Game 10: Gophers Host UC Davis (12-15-19)

Ignatius L Hoops

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The Gophers Raise a Banner for Renowned Livestock Farmer JANELL MCCARVILLE
and Try to Win their Ninth Straight Game


Minnesota’s (8-1) next home opponent, University of California, Davis (4-5), began life in 1908 as University Farm “the Farm School”. The school began awarding four year degrees in 1922 and became the College of Agriculture at Davis in 1938. UC Davis morphed into a general campus in 1959. Naturally, the athletic teams are nicknamed Aggies. On the other hand, the UC Davis mascot is a mustang named Gunrock. Do not confuse the nickname with the mascot.


Any discussion of UC Davis starts with Head Coach and UC Davis 1997 Alum Jennifer Gross. Gross returned to UC Davis as an assistant coach in 2003-04 when the school was Division II. She began implementing the Princeton offense as UC Davis made the transition to Division I. Now in her ninth season as head coach, Gross and her the Princeton offense has carried UC Davis to three straight Big West regular season titles and Gross to three straight B1g West Coach of the Year Awards.

Last season the Aggies were 25-7 (15-1 in the Big West), won the Big West Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time (the first was 2011). Their season ended with the Farm in Davis losing to the Farm in Palo Alto (Stanford) 54-79.

This season, despite losing three starters, UC Davis are again favored to win the Big West. They must replace the Aggies all-time leading scorer, Morgan Bertsch, all-time assist leader, Kourtney Eaton and three point shooting specialist, Karly Eaton.

Trying to repeat as four time champs UC Davis are relying on senior forwards Sophia Song, Nina Bessolo and senior guard Katie Toole. Toole is the leading scorer and seems particularly suited to the Princeton offense she’s hitting .538 from the field and .548 from three (17-31). That’s great shooting in an offense designed to get good shots.

Junior Forward Cierra Hall’s steady performance was spiced up by a spectacular game versus former Gopher assistant Marissa Moseley’s Boston University squad. Hall put up 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 32 minutes. Generally, the Aggies spread the minutes around and do not have a starter averaging over 30 minutes a game. Seven players average 20-30 minutes/game and two average around 10 minutes.


However, the team has a way to go. Last season, Aggies hit .364 from behind the arc (265/723). This season they are hitting .342 (75/219). While they are scoring 70.8 points a game this season (about the same as last year) they are allowing 71.3. Last year the defense allowed only 57.0 points per game. The Princeton offense is working while the defense needs some serious work.

Notes: The Aggies do not have a starter averaging over 30 minutes a game. Seven players average 20-30 minutes/game and two average around 10 minutes. This is the first meeting between the Gophers and Aggies.


Common Opponent Montana State: The Gophers in a sleepy outing at Williams trailed Montana State by 12 points in the third quarter before cutting it to a two-point deficit entering the fourth. As with the game versus American University, Minnesota rallied in the fourth to win fairly comfortably 71-60. UC Davis also started slowly against the Bobcats trailing 47-28 at half. The Aggies rallied in the fourth to lose 65-77.

Wins (4): San Francisco 79-67, Sacramento State 77-75 2OT, Boston University 75-68 and @ Northern Arizona 71-61.

Losses (5): @ Montana State 65-77, @ Fresno State 65-73, Santa Clara 61-62, @ St. Marys 74-83 and Portland 70-76.

Probable Starters:

5’10” G Sr Katie Toole: 29.7 minutes per game and 16.8 point per game
6’0” F Jr Cierra Hall: 28.3 mpg, 11.1 ppg
6’0” F So Kayla Konrad 27.7 mpg; 9.0 ppg
5’7” G Jr Mackenzie Trpcic: 28.4 mpg; 7.2 ppg
5’11” F Sr Sophia Song: 22.7 mpg; 5.2 ppg

Others:

6’0” F Sr Nina Bessolo: 20.7 mpg; 9.8 ppg
6’3” C So Sage Stobbart: 21.4 mpg; 4.9 ppg
5’9” G Fr Evanne Turner: 10.6 mpg
5’10” G Fr Campbell Gray: 10.7 mpg

A Pioneer Press Article from McCarville’s First Year With the Lynx:

https://www.twincities.com/2013/07/27/first-year-lynx-player-janel-mccarville-if-you-believe-in-it-it-will-happen/

