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  1. #1

    Default B1G Game 13: Gophers host Michigan (2-14-18)

    Slings and arrows: a Valentine Day showdown.

    Michigan (9-5), losers of the three of their last four arrive at Williams Arena after losing to Purdue, Rutgers and Michigan State with only a recent victory over Northwestern on the positive side of the ledger. Yes, I'm concerned Michigan will just come down court, toss the ball to Hallie Thome for two over and over again (something they seemed reluctant to do against MSU). And yes, Michigan State is a team with one guard and a truck load of posts; but it’s worth a look at how they knocked off the Wolverines with quotes from the two coaches:

    Quotes from Suzy Merchant:

    On Taryn McCutcheon’s defense…
    I told her after the game, we’ve played four years against Flaherty and she’s really, really good, and I thought Tori (Jankoska) the last few years has done a pretty good job on her. But, that’s probably the best I’ve ever seen anybody. She can evade screens, she can get up underneath it, she can guard the ball. I think what we were trying to do tendency-wise with her was effective and then when she got her fourth foul we were using Coco (Gaines) who’s 6’2”, 6’3” with length just to try to mix it up and buy some time for Taryn, but I thought that was the best I’ve seen for sure defensively.

    On forcing turnovers…
    I thought we did a good job of getting their gaps. There are certain kids on their team who aren’t aggressive getting the ball, so we tried to play off of them a little bit and double and do some things. Especially when they were driving a little bit to have permanent help guys versus having them off their shooters so I think that was part of their turnovers. They couldn’t get into a flow, and then Taryn just denying her the ball, usually she’s just a quick pin down or a quick flare screen and she’s got the ball in her hands. I thought Taryn did a good job of disrupting their offense by not letting her get the ball initially. I thought that helped a little bit with the turnover situation.

    Kim Barnes Arico:

    On the turnovers…
    That’s been really the problem and we work on it. I mean, I know everybody probably says, ‘why aren’t you working on that or that late game situation?’ but we work on it every day. I think coming into the year we really knew that that might be something that could be a problem for us because we weren’t returning a point guard. But we have kind of, at times, handled it. Deja Church and Katelynn Flaherty and Nicole Munger and Jillian Dunston have done a good job and then at different times when we get frazzled a little bit, when we get bumped, when it gets physical a little bit, we have turned it over.

    So it’s definitely a work in progress. I think part of it is not really having that true point guard. You know Katelynn has done a tremendous job for us filling that role, but now we’re looking to Katelynn to distribute, to score, to do a little bit of everything, so now we’re pointing at somebody else to relieve some of that pressure for her which I think Deja is doing and is going to improve on.

    On not having Brown at the end of the game…
    Well Hailey is a great 3-point shooter and she obviously made a 3 and you know she’s tough with the pick-and-pop and the flair screen to Kate and so she had made one pretty soon, pretty recently before she got hurt, so that definitely, not having her in at the end of the game took away one of our best 3-point shooters. Next to Kate she’s probably shooting it the best of anyone on our team right now. So not having her in at that point definitely hurt us.

    Michigan relies on seven players. The extent of Hailey Brown’s injury is not known; but she was helped off the court after Hallie Thome fell into her left leg in an under basket scramble. On the bench Brown’s left ankle was being iced. If Brown can’t go on Wednesday night against the Gophers it’s expected that former Gopher commit Deja Church will take her place.

    B1G Wins: Penn State 89-69, @ Wisconsin 80-57, Indiana 84-79, @ Nebraska 69-64 (OT), @ Ohio State 84-75, Illinois 86-42, Michigan State 74-48, @ Northwestern 80-59, and Northwestern 84-63

    B1G Losses: @ Iowa 72-82, Ohio State 71-78 (OT), Purdue 79-81 (OT), @ Rutgers 56-63 and Michigan State 61-66..

    Last Season: In Ann Arbor the Wolverines made short work of the Gophers 84-69. It was 25-16 Michigan at the end of the first quarter. Then Minnesota’s offense went dormant producing a 6 point second quarter allowing Michigan to lead 47-22 at the half. Minnesota could not contain Thome who scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Flaherty chipped in 22 points. For the Gophers, Wagner had a big day with 38 points (7-9) from behind the arc. Hedstrom was the only other Gopher in double figures with 13. It was an otherwise forgettable game featuring 22 Minnesota turnovers.

