B1G Game 3: Gophers Host Illinois (1-6-19)

Ignatius L Hoops

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Another Streak Must Continue

The Illini (0-2) take to the Williams Arena court shadowed by a 29 game Big Ten regular season losing streak dating back to the 2016-17 season. Illinois started this season 0-2, finished last season 0-16 and lost the last 11 regular season clashes in 2016-17. Recent history has not been good to the Illini. In B1G games they are 0-18 in Nancy Fahey’s first two seasons. Fahey replaced Matt Bollant whose record started with a solid 9-7 and then tanked, along with his program, with 2-14, 6-12, 2-16, and 3-13 records.

Nevertheless, last week Illinois was in good position to defeat Indiana. Playing in Champaign, the Illini, down by double digits in the first half, made an extended run taking a 68-61 lead at the end of three. After an Indiana comeback, Illinois tied the game at 77 with 2:05 remaining, both teams went scoreless and it took overtime before the Hoosier’s eked out an 85-83 victory.

Illinois plays a lot of 2-3 match-up zone mixed in with some man defense. Since they don’t switch much when they play man, it’s easy to take noted rebounder and defender, senior Alex Wittenger, away from the bucket. In the 2-3, Wittenger is plunked right under the basket; although Northwestern’s Pallas Kunai-Akpanah had success early in their game attacking Wittenger directly. The Wildcats were led by Abi Scheid who played everywhere and was too tough for the Illini (25 points (4-6 from behind the arc) with 10 rebounds). The Illini also deploy an occasional 1-2-2 press; but, thankfully, not particularly aggressively.

As everyone knows, you must account for Wittenger. In Northwestern 68-45 victory, the Wildcats simply doubled or tripled her when she received the ball. It worked-Wittenger finished the game with 7 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes. 6’3” freshman Mackenzie Blazek moved into the starting lineup alongside Wittenger in B1G play and provided some additional, if inexperienced, inside strength.

Last Meeting: The end of the regular season match-up in Champaign began normally enough with Minnesota up 23-14. It became a little nervous with a halftime score of 37-30 Gophers. And then, a five alarm fire broke out in the 3rd quarter as the Illini took a 50-43 advantage 5:00 minutes in. Minnesota behind Taiye Bello (10 points and 15 rebounds in 20 minutes) eventually pulled out an 84-75 victory. It helped that Alex Wittenger fouled out (20 points in 25 minutes). Kenisha Bell scored 24 points, Wagner 21 and Pitts 10 points with 8 rebounds.

Illinois has a couple of injuries: Petra Holesinska suffered an ACL before the season and Ariel Scott has missed three games with a foot injury. Ephraim was supposedly suffering from an illness against Northwestern; but played 22 minutes and scored 11 points.


Records:

B1G Losses: Indiana 83-85 OT, Northwestern 45-68.


Non Conference (8-3)

Wins: Alabama A&M 88-60, Valparaiso 73-54, Columbia 76-69, (N) Cal Poly 74-51, Eastern Michigan 72-66, Indiana State 75-67, Murray State 84-52, SIUE 74-57.

Losses: (N) Sacramento State 107-109, @Clemson 67-69 OT, Missouri 45-67.


Starters (B1G Stats):

6’1” F Sr Alex Wittenger 13.0 ppg, 5.5 rebounds/game and 39.0 minutes/game
5’6” G Jr Brandi Beasley 11.5 points, 34.5 minutes
5’9” G Jr Cierra Rice 11.5 points, 29.5 minutes
6’3” F Fr Mackenzie Blazek 5 points, 23.5 minutes
5’7” G Sr Jaelyne Kirkpatrick


Others:

5’7” G Jr Courtney Joens 10 points, 15 minutes
5’9” G Fr Naya Ephraim 6.5 points, 27.0 minutes.
 