I grew up on a hobby farm. It was 160 acres. We didn’t actually grow plants. We didn’t have machinery. We lent the land out. We had three horses, four or five cows, six pigs, a dozen chickens, a goat, cats.
 

tripledouble

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Iggy, I appreciate the previews. They're more informative and entertaining than any of the other previews I'm accustomed to reading. Here's to hoping that the Gophers will beat the "farm girls" and move to 9-1.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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A 2013 article about Janell's basketball journey:

As Janel McCarville sits under the homemade basketball hoop attached to the chicken coop on her farm in central Wisconsin, she mentions the assassination of her Moscow team owner while he was on his way to pick her up for a Beyoncé concert.

McCarville and her father fashioned the backboard from a tree trunk and 2-by-4s, and fastened a rim she bought for $2 at a garage sale. Now hung low on the coop for the benefit of her nieces and nephews, it is the rustic symbol of the self-made basketball player who has roamed the world so someday she never will have to leave home.

"This is what I work for," she says. "So I can sit here the rest of my life."

If not for that hoop, she might not have attended college, might not have been there to help lead the University of Minnesota to four NCAA tournament berths, including two Sweet 16s and the 2004 Final Four.

She might not have become the first pick in the WNBA draft or played for a mysterious figure in Moscow, as well as teams in Slovakia, Italy, Spain and Turkey. She might not be reuniting this summer with former Gophers teammate Lindsay Whalen on the Minnesota Lynx, after a trade brought her to the only place she wanted to play following a two-year hiatus from the league.

McCarville and her father, Terry, hung the hoop on a barn, next to a 10-by-20 concrete slab, when she was about 13. When McCarville wanted to practice 3-pointers, she shot from the mud, with chickens, cows and her father forming the audience.

It's a long way from that barn to worrying about murders in Moscow, but the most complicated journey for McCarville was the one that brought her back to within a bounce pass of Whalen.
 

CutDownTheNet

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A 2013 article about Janell's basketball journey:
Nice article on J. McC. And it rings true.

Looking forward to her banner being raised. So glad I got to see her play with Whalen on the Lynx for a couple years. It was as good as I remembered.

I hope (only half jokingly) that as part of the ceremony they have her demonstrate her awesome no-look behind-the-back bounce pass (perhaps to a streaking Jasmine Powell).
 

EaganGopher22

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Do we know if Janel ever stops by practices? Maybe work with/give pointers to the posts?
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Whoa, whoa, whoa! After a hard week of taking finals, aren’t you supposed to have a little R & R?
Well, for the UC Davis women’s basketball team, the best the players can do is get a little shuteye on their flight back east.

As a reward for getting through another demanding quarter in the classroom, the Aggies will meet Big 10 power Minnesota on Sunday (tip off 11 a.m. PT).

The Golden Gophers, 20-11 last year with a WNIT appearance, come into the contest 8-1 — not having lost since their opener, 77-69, to No. 20 Missouri State.

“It’s a different kind of challenge,” says UCD head coach Jennifer Gross. “It’s difficult travel. And we’re facing a team that’s really talented … a lot of athleticism. But I think it will be good for us to play against that kind of pressure and try to continue to take steps forward.”
In nine outings thus far, UC Davis has been led in scoring by five different players. Top rebound figures have come from five other Aggies and even the assist-leader honors have gone to three different women.

With UCD all-time leading scorer Morgan Bertsch gone to graduation and the traffic jam in the paint broken up, forward Cierra Hall talked about the new-wave Aggie offense: “It’s opened more (inside) without having Morgan in there and people double- and triple-teaming her. It’s been nice for all of us to attack the rack.”

“We feel like we do have good depth,” believes Gross
 

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Another too-close game with a mid-major.
Looks like Scalia was focus of their defense. Only scored two points, but at least she was able to contribute in other ways.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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A half-court, deliberate game where we relied on the big three to score-Pitts, Hubbard and Taiye. The team looked like it would welcome some time off. I listened to the post game Whalen interview on the drive home. Lindsay said a lot of players where suffering from colds, etc. At the end of the third quarter Hubbard went down the steps and returned a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter. According to Whalen, she may have been the one suffering most, even though Gadiva got the Gophers of to a good start.