    Starters (B1G Stats):

    5’7” G Sr. Katelynn Flaherty 39.1 min/game 25.2 points/game
    6’5” C Jr. Hallie Thome 33.6 minutes, 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds
    5’11” G Jr. Nicolle Munger 35.2 minutes and 9.4 points
    5’11” F Sr. Jillian Dunston 33.0 minutes, 3.1 points and 8.3 rebounds
    6’1” F Fr. Hailey Brown 26.5 minutes and 10.1 points


    6’1” F So. Kayla Robbins 11.1 minutes and 3.2 points
    5’10” G Fr. Deja Church 21.4 minutes and 6.4 points

  2. #2


    I would recommend shadowing Flaherty (who is trying to do her best impression of Plum her senior year), and making somebody else try to beat us. Do not let Flaherty go off for a career high.

    Teams have effectively taken Wagner out of a game, but the Gophers have others who can step up. Let’s do the same for the opposing team’s best player. Thome is really the only other big threat. Michigan only has Batman & Robin. The Gophers have the Justice League.

    I have a “win and we’re in” feel to this game.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014


    I don't know where to post this so I will do it here, what do the Gophers have to do to make the tournament? I noticed that they aren't even being considered on Charlie Creme's braketology today. Is SOS going to be considered that strongly this year?

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by dannygopher9100 View Post
    I don't know where to post this so I will do it here, what do the Gophers have to do to make the tournament? I noticed that they aren't even being considered on Charlie Creme's braketology today. Is SOS going to be considered that strongly this year?
    My bet is the Gophers need to win three of the last four. I think they can lose to Maryland and still get in, but Illinois is going to be an RPI drag, even with a win, since they have the deadly combo of not many wins and opponents with not many wins.
    SOS always is. That's why, for instance, Baylor is not regarded as a top seed (by Creme or in the NCAA sneak peeks so far) this season and why Maryland was seeded lower than most thought they should have been last year. The committee has said, early and often, that they want teams to challenge themselves out of conference, which is why so many Gopher fans are annoyed that the team did not listen this season.

  5. #5


    I have the same feeling, Shades. This is a huge game for the Gophers. If they don't beat Michigan, they'll probably have to beat Maryland. That's certainly possible at home, but quite a task. I just wish we didn't have that bad loss to San Diego hanging over our heads. (Some of the blame for that goes to a scheduling snafu, but the rest is on the players.) Or a road win over Rutgers and things would be looking better now. If, if, if...I just hope our post players can hold their own defensively against Thome. Flaherty will probably get her 20 to 24, but they can't let her go off for 30 or get a lot of open threes. If Michigan hadn't lost Gondrezick to a transfer to West Virginia, they might be on top of the conference this year. She was a very good player and gave them a great two-guard combo. And you're right, the Gophers have four very capable scorers, so if Michigan decides to concentrate on Wagner, the Gophers have other viable options. I'm hoping that Carlie saved a good game for Michigan. She's been rebounding well, either way, and I like that she's been driving to the hoop sometimes and not just settling for threes. But it seems like some teams focus their defensive gameplan against her. I also like the fact that Pitts and Hubbard will go to the hoop sometimes instead of just taking threes. And doubt that she'll go to the hoop. Does Michigan have anyone who can stop her or will she be able to blow by people like she did against Iowa? It should be a fun game.

  6. #6


    Checking on ESPN site just a few moments ago....he's got us in the first four out along with Nebraska.

  7. #7


    I'm more concerned about Thome than Flaherty to be honest. Will Fernstrom get the start against her or Edwards for a little more quickness?
    Hopefully Bell can drive at her and get her into foul trouble.

  8. #8


    If you want an example of how to defend Flaherty, check out how Kia Nurse is defending Durr here tonight. Ball denial. This is hard to do with the Gopher zone, but I think it could be done with a Box & 1 zone.

  9. #9


    And would the one be Bell with relief from Brunson? A point guard versus point guard battle would be fun.

  10. #10


  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by dannygopher9100 View Post
    I don't know where to post this so I will do it here, what do the Gophers have to do to make the tournament? I noticed that they aren't even being considered on Charlie Creme's braketology today. Is SOS going to be considered that strongly this year?
    For the Gophers there are obvious paths and there are some narrow winding paths. Right now I'm a bit concerned about how many B1G teams will make the tournament. For a while, seven seemed obvious. In Charlie Creme's latest bracketology he had six. And one of those, Purdue, after losing at home to Indiana will fall out. Then there is Rutgers. Most brackets include the Scarlet Knights; but reality is closing in. It didn't help the B1G's case when Ohio State went on national TV only to be kicked up and down the court by South Florida. I'd hate seeing the number of B1G teams drop to five. Anyway, as Shades said in another thread; for the Gophers "this is the week".

    Of course, we'd best not lose to Illinois under any scenario.

