Minnesota defeated North Dakota 76-67 at Williams Arena. With the win Minnesota improves to 4-0 on the season. Both Gach led all scorers with 21 points.
Success in the non-conference against bad teams is to win and have no one get injured. Anytime those two are accomplished, then it is a successful non-conference game. That said, you would have been forgiven for long swaths of the first half to identify which was the Big Ten team. Minnesota struggled mightily to sustain consistent energy in the first half. Both Gach had his best half of the season and was a personal energy missile, but the rest of the team looked lackadaisical. The Gophers spotted North Dakota a four possession lead before clamping down on defense to take a one point lead into the half.
In the second half Brandon Johnson’s energy willed Minnesota across the line. The graduate transfer had 15 points and 3 steals and managed to stay out of foul trouble for the first time this season. Johnson is going to be a high energy player and the main takeaway from today is that Minnesota needs players to make their own energy this season.
Oh my stars what I would give for consistent outside shooting from Minnesota. All of the parts are there for a dangerous slashing team except the guy who sits in the corner and destroys teams if they try to help down. I’m not in full panic mode. After all, we are just four games into the season. I want that shooter though. Be it Kalscheur, Brandon Johnson, Jamal Mashburn, Hunt Conroy I don’t care.
I would like Liam Robbins to not leave his feet when he has nearly a full foot height advantage on the man he’s guarding. I would also like to see the Gophers adjust the defense a bit so that Robbins does not have to try to cover very quick guards on the high pick and roll.
Marcus Carr had a quiet game for the first half. Then he finished with 17 points and 9 assists and I thought he had a down game.
Because The Daily Gopher Pahdcast (available on all major streaming platforms) is prescient, gopherguy05 inquired who would be the player to step up when Marcus Carr struggles. I said Both Gach and I was correct. Gach has all the tools to be a top player, and should have these kinds of games against weaker opponents. He finished with 21 points and 9 assists.
The Big Ten online feed had all sorts of technical difficulties, which resulted in 1) hot mics all the time 2) no commentary track for the first part of the first half 3) just Jess Settles’s track for three minutes of the first half 4) Jess Settles disappearing and being replaced on the fly by Ben Brust 5) BTN broadcasting Brust saying “This feels like the Twilight Zone...[he] goes ‘am I hallucinating or are you calling two games back to back?’”
Watching players in an empty gym with cardboard cutouts in the stands play a meaningless game while announcers fly in and out at random times is on brand for 2020.
Minnesota’s next game is against Boston College on December 8th.