Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Minnesota at Florida State Game Thread

I've been away for a few days. First it was family stuff around T'Day and then work. Thankfully, I'm back in my recliner for Tubby's visit to Florida State, in the second of three nonconference games to get excited about. (If you're keeping track, the Gophers are 1-0 in these games, having won at Iowa State. The final game were watching closely is a game against the Runnin' Rebels in Las Vegas).

The Seminoles are coming off an upset victory over the in state rival Gators. And as this artcle from the Orlando Sentinel points out, the margin for error for the Seminoles in the nonconference schedule is virtually nil. Florida State, coached by Leonard Hamilton, has already suffered losses to Cleveland State and the University of South Florida Bulls.

The victory over the Gators looks nice, and likely feels good for the Seminoles who have traditionally struggled in this rivalry. No matter which Seminoles team shows up tonight, the trip to Tallahassee will give the Gophers another tough road test.

I'll try to give updates throughout the game.

** Oh, and as an aside, what are the chances that the Big Ten actually wins the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this season?

First Half:

** The Gophers started a three gurad lineup--Westbrook, Nolen and McKenzie--likely to counter the athleticism and good guard-play for Florida State. I wouldn't mind seeing this on a regular basis.

** After the Seminoles got off to a quick start, the Gophers have come back and looked impressive. Damian Johnson and Jonathan Williams came in for Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman and immeditately made a difference. Johnson continues to force offensive players to alter shots.

** The Gophers are firing from all cylinders from beyond the arc. Lawrence Westbrook is 2-for-2. Blake Hoffarber just hit a rainbow to give the Gophers a 20-18 lead with 12:20 left in the first half.

** Spencer Tollackson looks absolutely lost on the floor right now. He's not establishing position on the offensive end. He's not quick enough to get rebounds on the defensive end.

** As FSU has pushed out to a 25-22 lead, the Gophers have gotten into playing Florida State's style. I like the Gophers running when there is an opportunity, but feel with the talent on the floor the Gophers should try to slow the pace of this game.

** FSU's Isiah Swann continues to give the Gophers trouble. He's now hit three from three point land and has 11 points, putting the Seminoles up 28-24 with 7+ left in the first half.

** Lawrence McKenzie finally gets on the board with 6:30 left in the half with a three. The Gophers need his offense, while Tolllackson and Coleman are being marginalized.

****** Um, wow. Lawrence Westbrook all along but Jason Rich, one of FSU's athletic guards, comes out of nowhere and sends LW's layup attempt flying off the backboard. FSU turns aroudn, runs past the Gophers and capitalizes on the other end. 5:00 left in the half and FSU's spped and athleticism is why they lead 34-27.

** Finally, Spencer Tollackson's first points of the game come in a put-back with less about 4 minutes to play in the half. Tubby needs more out of Spencer, whether that be on the boards or on offense, if we're going to be able to pull out an upset on the road. The Gophers need Tollackson and the other big men, if nothing else, to bang on offense and pick up some fouls on FSU's big men. There's about 3 minutes left in the half and the Gophers haven't been to the foul line.

** Tollackson is playing much better the last five minutes on the boards. But the Gophers are completely stalled on offense. Score is still 34-29 and has been that way four 3 minutes.

** Damian Johnson gets to the line and nails two. 34-31. Free throws. Sweet!

HALFTIME: FSU 38, Minnesota 32.

PJS' Halftime Lecture: I haven't addressed the point guard play in the breakdown above. That's because I'm trying real, real hard not to be too critical of student athletes. With that said, Kevin Payton, you are playing point guard for a Big Ten team. With this in mind, you should know not to pick up your dribble for no good reason 5 to 10 feet beyond the three point line. You should also know not to throw cross court, errant passes. Additionally, you are responsible to get the team into its offensive sets. When you are on the floor, Kevin, the offense takes huge steps backwards. You need to step up, concentrate on protecting the ball, and take some pressure off of Al Nolen.

Second Half:

** To start the half it looks like the Gophers are making a concerted effort to get the ball inside. This is a good decision in my opinion, if they can play inside-out. 40-34, FSU at 18:00 mark.

** Someone just criticized Damian Johnson in the comments for his lack of offensive skill. I understand this thought process. But Johnson just used his athleticism on offense to haul in a pass in the post, then composed himself and finished. He's the only forward on our team (perhaps Coleman) who could make that play. Nonetheless, FSU continues to play more efficiently on offense and leads 49-41 with 15 minutes left.

** It says something about this Gophers team that they are in this game with 12 minutes left when Tollackson has four points and McKenzie and Coleman have three points each. Lawrence Westbrook leads the way right now with 10. But for the Gophers to come back, they need the big three to make a mark.

** WIth 6 minutes left, the Seminoles largely have the game in the bag. A couple things have been large factors: The Seminoles have been to the free throw line 22 times (converted on 19). The Gophers meanwhile are 5-for-8 from the line. You can't win games with that large of a margin. The second key difference tonight has been athleticism. The Seminoles were better at finishing on the fast break. They were able to disrupt our offense with their quickness to the ball and their ability to deny our posts position.

** Barring a miraculous comeback, I'll be back tomorrow with some positivies and negatives to today's game. We shouldn't get too upset about this outcome tonight. FSU is the type of team we're going to have trouble with until the talent level on Tubby's team rises.


Anonymous said...

Johnson is driving me crazy with his inability to actually put up a shot on offense. What's the use of grabbing those reboudns if he can't finish?

Anonymous said...

I tuned in for about 1/3 of the game, since I didn't know it was on TV...saw some gross airballs and near airballs in the mix.

Come on guys, decent high school players don't toss up airballs on open 3 point looks.

Still, I saw good effort, but the foul shooting balance was what undid the Gophers tonight in this one.

*Should* be in for a month we can sweep out, except Santa Clara which is still a game the Gophs should win, then the game in Vegas will be the last pre-B10 test. To get in line for the tourney, I think the Gophers must have a 1 or 2 loss non conference.