Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thoughts On Tubby's First Loss

Marcus Fuller of the PiPress called it a "measuring-stick" game. The Gophers lost last night, 75-61 in a game that began as an up-and-down, fast-breaking affair. That was a style much better suited to the athletic Seminoles. That was the first lesson. We can't out run a more athletic team.

Tubby told Fuller he can use this game moving forward: "We needed a game like this so we can evaluate and measure where we are," Smith said. "We can learn from it and use this as a teaching tool." Hopefully it can teach Tubby to find a nice spot at the end of the bench for Kevin Payton. I digress.

The point here is there were both good and bad things that happened last inght. And while it would have been great to storm through the nonconference scheduled unblemished, it simply wasn't going to happen. But, the Gophers can take this game and make sure they correct some things and get ready for a 7 game stretch that they should sweep, before the nonconference season ends with a game against UNLV in Vegas.

But that's all quite a ways down the road. Here are my thoughts on last night's loss.


** Blake Hoffarber was active on both the offensive and defensive ends. He continues to shoot with confidence and I'm beginning to think he can help this team out in more ways then just spot-up shooting. Hoffarber led the team in scoring.

** Damian Johnson continues to impact games with his reboudning and shot blocking abilities. His critics are correct that he needs to work on his offensive game, but he's just a sophomore and if there has been one big surprise to this season so far it has been Johnson.

** While Lawrence Westbrook took a couple ill-advised shots and was made to look silly when his layup was forcefully rejected on a fast break, the Gophers need him to be a fourth scoring option like he was to at least begin the game last night. He hit the three early on while Lawrence McKenzie was struggling and allowed the Gophers to play a three guard lineup against the quick FSU backcourt.

** Al Nolen starting. This is a positive if for no other reason Kevin Payton isn't on the court. Nolen looked a little jittery last night, made a few mistakes, but he's still a better option than Payton.

** Even down the stretch, when FSU had the game in the bag with about 5 to 6 minutes left, the Gophers kept battling. Hoffarber scrapped for rebounds along with Jamal Abu Shamala. McKenzie kept pushing the basketball. Spencer Tollackson, who did not have a good night, continued to battle on the boards. Hard work and intensity counts for something.


** Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson were completely neutralized by FSU's more athletic frontcourt. Tollackson couldn't do anything with his back to the basket--and he couldn't even win position in the post to allow an entry pass in from the wing. Meanwhile, Coleman, facing the basket, wasn't quick enough to to take the ball to the basket. His perimiter jump shot wasn't falling and his game, both offensive and defensive, was ineffective all night. In my opinion, the Gophers were better last night with Damian Johnson and Jonathan Williams on the floor. Though that mostly had to do with Johnson over Coleman. Tollackson was effective on the boards for most of the evening.

** Lawrence McKenzie needs to carry this team, much like Isiah Swann did for FSU. Too often, I thought, McKenzie was handling the ball on offense (this was when Nolen was on the bench). I'd like to see McKenzie play the two-spot exclusively, freeing him up to fire away from three-point land. In games where the opposition is more athletic, the Gophers need McKenzie to lead the way. Tubby told Fuller in the articled linked above that the team absolutely needs scoring from its senior leaders. That begins and ends with McKenzie, in my opinion. Coleman and Tollackson are more easily neutralized. It's McKenzie who needs to shoulder the scoring burden on those nights.

** Kevin Payton continues to show he has no business playing point guard at this, or any, level.

** The up-tempo game certainly didn't work in Minnesota's favor. I'm not sure if Tubby wanted them to push the basketball against FSU. He's been talking about a team that's going to push the ball. But the run-and-gun game helped FSU last night. And while that's not surprising, what is worrisome moving forward is that the Gophers made some poor decisions on the fast break. At times, our guards pushed the tempo when a fast break wasn't available. At other times, they forced long, cross-court passes that were interecepted. The entire team needs to make better decisions if its going to play a fast-paced game--especially against a more athletic team.


GustieGopher said...

I'm divided on my thoughts after this game? Can we take solace in the fact that the team as a whole shot horrifically and the seniors were non-existant? Could we shoot much worse? And the turnovers?

Or is this a bad loss, where we were totally outplayed? Listening to it only on the radio was awful. My perception from the radio was that the longer we played the worse the score would have been.

I'm hoping that the seniors make this their worst game of the year.

PJS said...


I think that FSU's talent level was the difference. Tollackson and Coleman were completely neutralized. And FSU's athletic backcourt caused problems for Nolen and Payton.

I believe you are right that the longer we player the worse the score would have been.

Both the turnovers and sooting percentage, I think, can be attributed in part to FSU being quicker on defense than any of our previous opponents.