Sunday, March 8, 2009

Michigan Review

It took me this long to be able to write about this game. I still don't fully understand how we lost that game. The Gophers played 35 minutes of some of the best basketball all year. They were making crisp passes, shooting and everyone was contributing. Then it just stopped. Westbrook tried taking it all on himself but we weren't playing the Badgers so it was unsuccessful. We shot 55%, 94.7% from the free throw line. We outrebounded them 30-13 but we lost.

There were a lot of questions with the amount of useage of the seniors JAS and Williams. JAS justified his by putting up 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 20 minutes. Williams did not do so getting 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers in 16 minutes. It frustrated me to no end the fact that he played 16 minutes and Colton did not play. I then found that Iverson was injured during practice and was unable to play.

Looking back with sme clarity and understanding there were two reasons for the loss. One is the continued lack of someone who can consistently carry the team and take the big shots down the stretch of the game. The other was the foul trouble of Damian Johnson. He sets the intensity of the defense. He got his 4th foul around 8 minutes left. He came back with 4 minutes left but he played timid. He was scared of picking up the 5th foul so he lacked the defensive intensity of the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Michigan scored at will down the stretch and the defense that we have come used to wasn't there and it was due to DJ being in foul trouble. It was evident in DeShawn Sims ending up with 24 points.

Coming into this homestand I believed we needed to win both games to make the tournament, but with other teams blowing their chances (Kentucky, Penn State, Maryland, etc.) the Gophers are not out of it at all. As the 8 seed in the Big Ten tournament they will play Northwestern in the first round. I believe that if they beat Northwestern on Thursday they will be in the tournament. No one will expect them to then beat Michigan State so it will not hurt to lose in the quarterfinals as long as they don't get totally embarassed. It won't be for sure if they only beat Northwestern but I would expect them to make it. It would also help if Penn State loses right away and there are no major upsets in the other tournaments. Here is the bracket for the Big Ten tournament.

Stats of the Game
  • 18: Turnovers by the Gophers. For a team with offensive problems it does us no favors turning the ball over as much as we do. Interestingly, the only Gopher who did not turn the ball over is much-maligned Al Nolen. DJ, Williams and Westbrook lead with 3 turnovers each.
  • 4-32: Gophers behind the arc in the last 3 games. The way college basketball is played it is a shock we even won one of the three games. I'm worried that with all the hype of next year's team the lack of outside shooting will undue us next year also. We need Hoffarber and Joseph.
  • February 4: The last time Westbrook missed a free throw. He is 21-21 since then. I have never been a huge Westbrook fan but he is 88% from the line this year and it has helped us down the stretch in a few games this year.

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