Ten hours in the car over two days and one night in Iowa City in a motel room pushing 80 degrees aren’t conducive to writing a coherent article (just ask Marcus Fuller who thinks the Gophers almost lost to Iowa). So instead, add your own transition sentences, or enjoy the bullets.
- My journey to Iowa was primarily fueled by curiosity about the potential demise of the Minnesota – Iowa basketball rivalry. Yup, its dead. Iowa “fans” don’t care at all about the basketball team, and no rivalry can survive apathy.
- Carver-Hawkeye Arena is a dreadful place. The building features more rust than Williams Arena and is a sound killer. I would have a hard time imagining the building being loud if it was full of screaming fans due to its poor acoustics. Whistles from the court weren’t even audible in nearly dead silence, and with the building half full and the Iowa program in free fall, there was plenty of dead silence.
- Iowa City on the other hand is really a pretty neat place. Minneapolis needs a place like the Ped Mall, which would have been a great place to wander before and after the game if it wasn’t several degrees below zero.
Oh, and the game?
- Iowa may be the worst coached team in the Big Ten. Todd Lickliter hasn’t built the program, and his team is clueless. The Hawkeyes had no idea how to break the press, and were instructed to walk the ball up, slowly. This strategy led to 25 Iowa turnovers. All that is needed to beat the Gopher press is a quick pass to the middle of the court or some speed dribbling.
- Iowa’s offense strategy may have been worse. Instead of shooting a lot of three pointers, which tend to be wide-open against the Gophers, the Hawkeyes tried to beat the Gophers inside despite being at a size disadvantage at every position. The three point shots were there, and Iowa didn’t start trying to shoot from the outside in earnest until late in the second half, when it was way too late. It wasn’t too late though to end the game on a 20-6 that featured three three pointers.
- Minnesota’s inconsistent use of the full court press may have been the single most confusing and frustrating aspect of last season, but not this year. The Gophers pressed off of every made basket and dead ball and on several missed shots. The Gophers seem much more committed to playing fast and using their athleticism this season.
- A recipe for domination: the Gophers were +20 in the paint, +29 off turnovers, +4 in second chance points, +22 on the fast break, and +8 off the bench.
- Poor free throw shooting is bound to catch up to the Gophers again at some point. They shot only 61% from the line on Saturday.
- Blake Hoffarber put the game away on his own with 17 points in the game’s first 11 minutes. The junior guard continued his assault on the box score with 24 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.
- Devron Bostick played 16 minutes, most often at power forward, and showed he can be a load in the post. He may be Minnesota’s most skilled player with his back to his basket. He finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
- Damian Johnson bounced back from a couple rough games with one of the most efficient games by anyone this season. He score 13 points on 6-7 shooting with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, and three steals.
- Through the first week of the Big Ten season, the Gophers were only one of three team to pick up a road win.