Minnesota will play DePaul in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers are the 8th seed in the Oklahoma City Region, which is an absolutely ridiculous name most obviously because the first game is in South Bend. This is the first appearance for MInnesota in the NCAA Tournament in six seasons.
Opponent: DePaul Blue Demons
Where: South Bend, Indiana
When: March 20th, 4pm CST
1. DePaul Has a Silly Team Name
I will start with this because I have not seen DePaul play basketball this year. I promise that the rest of this preview will actually have somewhat relevant basketball content, but I would be remiss if I did not take some time to talk about DePaul's dumb mascot name. Admittedly, the Blue Demon is not as awful as Franklin Pierce's fight song, but then again, nothing is. Note to future composers: if you plan on writing a fight song arranged for low brass, rethink that decision.
The Blue Demons became the Blue Demons out of pure old fashioned unoriginality. From Wikipedia:
The origin of the Blue Demons nickname dates back to 1907 when the university changed its name from St. Vincent's College to its current form. At the time, the athletic teams had red uniforms with a large "D" on the front. After an announcer referred to the players as the "D-men," the moniker stuck and eventually evolved into "Demons." The "blue" was part of an attempt to distinguish the university's players from those of its now-defunct high school DePaul Academy. The former wore red with a blue "D," while the latter adopted the reverse.
So, 1. DePaul's announcer was too lazy to come up with something slightly original. I'm somewhat amazed the nickname isn't "The ones wearing blue." 2. Unless you're Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, your nickname should not play up your inability to play offense. 3. When your nickname comes about as a way to fight the perception that you're from a high school, you have an issue.
That's how DePaul became the Blue Demons, which they then topped by naming their mascot DIBS, an acronym for Demon in a Blue Suit. OMFG.
2. Dominate the Post
Minnesota has a Wooden Award finalist at the 5 position. Amanda Zahui B. will have both a talent and a height advantage against DePaul's front line. Zahui is a better scorer and rebounder than any player on DePaul, and should be able to find position in the post. For the Gophers, the challenge will be to get her the ball. This means, for example, not throwing the ball into the post when Zahui B. is triple covered. Effective entry passes and good spacing will provide the right context for post domination on the offensive end. On the defensive end, the Gophers will be challenged by a DePaul front court that statistically appears to like to play on the perimeter. Drawing Zahui B. away from the basket negates Minnesota's impressive defensive rebounding threat, and could open up space for easy putbacks. Other Gophers will have to know their roles, including finding their assignments and boxing out.
3. Control Tempo
Minnesota likes to play fast, but in losses this year, had a tendency to play faster than necessary. In a tournament setting, Minnesota should not abandon their preferred style, but they will need to show maturity in the half court. Settling for the first open shot because Zahui B. will probably get the rebound is a suboptimal strategy. Instead, the Gophers should be able to actually run their offense. In transition, the Gophers will need to avoid committing unforced turnovers. If it sounds simple, that's because conceptualization and implementation are frequently very different levels of difficulty.
Brittany Hyrnko, DePaul's point guard, is a Dawn Staley Award finalist, and will certainly be able to pick apart a Minnesota team that is unprepared or sloppy.
- HOMER TAKE ALERT. Gophers win by 5
- Zahui B. has a double double by halftime
- A DePaul fan writes a completely wrong but similarly acerbic critique of Goldy