House Report: Rutgers dominates the glass, Gophers fall 64-56 in Piscataway

DanielHouse

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It’s not often road games in Piscataway are considered a resume building opportunity. Rutgers has finished dead last in the Big Ten during four of the past five seasons. After creating depth, head coach Steve Pikiell has the program trending upward.

On Sunday, the Scarlet Knights dominated the rebounding margin 45-35 (20 offensive boards) and locked down Minnesota’s key contributors. A balanced attack led Rutgers to a 64-56 victory over the Gophers in front of a sell-out crowd at “The RAC.” The Scarlet Knights had four players in double figures, including 11 points from guard Ron Harper Jr.

Rutgers extended its home winning streak to 13 games and continued to make a statement in Big Ten play. Active defense and a 17-2 first-half run helped Rutgers claim a lead it would never relinquish. When new rankings are released, the Scarlet Knights could be ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1978-79.

All year, the Gophers haven’t received consistent contributions from the entire backcourt. Over the past four games, Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis are a combined 17-for-61 (28%) from the floor. Minnesota won three of those games behind excellent performances from center Daniel Oturu and Marcus Carr. During Sunday’s matchup, roles reversed.

Rutgers ranked No. 3 among Big Ten teams in defensive efficiency (Ken Pom) and it was easy to see why.

The Scarlet Knights provided plenty of help to slow Oturu in the post. They were also aggressive around the perimeter and made entry passes extra difficult for Carr. In 2020, Rutgers has consistently smothered opponents with active team defense.

In the first half, Carr and Oturu scored a combined two points on 0-for-8 shooting. With 16:34 remaining, Oturu finally dribbled into the lane for his first field goal. The duo finished Sunday’s game with 27 points, while converting just eight of their 24 shot attempts. Carr had eight points on 2-for-8 shooting and was locked down by Rutgers’ aggressive perimeter defense.

Within the first few minutes, Minnesota looked like it was finally set to receive a balanced scoring performance. Kalscheur drilled each of his first three shots, including a deep three-pointer. During a 7-0 run, Kalscheur benefited from smooth ball movement and well-executed offensive sets. Willis also hit a three-pointer and Minnesota grabbed an early 10-2 lead.

Less than three minutes later, Rutgers quickly responded behind hot shooting from guard Montez Mathis. Mathis made four of his first five shots, including a pair of three-pointers. A 17-2 run by the Scarlet Knights quickly erased Minnesota’s eight-point advantage.

Over the same span, Minnesota missed ten consecutive shots. There were several possessions where the Gophers took ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. When post players started to dribble, things really got out of control. Rutgers prevented the Gophers from getting clean touches in the post.

Minnesota wasn’t boxing out adequately either, which allowed the Scarlet Knights to gain additional possessions. During the first half, Rutgers grabbed 15 offensive boards and led the overall rebounding margin 27-17. All afternoon, the Gophers didn't get position in the paint and Rutgers took advantage of extra opportunties.

Oturu finally came to life in the second half and helped trim Rutgers’ 14-point lead to seven points with 8:18 remaining. He was aggressive off the dribble and confidently made mid-range jumpers. When Rutgers center Myles Johnson needed rest, Oturu thrived. He scored 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the second half. However, every time Minnesota showed a glimmer of life, a scoring drought followed. After pulling within seven points, the Gophers missed four consecutive shots.

Worth Noting

At the 12-minute mark of the first half, head coach Richard Pitino substituted both Oturu and Carr. After playing nearly every minute this season, Pitino decided to insert Bryan Greenlee and Jarvis Omersa into the rotation. The duo rested during a television timeout and only missed one minute of total action. It’s clear Pitino wanted to see how a quick substitution would work. During Sunday’s game, the team looked slightly fatigued and it could be a product of accumulating minutes for Carr and Oturu.
 
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MUgopher32

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Gophers are not going to win a road game.
They will win at least 1 of the Northwestern and Nebraska road games, if not both.

Neither wins would be impressive and it would be nice to see at least 1 road win outside of those games, but regardless we will win a road game.
 

WriterGoph

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They will win at least 1 of the Northwestern and Nebraska road games, if not both.

Neither wins would be impressive and it would be nice to see at least 1 road win outside of those games, but regardless we will win a road game.
We don't have Nebraska on the road this year unfortunately
 

MUgopher32

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We don't have Nebraska on the road this year unfortunately
Damn I thought the 1 game vs them was away.

