Thursday, December 3, 2009

Disappointing Loss for Struggling Hoopsters

The Gopher basketball team had another opportunity to pick up a quality win away from Williams Arena on Wednesday night. They carried a lead midway in the second half only to come up short to Miami 63-58. The Gophers have now lost three consecutive games, each by five points or less.

Minnesota fell behind early 17-10 and then went on a 20-8 run to close the first half leading by five points. The Gophers shot a torrid 57% from the floor in the opening stanza and used tough defense to pressure Miami over the half's final eight minutes. In the second half, it was a different story. Minnesota's shooting disappeared (33% total; 30% from three-point range), and the Hurricanes shot 52% to pull away. After Al Nolen's basket tied the score at 53 with just under three minutes to go, Miami scored the next eight points and held a 59-53 lead with under 30 seconds remaining. The Gophers had lost yet another chance late in the game.

As disappointing as the overall 45% shooting percentage was, especially given the good shooting in the first half, perhaps more disappointing was the team's 6-15 (47%) performance from the free throw line.

Lawrence Westbrook paced the Gophers with 14 points in the game and eight of the nine Gophers who played scored.

The Gophers missed another chance to beat a quality team because of their inability to close. This also cost them a win against Texas A&M on Sunday. Come NCAA Tournament selection time, the committee will look for quality non-conference wins. The Gophers have a nice win over Butler on their resume, but disappointing losses to Texas A&M and Miami, both unranked opponents, on the ledger as well. They need to step it up the balance of the preseason and play like they did in their initial four games. Minny has five non-conference games remaining, with St. Joseph's the only quality team in the mix. The opportunity for quality non-conference victories is about over. Now, the team needs to focus on righting the ship and preparing for the upcoming Big Ten season.

1 comment:

  1. They need to find a "go-to" guy in key situations. Westbrook appeared to be that guy last year. Disapointed in their inability to get the ball inside- they're forced to take too many ill-advised shots. Looks like Jedd Fisch took over the basketball team's offense as well this year. They need to steal a handful of Big Ten games to improve their NCAA tourney resume.