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Golden Gopher's Big Ten Home Opener vs. Indiana Hoosiers - OPEN THREAD

Yes, we are 0-2 in the Big Ten and yes we have a couple brutal games still coming in the next nine days, but look on the bright side we have 9 home games left and only 7 road games! The home schedule finally starts tonight as we host the 0-2 Hoosiers.

Game Time: 6:00

Pos #20 - Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Indiana Pos
PG Al Nolen 7.4
9.7 Jordan Hulls
G Blake Hoffarber 13.6 8.1 Victor Oladipo
F Rodney Williams 6.1
12.2 Verdell Jones III F
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.4
17.2 Christian Watford
C Ralph Sampson III 11.4 6.3 Derek Elston
Bench Colton Iverson 6.6 8.7 Maurice Creek
Bench Austin Hollins
3.6 3.0 Jeremiah Rivers
Bench Chip Armelin
4.1 Will Sheehay

The Indiana lineup may be different but this is what they went with in their recent Ohio State game. The real story regarding lineups is the loss of Devoe Joseph for Minnesota. One can argue how much value he actually added to the team thus far in 2010-11 but his 30 minutes are going to be replaced by true freshmen. That scares me. His 11+ points per game will hopefully be absorbed by Nolen, Hoffarber and the frontcourt. And his defense frankly won't be missed, so maybe this won't end up being a terrible thing. What I am concerned about to some degree is who will replace his 3.5 assists and will true freshmen playing more minutes mean more turnovers? And will not having a quality shooter on the floor make it even more difficult for Hoffarber to get an open look?

IU has some talented young kids on the roster who can score plenty of points. If we continue to give wide open looks from behind the arc, they can not only keep up with us but they can beat us.

KenPom Efficiency Stats Minnesota (58) Indiana (74)
Record 11-3 9-6
Pnt / Poss 1.099 (50) 1.091
Def Pnt / Poss 0.944 0.959
Off eFG% 51.5% 55.6% (14)
Def eFG% 46.7% 47.2%
Off Reb % 39.6% (13) 34.3%
Def Reb % 69.0% 70.8%
TO % 20.4% (143) 21.5%

Remember when we used to be really good at forcing turnovers? I don't show that stat but currently we turn our opponents over at a rate of 20.1% of their possessions, that ranks 207th in the nation. Last year we finished 84th nationally, 46th in 2009 and 25th in 2008. We've had trademarks in the Tubby Smith era of creating turnovers, blocking shots and offensive rebounding. We are rebounding very well this year and we are still blocking shots, but our rate of turning over the opponent has fallen off the map. Maybe it is the loss of Nolen for several games, maybe we don't press as much this year, maybe it is the loss of Westbrook/Johnson or maybe we just aren't a great defensive team this year. Whatever the reason this needs to improve. The pressure needs to be ratcheted up on the perimeter. We already give up a lot of open threes, let's start putting some pressure on their guards and if we give up open threes big deal (that is a staple this year), maybe we'll trade a few open looks for three or four more steals per game.

Indiana's numbers are not overly impressive the thing that stands out is the one thing that should always concern us. They have a high eFG%, which is weighted for three point shooting. Once again we absolutely need to defend the three, a tiger can't exactly change his stripes but maybe we can at least start to improve a bit. This problem isn't Defensively both teams are really struggling. Tom Crean had this to say about his team's defense but he might as well have been talking about the Gophers.

"All you have to do in this game to be good is guard one dribble. If you want to be great, guard two dribbles. If you want to get drafted, guard three. … You have no chance if you’re footwork’s not right."

Very true. And he's not even talking about team defense. This one needs to be a win. We cannot start the season 0-3 as we head down to Columbus. And we cannot lose home games to teams expected to finish 7th or worse in the conference. IU has some talented young kids but this has to be a win.