Game 8: Gophers Visit American University (12-8-19)

Ignatius L Hoops

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From the Golden Dome to the Capitol Dome

For the second consecutive contest, Minnesota (6-1) faces a team holding back-to-back conference titles as the Gophers kick off a long DC weekend with a trip to American University (2-5). Last season (2018-19) the Eagles (22-11 and 16-2 in conference) shared the Patriot League regular season title with Bucknell. Unfortunately, the Eagles dropped the Patriot League Championship game to the co-champs and settled for a WNIT berth. AU lost their WNIT first round match up at Penn, 45-64.

In the previous season (2017-18), American (26-7 and 16-2 in conference) did the double winning both the regular season and Patriot tournament titles thereby earning an automatic NCAA berth. American made the coast to coast trip to LA where they were knocked out of competition by UCLA, 60-71.

However, as we know, the Patriot League is not a powerhouse conference. American’s non-conference record for the previous two seasons plus the start of this one is 11-18. It does include a victory over Penn State two years ago. But last year the Lady Lions, in Coquese Washington’s last season, returned the favor This year, the Eagles were picked for a 5th place Patriot League finish behind Lehigh, Holy Cross, Bucknell and Boston University. The major difference between this year’s Eagles and the previous championship teams was the loss through graduation of American League Player of the Year Cecily Carl.

American did return three solid guards: senior Kaitlyn Marenyi (18 points versus Towson) and sophomores Jade Edwards (21 points versus St. Joseph and 24 points and 8 rebounds versus Villanova) and Emily Fisher (22 points versus Villanova). It’s a young team with plenty of opportunities for young players to step up.

Megan Gebbia is in her 7th season as the Eagles coach. She has won three regular season Patriot League crowns and made two appearances in both the NCAA tournament and the WNIT. A Towson graduate, Geggia spent 10 years as an assistant at Marist before taking the head coaching position at American.


Wins: Villanova 76-54 and High Point 56-48.

Losses: @ Ohio 68-81, @ George Mason 53-73, @ Towson 60-64, (N) St. Joseph 51-72, (N) 53-73.


Probable Starters:

5’10” G So Jade Edwards 17.4 points/game; 7.1 rebounds/game
5’8” G Sr Kaitlyn Marenyi: 11.7 points/game
5’7” G So Emily Fisher: 9.0 points/game
6’2” F Sr Morgan Bartner: 8.4 points/game
5’6” G Jr Indeya Sanders: 6.7 points/game

Others:

6’1” F So. Taylor Brown 4.3 points/game
5’11” G So. Maddie Doring 2.5 points/game


American University the official history:
https://www.american.edu/about/history.cfm

American University was founded by John Fletcher Hurst, a respected Methodist bishop who dreamed of a creating a university that trained public servants for the future. Chartered by Congress in 1893, AU has always been defined by its groundbreaking spirit. Before women could vote, they attended American University. When Washington, DC was still segregated, 400 African Americans called American University home. As we continue to grow in reputation and stature, we remain grounded in the ideals of our founders as we continue to be a leader for a changing world.
American University: the more complicated history:
https://www.theeagleonline.com/article/2018/02/founders-day-is-a-celebration-of-a-slave-owner-and-the-razing-of-black-communities
 

thatjanelpick

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I know it's meaningless at this point and I assume the algorithm is still relying on data from last year, so it's useless, but now Real Time has decided the Gophers will beat Geo Washington. But still lost to 2-5 American (and most of their losses are not good losses). I'm going to go ahead and pick Minnesota in this one.
 

Katogopher

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Real time has also incorrectly listed Arizona St. losing to Maine which downgraded their RPI which also affects the Gophers RPI
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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SCOUTING THE EAGLES
  • American is looking to pick up its first win since the late battle over High Point, 56-48, on Nov. 18. The Eagles enter the weekend off four-straight losses, including two last weekend against Saint Joseph's and Buffalo at the Hawk Classic in Philadelphia.
  • Sophomore Jade Edwards continues to pace the team, averaging a league-high 17.4 ppg after earning her third +20-point performance of the season with 21 against Saint Joseph's. She followed that up with her first double-double of the season, third of her career, with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Buffalo.
  • Senior Kaitlyn Marenyi is the only other player averaging in double-figures with 11.7 ppg. One of the most efficient three-point threats in recent history for the Eagles, she leads the Patriot League with 2.7 made three's per game.
  • Junior Indeya Sanders continues to be one of the biggest threats on the defensive end, averaging 1.1 blocks and 2.0 steals per game. She is the only player in the Patriot League to lead her team in both blocks and assists (4.3 per game), and is the only player to rank within the top six of the league for blocks, steals, and assists per game.
  • The Eagles rank 25th in Division I for fewest personal fouls per game, averaging only 14.3 per game and allowing opponents only 11.2 free throws.
  • American is averaging 60.3 ppg off 40.5 percent shooting from the floor, 27.5 percent from three, and 73.7 percent from the line. The Eagles' opponents are averging 66.3 ppg after the first seven games of the season.
 