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Wrestling in the Pav start time has been moved to 2 PM on Sunday. So, expect major traffic issues as you begin to arrive for our game.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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https://gophersports.com/news/2019/...hers-return-to-the-barn-to-host-illinois.aspx

• Junior Taiye Bello scored a career-high 24 points in the loss at Michigan. She did it by making all nine shots from the floor and going 6-of-8 at the free throw line. Bello's performance makes her one of five Gophers in history to not miss when attempting at least nine field goals in a game.

SERIES HISTORY WITH ILLINOIS
• Minnesota and Michigan [sic] meet for the 66th time on Sunday. The Gophers trail in the all-time series 36-29, but have won four straight (by an average score of 88-69) and five of the past six.

• In Minneapolis, the Gophers lead the Illini, 18-12. Minnesota has won three straight at home against Illinois, not losing there in the series since Jan. 28, 2013.
 
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Shades

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• Minnesota and Michigan meet for the 66th time on Sunday. The Gophers trail in the all-time series 36-29, but have won four straight (by an average score of 88-69) and five of the past six.
Michigan again? You’re giving me nightmarrrrrrrrres!
 
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It's the fault of the Gopher sports folks.....

Michigan again? You’re giving me nightmarrrrrrrrres!
The game highlight information on gophersports.com actually has the incorrect info....hopefully someone there will fix it!
 

hungan1

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Illinois appears to be a dangerous matchup. I am glad the Gophers are playing them at home. This is a good test for Lindsay Whalen and the Gophers.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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http://www.startribune.com/response...ut-gophers-women-s-basketball-team/503953212/

Understatement:


“That’s how you find out about your team,” Whalen said. “It’s through adversity. I told the guys today that every championship team I was on with the Lynx had a three-game losing streak. It’s easy when you’re 12-0, to get extra shots up, do all the right things. When you drop a game like that, when you’re down 24, 25 points, that’s when you find out what you have.”

What the 12-1 and 12th-ranked Gophers have is another opportunity, Sunday at home against Illinois. And the fact they’ve had a full week to prepare for the game is key. It gave Whalen and her team time to work on what went wrong in Michigan, get some rest, and to focus on the Illini.

“We got outrebounded,” Whalen said. “Turnovers. We have to take care of the ball. I’m thankful for this bye week that we have some time in practice.”

In Michigan, the Wolverines turned those 21 Gophers turnovers into 26 points. It was that 1-2-2 press that fueled Michigan’s 21-2 run to end to the second quarter.

The Gophers had seen the 1-2-2 before, handling it well in a victory over ranked Syracuse earlier in the season. But Michigan’s size and quickness made it more of a challenge. Michigan also was able to squeeze the middle once the Gophers got into the halfcourt. Whalen said, in retrospect, she should have made adjustments more quickly.
 

Shades

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No mention about Hubbard? With Michigan St and Iowa coming up, a little added depth wouldn’t hurt.
 

Waffle

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Game plan early on is feed Lamke every time.
 

Waffle

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http://www.startribune.com/response...ut-gophers-women-s-basketball-team/503953212/

Understatement:

“That’s how you find out about your team,” Whalen said. “It’s through adversity. I told the guys today that every championship team I was on with the Lynx had a three-game losing streak. It’s easy when you’re 12-0, to get extra shots up, do all the right things. When you drop a game like that, when you’re down 24, 25 points, that’s when you find out what you have.”
Up to 2 now. @ Mich State could be 3.
 

Katogopher

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Unbelievable loss, they had been living on borrowed time with Pittsand Bell’s shooting slump, hope one or both can come around soon. No question this team misses Hubbard, after seeing this mess not sure where the points are going to come from at MSU
 

Shades

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Gophers had a 14 pt lead at the half and a 10 pt lead going into the fourth quarter.
Why are they taking so many low percentage shots with that lead, or were most of those in an attempt to get back the lead. Why’d they miss so many high percentage shots?

