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Gophers Searching for Answers and a Win in Evanston - OPEN THREAD

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The good news is that Tubby Smith is 7-2 against Northwestern in his tenure, the bad news is that he is 1-2 in Evanston winning only the 2007 road game. This game is so huge...

Game Time: 7:30
TV: Big Ten Network

Pos Minnesota Pnt/Gm Pnt/Gm Northwestern Pos
PG Maverick Ahanmisi 1.8
15.2 Michael Thompson
G
G Blake Hoffarber 13.9
12.4
Drew Crawford G
F Rodney Williams 6.6
1.9
Mike Capocci F
F Trevor Mbakwe 13.9
16.8 John Shurna
F
C Ralph Sampson III 10.5 7.9 Luka Mircovic
F
Bench Colton Iverson 5.6
4.8
Alex Marcotullio
Bench
Bench Austin Hollins
4.3
4.1
Davide Curletti
Bench
Bench Chip Armelin 4.3
1.0
Reggie Hearn
Bench

Scoring guards scare the crap out of me. Our perimeter defense was bad with Nolen and is frightening without him. Thompson and Crawford combined for 35 in our first game at the Barn, expect that to happen again on their home floor. Shurna was injured near the end of the first game when Ralph Sampson shoved him into the basketball stanchion. Expect him to score as well, big men who can shoot typically fare well against us.

The move of Hoffarber over to SG will hopefully free him up to score more effectively but he hit 20 on the Wildcats last time around so we'll need more than him. In the first game what made all the difference in the world was Sampson and Iverson combining for 29. Sampson was great in the first half while Iverson was a beast in the second. Those guys, along with Williams, are so inconsistent...who knows what we'll get from them but somebody needs to step up and be a reliable third option tonight.

Once again I'm not putting up the KenPom stats. I love the efficiency stats but throw all numbers out the window. This team needs to play with some guts again tonight AND they need to execute for a FULL FORTY MINUTES. I loved our energy and our execution for most of the Michigan game, but it wasn't enough. If I were coaching tonight my message to the team would simply be 40 minutes. On the whiteboard in the lockerroom I'd write in huge letters

40 MINUTES

With all of that said I feel pretty strongly that tonight will be a win. Maybe it is just my lack of respect for Northwestern or maybe it is my consistent overvaluation of the Gophers but I feel a win tonight. There are games where certain guys will predictably sleepwalk through the game. And there are certain games when they will come out with some determination to be a contributor. I think we get contributions tonight from Rodney and Ralph en route to a huge road win over team with a top 100 RPI.