  12. #12


    This past weekend, Kristy Winters-Scott, a color analyst on BTN was opining that the BIG was such a strong league this year. IMO, it's not. And that may well hurt both the Gophers and the BIG when NCAA tourney selections are announced. I maintain that OSU, Maryland, PSU, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Northwestern all had better teams last year than they have this year. One could also argue that Purdue had a better team last year. Indiana and Wisconsin seem to be about the same; only Nebraska, Minnesota, and Rutgers appear to have better teams this year than they did last year. Even if the Gophers beat Michigan on Wednesday, they'll probably have to beat Indiana and Illinois to cement a spot in the tourney. They can do that, but as Iggy pointed out, the margin for error is slim. And it seems that Iowa can finish 11-5 in the BIG this year. They'll have to get by Rutgers on the road to do so, but that's quite an achievement for a team that's a bit down this year.

  13. #13


    Gophers need to come out like they want this, I think Shades said on another post not like a dear in headlights like we have seen in the past on the road against good teams. Be the agressor but don’t play so fast where they have multiple turnovers to start the game. Wolverines are a good team but come in with a little bit of shaky confidence need to take advantage. Gophers you just need to believe that you can do it.

  14. #14


    I personally disagree that Flaherty and Thome are the only ones who Gophers need to focus on in this matchup. I feel the “others” of Michigan give me fear. Yes I fully understand that Thome and Flaherty can’t be forgotten, I personally worry more about leaving players like Munger, Brown (assuming she plays), Church and Dunston get rolling. Munger especially can get hot from the 3-point line. Personally, I would start Fernstrom at the center only because she could body Thome up, however I fully expect after a few minutes Thome to figure out she can run past Fernstrom and that is when I would put Edwards in to get a chance at her.

    Here is what I personally would try on defense for matchups.

    Fernstrom on Thome
    Bell on Flaherty
    Hubbard on Brown
    Wagner on Dunston
    Pitts on Munger

    My thinking is if we go woman to woman defense, Sag off of Brown and Dunston. I would not have Bell worry about anything other than Flaherty. Make Dunston and Brown shoot jump shots and have Carlie and Hubbard attempt to steal lob passes to Thome or double and try and strip the ball if she brings it down. Seeing last game Carlie has good hops on steals and her and Bell would probably be the best chance at getting up there but I don’t believe anyone else besides Bell can stick with Flaherty for a long stretch of time. One thing I have been surprised about with Michigan the five or six times I’ve watched them is they seem to have a curiously hard time getting the ball to Thome in good spots. They throw low passes to her, and many time they throw if above her. That is pretty bad if at 6’5 it’s going over her hands. Now if Brown hits one or two 3-pointers, maybe stop the sagging thought but to start I say make Brown, Dunston or the likes of Robbins or Johnson prove they can hit one. I would not sag off of Munger, Church or Flaherty. My thought on Pitts on Munger is she is a bit taller and seems to have to speed to could still fly in for rebounds.
    This is one of those games where Taiye at the center position simply won’t work. While I love her athleticism and hustle, Thome is too big for her and she will pick up fouls quickly, which leads me to my keys to the game

    Turnovers- If gophers can speed up and frustrate Michigan guards, they mentally can be taken out of the game and that seems to be when they force bad or uncatchable passes to Thome.

    Fouls- I know gophers don’t have control over this, but I look at the two games vs Iowa as clear indicators. In the win, Taiye, Edwards and Fernstrom were able to be physical and rotate on Gustafson and to a certain extent wear her down, second game she fouled out 2 of them and had a paint party that sunk the gophers.

    3-pointers. If gophers can hit 10+ 3-pointers in this game, I think they win. Flaherty and Munger are the only knock down threats and especially if the gophers can get all four of the main scorers (Bell, Wagner, Hubbard and Pitts) going from the outside, I could see pulling Thome out of the paint and letting Bell/Wagner go to work driving.

  15. #15


    Michigan Daily sez:

    Minnesota starts four guards, a combination that will force Michigan to switch between man and zone on defense. If Brown is unable to go, the Wolverines will likely start freshman guard Deja Church in her place and go man-to-man. That would entail putting senior forward Jillian Dunston on a guard, but Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico has been unafraid to do that in the past. Dunston is capable in those situations, but a size mismatch could favor the Golden Gophers. If Brown plays, the Wolverines will start in zone, moving to man when Church is in the game. Either way, Michigan will shuttle between them depending on which lineup is in the game...

    ...If that’s the case, Church has to get ready fast. Michigan has gone with a seven-woman rotation for most of the season. Without Brown, sophomore guard Akienreh Johnson will likely see a minutes uptick, but she’s been a less than reliable scorer this season, albeit in just 7.5 minutes per game. Junior guard Nicole Munger will pick up some of the slack, but it’s hard for Flaherty to do much more than the 23.6 points in 36.7 minutes she’s averaging right now.

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