Fourth Quarter Shots
 

Shades

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I’m seeing 58 bench minutes for IL to 18 min for MIN.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Four annoying things (mostly coaching):

1. Gophers couldn't attack a 2-3 zone
2. Gophers couldn't defend the Illini guards dribbling at the top of the arc. They'd set up a simple screen and then be wide open for a jumper or a drive to the lane.
3. Wittenger: Minnesota got what they wanted in the first half and then got stiffed in the paint in the second half.
4. Three point shooting (let alone three point making) isn't a natural part of the offense.

Okay maybe there's fifth-conditioning compared to last season. That was a tired group of players at games end.


Kaposi, Hubbard and Tomancova were on the sidelines in warmups during pregame. Tomancova was in a boot; the other two were moving normally.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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http://www.startribune.com/brutal-second-half-costs-gophers-women-in-loss-to-illinois/503976162/

Yes, ugh.


Up 17 points early in the third quarter, up 10 entering the fourth, the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team collapsed Sunday at Williams Arena, losing to Illinois 66-62.

The Gophers used an impressive run to end the second quarter to take a 14-point halftime lead. But, when it mattered, the Gophers couldn’t score.

While being out-scored 23-9 over the final 10 minutes of the game, in front of 6,622 fans, the Gophers shot just 4-for-20 and turned the ball over seven times. Up 62-61 with 1:21 left, the Gophers went scoreless the rest of the way.
 

tripledouble

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A huge loss at home to a team that had a 29 or 30 game conference losing streak. Lamke with a great first half and 18 points, doesn't score a point in the second half, including missing two crucial free throws near the end of the game. Pitts 1 of 10 from three. Brunson with a solid game. I feel worse today than I felt last year after an early home loss to Nebraska in which I thought that Nebraska was going to be near the bottom of the BIG. Wittinger made the difference in the second half with 6 or 7 blocks. This year's version of the Gophers is offensively challenged and I'm not sure they'll be able to change that even if Hubbard returns.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Jasmine had a strong game: 17 points, 7-11 shooting (3-4 from three), 2 assists and 2 turnovers. I think it was the first media timeout where Whalen called Jasmine over before huddling with the coaches and gave her some what appeared to be "pick it up!" advice. It was certainly demonstrative on Lindsey's part. However, not as demonstrative as Nancy Fahey who lit into her team in the first quarter after their slow start.
 

hungan1

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Whalen did say the real test will be the Big Ten games. IMHO, she sensed this Big Ten season is going to be a long one for the Gophers.

The Gophers don't have good bench depth. Illinois certainly utilized their deep bench strength playing ten players, nine of them significant minutes. This is the difference in the second half with the Gophers having to face fresh Illinois players in their 2-3 zone.

The Gophers played five player 33-40 minutes each. Staples played 16 minutes and Perez only 2 minutes.

Tomamcova out, Gadiva Hubbard - what's her status? Mercedes Staples - can she play defense and shoot threes consistently?

Injuries are a bummer. Injuries and a short bench play are going to haunt the Gophers all season.

The questions is, do you want the starters to continue playing mega minutes and wear down, or do you sacrifice early Big Ten defeats and play the bench more minutes to develop them?

https://gophersports.com/boxscore.aspx?id=8122&path=wbball

The Gophers lost "Happy" Houfat Mahouchiza due to international qualifying requirements or something. As a result they only have twelve roster players compared to fifteen for Illinois.
 
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Shades

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http://www.startribune.com/brutal-second-half-costs-gophers-women-in-loss-to-illinois/503976162/

Yes, ugh.


Up 17 points early in the third quarter, up 10 entering the fourth, the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team collapsed Sunday at Williams Arena, losing to Illinois 66-62.

The Gophers used an impressive run to end the second quarter to take a 14-point halftime lead. But, when it mattered, the Gophers couldn’t score.

