What to expect: Minnesota

  • 01/05/2018 10:04 am in

Indiana concludes a two-game roadtrip on Saturday in Minneapolis as the Hoosiers take on Minnesota at Williams Arena. The Gophers are 13-3 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast at 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Dave Flemming and Dan Dakich on the call:

Indiana’s roller coaster season continues this weekend in a venue that has historically been a difficult place to play: The Barn. With its elevated court and a fanbase that typically brings a ton of energy when the team is good, Williams Arena can be a challenging venue for road teams.

This season’s Hoosiers are winless on the road and are coming off a disappointing 71-61 loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in which they showed little life in the second half.

On his weekly radio show Thursday night, Archie Miller admitted that finding passion on the floor from his players has been an ongoing challenge. Specifically, Miller noted that it can’t always be the coach who brings energy to the team.

“The coach can’t inspire and then yell at and then be positive,” Miller explained. “It’s just tough to do all of those things. You need some in house communication. I think that’s the one thing about this team is, it’s a little bit more reserved, it’s a little bit more reactive.”

One thing is clear: Indiana is searching for answers just a few days into the new year.

MEET THE GOPHERS

Minnesota was projected to be a top four Big Ten team in the preseason, but the Gophers could be without their lead defender given Thursday night’s news regarding senior Reggie Lynch.

Lynch, last season’s Big Ten defensive player of the year, was found responsible for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. His availability for Saturday’s game (and beyond) is unclear as of Friday morning.

How important is Lynch to the Gophers? He’s averaging 10.1 points, eight rebounds and 4.1 blocks in 26.4 minutes per game. Lynch’s block percentage of 15 is tenth nationally.

Regardless of his availability for tomorrow’s game, Minnesota still has plenty of talent left on the roster to win in the Big Ten.

Junior forward Jordan Murphy is one game away from tying Tim Duncan’s NCAA record for consecutive double doubles to start a season, which is 17 games. Murphy leads the Gophers in scoring at 19 points per game and his 12.9 rebounds per game also lead the team. Murphy’s offensive rebounding percentage is seventh nationally and he’s making 57.3 percent of his 2s.

With Eric Curry lost for the season due to a knee injury, Minnesota’s frontcourt depth is somewhat thin. Seniors Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou could be thrust into much bigger roles if Lynch is out as could senior Davonte Fitzgerald. None of the three offer anywhere close to the production of Lynch.

Minnesota’s backcourt is experienced and dynamic with senior Nate Mason, who recently returned from an ankle injury. Mason is one of the Big Ten’s best guards and is second on the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game. He’s shooting a stellar 44.1 percent on 3s and has a solid assist rate at 24.6 percent. Mason also averages 3.9 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game.

His backup is freshman Isaiah Washington, a top 100 recruit from New York. Washington is a dreadful 3-point shooter (14.3 percent).

Joining Mason as starters in the backcourt are junior Dupree McBrayer and sophomore Amir Coffey. McBrayer is fifth on the team in scoring at nine points per game and is shooting just 37.5 percent from the field. Coffey, one of the league’s most talented players, is third on the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game. At 6-foot-8, Coffey is a difficult matchup because he can shoot from the perimeter and also get into the lane and finish over smaller guards.

Michael Hurt, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, gets most of the wing minutes off of the bench. The older brother of five-star recruit Matthew Hurt, Hurt is shooting 55 percent from the field and averages 3.1 points per game.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Miller has talked a lot about Indiana’s rebounding deficiencies in recent weeks and Saturday’s contest is another game where the Hoosiers could be exposed if they don’t show up on the glass.

Murphy is a relentless offensive rebounder and almost single handedly has the Gophers in the top 20 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. Minnesota doesn’t foul much at all and their strength defensively is forcing opponents into contested shots, many of which are altered by Lynch.

The other thing that stands out about Minnesota’s KenPom profile is their ability take care of the ball. They don’t shoot a great percentage (51.2 eFG%), but they’re only turning it over on 15.8 percent of their possessions, which is 23rd best nationally.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

KenPom projects a comfortable 10-point win for Minnesota and Sagarin’s ratings favor the Gophers by nine. The major storyline going into the game is obviously the availability of Lynch, but even if he doesn’t play, Minnesota is still a solid favorite.

With four road games in the books, Indiana is 0-4 with an average margin of defeat of 12.3 points. The Hoosiers have been within striking distance in the second half in all four games and even led in halftime in two of them (Louisville, Wisconsin) before fading down the stretch.

Can the Hoosiers reverse their road woes in one of the Big Ten’s most difficult venues?

(Photo credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images North America)

Filed to:

  • inLinE6

    What to expect – a loss. But I hope guys play with pride and put up some fight.

  • I will always support our Hoosiers but as I stated before I would like to see our young guys get more playing time. Not giving up on the season but it is a learning year and we know we probably will not have a great year, as Arch said in year 3 we will have a complete turnover in our roster why not get as much experience and the staff’s take on what the young guys may be able to do.

