Turnovers concern men’s hoops team

by Adam Fink

Minnesota men’s basketball forward Kris Humphries was in the low post during Saturday’s win over Western Illinois when he found himself surrounded by three defenders.

In an attempt to get the ball out to the guards, the freshman lost control of the ball and turned it over.

While Minnesota point guards Adam Boone and Aaron Robinson combined to only give the ball away only once, turnovers have become a problem for the Gophers’ big men.

Heading into tonight’s game against Long Beach State at Williams Arena, Minnesota wants to see increased ball movement from its low-post players and fewer turnovers.

Humphries, senior Michael Bauer, center Jeff Hagen and forward Stan Gaines – four regular low-post players in the rotation – combined for nine of Minnesota’s 17 turnovers.

Against Virginia last Wednesday, those same set of big men combined for 14 of the Gophers’ 18 turnovers.

For the season, Minnesota (3-2) is averaging 15.2 turnovers per game.

“You can’t put the ball on the floor,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said Saturday. “You will get clubbed.”

Humphries believes the team needs to relax. The freshman said basketball is a simple game and the team creates problems when it tries to make the motions too difficult.

He added that he is still learning to recognize defenses.

“My first thought is to try and split (the double team),” Humphries said. “Then I try and find the open man. I want to make smart plays.”

Gaines, a sophomore who has seen increased playing time this season, believes the low-post turnovers center around making better passes.

The 6-foot-7-inch forward said he was able to learn last season from limited playing time and it has translated to playing better this season.

“The main thing is, we have to not panic,” Gaines said. “We want to keep the game simple.”

Monson said the goal in the low post is to quickly recognize where the double teams are coming from and get the ball to the weak side of the court.

This creates open space to work on the opposite end of the court and would also give solid looks at the basket.

While this is easier said than done, Humphries knows where implementation begins.

“It starts in practice,” he said. “What happens in a game is a result of practice.”

Lineup remains the same

Despite struggling this season while recovering from injuries, Monson said Monday, he will continue to start Bauer and Moe Hargrow.

Bauer was held scoreless Saturday, and Hargrow has struggled to find his shooting touch.

But both bring energy and leadership, two intangibles Monson likes.

“I am not contemplating anything,” Monson. “I am more worried who is going to finish games.”

In addition, Monson said, he wants to ensure the two continue to try to find their rhythm, something they cannot find while on the bench.

Also, Gaines, Robinson and Hagen have been valuable coming off the bench, the Gophers’ fifth-year coach said.

Humphries player of week

For the second time in the young season, Humphries has been named the Big Ten player of the week.

The Chaska, Minn., native leads the Big Ten conference in scoring (23.6) and rebounding (11.8) per game. If this held for the season, he would be the first freshman since at least 1959 – when records were first kept for rebounding – to lead the league in both categories.

Humphries is the first freshman in Big Ten history to nab this honor in two of the first three weeks.

In addition, Humphries is the first Gopher since Joel Przybilla in 1999-2000 to receive the award twice in the same season.