Road woes have Gophers basketball looking for answers

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2014 - 3:42 PM

The Gophers are 1-5 in Big Ten games away from Williams Arena, a trend they want to fix and soon.

hide

Nebraska Cornhuskers forward David Rivers (2) battles for a rebound against Gophers forward Joey King (24) and guard Austin Hollins.

Photo: Dave Weaver, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

With a little more than three minutes to play last Sunday, Andre Hollins got the ball inside to Elliott Eliason, and the Gophers big man scored, sending Williams Arena into a frenzy.

The Gophers had just taken a four-point lead against Indiana and looked certain to end their three-game losing streak. The excitement and intensity — which have become expectations at the Barn — were palpable in the jam-packed rafters.

It was a moment that has felt like many this season. The Gophers’ home-court advantage — and the difference when they are without it — have been exaggerated with renewed interest in the team and new, young coach Richard Pitino. In a raucous Dinkytown setting, the Gophers have gone 4-2 in Big Ten play and downed a pair of ranked teams. Crowds are big, fans are loud and the team seems to feed on the buzz.

“We’ve got an unbelievable home-court advantage,” Pitino said after the Indiana game. “Our fans understood when we really needed them. Like out of timeouts, when we really needed them, they were all on their feet.”

But in hostile environments, it has been a very different story, and one that’s threatening to take over as the Gophers’ identity this season.

The Gophers head to Northwestern on Sunday with the burden of a 1-5 record in Big Ten road games and a résumé that looks vastly different from their home version. In opposing venues, they have crumbled, the most recent version of that narrative coming Thursday in Madison, Wis., where they showed none of the fortitude against Wisconsin that had carried them to a victory in their earlier meeting with their rival at Williams Arena.

The knee-jerk reaction would be to blame the Gophers defense — one of the facets of their game that has been woefully disappointing — on the road, but that really isn’t the case.

While the Gophers do defend shots slightly better at home, both from two-point range (opponents make 45 percent at home and 48 percent on the road) and from behind the arc (36 percent at home and 37 percent on the road), those differences aren’t nearly enough to account for the difference in record. There are, however, several trends that have emerged after 12 conference games that contribute heavily to the lopsided records.

Scoring in the paint: The Gophers don’t attempt many midrange two-point shots, with Pitino actively discouraging the inefficient option, so their offense mostly relies on pounding the ball inside, getting layups off the pick-and-roll and shooting three-pointers.

Counterintuitively, the Gophers have shot worse from long range at home, making 33 percent of their three-point attempts compared with 37 percent on the road. But their inside game has been the difference. Minnesota is making a strong 56 percent of their two-point shots at home, while connecting on only 47 percent on the road. Perhaps the best example of the Gophers taking a team off-balance that way was in the Wisconsin game — also probably the loudest game of the season — when Minnesota scored 48 points in the paint after Andre Hollins went down because of an ankle injury.

“You never know how a team is going to respond when something like that happens — when adversity hits like that,” Austin Hollins said. “In the moment, in the time, we really handled it well.”

Offensive rebounding: The Gophers’ defensive rebounding has gotten the most attention lately — especially with Purdue grabbing an incomprehensible 23 offensive boards in a triple-overtime victory over the Gophers earlier this month. But it has been stellar offensive rebounding at home that has really a difference.

The Gophers are grabbing 35 percent of their offensive rebounds in league play on the road. But at home, that mark is at 41 percent. That means second-chance opportunities and only helps feed into that strong inside game.

“It’s a mind-set, really,” center Mo Walker said. “That you’re going to get the ball, and you’ve just got to go hard after it and grab it.”

Fouling: After thriving in that regard in nonconference play, fouling has become a major problem for the Gophers in the Big Ten slate. Minnesota ranks 195th in the nation in the percentage of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts at 41.3, meaning that for every field goal an opponent attempts, that opponent attempts .413 free throws.

That problem is exacerbated on the road. The Gophers send opponents to the line at a rate of 37.3 percent at home — but on the road that jumps to a whopping 57.9 percent.

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Gophers basketball at Northwestern

    Saturday February 15, 2014

    gophers gameday5 P.M. at Northwestern • Welsh-Ryan ARENA • BTN, 1500-AMGophers at a glance: The Gophers (16-9, 5-7 Big Ten)...

  • Gophers pull away from Northwestern, Borton wins 300th game

    Saturday February 15, 2014

    Kayla Hirt’s 16 points helped, and Rachel Banham (32 points) and Amanda Zahui B. (18 rebounds) stood out.

  • Malik Smith and Oto Osenieks cheered from the bench in front of a friendly Williams Arena crowd.

  • Walter Pitchford and Nebraska got the best of the Gophers and Maverick Ahanmisi last month, one of five Gophers road losses in a row.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close