  • Colt

    Minnesota is sort of a weird team. They look like world beaters one game and middle of the pack the next. I would feel a hell of a lot better about the Hoosiers chances if they were shooting the lights out.

  • I really don’t consider us having good shooters, I think we have streaky shooters, RJ,CH, DG, even JN can go on a streak and start hitting but they have never really been consistent, like you knew JB was going to shoot well most games but I have not seen anyone on this team like that.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    IU will shoot 3’s better if they can pass the ball better, allowing players to catch and shoot, hopefully by going inside out. We are only average/below average at 3 point shooting, but if we force 3s off the dribble, we will continue to shoot horribly. Only IU player I can recall recently who could shoot off the dribble was Blackmon and Yogi. BTW, it was great seeing Blackmon light it up on sportscenter yesterday, 27 points and almost a game tying 3, they said his foot was on the line. Too bad he is playing G league and not for IU this year, he would certainly help!

  • Kyl470

    I expect we will see the team play with better effort, but I fully expect a loss.

  • Apoc

    I doubt this will sit well with recruits, knowing that, as seniors, if they are not performing well, they will be written off as “replaceable”, even if the younger players are not currently better. If a coach is not willing to try his hardest to play the best players we have (which is not saying much in some cases) to win games, why would any future recruit sign up?

    I could understand this statement if the younger players were better, as is SOMETIMES the case with AD and DG, but there is a reason players like CM and JS are not seeing the floor, and I would bet it mostly revolves around their readiness right now to play at a B1G level.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    I expect to be 8-8 but this one might be a little closer than most think until the last 5 minutes of course

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    This team is the same as it was last year in regards to winning on the road, it just doesn’t happen. Actually that’s been the norm for the last few years. I don’t think we’ll see this team play with energy and enthusiasm until they’re back in front of our home crowd. There doesn’t seem to be any killer instinct with this group, or they don’t have enough pride to try hard every game. It seems contagious too as the year has progressed. I would love to see any player get fired up on the court and get pissed off when someone screws up or let’s their guy blow by and cause a foul on another. Considering that happens to every player for the most part we can’t count on someone to be like that. We have 4 top 100 guys on our starting unit and we got whipped by Wisconsin’s walk-ons. I’m a season ticket holder and love the Hoosiers but this group is not bringing anything to the table that we can be proud of, except for none of the players being in the headlines for negative actions, which is a plus. It doesn’t seem to hurt Kansas or UNC if their players do though.

  • David Macer

    Looks like Lynch won’t be playing. He’s been suspended effective today.

  • SCHoosier

    Lynch is the second best shot blocker in all of college b-ball..so his absence could be exploited. MN unfortuantely has more than enuff talent to drub the Hoosiers with or without Lynch. I’d say Gophers by 8-10.

  • Sandra Wilson

    Lynch was just found guilty from an incident in April 2016. Gee, I wonder what took so long? He is suspended starting Tuesday. Why starting Tuesday? This, by the way, is his second time being accused. Anyone with any sense wouldn’t play him Saturday. As bad as we are at times, it seems like our kids are good people and represent the university in a positive manner. I hope they never make me eat those words. If Pitino plays him Saturday, I think that will tell you all you want to know about him. Given all that’s happened this year, I don’t expect Lynch to play, which has to be a boost to our confidence. By the way, Lynch is appealing. Suppose that will take until late March?

  • IdahoHoosier

    I always thought Thomas Bryant was over the top when he would whoop and holler. But in hindsight, that is exactly what this group really needs. A guy who isn’t afraid to get in your face either to hold you accountable or to celebrate successes. A little fire would go a long way.

  • Sandra Wilson

    There’s one more part I forgot. If the appeal is upheld, he can appeal yet again to the university president. All he has to do is make it to April. He’s a senior, so after that it doesn’t matter. We’ll now see what Pitino is all about. He has a chance to prove he’s not like his dad.

  • TomEke

    I’m pulling for De’Ron to have a big night to help his confidence. He hasn’t played over 20 minutes or scored more than 10 points in his last 5 games. For better or worse, he had high expectations placed on his shoulders going into this year, and while maybe he hasn’t improved to the level fans expected, he should still be credited for improving this year.

    Per 40 minutes
    So: 20.4 pts 9.1 reb 2.3 ast 3.2 blk 1.7 stl 5.3 fouls 1.7 TO 61.5% FG
    Fr: 17.0 pts 8.9 reb 2.6 ast 2.0 blk 1.2 stl 6.9 fouls 3.5 TO 48.5% FG

    Kudos to him on fouling less, turning the ball over less, and shooting a higher percentage from the field.

  • Colt

    Anyone else thing Richard Pitino looks like a grease ball?

  • Vernon Aldrich

    I thought Thomas could have restrained some of his negative responses, didn’t mind the positive reactions so much. I have to agree with you, even though I wish it wasn’t so…

  • Vernon Aldrich

    Mr. Shep-dizzle, You are shizziling my nizzle. Do you mean “negative actions” are OK as long as we win?