I thought in the first half Scalia was doing something that bugged Whalen; but maybe it was just a bug which had Whalen subbing for Sara. There was a funny bit when Sara drove the ball out of bounds when attacking the basket. She turned around, saw Brunson subbing in and assumed she was being pulled; but Brunson was coming in for Hubbard. Sara was directed back out onto the court.

Anyway, attacking the basket gave us a big advantage from the foul line.

In the interview, Whalen said Sconiers and Adashcyhk are our subs (at least words to that effect).
 

Shades

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In the interview, Whalen said Sconiers and Adashcyhk are our subs (at least words to that effect).

Subs or scrubs? Whalen must not have seen your analysis on the viability of the post players.

What does Whalen consider Powell?
 

CutDownTheNet

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Another too-close game with a mid-major.
Looks like Scalia was focus of their defense. Only scored two points, but at least she was able to contribute in other ways.
Scalia with just 2 made free throws, but she led the team with 4 assists and had 3 steals. Pitts and T. Bello each with 9 rebounds. Team with 26 made free throws on 31 attempts for a .839 clip - a stat that keeps winning games for them. Pitts was 9 for 9 from the charity stripe.

Points leaders were Hubbard (24), Pitts (22), Taiye (17) and Powell (7). Powell has apparently been working on her three-point shooting. She made six in a row during warmups and it paid off in the game - her triple in the 4th quarter was clutch.

I guess the lesson to be learned is that other teams are good (like us) at three-point shooting, and if so, we need to defend the three-point line better. And if the opponent is behind by 10 in the 4th quarter, guess what they’re going to shoot
 

MNGirlsHoops

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Another too-close game with a mid-major.
Looks like Scalia was focus of their defense. Only scored two points, but at least she was able to contribute in other ways.
The offense only ran through 3 players on one side most of the game. Players need to get touches even if they don't shoot, because when those 3 get gassed at the end of games or get in foul trouble, the others haven't had enough touches to contribute in the flow of an offense. 45 shots between two players wont get it done in the Big unless they are red-hot. We got stuck in a half court game nearly the whole game and it became to mechanical to one side.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Gophers were 26-31 from the line. UC Davis was 6-11. We out rebounded UC Davis 38-37.
Minutes Played:

37 Pitts
35 Hubbard
34 T Bello
31 Scalia
27 Brunson
17 Powell
12 Adashchyk
6 Sconiers
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Subs or scrubs? Whalen must not have seen your analysis on the viability of the post players.

What does Whalen consider Powell?
I'm assuming Whalen considers Powell as a sixth starter. Sconiers, right now, is coming in to give Bello a rest or to protect her from foul trouble.
 

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Fun atmosphere @ the barn today. Definitely need some work on defending the 3.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Taiye Bello (7-10 from the line) drew 9 fouls while picking up 4; Hubbard (6-8 from the line) drew 5 fouls and did not foul.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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The best +/- lineup today:

12:09 minutes played 22-12 for +10: Pitts, T Bello, Scalia, Brunson and Hubbard

The worst +/-:

:59 seconds played; 0-5 for -5: Pitts, Brunson, Adashchyk, Sconiers and Hubbard.

Plus point difference when on court:

15 Scalia
10 Pitts
9 T Bello
8 Hubbard
3 Powell
2 Brunson
0 Sconiers
-2 Adashchyk
 

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impressive Scaila had the best.. as she only scored 2 points today. The other thing that caught my eye was that Powell closed out the game rather than Brunson (wonder if JB is one of the players fighting off a cold) her second straight game without a point..
 

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I should add that UCD made 6 points off 11 free-throw attempts (.545) for a +20 points free-throw margin for the Gophers - who probably don’t win that game without it.

(Well, I posted that before seeing Iggy already mentioned it, yet doesn’t hurt to emphasize what +20 in free throws can do for you. That’s sharp-shooting from the stripe plus excellent minimal-fouling D, examples of which were noted above.)
 
