Game Particulars: Indiana (6-16/1-9) vs. Minnesota (18-5/6-5)
A pair of struggling basketball teams square off tonight at 9 p.m. at Williams Arena. After a 16-1 start, Minnesota has dropped four out of its last six to slip back to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten race. Coach Tubby Smith's team has dropped two straight, including a 29-point beating at the hands of Michigan State last week. Indiana, meanwhile, has lost 12 of its last 13, including a 67-63 decision to the Gophers 16 days ago in Bloomington. The Hoosiers will also be playing without leading scorer Devan Dumes, who has been suspended indefinitely by IU for his play in Saturday's 75-47 loss at Michigan State.
IU is coached by Tom Crean, who is in his first year as Indiana's head coach and 10th year overall. Crean owns a 196-112 career mark and led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament five times. Minnesota, meanwhile, is coached by Tubby Smith, who is in his second year with the Golden Gophers and 18th year overall. Smith owns a 38-19 mark at Minnesota and a 425-164 mark overall.
The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Dave Revsine (play-by-play) and Shon Morris (color commentary) calling the match-up.
Indiana 2008-09 Schedule
Minnesota 2008-09 Schedule
PG- Verdell Jones (6-5, 176, Fr.) – 8.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 23.8% 3 pt. shooting
SG – Malik Story (6-5, 220, Fr.) - 5.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 31.3% 3 pt. shooting
WG - Nick Williams (6-4, 211, Fr.) – 8.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 spg, 42.9% FG shooting
PF- Kyle Taber (6-8, 220, Sr.) – 4.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 48.1% FG shooting
C – Tom Pritchard (6-9, 242, Fr.) – 11.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 50.8% FG shooting
Minnesota (18-5/6-5 Big Ten)
PG- Al Nolen (6-1, 180, So.) – 7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2.1 spg, 32.1% 3 pt. shooting
SG – Lawrence Westbrook (6-0, 195, Jr.) 13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 38.5% 3 pt. shooting
SF – Damian Johnson (6-7, 195, Jr.) – 9.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.3 bpg, 49.4% FG shooting
PF – Ralph Sampson III (6-11, 220, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.6 bpg, 49.6% FG shooting
C – Colton Iverson (6-10, 235, Fr.) – 5.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 59.1% FG shooting
Indiana 2008-09 Statistics
Minnesota 2008-09 Statistics
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Who gets the starting nod in place of Dumes? – Indiana isn't just losing its leading scorer with the suspension of Devan Dumes – it's probably losing its best defender as well. The junior guard has generally drawn the assignment of matching up with the opposing team's top perimeter player, and in Minnesota's case that's point guard Al Nolen. So what will Indiana do? At Monday's press conference Tom Crean said he'd likely turn to either Malik Story or Matt Roth to fill the hole in the starting line-up. My money's on Story, who has handled the point guard duties for stretches this season and is a more versatile and reliable defender than Roth. Story's size is probably a better fit as well, considering the fact the Gophers start three players who stand 6'5" or taller in Damian Johnson, Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson. Roth is probably better suited to come in off the bench and match up with someone like Blake Hoffarber when he enters the contest.
How slow can the Hoosiers make the Gophers go? - Minnesota's gameplan will be to trap, force turnovers, create fastbreak opportunities, and play the game at an up tempo pace. That's where Gopher point guard Al Nolen is at his best. By contrast, Indiana will want to slow the game down, limit the number of possessions each team has, and eliminate an easy scoring opportunities for Tubby Smith's team. For Indiana to be able to dictate the tempo, it is going to need to be particularly careful with the basketball and minimize its turnovers. Of course, that will be easier said than done due to the absence of one of the team's primary ball handlers, Devan Dumes. The Hoosiers need to find some way to keep the game in the 50s to give itself any kind of chance at pulling an upset, while Minnesota wants to get the game in the 70s. The higher the score, the higher the probability that Indiana will be in for a very long night at Williams Arena.
Does Matt Roth have another big game in him? - With Dumes out of the line-up, Roth is really the only player at Tom Crean's disposal who has the tools to break loose for a 20-plus point night. Tom Pritchard is the team's second-leading scorer, but he's been held to single-digits in his last four games, and hasn't scored 20 since the Cornell contest Nov. 30. He'll also find things very difficult around the rim against a Gopher frontline that features three legitimate shot blockers. What Roth might lack in other areas of his game such as on-the-ball defensive abilities, he often makes up for it with an ability to knock down 3-pointers from 30-feet and in. While it's a bit much to expect another nine 3-pointers out of Roth like he had against Ohio State, if he can knock down four or five – and Indiana can keep the game in the 50s – it might give itself a chance entering the final five minutes of the game. All things considered, that's about all Indiana can hope for as it looks for its first road victory of the year.
"We're not going up frustrated, we're not going up angry, we're going up to compete. That's really all I'm concerned about when it comes to the game – having a gameplan that they can follow and do our best with it." – IU Coach Tom Crean
"It will be important for us to get a win tomorrow, very important, especially if we want to keep ourselves in a position to compete for the Big Ten title." – Minnesota Coach Tubby Smith
"(Minnesota) looks like a different team at home. They play so fast at home. I haven't been there is a long time, but it's such a hard crowd. They're really into it, they love their team…they're going to be hungry." – Crean
"We have to handle their pressure. Everything is going to turn up a little bit more. We have a player that gets quite a bit done for us that won't be in the lineup. That means everybody else has to enhance their role a little bit more." – Crean
"We have to handle the ball better. When you go on the road, you really have to be able to get things done as far as taking care of the ball, having stability, getting a team into its offense, settling them down, and then getting them back on defense." – Crean
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Indiana vs. Minnesota Gameday
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