This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Zone continues to haunt Minnesota in Iowa loss

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 17, 2013 - 6:56 PM

Any echoes of Ke$ha’s “Die Young” the Gophers packed up and took with them to Iowa have long made their way out of the locker room.

Forget feel-good moments and a grind-it-out victory against a big rival in a time of big need – the Gophers need a major turnaround, a change in status quo and significant adjustments if they are going to salvage this season.

If the Gophers can’t come in prepared and motivated following a momentous win and heading into a huge stretch, I don’t know when they will.

The most discouraging part of Minnesota’s loss – which coach Tubby Smith called the most embarrassing of his career and Trevor Mbakwe called the toughest game he’s played in – was of course, that it came down to the same issues that have plagued the Gophers all year long -- the issues that their losses have been dictated by and their wins have been in spite of:

1. Turnovers
2. Perimeter defense
3. Poor shooting
4. Zone penetration

Obviously, the biggest problem for the Gophers today was their ability to attack the zone – any zone and all zones.

Minnesota led 21-5 before Iowa’s Fran McCaffery decided to break out the Gophers’ kryptonite. Ten minutes later, the Minnesota lead was gone, the Hawkeyes having executed a 24-6 run as the Gophers piled on turnovers (including six in one span of 2:23), and – unable to get the ball inside – forced jumpers late in the shot clock.

The zone is something the Gophers deal with quite frequently in the Big Ten, and play themselves at times. So their consistent struggles with it are somewhat baffling.

Afterward, the Gophers’ strategy and preparation for the zone defense occupied much of the postgame interview sessions. Some of the team’s thoughts:

Smith:

On how the Gophers prepared coming in: “They [Iowa} do a good job in it – they were very impressive and very physical and it boils down to the basic fundamentals of coming to meet passes and just not being in a hurry, being more patient. We do normal things we do with any team as you prepare.”

On attacking the zone and Smith playing Eliason for extended minutes: “Elliott Eliason is our best player vs the zone because he’s willing to pass it, he’s willing to get in the gap … We had some opportunities, we beat it a couple times and we got our shot blocked at the rim and they were pretty much intimidated after that.”

On the team’s preparation: “We work on it. We play a 2-3. We play a 3-2. We press. I don’t know what to say.”

On whether the team started to panic once they failed to penetrate the zone: “It was ‘Don’t give it to me.’ It was like a hot potato. Get it to someone else, someone else try it. That’s what it became. We try to get organized and run certain offenses against certain zones … Basically against any zone, you just have to pick and probe, inside-out, it’s not hard.”

 

Trevor Mbakwe:

“We knew what was going to happen – last time we played Iowa we got a quick start and they went zone and it was kind of tough for us to bounce back from that.”

On the team’s struggles to get the ball inside the zone: I think that was one of the reasons they went zone. We had an advantage inside and we were able to get some easy baskets to start and they tried to take it away and forced us to take perimeter shots and we didn’t get a lot of good shots up and we had a lot of shot-clock violations and shots we had to force up at the end. I think that was one of the reasons because of the quick start we got off to in the paint.

 

Austin Hollins

On whether the team panicked: “I don’t think we ever panicked. We had some open looks out of the zone but we weren’t making any shots out of it, so what we had to do was get stuck going toward the basket and we didn’t do that. We should have gotten it inside more and we should have got some fouls in there and gotten them in foul trouble.”

 

 

  • Rodney Williams played just ten minutes tonight and never attempted a shot. Smith took him out in the first half and never put him back in, saying afterward that he thought the forward’s left shoulder – which has been sore for more than a week -- was bothering him. Williams was not made available afterward. “He was just not himself,” Smith said. “I don’t know whether he got hit on it or what, but he didn’t seem to have much in his tank. He’s a guy I play with one arm and I don’t want to hurt him any worse than he’s already hurt.”

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 37 2nd Qtr 3:57
New Orleans 43
Minnesota 30 2nd Qtr 4:16
Oklahoma City 42
Orlando 42 2nd Qtr 4:49
Memphis 55
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 59 2nd Half 2:15
American Univ 63
Wright State 56 2nd Half 2:53
Detroit 47
Syracuse 75 2nd Half 1:24
North Carolina 84
Cleveland State 56 2nd Half 0:17
Oakland 59
Delaware State 53 2nd Half 0:33
NC Central 51
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 25 2nd Half 20:00
Bethune-Cookman 27
Coppin State 39 2nd Half
NC A&T 39
Nicholls 41 2nd Half 9:12
Northwestern St 64
Hampton 31 2nd Half 12:53
SC State 41
Gardner-Webb 30 2nd Half
Campbell 37
MD-Eastern Shore 18 1st Half 7:55
Florida A&M 14
Stephen F Austin 36 2nd Half
Lamar 21
Central Arkansas 33 2nd Half
New Orleans 50
Norfolk State 31 2nd Half
Savannah State 21
TX A&M-CC 31 2nd Half
SE Louisiana 32
Sam Houston St 42 1st Half 1:42
Abilene Christian 25
McNeese State 46 2nd Half
Incarnate Word 34
Milwaukee 16 2nd Half
Valparaiso 39
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
(12) Texas A&M 51 2nd Half 4:52
(1) South Carolina 71
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa

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