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5 Things to Know from Minnesota's 92-86 win over St. John's

Richard Pitino’s Golden Gophers passed a second big test of the non-conference season tonight when they defeated St. John’s 92-86 at Williams Arena. What Five Things Stood Out? The starting point is quite obvious.

One.  Amir Coffey Goes for 30!

Amir Coffey is such a mismatch for the opposition because of his skill, length, and mobility as a guard/wing.  Teams just aren’t prepared to get back on defense and locate a 6-foot-8 freshman who boards, pushes with long strides, and gets to the rim to finish before anybody can try and put a body in front of him.  Guards are too small and forwards are too slow to defend him.  Coffey also has an edge in length when attacking that allows him to extend his lefty touch, take contact, and still be above the rim to complete a play.  It’s why he is able to get to the foul line so much (11 of 12) and it’s also why bigs can’t help over to get to his attempt.  Amir also posts up to score, he has shown he can hit a three a game, and Coffey is an excellent passer.  Coffey scored 30 plus points just three times at Hopkins (high of 35 against Minnetonka last year) last year but in game four of his college career he put up the 30 making 9 of 14 shots plus he grabbed four rebounds. It’s a performance that college basketball fans will be taking note of around the country.

Two.  Dupree Compliments Coffey.

With his parents in the stands and friends from New York City on the opposing team Dupree McBrayer  looked a bit nervous at the start of the game.  That changed rapidly as McBrayer made five of his next six looks hitting both of his three-point attempts and making four clutch foul shots late.  Much like Coffey, Dupree is also excellent at pushing in transition and using his skill and length to the get to the rim before a body can he put in front of him.  McBrayer scored 18 plus had five boards and five assists. The wing combo of Coffey and McBrayer is fantastic and compliments the team so well.  Remember when Dupree struggled

Three.  Rebounding Drills.

Minnesota gave up 21 offensive rebounds and it almost cost them the game.  They were out-rebounded by St. John’s 54-41 overall which is going to lead to guys learning from Coach Pitino how and when to make their box-out hits in the next few practices.  The film room this weekend could be ugly when it comes time to point out who was missing their contact and the answer?  Just about everybody.  I can think of times when Coffey missed hits, McBrayer missed one, Nate Mason missed a couple, Reggie Lynch missed a couple, and Jordan Murphy missed several.  That’s just from memory.  The Gophers too often are relying on their bounce and reach to board instead of clearing their defender and that has to change or there will be more long nights like this on the glass.

Four. Turnover Battle

Minnesota only had six turnovers all game long.  A remarkable number in a fast pace, numerous possession game like this one.  They also turned the Red Storm mistakes into 23 fast break points.  When Coffey, McBrayer, and Nate Mason are coming down at a team in transition it’s becoming clear that most teams really don’t have an answer.  The speed and length of the Gopher backcourt is tough to deal with and they want to turn every opposing mistake or miss into a transition push.  So far they’ve pushed those things to a 4-0 record.

Five. A Shot Blocking Presence (Staying out of Foul Trouble)

Reggie Lynch blocked nine shots tonight which ties him for the third best total in Gopher basketball history.  Reggie grabbed 11 rebounds and erased nine St. John’s shot attempts plus he didn’t pick up his first foul until 23 minutes of the game were played.  Last game it took him 25 minutes to record a foul.  When Lynch stays on the floor teams don’t attack the basket like they usually do forcing more jumpers and more contested shots.  And that’s the ones that are actually released.  Between the shots blocked and the shots contested Reggie is doing for Minnesota exactly what they’ve needed. 

Extra Points

·         Gophers have to defend ball screens better, Nate Mason had trouble with this and his bigs weren’t able to laterally make the step needed to cut off the attacking angle.

·         Jordan Murphy played 100 seconds in half one but still scored a valuable dozen points in 16 minutes.

·         Nate Mason was clutch down the stretch making four big foul shots and a floater that really put the game away for good.

·         Minnesota shot 7 of 17 from the arc and 79 percent from the foul line on 29 attempts.  Both of those totals are good enough to win many games.

·         Ahmad Gilbert and Michael Hurt both came off the bench and gave the team a spark with some key plays.

·         I would say that Akeem Springs likely got the message from Richard Pitino that after you make a shot you are not allowed to just jack extra attempts up immediately after the make regardless of difficulty.  After Springs did that in half one he was benched for the half.

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