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CutDownTheNet

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Taiye Bello (7-10 from the line) drew 9 fouls while picking up 4; Hubbard (6-8 from the line) drew 5 fouls and did not foul.
Some nice highlights. Love the no-look drop pass from Scalia to Hubbard. I’m gonna call that one “in honor of Janel.”
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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For the last three days Gadiva Hubbard had been sick. Unable to practice, running a fever.
Sunday the fever broke.
Hubbard wasn’t sure she’d play until after warmups. “From the beginning, when I made my first three, that’s what gave me my confidence,’’ Hubbard said, her voice still raspy. “My teammates found me.”
Said Pitts: “For her to come out here and grit this one out with us means a lot.’’
 

bball_craz_26

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I wish Whalen would try and play Sconiers with Taiye. Even for a few minutes try two post players. Taiye is more than capable of post to post passing.
Brunson did look off but Powell’s foul trouble seemed to force her to stay on the court. UC Davis seemed to figure out stay in front of Brunson and her layups become a 50/50 shot of going in.

gophers appear to productively only have 6 deep players, (5 starters and Powell) which is a disappointment after having watched the team basically only run 6 deep last year.
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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Post Game Quotes:

Minnesota Head Coach Lindsey Whalen On the performance of the team overall:
“Good because we won. That’s a really good team. I thought they challenged us. Obviously the difference in the game turns out to be the second quarter and these two guys right here (Gadiva Hubbard and Destiny Pitts) with their play throughout. But that's a really good team, they pushed us, and we are happy to come out with a win.”

On whether there was a lack of rhythm on the offensive end:
“I wouldn't say that. There were times when it wasn’t as smooth as it was at George Washington, but I thought we dug in and guarded and I thought that we had enough where we were able to get things going. These guys hit some big 3’s, especially in the first half. (Taiye Bello) Ty had it going, as well. We did enough to win, they aren’t always going to be pretty, the rhythm on offense isn’t always going to be great. But we guarded well enough and we outrebounded them so that’s why we won.”

On UC Davis getting open threes and whether they had new wrinkles:
“They are a good team. They ran some really good stuff; that's a great coach. The one thing of theirs was they made 11 3’s. We hit two of our other goals, but we wanted to run them off the line. But they run good stuff; they put you in a real bind. This will be a good video for us to watch as coaches and a team as a whole just to see how we can do better on that from here on out. I give them a lot of credit.”

Minnesota junior Destiny Pitts On getting into an offensive rhythm:
“Yeah, Gadiva played really well, especially with her circumstances (sickness), so for her to come out with us and grit it out, it means a lot. Overall, we have been playing well with one another, so as long as we keep doing that, I think we are going to continue to be successful.”

Minnesota junior Gadiva Hubbard On getting into an offensive rhythm:
“When I made my first 3-pointer, I think that is what gave me my confidence. As the game went along, my teammates were finding me and that was giving me confidence, as well, and when (Destiny) Pitts makes her 3’s, everybody gets hyped, so I think the whole team was just happy.”
 

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”Good because we won. That’s a really good team. I thought they challenged us.“
Gotta give them credit!


”But that's a really good team, they pushed us, and we are happy to come out with a win.“
Probably the best #280 RPI team ever!

“But they run good stuff; they put you in a real bind. “
When you run good stuff, good stuff happens! I wonder what Whalen considered good stuff... 5-guard system maybe?


“I give them a lot of credit.”
There it is! Credit is given!
 
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Well, given a number of players are fighting colds and other illnesses and they are in the middle of finals - I'm not complaining about the win. UC Davis has won 25 or more games each of the last three seasons and were picked to win their conference, so they aren't a bad team. Thank goodness for our free throw shooting.
 

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Watching the game one had to wonder about their energy level. Seemed like we just played well enough to stay with them. Glad to see it was more due to several players fighting illnesses. I believe that Pitts had a double-double. The scoreboard showed 9 and she rebounded and was fouled. But the 10 never went on the board.
 

Shades

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Well, given a number of players are fighting colds and other illnesses and they are in the middle of finals - I'm not complaining about the win. UC Davis has won 25 or more games each of the last three seasons and were picked to win their conference, so they aren't a bad team. Thank goodness for our free throw shooting.
UC Davis 2019 Results
AT MONTANA STATE L, 65-77
AT FRESNO STATE L, 65-73
VS SANTA CLARA L, 61-62
AT SAINT MARY'S L, 74-83
VS SAN FRANCISCO W, 79-67
VS SACRAMENTO STATE W, 77-75 2OT
VS PORTLAND STATE L, 70-76
VS BOSTON UNIVERSITY W, 75-68
AT NORTHERN ARIZONA W, 71-61
AT (RV) MINNESOTA L, 67-76
 

