Third year head coach Fran McCaffery has his program on a solid path. His Iowa Hawkeyes visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday afternoon for a 12:06pm CT tip. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
Seven-foot-one freshman center Adam Woodbury brings size, skill to the Hawkeyes. (Photo: David Scrivner / Press-Citizen)
Game Preview: Iowa (14-7, 3-5) at #23/#24 Minnesota (16-5, 4-4) 2/3/13
Minnesota took out their frustrations on an overmatched Nebraska team Tuesday night. The Gophers snapped a four game losing streak by defeating the Huskers 84-65 in what was Minnesota’s best offensive performance this season.
Nebraska’s impressive shooting was the only thing that kept the game from being a complete laugher, although stellar performances from Ray Gallegos and Brandon Ubel weren’t enough to keep this one very close. Minnesota will want to review their defense from Tuesday as Nebraska shot better than any opponent has since the 2009-10 season, but on offense Tubby’s team was excellent.
With a season that has already experienced ups and downs, it’s important to remember there are still 10 conference games remaining. However, the win over the Huskers was needed in the worst way.
Over the next five weeks the Gophers will try to move up the Big Ten standings for a top four finish, but in order to do so a game like Sunday’s against Iowa becomes one they badly need.
A conference finish of 9-9 or better should put Minnesota in good shape for an NCAA tournament berth and there are many paths to five more conference wins. However, after hosting Iowa comes a trip to Michigan State and a loss on Sunday could cause concerns to creep back in.
The Hawkeyes are like a hearty stew sitting in the slow cooker. It still needs some time before it’s ready, but you can smell how good it’s going to be. Third year head coach Fran McCaffery has real talent on his roster and the ability to play bigger or smaller as matchups and game flow may dictate.
My definition of depth is being able to go deep into your bench without losing a lot. McCaffery has that. Best of all for Iowa’s future prospects, there is only one (scholarship) senior on this team.
Next year Jarrod Uthoff, a versatile forward who is sitting after transferring in from Wisconsin, and current high school senior Peter Jok will join the Hawkeyes. In addition and extremely important is that their young players – with emphasis added on freshmen Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury – will be a year older.
Iowa’s defense has been solid this year, although part of that is due to a low 3FG% (29.0%) defense which will likely rise as the season progresses.
For the Hawkeyes it’s been offense where they haven’t been able to get things clicking consistently. However a year from now this group should show meaningful improvement with the ball.
Minnesota has shot the ball much better than Iowa in Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes have had some good games shooting 2-point field goals, but they’ve been inconsistent and their 3-point shooting has been awful (26.7%). The Hawk’s top outside threat, sophomore reserve Josh Oglesby, has struggled all season (24/88 3FG for 27.3%) but must be tracked closely.
The Gophers are just days removed from their best job limiting turnovers in more than three years. Iowa doesn’t turn their opponents over a lot, but Minnesota can’t let Sunday’s faster pace of play result in an absurd number of giveaways.
Freshman point guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons don’t have very good turnover rates, but the rest of the team helps to offset some of their misdeeds.
Gopher fans know the story: their team is excellent on the offensive boards, but not good on the defensive glass. Iowa can be solid on both sides of the glass, but like other areas of their game the Hawkeyes are inconsistent.
We’ll likely see Melsahn Basabe get his second start of the season and that means he’ll be up front along with Aaron White and Adam Woodbury. That’s a lot of good offensive rebounders for the Gophers to address.
Both teams get to the line relatively often. Foul trouble would be less of an issue for Iowa because of their depth and their best player Aaron White’s ability to avoid picking up fouls.
Aaron White (14.0p, 6.0r, 59.2% 2FG) has had a strong sophomore campaign and set his career-high with 27 points Thursday night against Penn State. The 6’8” forward is fairly athletic and draws a lot of contact around the rim. He’s a player that seems to always be where the action is on the court. Very, very good player.
Junior Roy Devyn Marble (14.1p, 4.0r, 2.9a) is playing off the ball again after spending some time at the point a year ago. He’s not a great shooter, but at 6’6” has a good skill set that includes passing the ball and getting to the free throw line.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball