
  3. Play OUR game - I fear that we'll get caught up in a game of chucking up threes. We need to play our game and run our offense. If they got on a run or two by nailing consecutive threes, we don't need to "answer." We need to run our offense, use our bigs and take what their defense will give us.
Likely Starters

Minnesota
PG - Al Nolen
SG - Lawrence Westbrook
SF - Rodney Williams
F - Damian Johnson
C - Ralph Sampson

Portland
G - Nick Raivio
G - T.J. Campbell
F - Ethan Neidermeyer
F - Robin Smeulders
C - Kramer Knudson