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Five things to know from Minnesota's first loss of the season

Minnesota dropped their first game of the season in Tallahassee this evening 75-67 to Florida State. “Five Things to Know” discusses the good and the many bad items from tonight’s loss.

One.  Eight assists in 82 possessions.

Those numbers say everything about what happened to Minnesota playing their first road game.  Florida State sped Minnesota up with the halfcourt trap and the full court pressure, and Minnesota responded with possession after possession of mistakes. 

Items that stick out were power forward Jordan Murphy catching at the top of the key four times in five possessions and attacking every time for negative results.  The biggest issue we had at GI was the way Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer consistently chose to attack Florida State against momentum when the team needed them to slow the game down for the moment and make the defense work against ball movement and player activity (there was little of it in the second half). 

We’ve seen Minnesota move the ball so well for 6.5 games but in the second half they played undisciplined and it cost them the game.  There was just no value of each possession.  Minnesota went 11 possessions without a single ball reversal.  You can’t beat a team as talented as Florida State without valuing the possession.

Two.  FSU won the key match-ups

Jordan Murphy defended Jonathan Issac but so did Amir Coffey.  Coffey defended Dwayne Bacon but so did Dupree McBrayer.  Whatever the match-up you want to compare, the Florida State leading scorers and future NBA draft picks completely outplayed their opponents. 

At the power forward position Jonathan Issac made a couple turn around jumpers that were unstoppable.  There was noothing Murphy or others could do with those makes but Isaac gave Florida State 14 points and 13 rebounds on ten shots while Murphy scored five points with six boards and didn’t make a single field goal.  Jordan did not have any of the off ball activity scores that build up his production.  Some of that was Minnesota’s lack of halfcourt offense but whatever way you look at it, Isaac was by far the victor. 

Dwayne Bacon scored a game high 18 points on 11 shots while Amir Coffey sat with foul trouble for much of the game (at least two of the calls were weak) and scored only seven points on ten attempts.  McBrayer shot just 2 of 11 and had three turnovers.  Florida State was much better at the wing/forward position only Akeem Springs and his three treys (team high 11 points) kept it from being a run away (at these spots).

Three.  Minnesota did not handle adversity

The officials blew every piece of contact they could find and it destroyed the pace of the game.  It was frustrating for all.  But one team fought through it and played their game while the other team built up foul trouble and became overly frustrated.  Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey missed a significant part of the first half with foul trouble and Coffey had to sit much of the second half because of a pair of weak calls.  Their teammates did not handle the foul issues well and it affected their composure and decision making.

The adversity that really killed the Gophers was the Florida State halfcourt trap and the full court ball pressure.  We covered this earlier but the game changed in the second half when Minnesota consistently caught at the top of the key in space and decided to attack FSU’s size and help defenders instead of resetting and trying to dictate their own tempo.  Florida State put the ball in the hands of Minnesota’s non ball handlers and production just wasn’t there. It was a different look than Minnesota has seen and they did not react well as a team at all (including the guards which was most disappointing). 

Four.  A five needs to be on the floor (most of the time)

What has become apparent early in the year is that Minnesota should have Eric Curry on the floor as often as possible, but he can only play so many minutes at the five position.  Don’t get me wrong, the Gophers need to play Curry at the five sometimes during the game.  He’s too good to play only back-up minutes to Jordan Murphy.  But at this moment Curry (who battled for eight rebounds) just doesn’t have the strength/size combination to consistently battle major conference bigs (not his fault, it’s just a size thing). Curry isn’t able to move centers out of the paint yet and he has trouble in the low post fight against guys who are 30 plus pounds bigger (just gives up too much size, that’s why he is four).

Enter Bakary Konate.  The ideal plan is to have Reggie Lynch play 25-27 minutes a contest with Curry getting about 5-7 minutes at the five (unless the team is smaller up front which of course should lead to more time for him at the five) and Konate playing the rest.  Problem is Reggie had two fouls within three minutes of play leaving Curry to battle the biggest frontline in the nation (this happened in other recent games as well).  Konate is much bigger and is able to win the leverage battle plus he plays really hard and gave the Gophs seven points and six boards.  Konate’s minutes are inconsistent but come Big Ten play every team is going to have a sizeable big and Bakary is going to be needed to work against them inside. 

Five.  No quit in this team

Sure there was a lot of bad decision making, but there was no quit.  This Minnesota team has a different character.  Frustration was present but it didn’t stop their effort, it just hurt their decision making.  The Gophers closed the gap to eight points late because their effort never faltered.  Richard Pitino brought his team together with about three minutes to go and was able to salvage something.  Not only are they going to learn from the loss, but they also did not stop competing until the game was over.  The Gophers only lost the board battle 41-35 to a giant team, they forced 15 turnovers, and FSU as a team shoots the three well (most of it from Bacon and Isaac) but the Noles made only 2 of 16 treys. 

Minnesota’s second half was an ugly learning experience and their final numbers were that of a losing team that wasn’t smart with the ball.  But the effort was there.

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