Consistency, Confidence Key For BB Team

The Gophers had a great chance to beat Florida State, but one aspect of their game fell apart, according to coach Dan Monson.

An optimist might look at Minnesota's 70-69 loss to Florida State and try to make it a positive.

The Gophers were supposed to be the worst team in the Big Ten season this year, yet they found a way to lead the Seminoles by 16 points with less than eight minutes to play. That was a good thing.

But Dan Monson's team is young and does not yet know how to finish out games. Florida State went on a 16-0 run and stole the game from the Gophers.

"It's evident we still have a young basketball team and a lot of new faces," Gophers coach Dan Monson said. "We played very tentatively at the end of the first half defensively and kind of let them back in, and obviously at the end of second half. I don't think it was our defense as much ...

"It was mostly our tentative offense, kind of looking at the clock and hoping we could milk some clock."

Instead of attacking the basket and going hard to the boards, the Gophers kept their eye on the shot clock with each possession. As a result, Minnesota lost its momentum and Florida State rose up in the game's final stages.

Monson has a lot of coaching to do to get this team to play consistently down the stretch. That's not easy when the Gophers are trying to knit some cohesiveness together, but it is essential if they are going to make any progress this year.

Despite the collapse, Minnesota still had a chance to win in the final 30 seconds. Vincent Grier — who scored 23 points — had the ball outside the arc and launched a shot while trailing 68-66. The ball clanged off the rim and Florida State's Diego Romero grabbed the rebound took it the length of the court for the clinching layup.

After opening the season with wins over Lipscomb and Furman, the Gophers have lost three straight to Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State. While the loss to the Seminoles is painful, the Gophers are just starting to know one another and this team may be a bit better than the experts predicted at the start of the season. Monson has some talent to work with and the time to get his team together.

Inconsistency is a major issue for the Gophers. After shooting 55 percent from the field in the first half of their 70-69 loss to Florida State on Nov. 30, they shot just 33 percent in the second half.

  • The Gophers are not one of the more physical teams in the Big Ten. They are averaging 29.6 rebounds per game — a figure that ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

  • The Gophers have surprising quickness on the defensive end. They are averaging 10.2 steals per game — ranking them first in the Big Ten.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Point guard Brent Lawson, shooting guard Aaron Robinson, center Jeff Hagen, power forward Dan Coleman, guard-forward Vincent Grier.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Down the stretch we played not to lose instead of trying to win. That's what happens when you have a team with 10-to-12 new players. We are not familiar with each other." — Freshman guard Rico Tucker on how the Gophers blew a 14-point lead down the stretch against Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten challenge.

    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Holy Cross, Saturday, Dec. 4

    KEYS: The Gophers should be able to handle the Crusaders, a mid-level team from the Patriot League, but veteran coach Ralph Willard would like nothing better than to embarrass a Big Ten team on his home floor.

    ROSTER REPORT: Junior forward J'Son Stamper may become a significant contributor off the bench. Stamper had a team-high six rebounds in 19 minutes of action in the 70-69 Nov. 30 loss to Florida State.

  • Guard Vincent Grier was supposed to be a scorer when he came to the Gophers from Dixie Junior College. He has done just that, leading the Big Ten in scoring with a mark of 19.8 ppg.

  • Forward Dan Coleman is making a major contribution, averaging 13.8 ppg.

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