Read my full story on Minnesota’s 70-63 loss to Indiana, here.
Three quick thoughts:
Defense looked better, but time will tell. Against Indiana’s dynamic offense (albeit on an off-night) and thrust into bad situations, the Gophers kind of held their own. In the firsts half, center Bakary Konate got into early foul trouble, but Minnesota still managed to contain the Hoosiers and got some huge blocks at the rim despite the undersized lineup. There weren’t so many of the blow-bys we’ve come to get used to and less head-banging mistakes by players who aren’t exerting acceptable effort. There were still plenty of hiccups, of course, but Minnesota wasn’t completely abused inside and out as it was in blowout losses to Northwestern and Nebraska. A turning point? Way too soon to say. But a step in the right direction? Maybe. If anything, it probably lends a little more confidence to a team that was severely lacking it.
Gilbert is out, who knows how long. A few seconds into the second half, freshman Ahmad Gilbert dislocated a finger on his left hand and left the game. Those who got an up-close glimpse on TV say it looked pretty bad. Coach Richard Pitino said Gilbert will get surgery on the finger on Sunday, but didn’t immediately know how long he’s expected to be out. As much as anything, this is a hit to the Gophers’ least deep position, small forward.
No-foul Murphy makes all the difference. In every previous Big Ten game, foul trouble has at best limited freshman Jordan Murphy and at worst completely taken him out of his game. Not so on Saturday, when Murphy didn’t collect a single foul and played 36 minutes. Having an aggressive, attacking Murphy is the game will be critical for the Gophers all year. His energy and presence in the post provides a constancy Minnesota needs. “It made me pretty happy seeing that zero on the foul line,” he said. “I try my best not to get any stupid fouls and it paid off a little bit. They took me out a little bit and they put me right back in. I’ve never stayed in the whole second half before. It was a little eye-opening. I didn’t know how many fouls I had in the game at all until after.”