Shades

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Pretty ugly game so far.

No real fear of losing the game, but it’s not very inspirational either. Seems like playing down to the competition.
 

Waffle

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Would be nice if Pitts could keep herself on the floor. 4 fouls in 8ish minutes.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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BACK CUT ALERT! or NCAA KILLER ALERT! Gophers lead at the end of three 46-44 and cannot stop the back cut. On the verge of being one of the worse losses in Gopher history. Too many fouls.
 

thatjanelpick

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I guess that Real Time one-point loss (changed today to a one-point win) isn't looking like such a bad call, after all. Still think MN pulls this out. but...
 

adamj95

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Powell having good stretch rebounding the ball, has 8 rebounds!
 

tripledouble

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Great game for Bello with career high in points (25) and 10 boards. Frosh Scalia and Powell came up big in the fourth quarter; Hubbard with a solid second half. Powell with 8 boards and 5 assists. Gophers came out flat today, as did most BIG teams except for Maryland. Pitts hampered by foul trouble all day. Two sub-par games in a row for her. Final score no indicator of how close the game was. Could have been a devastating loss for the Gophers. American's Edwards can play.
 
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Ugly....but it is a 17 point win. Corbu noted on the radio the "difference" between major conference refs and the smaller school refs. We were playing 8 on 5 for a while.....but you have to overcome all of that. I also think the "expected" let down after an emotional win at Notre Dame. Hopefully we come out better from the start against George Washington on Tuesday night.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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What a strange game to watch-until the end when Pitts and the offense revived.

Minutes Played (It's off by 1 minute); unusual. A big, big thanks to Taiye.

Gophers committed 19 mostly poor choice (charges, moving screens, etc.) fouls.

38 Taiye Bello 25 points (career high) and 10 rebounds
37 Scalia
34 Brunson
30 Hubbard
23 Adashchyk
21 Powell
13 Pitts
3 Staples
2 Kehinde Bello
 

CutDownTheNet

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Interestingly, our primary three-point shooters (Pitts, Hubbard, Scalia) all hit 50% from deep. Masha and Powell were 1-for-1 from deep.

It seems this game was won by a combo of three-point shooting and post play (with Taiye scoring 25). Which makes sense, cuz that’s exactly the talent we have.

It looks like it’s also possible to win even with Pitts on the bench in foul trouble much of the game (27 min of bench), and then have her come off the bench in the last 5 minutes to help outscore the opponent 24-9 in the 4th quarter. Not sure that would work for the Big Ten, however.

The 8 rebounds by Jasmine Powell (the shortest on the team) were grabbed in 23 min of play. Amazingly, more rebounds per minute than Taiye. The trick of slacking off into the paint for defensive rebounds was perfected by Whalen (among others) and copied by Rachel B. and Carlie and Pitts, and now Powell has shown that she’s mastered the skill in short order.

Not sure about attendance on the camera side, but on the bench side, looked like almost as many Gopher fans as American fans.
 

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In NCAA WBB rules (http://www.ncaa.org/playing-rules/womens-basketball-rules-game) the restricted area (https://www.sportingcharts.com/dictionary/nba/restricted-area.aspx) rules are in effect. But apparently the rules are sufficiently complicated such that the IQ of many NCAA refs is insufficient to either understand or call correctly. In their defense, I did read these rules once and thought they could have done a better job of wording the restricted-area policy.

In my observation, refs seemingly interpret it wrongly as often as they do correctly. In the American game we were the beneficiary of one correct restricted area ruling - one in which Taiye would have been guilty of a charge except that the defender was in the restricted area. Not surprising if in another instance (maybe a call against Pitts, but I didn’t see it clearly) they called it wrong.