Then defintely going to need to get another road one besides NU unless we plan on winning out at home. I think they can get at least 1 other road game.
 

GopherPete

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Wasn't sure where to ask this, sorry. I've never played basketball so I probably just don't pick up on these things, but can anyone tell my what prevents us from getting fast breaks/points? I mean, I can't recall any fast break points the last couple weeks. Is it because we don't really create many steals?
 

leftyslefty

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Our defense is pathetically passive by today’s standards. We let the other teams point guard gallop right into the offense, we go behind screens, with very little hard hedging. Maybe he (Pitino] feels we’re not deep and lets just stay out of foul trouble (only excuse I can think of.)

Our ho hum on the ball defense, and lack of passing lane challenges prevent us from getting many steals (IMHO)

Our half court offense is better in past, but we’re lacking on the other end.
 

Doc1001

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House can write all the words he wants. More the better
 

JimmyJamesMD

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Our defense is pathetically passive by today’s standards. We let the other teams point guard gallop right into the offense, we go behind screens, with very little hard hedging. Maybe he (Pitino] feels we’re not deep and lets just stay out of foul trouble (only excuse I can think of.)

Our ho hum on the ball defense, and lack of passing lane challenges prevent us from getting many steals (IMHO)

Our half court offense is better in past, but we’re lacking on the other end.
Might just be better to play a zone then
 

GopherPete

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Our defense is pathetically passive by today’s standards. We let the other teams point guard gallop right into the offense, we go behind screens, with very little hard hedging. Maybe he (Pitino] feels we’re not deep and lets just stay out of foul trouble (only excuse I can think of.)

Our ho hum on the ball defense, and lack of passing lane challenges prevent us from getting many steals (IMHO)

Our half court offense is better in past, but we’re lacking on the other end.
Thanks, appreciate the response and unfortunately i can see what you're saying.
 

bfriedrichs10

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Wasn't sure where to ask this, sorry. I've never played basketball so I probably just don't pick up on these things, but can anyone tell my what prevents us from getting fast breaks/points? I mean, I can't recall any fast break points the last couple weeks. Is it because we don't really create many steals?
Well-coached teams teach court balance, where the offensive players know who should be crashing the boards and who should be hanging back to stop a potential fast break on any given shot. When I coached (high school, big time I know), I always told the player closest to half court to hang back when a shot went up, kind of like a free safety in football. See everything and don't let anyone get behind you. If that person was the shooter, he'd follow his shot and it was up to the next farthest away person to rotate back. If we were playing an extremely aggressive team I'd send two back just to minimize the chances of an easy look in transition.

When that system and communication break down, that's when you can give up a lot of easy transition looks. Obviously, live ball turnovers are killers too. I'd tell my teams getting a 5 second call called on you is so much better than throwing a bad pass because at least with a 5 second call, we get to regroup and set up our defense.
 

Chico Gopher

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Well-coached teams teach court balance, where the offensive players know who should be crashing the boards and who should be hanging back to stop a potential fast break on any given shot. When I coached (high school, big time I know), I always told the player closest to half court to hang back when a shot went up, kind of like a free safety in football. See everything and don't let anyone get behind you. If that person was the shooter, he'd follow his shot and it was up to the next farthest away person to rotate back. If we were playing an extremely aggressive team I'd send two back just to minimize the chances of an easy look in transition.

When that system and communication break down, that's when you can give up a lot of easy transition looks. Obviously, live ball turnovers are killers too. I'd tell my teams getting a 5 second call called on you is so much better than throwing a bad pass because at least with a 5 second call, we get to regroup and set up our defense.
I know there are some coaches that are cool with their defense aggressively going for steals out front and on the wings in the effort to get those easy baskets.

Some coaches prefer their guys play "stay in front" defense and not take many chances on defense. The idea being, that if you go for the steal and miss, it becomes a 4 on 5 situation and now you're relying on your defense to scramble and rotate to account for the mis-match.

Not sure what Pitino's philosophy is on that. It may be that he isn't that confident that his players can consistently recover and rotate properly, or he's concerned about picking up cheap fouls while going for the steal or trying to cover for the unsuccessful steal attempt.

The lack of depth, especially among his bigs, may explain why the Gophers don't aggressively go a lot of steals out front that would result in fast break opportunities.
 
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