  • iugradmark

    Can anyone confirm whether he has some sort of injury. It has been mentioned a few times. I am not saying he is playing without being cleared but just wondering. Assembly Call Podcast they mentioned something with his shoulder. Would like to know if his recent play has anything to do with some sort of physical thing.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    This one will be ugly. We suck at the barn even when we have a competitive team. We are worse at every positional matchup. Lynch and Murphy will bully our soft front court and Mason and Coffey will have our guards on ice skates.

    Of course I’m hoping to eat my words, but hope hasn’t gotten me too many wins this year.

  • inLinE6

    Don’t think he’s playing.

  • inLinE6

    His dad will be mad if he’s not like his dad.

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    I liked that, thanks for the humor at the end of the day. I prefer to not have any negative headlines, which is our only plus at the moment, but it seems like bad headlines don’t hurt other programs that much. We still haven’t heard what type of car Billy Preston was driving or who bought it at Kansas.

  • Mr. Shep-dizzle

    Deron is out indefinitely with lower leg injury, non contact. There goes the big game for DD.

  • MCPeePants

    Confirmed Leg Injury; out indefinitely.

    My interpretation: ACL tear, done for the year.

  • RonMlarkey

    The Gophers could play 3 players on the court and Hoosiers would still lose. The 3 point line doesn’t even need to be defended against this team.

  • TomEke

    Well. . . so much for this.

    Hope he gets well soon, and hope it isn’t ACL/MCL/Meniscus.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    Alabama nearly came back to beat Minnesota with three guys a couple months ago.

  • RonMlarkey

    Robert Johnson should stop shooting threes.

  • William Stephens

    The entire Hoosier team should stop shooting threes. If Indiana shoots a three it is equal to another turnover!

  • William Stephens

    His father was #1 sleezeball in college basketball until he got fired. Now Calipari is #1. Give him a few years and he may be #1. Remember Billy Donovan said Richard was Louisville coach in waiting. Now that would be a story. Today it was stated Kenny Payne an ex-Card was a strong candidate for U of L’s next coach. The Cards will be on serious probation and maybe the death penalty soon. Getting a coach from UK ( a school with the reputation of cheating dating back to the 50″s ) doesn’t seem like a real good idea to send a message of honest open legal recruiting.

  • William Stephens

    Not sure you have been watching. Indiana in it’s last few games has shot 16%, 22%, and 24% from three. Last game they were 4 of 15 and the only player to hit a three was Hartman. Believe me it isn’t about the dribble. Each one can clank it when the are standing or dribbling. Their shots are not really even close. These players are not shooters, plain as I can put it.

  • William Stephens

    To date they have never had a shooting streak in 2017-2018. How can you call these guys streak shooters?

  • William Stephens

    They will be better by playing, we will lose the same as if other players who are lazy played. I think it is time to either produce or sit. Stupid turnovers and you sit, poor defense and you sit, taking bad shots and you sit. Indiana had a coach who did that once and ever since he left we have been an also ran. It works.

  • To William Stephens, as a coach I considered a streak shooter who may get hot and hit 3-4 in a row maybe every couple of games, but not consistently hit more than a couple or none every game. That may not be a good definition for you but that is what I use. My main point being that we do not have a consistent 3 point shooter, maybe CH that we can count on but 4-5 of our guys are capable of hitting 3 or 4 in a row on occasion. Sorry if that does not qualify as streaky for you.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Watch out for Coffey. He is just the type of player that will give us fits.

  • Apoc

    Archie is doing these things…I’ve seen numerous games where he has pulled a player making bad decisions. But, a coach can only go so far into his bench before reaching players he knows are not ready and will be prone to making the same mistakes as the ones just yanked.

  • JethroTroll

    I’ve heard Lynch is not playing and is suspended indefinitely. Id be surprised if he ever plays another minute of collegiate badketball.

  • Andy Curts

    Gophers by 20.

  • Free Emmitt Holt

  • Seniors need to channel the spirit of Nick Zeisloft in this one. It’s our only hope.

  • Vernon Aldrich

    You make a valid point. It’s hard to tell whether there would be a greater negative reaction from our fan base than from other major programs if we were to discover that IU is playing the same unethical game that it seems most – if not all – are playing in recruitment of their players. Is it naive and pretentious to think that we would be more concerned? I don’t have any tangible proof that if the IU Men’s Basketball program were to have negative headlines, our fan base would revolt if it resulted in winning another banner, as a matter of fact, I have seen several in this forum that would welcome the headlines. Personally, I take the view that IU maintains an ethical commitment to the educational institution as being the ultimate concern, and a dedication to supporting our athletic programs – while of utmost importance, as secondary. My view may be deluded, but I believe that the day an educational institution places winning at all costs above a commitment to student education, that institution begins deteriorating. I also believe that IU can play by the rules and eventually triumph over those with lesser values. I see it as an Indiana tradition. I hope you agree.