Minnesota lost to Temple 75-70 in the first game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off. With the loss Minnesota is now 2-1 on the season. Nate Mason led all scorers with 20 points. After a back and forth first half, Minnesota trailed 31-26 to begin the second half. The Gophers led by as six, but sloppy play late in the second half doomed them. Temple made fewer mistakes, and got some unexpected shooting help to seal the victory.
Thoughts on the Game
Minnesota will take a lot of three point attempts the rest of the season. I like the strategy, but the execution against Temple was questionable at times. There were multiple instances where a Minnesota player would have been better served driving to the basket. Admittedly, it's early in the season and I prefer the team taking threes instead of long 2s.
Defensive effort to contest threes on the other end was poor for much of the first half. The Gophers allowed far too many open shots in the first half from deep. Temple's deliberate offense may be designed to get those shots, but more than a few open shots were the result of Minnesota's lack of defensive effort. Some of these failures may be the result of unfamiliarity. Minnesota is integrating many new players into the team, so some breakdowns should be expected early in the year.
Conversely, when the Gophers give effort for the full shot clock they are a formidable defense. Minnesota can play multiple different athletic lineups. With Charles Buggs in the lineup, the Gophers' guards can switch on screens without worry. The same is true of Jordan Murphy.
Speaking of Buggs, if this game is any indication, he might have figured out how to put his athleticism to work. With a little over ten minutes to play in the second half, Buggs drove left and made a fade away jumper that required a complete rotation of his upper body. It was very pretty.
Bakary Konate put up a solid offensive performance, but still struggled with fouling. He had to sit for extended minutes in the second half. When he was not fouling, Konate was a defensive stopper, and provided the majority of rim protection for Minnesota.
Nate Mason's pull up jumper off screens is already lit. This year, the sophomore will need to be a leader on both ends of the floor.
Good Carlos Morris will be excellent this year, as in 20 PPG good. Bad Carlos Morris will be painful to watch. The difference between the two on offense is entirely decision-making.
Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey are going to be fun to watch this season. Both players are fast, and make a lot of hustle plays on the defensive end of the floor. McBrayer also demonstrated some mental toughness after a series of negative plays by forcing Temple into a back-court violation through sheer hustle. They still play like freshmen, but that is to be expected.