Basketball shows ‘no emotion’ in 84-71 win

Adam Fink

Minnesota men’s basketball coach Dan Monson stood with his arms crossed as the finals seconds ticked away in the Gophers’ 84-71 win Wednesday night against Howard Pulley.

The fans remaining from the announced attendance of 9,911 at Williams Arena let out a sigh of relief.

And there was hardly a smile from any Gophers players.

While Minnesota did come out victorious in its final exhibition game, neither players nor coaches were happy with the effort, intensity level and the sloppiness in the second half.

“We took a step back,” Monson said. “To go out there and get exposed helps you learn. We are in jeopardy of going into the (preseason) NIT and going one and out.

“We showed no emotion.”

The Gophers start the nonconference part of their season Monday against Missouri-Kansas City in the first round of the NIT, where wins count and mistakes linger longer.

After building a 47-32 halftime lead against the Panthers, the wheels in Minnesota’s game came rolling off.

Minnesota allowed six offensive rebounds, eight three-pointers and managed 11 turnovers in the second stanza.

A 15-3 Panthers run to start the half closed Minnesota’s lead to 53-47.

Minnesota struggled to adjust to Pulley’s two-three zone – the same defense Missouri-Kansas City likes to play. The Gophers built their lead in the first half by making eight trifectas of their own.

But in the second half, Monson told the team for stretches they could only work to the low post.

“We weren’t getting the ball inside,” said guard Adam Boone, who tallied 19 points and a game-high eight assists. “We were trying to focus on it more, but we struggled.”

In addition, ball movement became a problem.

“We didn’t scramble to shoot out of double teams,” Boone said.

And despite appearing to have a talent edge on the Panthers – a team of former collegiate players – the Gophers never managed to open up the score in the final 15 minutes.

Essentially, the teams traded baskets the remainder of the way until Minnesota padded the score in the waning moments.

“We aren’t confident enough to step in and stop their runs,” senior Michael Bauer said. “If we can fix these things, then it is great to be exposed.

“We didn’t have much effort, not enough intensity. We were almost depressed out there.”

Guard Ben Johnson added 19 points for Minnesota, 17 of which came in the first half.

Minnesota takes today off and resumes practice Friday. And while Wednesday’s game uncovered a slew of problems for the Gophers, the positive was that the team has until Monday to make adjustments.

“It’s unrealistic to blow out a team by 40 points and have a false sense of where we are,” Johnson said. “This way we can learn and improve.”

Signing day

Three players officially committed to Minnesota on Wednesday.

Enrico Tucker, Miles Webb and Spencer Tollackson signed national letters of intent and will join the team for the 2004-05 campaign.

Tollackson, a 6-foot-9 forward, is a top-100 recruit and was invited to the NBA Players camp this past summer.

Webb, a 6-foot-3 guard from Brooklyn Park, Minn., was listed by USA Today as a Pre-Spring National Top 100 player.

Tucker, a 6-foot guard from California, is highly regarded after averaging 25 points and seven rebounds last season for the University of San Diego High School.

“We have a nice foundation here,” Monson said. “We added to that with three players who can do different things.”

ï Minnesota women’s basketball team officially signed guard Brittney Davis and front court players Leslie Knight, Lauren Lacey and Natasha Williams to national letters of intent.

Knight is the only Minnesota native, hailing from Minnetonka. All four will begin competing next season.