Gophers welcome struggling

by Murali Balaji

Considering its inability to win road games, there is no place like home for the Gophers men’s basketball team.
Coming off an 89-60 humiliation at Ohio State, Minnesota (12-4, 3-3 Big Ten) will try to present a semblance of consistency when it plays host to Indiana (16-6, 3-4) tonight at Williams Arena. Despite the level of haplessness his team exhibited against the Buckeyes, Gophers coach Clem Haskins was hardly ready to sound the alarms.
“We’re going to hopefully re-group (Tuesday),” he said. “A lot of times you play better when you have less time to prepare.”
Against Ohio State, Minnesota was simply overwhelmed with the Buckeyes’ team speed, particularly the backcourt of Scoonie Penn (24 points) and Michael Redd (19).
“When you go against Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd, you’re going to have a difficult time no matter where you play,” Haskins said. Redd and Penn raced down the court on almost every rebound, breaking through the Gophers’ transition defense and allowing Buckeyes such as forward Jason Singleton and center Ken Johnson to get good shots.
“We didn’t do a good job in transition and getting back (on defense),” Haskins said. “You’ve got to credit Penn for getting the ball over our heads and hitting some open guys near the basket.”
While Ohio State’s run-and-gun style might have thrown the Gophers off-balance, playing the Hoosiers will be a journey into the mind of Indiana coach Bobby Knight, both unpredictable and downright scary.
Indiana is also reeling from an embarrassing 73-59 home loss to Michigan State on Sunday. The Hoosiers, like Minnesota, have been plagued with inconsistency and are looking for scoring to complement guard A.J. Guyton and forward Luke Recker, who was held to one point by the Spartans.
Guyton remains the key to stopping the Indiana offense. His ability to create shots and get the team involved in the half-court game is invaluable in the Hoosiers’ strategy to control the clock.
“If (Guyton) continues that in Williams Area, it is going to be a difficult night,” Gophers assistant coach Bill Brown said. “He was able to create shots against Indiana, and that makes him so much harder to defend.”
The Hoosiers’ problems with zone defenses could work to Minnesota’s advantage. With a chance to control the momentum of the game from the start, Haskins will try to put Indiana out of sync early by deploying different looks on defense.
“We’ll play combination defenses against them,” he said. “Man-to-man is our bread-and-butter, but we will add a little flavor by mixing in some zone.”