While being out-scored 23-9 over the final 10 minutes of the game, in front of 6,622 fans, the Gophers shot just 4-for-20 and turned the ball over seven times. Up 62-61 with 1:21 left, the Gophers went scoreless the rest of the way.
The reader comments from this article are not happy and friendly at all. The honeymoon might already be over for Whalen. She really needs a win over MSU to help keep the believers. I think she’ll have to use more players to make it happen. Players getting worn out, like I said after the last game. Once again, Perez wasn’t used. Why? Not even a heat check? Afraid to take Pitts cold shooting out of the game? It’s to the point that you can’t even call Pitts streaky. Whatever she had last year didn’t come back.
 
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Shades

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I have an idea. The three point shooters should practice at the Lynx facility. They have a feedback system that reports and calls out the angle of ball entry of every made shot. So you strive to shoot the ideal angle (whatever it is) and it becomes engrained into the muscle memory. I have a feeling they haven’t been doing this because the shooting stinks.
 

hungan1

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I have an idea. The three point shooters should practice at the Lynx facility. They have a feedback system that reports and calls out the angle of ball entry of every made shot. So you strive to shoot the ideal angle (whatever it is) and it becomes engrained into the muscle memory. I have a feeling they haven’t been doing this because the shooting stinks.
It is more than just shooting. There is lots of inexperience.
 

bbwannabe

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Four annoying things (mostly coaching):

1. Gophers couldn't attack a 2-3 zone
2. Gophers couldn't defend the Illini guards dribbling at the top of the arc. They'd set up a simple screen and then be wide open for a jumper or a drive to the lane.
3. Wittenger: Minnesota got what they wanted in the first half and then got stiffed in the paint in the second half.
4. Three point shooting (let alone three point making) isn't a natural part of the offense.

Okay maybe there's fifth-conditioning compared to last season. That was a tired group of players at games end.


Kaposi, Hubbard and Tomancova were on the sidelines in warmups during pregame. Tomancova was in a boot; the other two were moving normally.[/QUOTE

Probably moot point, but I missed Whalen’s post game comments on Illinois game.
 

bbwannabe

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The reader comments from this article are not happy and friendly at all. The honeymoon might already be over for Whalen. She really needs a win over MSU to help keep the believers. I think she’ll have to use more players to make it happen. Players getting worn out, like I said after the last game. Once again, Perez wasn’t used. Why? Not even a heat check? Afraid to take Pitts cold shooting out of the game? It’s to the point that you can’t even call Pitts streaky. Whatever she had last year didn’t come back.
As a fan, Im curious why a coach wouldn’t develop and play the bench more.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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From Youngblood's STrib article:

It didn’t help that Whalen’s team is playing shorthanded. They are still without Gadiva Hubbard, who has yet to play following foot surgery. And top backup post player Palma Kaposi missed Sunday’s game with an undisclosed injury.
 
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Would seem like they need to make a decision about Hubbard and whether she can play at all this season. If not, that leaves our bench even thinner. While I'm not suggesting this as a serious idea....maybe get a couple of walk ons to 'join" the team to provide some additional practice folks besides the men's practice team? Hannah Garry was at the Barn today (long time fans will remember her!), maybe there are some young Hannahs on campus we could borrow.
 

whalenfan

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Four annoying things (mostly coaching):

1. Gophers couldn't attack a 2-3 zone
2. Gophers couldn't defend the Illini guards dribbling at the top of the arc. They'd set up a simple screen and then be wide open for a jumper or a drive to the lane.
3. Wittenger: Minnesota got what they wanted in the first half and then got stiffed in the paint in the second half.
4. Three point shooting (let alone three point making) isn't a natural part of the offense.

Okay maybe there's fifth-conditioning compared to last season. That was a tired group of players at games end.


Kaposi, Hubbard and Tomancova were on the sidelines in warmups during pregame. Tomancova was in a boot; the other two were moving normally.
I dont think attacking the zone was that bad, Illinois basically had all 5 of their players in the paint forcing the Gophers to shoot from outside. Pitts had alot of good looks and couldnt hit. I do think conditioning is playing a part, they looked drained at the end of the game. The lack of shooting and bad turnovers need to be fixed or this will end up being a long season.
 
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