Thursday, February 12, 2009

Minnesota 62, Indiana 54.

Playing without Devin Dumes and despite 26 turnovers, IU managed to make a game of this one and even led briefly during the second half. The main distinguishing characteristic of Tubby's first two Minnesota games has been the ability to ugly things up. Of course, this year, the problem is exacerbated, because Minnesota's defensive strengths play into IU's offensive weaknesses. But don't forget last year's win at the Barn. Despite having a much more talented team, IU still managed to turn the ball over (drumroll) 26 times. In last year's game, IU turned the ball over on 35.4 percent of its possession. In the last two seasons, only last night's game (38.6) and the Northeastern loss (36.1) have been worse than the 2008 trip to Minnesota. As painful as it was to watch that spectacle last night, this may become the usual pattern in Minneapolis.

Neither offense looked very good, but the Gophers' shooting was even worse than IU's. The difference is that because of a +7 turnover differential and tremendous offensive rebounding by Minnesota (48.5 percent of their own misses), the Gophers attempted 55 field goals to IU's 37.

Verdell Jones, despite 5 turnovers, was very effective. He scored 18 points on 8 attempts, thanks to 8-8 from the line. Nick Williams scored 15 points on 7 shots because of 5-6 from the line. IU began the game 1-6 from the line but made 15 of its final 16 free throw attempts. Malik Story was fine offensively (9 points on 8 shots, but 5 turnovers). Most significantly, he played 24 minutes, in a road game no less, and committed only one foul. That's progress.

On the downside, Tom Pritchard may be hitting the wall. He hasn't scored in double figures in the last five games. Last night, he didn't score and fouled out in 27 minutes. Ditto Daniel Moore. Again, all of these guys are bearing more burden than any freshman typically has to bear. Still, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls in 13 minutes isn't a good output for a guy who doesn't shoot.

IU plays at home against Illinois on Sunday. It will be the Illini's first trip to Bloomington since last year's game in Champaign, and it will be interesting to see how the crowd greets Bruce Weber and Chester Frazier.

The Daily Gopher's take is here.


Anonymous said...

I'm more interested in how the crowd at Assembly Hall (Bloomington) greets Mike Davis.

John M said...

Yeah, I could see the crowd having some fun with that.

Lest anyone get confused, the Mike Davis who plays for Illinois isn't Mike Davis Jr., nor is he any relation to the former IU coach as far as I know. But I could see him drawing some boos just for having the name.