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Fast-paced offense and struggling defense, Gophers women’s basketball by the numbers

Lindsay Whalen’s high pace offensive style has presented the Gophers with significant results on both ends of the floor.
Image by Liam Armstrong
Gophers Forward Jasmine Powell approaches defenders in Williams Arena on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Gophers suffered a defeat against Michigan 52-77.

Minnesota has begun the 2020-21 season with a 3-7 record. The start of the season has provided both some positive and some negative results, but some numbers in particular might begin to tell the story of Gophers’ slow start.

Defensive struggles

It is apparent that the Gophers’ first 10 games of the season have not gone as planned. There is no way to point to one thing as the problem, but whoever has been on the court this season for Minnesota has struggled holding their opponents away from the hoop.

Out of 336 Division I women’s basketball teams that have competed in a game this season, the Gophers rank No. 334 in scoring defense. In its 10 games this season, Minnesota has allowed 80.8 points per contest.

Minnesota’s defensive woes stem from its opponents success at shooting the ball. The Gophers consistently allow high percentage shots, with their opponents shooting 46.4% per-contest. Minnesota’s field goal percentage defense ranks 10th-worst in the nation at the Division I level. Its opponents have shot at a 39.4% clip on average from beyond the arc. This ranks the team No. 330 at the Division I level.

To go along with their poor field goal percentage defense, Lindsay Whalen’s Gophers also struggle at forcing their opponents into mistakes. The 13.4 turnovers per game Minnesota’s defense forces ranks tied for No. 301 in the country.

There have been basketball teams that have found success at all levels with sub-par to below-average defenses, with hopes of out-scoring their opponent on their own end of the floor. Although this may be true, there becomes a point where it is too much, and the Gophers’ opponents have had no trouble getting wherever they want on the floor.

This young and inexperienced Minnesota team struggles on the defensive end and the Gophers put themselves in holes that even the best offenses could not pull themselves out of.

Offensive success

Whalen’s fast-pace offensive coaching style presents the Gophers with plenty of opportunities for points on that end of the floor. They currently rank No. 134 in the nation, scoring 68.7 points on average each game.

And Minnesota has recently found great success shooting the ball from beyond the arc. In its last two contests, it shot 38.1% against Maryland and 46.9% against Nebraska. The Gophers’ hot streak ranks them No. 138 in the country at 31.8% for the season. The team spends a lot of time shooting from downtown, tied for No. 75 in the country in three point field goal attempts per game, shooting eight per contest.

Through 10 games, the Gophers have proven to be one of the better passing teams in the country. They may only be tied for No. 116 in the nation with 14 assists per contest, but over the last two games, they’ve recorded 15 against Maryland and 18 against Nebraska. This has resulted in Minnesota ranking No. 113 in the country in assist to turnover ratio at 0.9.

The Gophers’ success scoring the ball presents optimism for the rest of the season and beyond. If Whalen’s team is able to become more disciplined on the defensive end, it could quickly reel off a winning-streak, as the last month of the season has shown they can keep up with most teams on the offensive end of the floor.

Individual standouts

Sophomore guard Jasmine Powell has taken a leadership role with the Gophers, as she has been the team’s most effective offensive player this season.

She ranks No. 14 in the country, averaging 5.9 assists per contest, and she is also tied for No. 141 in three point percentage, shooting 35.5% in 10 games this season. Lastly, she ranks No. 100 in points per game, averaging 17.1.

Powell’s ability to lead a team through Big Ten conference play as a young player proves to be promising for the inexperienced Gophers’ future. In the short term, Gadiva Hubbard (10.9 PPG) and Sara Scalia (11.6 PPG) have proven to both be great second options offensively for Minnesota, but all three players’ defensive woes have outshined their successful offensive seasons.

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