Lots of other dubious calls, to the point that @fanfromthevalley notes that it was 8-on-5 against the Gophers for a while. I honestly credit the Gophers not so much for playing a bad first 3.5 quarters, as playing against some bad referees. Interestingly, the calling of restricted-area plays seems just as bogus to me with Power-5 referees as with boondocks referees.

In one play, one of our players (perhaps Diva) snagged a contested rebound in which she was arguably fouled by an American player, but the ball was closer to her and she skyed well and got the ball. The possible foul by the American player was not certain, so a no-call would have been acceptable. But in the process of committing the probable foul, the American player got off balance and fell to the ground of her own accord. The refs called a foul on us. I absolutely hate it when the refs automatically assume that whenever someone takes a dive, the other team must have caused it, without bothering to take a look at what actually happened.

And what was with that call that Whay challenged and they reviewed? The one where Scalia was elbowed in the face and then called for a foul on it. I can accept their ruling (as Whay had to) that it (the elbow) was not intentional but rather a legit basketball move with unintended consequences. But then exactly what, pray tell, was the foul that Scalia supposedly committed? Is there a new rule that makes it illegal to put your face in the way of a (basketball-move) swinging elbow? Before the announcers saw the obvious elbow, they were talking about a possible violation of a relatively new rule in which you can hand-check once but a second hand touch counts as an automatic foul. But that’s re hand-checking. Since when does a “check of the elbow with the face” count as a hand check? Welcome to NCAA-Women’s-Basketball caliber refereeing, Sara. There are times that I think we should file a Title-9 lawsuit against the NCAA for assigning mostly good refs to Men’s games and mostly bad refs to Women’s games.
 
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Gopher68

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Scalia was called for a hand check several seconds after the elbow.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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I thought the charges in the restricted area were for running over the primary defender. The primary defender can be in the restricted area. The secondary defender can not. Pitt's fourth foul was just bad judgement by Destiny.

I thought we were way too foul prone especially in double touching the ball handler.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Scalia was called for a hand check several seconds after the elbow.
I’d like to see the replay if its available later. I didn’t see any hand checks in the several replays during the review, although the camera angles were not that great. It’s also quite possible that Scalia accidentally touched the American player with her hand as she was uncontrollably reeling from the elbow to the face. In that case, it would not be an intentional defensive touch with the hand. But it’s possible that if that was the second hand touch (after an earlier intentional one) that the refs might be legalistic about it (not counting either intentionality or causality (e.g., that the second hand contact was totally caused by the American player)), and thus rule it a Scalia foul once having ruled out the possibility of an offensive foul. If the latter is the case, then I still say that the ruling is bogus. Refs need to consider causality in their rulings. Many bad calls made by various referees are bad just because the refs don’t consider who caused what.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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FWIW:

The lineup that played the most minutes together:

8:52 minutes played: Powell, Scalia, Brunson, Adaschyk and T. Bello; they broke even in points at 14-14.

The lineup that had the greatest plus minus:

4:00 minutes played: Powell, Scalia, Hubbard, Pitts and T Bello; they were 11-0
 

CutDownTheNet

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When the NCAA stats get updated, Taiye Bello will move from a tie for 11th place to a (6+ way) tie for 6th place in number of double-doubles with 6 in 8 games. (This is based on nobody else in the current 6th place tie getting a double-double over the weekend.) The most double-doubles belongs to Unique Thompson with 9 in 9 games.

Also note that with Pitts having a foul-trouble game at American (similar to T. Bello’s foul-trouble game against Missouri State), along with Bello’s breakout scoring game, Taiye and Destiny are now in a near-tie in Gopher points-per-game. Here’s your points-per-game leaders after 8 games.

Player Points-per-Game-Played
T. Bello 14.5
Pitts 14.3
Hubbard 12.4
Brunson 10.3
Powell 10.1
Scalia 9.5
Sconiers 3.3
Staples 3.0
Adashchyk 3.0
K. Bello 2.1
Tomancova 1.3

Nearly all of our top-6 scorers are averaging double-figures (with Scalia a half-point shy). Taiye is averaging double-figures in rebounds.

As noted, the American U game was a 17-point win in spite of being essentially a 2-point game until the 4th quarter. Coincidentally, the average delta between Gopher score and opponent’s score is about 17 points through 8 games (79.1 to 62.3). Of course, that average margin will be reduced in the Big-Ten season. The question is, how much, and what kind of won/loss record will be the result.
 
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