Minnesota put forth a brutal effort on their way to getting smoked by Illinois 92-65. The Gophers drop to 0-1 in conference as they begin a gauntlet of games that could very well not see a conference win until late January.
Unlike the non-conference opponents, Illinois is very good. Brad Underwood has a strong ball club who will compete for a Big Ten championship and could go far in the Tournament. Minnesota will play better against less quality talent solely due to the fact that less talented teams present fewer match-up problems. I say all of that to say this:
Minnesota will lose to bad teams with that performance. Look at this shot chart.
Minnesota is on the left. The makes are filled in. Look at all the misses from within 8 feet. Some of that was certainly Kofi Cockburn who is both good at basketball and very big, but most of it is not. Why? Because when Kofi Cockburn is patrolling the lane players do not drive. Offense settle for shots outside of the paint. Most of those shots are just straight up misses. Minnesota’s starting lineup wen 11-45 from the field! 11-45! So many missed layups. So many poor shots! So much over dribbling and attempting to force creation out of isolation against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
As a team the Gophers were 19-69 (nice) from the field. They shot their average from deep, by which I mean 7-28 with a meaningless make well into garbage time. Against a poor team, that is a recipe for disaster. Against Illinois, it makes them look like a team from the SWAC.
Unsurprisingly, no shots falling on offense led to lots of run outs and points in transition for Illinois. When the Illini had to run a half court game, they could throw it to Kofi Cockburn for whom Minnesota had no answer. Liam Robbins picked up early fouls, and no one after him even had the size to match up with Illinois’s star big man. Cockburn ended the game with 33 points and 13 rebounds.
Ayo Dosunmu only had 10 points on 5-14 shooting. Fortunately for Illinois, if you take away Dosunmu entirely they still win this game by 17.
I think I can tell you what the offensive philosophy for Minnesota is, though GopherNation might disagree as he does not believe the Gophers have one at all. What I cannot figure out is what the team’s second action is if the first one has been stopped. That is a massive problem.
The only positive from this game that I can draw is that watching on mute is still preferable to listening to Dan Dakich.
The Gophers next play Saint Louis at Williams Arena. They will be underdogs on their own court.