ScoopTalk: Thoughts From The Barn

Lights-out Gophers trounce IU

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota caught fire from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, and by the time the Golden Gophers cooled off, they were well on their way to a blowout victory.

The Golden Gophers were up by double digits at the 11:04 mark and never looked back in an 81-58 route of Indiana in front of 14,625 at Williams Arena on Saturday. Minnesota shot 7-for-11 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, making their first five attempts. The Gophers finished 9-for-20 from beyond the arc and shot 55.4 percent (31-for-56) from the field.

“I’ll have to watch the film, but I think it’s a little of both,” IU coach Tom Crean said when asked if Minnesota’s brilliant shooting was a credit to the Gophers or the Hoosiers’ lck of defense. “I don’t think we challenged shots great. They beat us off the dribble a little bit too much. We’ve gotta get better there.”

Minnesota senior guard Lawrence Westbrook led the Gophes with 20 points, knocking down four of six 3-point attempts. Senior forward Damian Johnson had 16 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore center Ralph Sampson III added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, struggled to get the ball inside against the Gophers lengthy big men, getting blocked seven times. They moved the ball better on the perimeter, but didn’t hit enough shots to make it matter as they shot 6-for-21 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Sophomore guard Verdell Jones III and freshman forward Christian Watford had particularly miserable games. Jones shot 2-for-8 from the field and needed six free throw attempts to get to 10 points, extending his streak of consecutive double-digit scoring performances to 10. Watford, meanwhile, scored a season-low three points on 1-for-12 shooting.

“They did a great job,” Watford said. “I give them all the credit in the world. They did a great job of defending the paint. But I missed some shots I normally make. That’s just a tough shooting night.”

Senior guard Devan Dumes took on the scoring load with 20 points, but needed 17 shots to do it. Junior guard Jeremiah Rivers added 10 points, breaking double digits for the first time since Dec. 22.

AUDIO: Ralph Sampson III and Lawrence Westbrook talk about Minnesota’s improving cohesion

AUDIO: Tubby Smith says a few things before we had to run to talk to Tom Crean

AUDIO: Tom Crean says he liked the energy and some of the ball movement. The defense? Not so much.

AUDIO: Christian Watford and Devan Dumes say not enough shots were contested

Indiana at Minnesota: Discuss it here

Hoosier Morning

Northwestern Indiana basketball

Indiana coach Tom Crean is preparing his team to play Minnesota on the road. Chris Howell | Herald-Times


IU In-State recruit watch: A.J. Hammons and Justin Gant

In theory, A.J. Hammons is exactly what Indiana needs right now. He’s a 6-foot-10, 250-pounder with the frame of a true center. The sort of guy you can feed on the low block and just watch him overpower his defender. With the Hoosiers struggling to get much of anything out of the center position right how, there are certainly IU fans who would like to add Hammons to the fold right now.

But Hammons is a sophomore, and he does need that time to be college ready.

I went to Carmel High School on Friday night to watch Hammons and the Greyhounds play Terre Haute North and Justin Gant, The Hoosiers have been recruiting Gant, though they haven’t offered him a scholarship yet like they have Hammons. (more…)

Hoosiers facing bigger lineup at Minnesota

The last time Indiana played Minnesota, it pulled out an upset thanks in large part to a 43-31 advantage on the rebounds.

That will be a lot harder to duplicate this time around when they play today at 8 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers switched up their lineup on Thursday night against Wisconsin, using 6-11 sophomore center Ralph Sampson III and 6-10 sophomore center Colton Iverson in the lineup together at the same time for long stretches. That helped Minnesota dominate on the glass against Wisconsin, winning the battle 41-28 in a 68-52 upset of the No. 14 Badgers. Indiana coach Tom Crean expects that to change the game significantly, especially on the backboards.

““It makes it incredibly different,” Crean said. “It’s going to have to be a team rebounding game. I think it will. There are keys to the game, and I think this is going to be as big of one as there is. We can’t go up there and give them easy baskets at home off of offensive rebounds.”

Crean also said he expects to see more zone from Minnesota this time around. Using Iverson and Sampson together slows the Gophers down, but it makes them longer and could make it harder to penetrate.

“We don’t want to get pushed back on our heels on the perimeter without screening and cutting,” Crean said. “We’ve gotta be playing downhill. I think we’ll see a lot of zone, but we can’t stand out there on the perimeter without attacking it.”

Another change from the team’s first matchup, of course, is the venue. That’s even more significant than usual because Williams Arena, nicknamed “The Barn” is possibly the most unique arena in the Big Ten. One major change is the court is raised up from the floor. The benches are actually below the court. This causes all sorts of issues with perception.

To combat this, the Hoosiers flew to Minnesota early Friday so they could practice in Minneapolis.

““I think because it’s so different it’s the equivalent of playing at Vanderbilt in the SEC,” Crean said. “Everything you know is so different. It’s still a 94-foot court and the basket is 10 feet high, but the bench is way underneath you. You’re looking down to find your coach and teammates, just like at Vanderbilt, where you’re looking for your bench and it’s in the end zone. It plays with your mind and we can’t let it. The more you can be out there the more you can lessen part of their home-court advantage.”

Rivals: Indiana offers Abraham is reporting that Indiana has offered a scholarship to Moses Abraham, a 6-foot-9, 237-pound power forward for Progressive Christian in Temple Hills, Md. Abraham recently came from Nigeria and apparently has lots of offers with Georgetown apparently being the leader.

We’re trying to confirm this independently, and hopefully we’ll have more soon.

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