Happy Holidays all! I hope everyone got the opportunity to spend some time with those they love yesterday and over the last week. I certainly did! With the long break, many Gophers' players were probably able to do that themselves and perhaps opened stockings and pulled away colored paper yesterday.
But come New Years' Eve, there will be a new wishlist to fill – and Minnesota will see whether the presents keep coming.
On the Gophers’ wishlist:
*Shooting: What the Gophers need is really more of it – their percentages aren’t atrocious, but Minnesota simply isn’t hitting enough 3-pointers. Right now, the Gophers are 9th in the league in the average number of shots made from behind the arc per game (five). It’s not all of their game – it’s not even a big part of their game – but you can’t win in the Big Ten without being able to attack in many different ways, and that’s just how it is.
*Defensive rebounding: It’s kind of incredibly, actually, that the Gophers can be so good at offensive rebounding and yet struggle so much on the defensive end, especially since otherwise Minnesota’s defense has been pretty solid. Right now, the Gophers lead the country in offensive rebounding percentage and yet they are dead last in their own league (247 nation-wide) in defensive rebounding.
*Continue the turnover trend: Give the Gophers credit that in the last six games, the turnover rate has gone significantly down from where it was for the last seven when they averaged 17.5 a game. With the last six games averaging 12.2, certainly there is improvement to be seen, but Minnesota is still not where they need to be.
*Win against Michigan State: Getting the Spartans at home for the first Big Ten game of the season might not be a bad thing. Michigan State is not nearly as talented or tough as it has been in the recent past, but the name and expectation still exists. If the Gophers beat the Spartans on New Years’ Eve, the confidence boost that comes along with it could be incredibly beneficial going forward, and it could also pave the way for a 2-0 start, extremely important with the killer road trip of Illinois and Indiana next up.