Golden Gophers basketball team takes another sucker punch to their resume with a loss at Indiana. I still have faith in Tubby to turn it around, but they are going to have rattle off some major wins (Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, @ Ohio State), along with winning all the gimmes left on their schedule to even be considered as an at-large bid for the Big Dance. Here's my formula for success the rest of the year:
* Full court press. The offense gets stagnant for too many stretches during the course of the game. Need to create some easy opportunties to get some points on the board. Tubby plays ten guys...might as well use that "depth" to your advantage. Plus, we're just not as physical as some of the teams...use our length to create possible turnovers, but even if we can't get that...the opponent is out of rhythm when trying to set up their half court offense.
* Get the ball inside. Ralph Sampson and Colton Iverson need touches on the block. They don't have the most polished low post moves...but, you force the action to the defense and you may be able pick up some valuable fouls on the other team. Ralph and Colton need to be strong and go to the basket...no fadeaways...is that clear Ralph?
* Get the ball inside...part two. Guards need to penetrate when lanes are available. If we can get Westbrook or Nolen to beat their man off the dribble, even if they can't score themselves...it will help free up Hoffarber or another teammate getting an open look at the basket.
* We need a concerted effort on the defensive rebounding every game. How do we go toe to toe with Michigan State on their home floor, but almost get doubled up on rebounds by a far less physical team in Indiana? That's unacceptable...they need to bring it every game...otherwise our flaws get exposed, even if we are playing bad teams.
* Pass the ball. We have to be one of the worst passing teams in the Big Ten. Nobody makes a pass to a teammate cutting to the basket...we hardly ever do any more high-low post passes where we'd catch the defense out of position for an easy two points. All we do is lazily move the ball around the perimeter and maybe feed the post once in a blue moon...this used to be our zone offense, now it's just evolved as our offense in general no matter what type of defense the opponent is playing.
* Good/Great guard play. If we don't get good to great performances out of our backcourt (Nolen, Westbrook, Hoffarber) we're in for a nailbiter against crappy teams and blowouts against good teams. College basketball success has always been predicated by good guard play. We can stay in games with other gimmicks (press), intangibles (hustle), etc...but, you ultimately win games by having good solid guard play.
*Update 1/21/10: Nolen is ruled academically ineligible. It will be tough sledding for the Gophers for the remainder of the year.