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The offense only ran through 3 players on one side most of the game. Players need to get touches even if they don't shoot, because when those 3 get gassed at the end of games or get in foul trouble, the others haven't had enough touches to contribute in the flow of an offense. 45 shots between two players wont get it done in the Big unless they are red-hot. We got stuck in a half court game nearly the whole game and it became to mechanical to one side.
UC Davis, with a current RPI of 257, has lost to teams with current RPIs of:
40 (Minnesota)
128 (Montana St)
143 (Santa Clara)
152 (Portland St)
158 (St Mary’s)
183 (Fresno St)

... and won against teams with current RPIs of:
136 (San Francisco)
220 (Boston U)
290 (Northern Arizona)
349 (Sacramento St)

If you went by RPI only, they were “supposed to” win only against Sacramento St and Northern Arizona, but they got two extra “good wins.”

But they’re not likely to win their conference as some pundit thought, as they’re projected for a 50/50 record in-conference. Nevertheless, they’re perhaps a better team than their 257 RPI suggests. Why, or in what sense?

I think one thing is that they have lots of three-point shooters. Against the Gophers they had 9 players that shot triples, versus 4 Gophers that did all the three-point shooting. They shot a lot more threes (31) than we did (18). We almost seemed a bit dazed - like they wanted to ask, “Coach, are they allowed to shoot that many threes?” Yes they are. And you need to hustle out there and defend them (but perhaps that’s one place where colds + tiredness came into play). The saving grace was that we shot .444 from deep to their .355.

Another point is that their roster is deep. Ours is shallow (at least it is the way the coaches are subbing, and now more shallow with the loss of Staples). They played 11 players, 10 of whom shot. We played 8 players, all of whom shot. More importantly, we had 3 players with 34+ minutes, whereas their top players had 28/26/25 minutes. With the depth of players they played, they were able to keep fresh. And keep running complex plays on offense.

I think that’s what Whay meant when she said “they run good stuff.” They keep running on offense with complicated multi-screens such that on several occasions they totally caught us with our pants down for an easy layup. Heck, they caught me off-guard as an observer, as I found myself wondering “where did that wide open player come from?” In essence, those good plays came from their depth, resulting in fresher players whose offense could out-scramble our defense.

Make no mistake: we almost got beat by a team who was inferior to us, but deeper.

What saved us was two facts, jointly. First, they elected to challenge all of our pushes into the paint, making us earn those easy points the hard way - at the free-throw line due to lots of fouls on their part (perhaps part of their game strategy). Second, we shot the lights out from the charity stripe. Three out of five of our free-throw shooters shot 100%, for a team rate of .839. Here’s the details in descending order of free throws scored:

Pitts 9-9
T. Bello 7-10
Hubbard 6-8
Scalia 2-2
Powell 2-2

If we had shot .538 instead of .839 on free throws, that game is either a loss or goes to overtime. Worse than that, actually. If we had shot .710 on free throws (which, by the way is close to what we shot last year), then the point in the 4th quarter in which our lead was down to four points, would instead be a tie, and they would not need to intentionally foul, and the game is a tossup at that point.
 
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Shades

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I'm assuming Whalen considers Powell as a sixth starter.
There’s no such thing as a sixth starter, but that may be a good whay to sell it in the hopes that Powell doesn’t enter that dreaded transfer portal.

Sconiers, right now, is coming in to give Bello a rest or to protect her from foul trouble.
That’s no longer K Bello’s role or was she just too sick yesterday?
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Watching the game one had to wonder about their energy level. Seemed like we just played well enough to stay with them. Glad to see it was more due to several players fighting illnesses. I believe that Pitts had a double-double. The scoreboard showed 9 and she rebounded and was fouled. But the 10 never went on the board.
I think Destiny got credited with all her rebounds. According to the play-by-play here are Destiny's rebounds by quarter:

1st: 7:34 Minutes remaining
1st: 4:54
1st: 2:24

2nd: 9:54
2nd: 5:01
2nd: :01

3rd: 6:57

4th: 1:33
4th: :13 after which Destiny was fouled by Trpcic and made two free throws.

The game ended with Hubbard grabbing a rebound and getting fouled with :03 remaining.
 
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