Back & Forth – Minnesota

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of happy to have a week off. Not just because it means one less game without the injured players (better than having two byes in February), but also to stop this roller coaster of emotions. Win and there’s hope we can surge when the injured players return; lose and the hole is too deep. Here’s how Tyler and I felt after the Minnesota loss.

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This will be a short postgame post. I have to get back outside and cut a hole in a door to install a vent for the furnace closet. I am very much looking forward to cutting this hole in the door as it will vent a few frustrations. Renovations on the house are almost done. I’m gassed. Speaking of…. [Read more...]

Ball-You-Man – Minnesota

Big game against Minnesota before a much needed week off to rest up. We’ll be running on short rest and a short bench against a desperate team. Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.

By the numbers

Minnesota entered the season with high hopes. They returned nearly everyone from a solid squad. Things looked pretty good after the non conference with a record of 11-2, with losses to Louisville and a solid St. John’s squad. Then the wheels fell off. The Gophers opened conference play with an eye opening five game losing streak. They managed a win a week ago against Rutgers, but turned around and fell flat against Nebraska. They’re looking to jumpstart a mid season run and hope we’ll be the win that gets them going.

The record so far is surprising not just due to the roster but the numbers as well. The Gophers have been solid on both sides of the ball ranking 55th on offense and 76th on defense per Kenpom. They knock down a solid percentage of shots from both above and below the break (37.9% from three and 50.7% from two). The offense shows great balance. Four guys can reliably knock down deep balls, and Walker and Eliason both flash legitimate back to the basket games.

On defense, Minnesota turns opponents over on a staggering 25.9% of possessions, ranking 5th nationally. En route to that number, the Gophers generate steals at the 3rd best rate in the country. Four of their players rank in the top 75 for individual steal rate. With our 4th ranked turnover rate this will be a case of unstoppable force meeting immovable object. The one who blinks first here will have trouble pulling out a win.

Who are they on offense?

The Gophers have weapons all over the floor, with 6 players averaging 8.9 points per game or better. They also share the ball extremely well. Their 17.5 assists per game rank 8th nationally.

The offense runs through the guards. Seniors Andre Hollins and Deandre Mathieu and freshman Nate Mason can all get it done from the outside.

They get that offense by running defenders through waves of screens off the ball.

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The Leron Black Game

I write my emotions. You know that. One game I’m “let’s win 8 of the next 10 in this weak Big Ten” and the very next game I’m “we’ll never hold a lead again”. Tonight? “I’ve been waiting a long time for a real, true, rebound-eating power forward wearing orange & blue.” Tonight was The Leron Black Game. [Read more...]

Back & Forth – Indiana

The Indiana loss hit me pretty hard. So hard, in fact, that I replied to Tyler’s first email with a long, rambling mess of a response where I put words to my fears. We’re giving away bobble-heads because it’s been TEN YEARS since we made a tourney run. I need us to get back there soon or I might lose it a little bit. [Read more...]

75 Minutes

The moment the game was over, I immediately started researching our end-of-game numbers. I tweeted about Oregon, Michigan, and Indiana endings and then sat down to research the last 10 minutes in our 7 losses. Obsessed, I was. Then I went to my nephew’s birthday party and now I return to write about it hours later. The anger is gone. Now the numbers are just depressing. [Read more...]

Back & Forth – Northwestern

Tyler was in attendance at the Northwestern game.  So this Back & Forth is more “tell me all about it”.  Only a couple emails between us, but they’re chock full of goodness.  Including my attempt to compare 2014/15 to 1999/2000 and Tyler’s challenge for someone to find another college basketball game without a single live ball turnover. [Read more...]

Nunn The Wiser

You have to understand – when you’re tasked with coming up with titles for all of these posts, you just kind of naturally move in a lame direction.  So even though I used “Nunn – Too Pleased” when he verballed to Illinois, I just had to go back to the Nunn/None well for this one.  Because that was one of the top Illini individual performances this season. [Read more...]

Back & Forth – Nebraska

This felt similar to the Nebraska back-and-forth with Steve during the football season. Early conference season road game goes horribly bad in Lincoln and we’re left to sort through the ashes. Which leaves us all anxious about whether this thing heads straight south. Here’s the emails Tyler and I shared: [Read more...]

Ball-You-Man – Northwestern

I had a good feeling we’d keep Nebraska’s offense in check, but I deluded myself into believing we could put up good numbers on offense without career games from Hill, Tate, and Egwu. One bright spot was Kendrick came to play. He didn’t hit enough shots for us to win, but he came out aggressive. I hope he keeps that drive high heading up to Evanston.

By the numbers

Northwestern is not good at the game of basketball. They aren’t Rutgers bad, but they’re bad. The Wildcats enter play ranked 132 by kenpom after looking surprisingly game against Michigan State in East Lansing. They shot their minds out going 12-25 from three, which likely won’t be repeated this year. Northwestern has hit just 34.5% of their threes this year, with only Bryant McIntosh as a consistent threat. Despite their poor conversion rate the Cats gun from deep slightly more often than even we do (36.2% vs 36%). As a result, they struggle getting to the line, missing out on easy points.

The defense hasn’t fared much better than the offense so far. Northwestern sits at 295th in turnover rate and 261st in 3FG% allowed. We can clearly take advantage of their inability to force turnovers, and (fingers crossed) we SHOULD be able to take advantage of the open threes they allow.

Who are they on offense?

The Wildcats run a dribble hand-off based scheme that centers around freshman point guard Bryant McIntosh and junior wing Tre Demps.

Demps comes in as their leading scorer. He’s a great finisher around the rim, but he struggles to get inside regularly. He doesn’t have enough off the bounce juice to create for himself and often settles for jumpers, which aren’t his forte.

McIntosh has been the real gem of the recruiting class for Chris Collins. While Vic Law seemed to be the headliner, it’s been McIntosh who’s been the team’s best player. He’s gone so far as to completely supplant senior Dave Sobolewski. When you watch him play there’s just an impressive feel for the game there. Picture, if you will, Jaylon Tate, but trade Tate’s defense for a jumpshot. That’s manifested itself in 12 points and nearly 5 assists per game, solid stuff for any freshman. McIntosh ranks #62 in all of college hoops in assist rate, and it isn’t hard to see why.

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