Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bounce-back against Iowa ...

It wasn't pretty (like swimming without getting wet), but it was a BIG-10 win at home in the friendly confines of the Assembly Hall as the tribe defeated an upstart and pesky Hawkeye club, 62-54. There is no such thing as a bad win this time of year. You do what you have to each and every night out to earn the W. And this just in, losing on the road inside the 'Barn' isn't a bad loss either. Mark these words; the Gophers will make a little noise come mid-March.

Well, we started flat in the first half and actually trailed at the break against Iowa today. Not much was going right with several empty possessions, turnovers, and settling the outside shot. Things started to change in the 2nd half with McCamey (7 assists) and Tisdale (18 points) leading the charge. I hope we lost the funk of the Gopher collapse, scoring just 36 point - lowest in 24 years. Ugh!

Defense continues to be impressive this year. We held the Hawkeyes to just 21 of 51 shooting or 41% while going 23-48 for 48% ourselves. Another key was the rebounding differential, 35-22 for the game. Nice work on the glass men.

We now stand at 18-4 (6-3) on the season with upcoming games against Wisconsin (Madison) and Purdue (home) this next week. The ninth consecutive home win is now the longest stretch in conference. We're tied for third in the conference behind Purdue and Sparty wtih Minnesota, Penn State, and Ohio State. But, there's quite a bit of work to do as we prepare for March and tourney time (BIG-10 should get six if not seven bids this year). I like the overall direction we're headed with a young team and a great recruiting class next year (15th nationally right now according to SCOUTS.COM), including 3 in the TOP-100.

Where do we go from here? Obviously, to Madison seeking another road - conference win. Wtih ten games to go before the conference tourney in Indianapolis this year, we have to answer some tough questions and earn at least six wins in the process.
  1. Get back to playing fundamentally sound basketball ON THE ROAD. What happened to the team that took it to Purdue to start conference play? With recent road losses to Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota, we have to find that winning formula again. It really comes down to executing your offense in the COMFORT ZONE.
  2. Play every contest like it could be your last. What the three aforementioned lossess all have in common is a lack of execution and leadership down the stretch. Every person has a role to play; play it with urgency.
  3. Execute in the half court with accurate passing, crisp cuts to the basket, and kick-outs for open threes. Don't fall into the shot-clock trap of burning it down to 5 seconds left with nothing but a bailout three and a prayer as your only options.
  4. Step-up guys! Step-up Dmitri! Step-up Frazier! Step-up Trent! Step-up Mr. Davis! And Step-up Mr. Tisdale! You guys are the heart and soul of this team right now. Shouldn't matter if the game is played at home or away.

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