Pregame: Gophers need mental toughness, fewer turnovers to notch their second against Indiana
- Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
- February 26, 2012 - 10:32 AM
* A team source confirmed that Andre Hollins will start at point guard today in place of Julian Welch, who is dealing with a hip pointer.
* Despite Welch saying yesterday that he would play through the injury, the source said he would NOT be available at all today against Indiana.
*Ahanmisi's status is still questionable.
The Gophers should be used to this pressure by now. For the last four games they’ve been playing in situations dubbed “huge games.”
The question now is not how they will respond to being squeezed – we know how the Gophers have responded over and over in pressure situations – but whether they can change that reaction.
As I wrote in today’s Star Tribune, the last time the Gophers needed a spark this badly, they found it – at Indiana. Now they’re hoping they can get the same kind of buoyant win again at home.
"I was just telling them today, 'Fellas, listen,'" coach Tubby Smith said. "'We still have opportunities to right the ship. It hasn’t completely sunk yet. We’re bailing water right now. We’re pumping it out, but pretty soon you have to stay afloat and stay focus on the things ahead and go back to the basics.' I think that’s what happens. You start losing track, like one-hand passes or not coming to meet the pass. Little things like that in any game make a big difference. So we try to go back to the basic fundamentals and lighten up a bit. We didn’t go as hard, so maybe that will keep them mentally sharp as well.
"We do talk about it, talk about what this game means. Hopefully they understand and will rise to the occasion."
Three things that are important to sweeping the Hoosiers.
1. Mental toughness. Yes, the Gophers CAN win this one. But they need to believe it for 40 minutes.
2. Point guard play. With Welch out and Ahanmisi questionable, the pressure is turned up on freshman Andre Hollins to get the team going. He's had some good games lately, but has struggled with some of the things the Gophers need to guard against: turnovers and lack of awareness.
3. Turnovers. The Gophers are capable of good ball-handling. We saw it in the first half of the Michigan State game, when Minnesota turned it over just three times. But then they committed 12 in the second half en route to throwing the win away. Stretches like that just can’t happen. They can’t.
"I thought our guys played hard, but again, we didn’t play very smart," Smith said. "We’ve played together, but we just haven’t been…Together means the guys in the white and gold jerseys. I’m not sure they understood. They must have thought we meant with the other group too, with the way we’ve been throwing the ball away.
*Today’s game is being broadcasted live on ESPN and on 1500-a.m.
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