Coaches trade spots on the Big Ten hot seat

C.J. Spang

Entering the season, Indiana men’s basketball coach Mike Davis was on the coaching hot seat, as members of the media thought his dismissal would be imminent if the Hoosiers didn’t succeed this season.

With Minnesota winless in the Big Ten, the media is buzzing about coach Dan Monson.

Monson and the Gophers (9-8, 0-6 Big Ten) should have a tough time breaking into the Big Ten win column when they host No. 13 Indiana at Williams Arena on Sunday at noon.

“We’re a team that still doesn’t have an identity,” Monson said. “We want to be a team that defends better than (against Illinois).”

It won’t be any easier to defend Indiana.

The Hoosiers (18-2, 4-2 Big Ten) are leading the conference in three-point shooting percentage, at 40.5 percent.

Despite their perimeter-shooting numbers, their main threat is senior forward Marco Killingsworth.

Killingsworth is third in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 19.8 points per game in conference play.

In addition to Killingsworth, Indiana has three more frontcourt players averaging double-figure scoring.

Sophomore swingman Robert Vaden is averaging 15 points per game, junior forward Roderick Wilmont is averaging 11.3 points per game and senior guard Marshall Strickland is averaging 10.2 points per game.

While the Hoosiers have no problem scoring, Minnesota has been unable to do much of anything on offense.

The Gophers are last in scoring in the Big Ten, averaging just 57.7 points per contest ” 10.3 points lower than Indiana’s average.

However, against Illinois, Minnesota’s offense showed some signs of life.

The Gophers shot 40 percent from the field in the first half and trailed by just eight points at the end of the

period. In the second half Minnesota shot just 32.1 percent, and was outscored 38-22.

“We showed spurts where we can play with anybody in the country,” senior guard Vincent Grier said. “But we have to sustain the fight.”

Minnesota has not broken 40 percent shooting in conference play this season.

“I think this team can do some things to be better,” Monson said. “And it’s my job to get that done.”