BT Powerhouse is reviewing the 2010-11 season for each team, one team each week. This week is Minnesota week.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers started the year out with a bang and ended it by losing ten of eleven games. An injury to Al Nolen and Devoe Joesph's suspension and subsequent transfer helped turn a promising season into something that Gopher fans will want to forget. Let's look at the numbers and see where it all went wrong for Minnesota (hint: the end of January). I mined these stats from Statsheet.com, which is the best statistical resource I have found for college basketball.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers started the year out with a bang and ended it by losing ten of eleven games. An injury to Al Nolen and Devoe Joesph's suspension and subsequent transfer helped turn a promising season into something that Gopher fans will want to forget.
Let's look at the numbers and see where it all went wrong for Minnesota (hint: the end of January). I mined these stats from Statsheet.com, which is the best statistical resource I have found for college basketball.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
Overall Record: 17-14
Conference Record: 6-12
Final Conference Standing: 9th
Home Record: 11-6
Away Record: 3-7
Neutral Court Record: 3-1
Record Against Top 25 at end of year: 3-4
Overtime Record: 0-0
Largest Winning Margin: 19 points vs North Dakota State
Largest Losing Margin: 13 points vs Ohio State
Best Win: vs North Carolina #7 end of year RPI
Worst Loss: Indiana #181 end of year RPI
Minnesota had a great start to their season. They beat Western Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia in Puerto Rico to win a preseason tournament. A loss to Virginia in the B1G/ACC Challenge was the only blemish on their record entering conference play. They lost a few early games in conference play on the road to tough teams, but they had a few quality wins over Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern.
The Gophers then fell off a cliff after losing Al Nolen to injury for the year. After Devoe Joesph left the program earlier in the season, Nolen's injury left them without a point guard. And it showed. While they managed to play some close games after losing Nolen, they only won one out of their last eleven games of the year. After being ranked as high as #15 in the AP poll in January, the Gophers ended the season without even securing an NIT bid.
Team Statistics in Conference Play (Rank in parenthesis)
Possessions per 40 minutes: 61.7 (8th)
Points per possessions: 1.03 (9th)
Rebound %: 52.8 (2nd)
Assist %: 65.3 (2nd)
Turnover %: 20.5 (10th, meaning Minn had the second most TOs)
True Shooting %: 52.1 (9th)
Points Scored Per Game: 63.7 (10th)
Points Scored Against Per Game: 65.7 (6th)
Fouls On Minn Per Game: 16.1 (8th)
As expected after losing their point guard to injury for most of conference play, Minnesota had a high turnover rate. Their lineup was full of big men, which led them to a high rebounding percentage. The defense wasn't bad, but it would have to be spectacular to win many games when scoring at such a low rate per possession. Looking at the right side of the scoring margin chart has got to be depressing for Gopher fans; except for that Iowa game, they were always on the wrong side of the zero line.
Individual Statistical Leaders in Conference Games
Minutes played per game: Blake Hoffarber, 35.8
Points per game: Trevor Mbakwe, 14.1
Rebounds per game: Trevor Mbakwe, 11
Assists per game (at least ten games played): Blake Hoffarber, 3.6
Steals per game (at least ten games played): Austin Hollins, 1.2
Blocks per game: Ralph Sampson III, 2
In the assists category, both Devoe Joseph and Al Nolen had better per game numbers (and Nolen had the most steals per game), which shows just how much losing those two hurt the team. Trevor Mbakwe was a dominating post player, and leading a team in points and rebounds is no easy feat.
Hoffarber and Nolen were both seniors this year, and will not be returning. Colton Iverson has left the program due to lack of playing time. Mbakwe and Sampson III should return next year to provide a strong inside game. That is great, but the Minnesota collapse illustrated just how important strong guard play is in college basketball. Tubby Smith will need to get some good guard play from incoming players next year for the Gophers to be successful.