Amaker Previews Minnesota

Coach Amaker looks ahead to the upcoming contest with the Minnesota Golden Gophers and reflects on his team at the halfway point.

On the keys to the game versus the Golden Gophers:

“It’s going to be critical for us to get off to a good start. I think it’s imperative that we’re able to stay in there right from the opening tap and establish the confidence level that you need to have on the road. That’s one of the things that we’ve lacked a little bit. I think that’s natural for a younger team and I think it’s natural for ANY team on the road. I think we have to stay out of foul trouble with key guys on our team. Certainly going into Minnesota and going against a kid that right now is the leading scorer and leading rebounder in our conference and being able to match up with him. Manage the crowd. They’re a team that can throw a lot of different zones at you. We obviously didn’t play very well against the zone in our last game. If that’s the defense that they choose to go at us with right away, it’s going to be important that we attack it and have some success. That’s something I’m concerned with…that if we’re not successful right away against a zone defense, that maybe we get a little more tentative like we did against Purdue. That’s something that we can’t afford to do on the road. I think that’s going to be critical for us.”

On guarding Kris Humphries:

“He’s extremely talented. He’s a very gifted inside/outside player with good strength. All the ingredients are there for him to be a star player, which he has turned out to be for this conference and for the University of Minnesota. It is going to be tough match up for us. We have been looking at different ways that we can guard him and their team with a number of players. J.C. Mathis, Petway, and even looking at Chris Hunter with his agility and mobility to be able to guard a guy like that who has that kind of size. Chris can match up with a player like that. Thinking about it, it’s probably a tougher match up for Graham Brown. I think it’s important for us to rotate different players on him and for us to try to see if we can go back at him on the other end. If they play the zone it’s little bit different. But if they are in man to man, it’s going to be important for us to go at him and see if we can get him into foul trouble. No one has really been able to do that to him or their team yet.”

More on Humphries not being a good match up for Graham Brown:

“Humphries is a player that can go outside and Graham is obviously more of an interior player for our team. I’m certainly not saying that he can’t guard a person on the perimeter. But Humphries is very skilled, can shoot the 3, and puts it on the floor. We’d rather have Graham guarding somebody on the block where he can use his strength, size, and bulk.”

On if a medical redshirt is a possibility for Chris Hunter:

“We’ve passed the time period for that being a possibility so that was never part of the discussion. There’s a lot basketball to be played. We’re starting the second half of the conference schedule and hopefully we’ll have a lot of games after that. I’m anticipating that Chris will give us some minutes the rest of this season. I don’t know where, when, or how. He’s a talented player that’s working his way back into the player he was before all the injuries occurred. It may be in this next game. Who knows?”

On he he’s though about the number of wins it would take to get into the tournament:

“No one knows that. That’s why I don’t like to waste time on that. The people who talk about it aren’t the people who make the decisions, so there’s no need for me to constantly speculate and answer questions. “

On Daniel Horton’s struggles:

“I think every year is going to be harder. That’s how life goes at times. I think it’s a lesson that he’s learning. That you have to work even harder and do even more because people are coming at you in different ways. You’ve made a name for yourself and you’ve had so much success in the past… now can you maintain or improve on that? I think that’s where he is right now. But I think there are things that he’s done much better than he did last year. He’s been a much better defender. It’s not even close. That was one of the areas we really wanted him to improve in and he has. I think that’s the one thing I’m really pleased with. He hasn’t had the spectacular moments in games that he had last year, but our team is different. We’re not the same team. If he didn’t score we probably couldn’t win last year. That’s not the case this year so he’s quarterbacking more, playing better defense, picking his spots, and learning as he goes through that.”

On if his team still has a shot for the conference title:

“We’re still playing for the conference championship. We’re .500 in the league and we’re in striking distance. Everyone has to play their way in or play their way out. We’re one of those team's that could possibly play their way in to a conference championship.”

On where his team is at this point in the season:

“Reflecting on the halfway point, I think it’s obvious that the home loss against IU was a bit of a setback for our team. You really don’t get a chance to make up for those as you go along. That was disappointing. But the win on Saturday against Purdue was significant for us. They were ranked just prior to their loss to Ohio State and they’re a team that we think is going to be right in the mix. So I think sometimes things have a tendency of balancing out and .500 is nothing to be ashamed of. But to be quite honest, we had a little bit higher aspirations at this point. Maybe with that one game we’d be sitting here feeling that we were right where we were supposed to be.”

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