Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hawkeyes 76, Gophers 72 (3OT)

It doesn't get more frustrating then this.

This game didn't get into three overtimes by itself. The Gophers let it get that way. They had the last possession in regulation and the first overtime, and held a four point lead midway through the second overtime. And yes, a four point lead in a game like this, where both teams are playing outstanding defense, is a big deal.

What baffles me is why Dan Monson called timeouts on the team's final possessions in overtime and regulation. Both times, the ball was given to Grier at the top of the key, and he tried (extremely unsuccessfully) to create his own shot. I don't have a huge problem with Grier taking the final shot, even though he has been awful during the Big Ten season. But what is the point of calling timeout if you're not going to design any kind of a play? At least if Monson would have just let them play, Iowa wouldn't have had the chance to get its defense set up.

If the Gophers ever came out of timeout, with something that resembled a play designed to get an open look, I would have no problem with them calling a timeout. I just don't understand why it's necessary if you're probably going to do the same thing either way. But enough with that.

Last night's game marked the emergence of Jonathan Williams as an option on the offensive end. A good option? Probably not. Williams essentially has no back-to-the-basket moves and no range, but he showed the ability to move without the ball and aggressively attack the basket. He also showed a nose for offensive rebounds, gathering six offensive rebounds. If J'son Stamper is going to make a habit of setting the course record (fouling out without scoring a point), Williams may be able to replace what Stamper brings to the table as a solid rebounder with limited scoring ability.

However, Williams is a brutal free-throw shooter, as he went 3 for 7 last night and is 4 for 13 on the year. He might have better luck if went to the line with a blindfold.

Speaking of brutal free-throw shooting, the Gophers continue to get worse and worse from the line as a team. At 63.1 percent, they rank 302nd in the nation. When the team already has trouble scoring, bad free-throw shooting can cost them games. You could argue that it did the trick last night.

The Gophers were quite successful in getting offensive rebounds, as Grant P. mentioned that it would be a key for the Gophers if they wanted to win last nights game. The Gophers rebounded 18 out of 53 possible boards on their end of the court. However the also gave up 16 offensive boards on 44 rebound opportunties to the Hawkeyes and Greg Brunner grabbed seven of them on his way to a 17 point/16 rebound double-double.

Last night's game had to have had a terrible effect on this team. They have to be wondering exactly how they are going to win a game, after having so many opportunities to do so last night. With Iowa's lockdown defense, I thought this would be an impossible game to win, but somehow the Gophers managed to put up enough points to almost pull off the upset. They just couldn't seal the deal.

It will be interesting to see how the team reacts against Michigan Saturday, which I believe is a very winnable game at the Barn. While there's pretty much no hope for the team making the tourney (at least the big one that people actually pay attention to), I'm hoping that the team hasn't completely given up, and maybe win a game or two that they probably shouldn't. We'll see if the Gophers can get past this loss, and the three before it and give a decent effort against the Wolverines.

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