JF

The Big Ten Geeks have once again generously calculated plus/minus statistics for a Gopher basketball game, this time for that epic (note the semi-sarcasm) win over Penn State. In blow-outs, plus/minus statistics can be pretty meaningless. The plus/minus statistics also often become just a function of playing time. If a player plays every second of the game, his plus/minus statistics won’t be any different than the final margin between the two games. However, in close game with varied line-ups, plus/minus statistics are an excellent opportunity dig deeper than just the box score.

Lawrence Westbrook +12
If his game winning shot didn’t convince you of his importance, maybe this will. The rap on Westbrook is that everyone knows he can score, but he does just as much to hurt the team as to help the team. Yeah…not so much. Westbrook scored 12 points, and the Gophers outscored Penn State by 12 when he was in the game. He clearly wasn’t a defensive liability, and his six turnovers must not have translated into many points.

Blake Hoffarber +9
Blake Hoffarber got off to a quick start making three three-pointers early in the first half and finishing with 12 points. His shooting ability kept Penn State out of their zone defense which seemed to confuse the Gopher offense. The man to man defense enable the Gophers to get the ball inside to Damian Johnson and Ralph Sampson III for a few easy baskets.

Devoe Joseph +7
And now for an anomaly or two. Joseph was only 1-7 from the floor with four assists and two turnovers. Initially I suspected that his strong plus minus rating would be related to his two offensive rebounds, but Joseph followed each of those rebounds with a turnovers of his own. Devoe doesn’t get much credit for his defense, but Talor Battle struggled while being guarded by the 6’3” guard. That extra size probably helped.

Paul Carter +4
Carter has the good fortune of being the bench player most likely to play with the starting line-up for extended stretches. He helped account for five straight points during a 6-0 run in the first half with a three pointer and an assist to Lawrence Westbrook. He also had a key lay-in off a Damian Johnson assist to give the Gophers a 60-56 lead with just over two minutes left.

Colton Iverson +1
If the Gophers can get more games like this from Iverson, they will be in good shape. The sophomore center didn’t try to do much. He played good physical defense, and made half the shots he attempted, from the floor and the line. At this stage in his career, Iverson simply needs to follow the Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm.

Ralph Sampson III 0
He had one of the best games of his career with 13 points and ten rebounds, and the Gophers only tied Penn State while he was on the floor. Sampson’s lack of offensive rebounds left his plus/minus rating at the mercy of his teammates. If they missed a shot, there weren’t going to be second chances. Each of his four fouls resulted in free throws for Penn State, which cut into Minnesota’s scoring margin while he was on the floor.

Damian Johnson -1

And this one I can’t even pretend to explain. Johnson played very well on both ends of the court with 13 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals, and a block. He didn’t leave the court over the final 13 minutes of the game, which just happened to coincide with Penn State’s near come back.

Devron Bostick -1
In his action packed three minutes, Penn State made a free throw and a lay-in, and Bostick assisted on a Colton Iverson basket.

Rodney Williams -7
Talk about a disastrous six minutes. Williams played almost exclusively with the second team, and the Gophers were nearly pecked to death while he was on the court. There weren’t any big runs. Penn State just managed to outscore the Gophers by a least a point during every stretch Williams played.

Justin Cobbs -14
Sometimes this statistic is more about skill than luck. Cobbs’ presence on the court coincided with a barrage of three pointers from David Jackson and Chris Babb, neither of whom Cobbs guarded. He actually played a solid game with decent defense but no points.