MINNEAPOLIS Coming into the game against Minnesota, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker knew that he was going to be out-sized. The Gophers” top five scorers each stand at least 6-foot-7, and their coach, Dan Monson, isn”t afraid to play four of them at the same time.
“We were very concerned about their size,” Amaker said. “They were extremely efficient and we lacked discipline, at times, on the defensive end.”
Although Michigan”s only true big-man, 6-foot-9 center Chris Young, managed to stay out of foul trouble, freshman forward Chuck Bailey was given a crash course in the Big Ten post-game last night, and he didn”t grade very well. Bailey picked up three fouls away from the ball while trying to hold defensive post position against Minnesota”s line of behemoths.
On the other end, he saw shot after shot come flying back in his face. Bailey showed great resilience and confidence, as he kept returning to the rim regardless of his previous results.
“I just keep going at them and doing the best a can,” Bailey said. “That”s all I can do right now.”
Amaker realizes how thin his team is on the front line, and he has a plan to improve things for the young Bailey.
“This is the hand we were dealt,” Amaker said. “We need to Bailey to use his quickness because, obviously he is going to be facing people who are physically bigger and stronger. Hopefully, we can add his intelligence to that too. But you have to remember that he is only a freshman.”
Mr. Negativity: After watching his team score 90 points and shoot an eye-popping 69.4 percent of its field goal, Minnesota coach Dan Monson was still not pleased with his team”s performance.
“I”m really glad we won,” Monson said. “We are struggling with our consistency. For the longest time we have been having trouble with our shooting. Now we go out and score 90 points, but all of a sudden we can”t play defense and we turn the ball over 23 times.”
Monson admitted that his team”s sharp shooting bailed it out, even though his players were not mentally into the game.
“I really challenged them at halftime,” Monson said. “I didn”t think they were ready to play when we were stretching. I didn”t think we were ready we warmed up. And I still felt that way at the opening tip.
“We aren”t good enough to come to a game and not be ready to play.”
Home cooking: The locals call it “the barn.” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker called it the “one of the toughest places in the nation” to play a basketball game.
But no matter what you call it, Williams Arena has not been kind the Wolverines.
Michigan hasn”t won there since the Fab Five earned an 80-73 victory on Jan. 20, 1993.
Something about the elevated floor and cathedral ceiling seems to be raising the Gophers” play this season. At home they have shown flashes of brilliance, beating both Michigan schools from the Big Ten as well as Oregon, a team that has already knocked off No. 20 Arizona twice in conference play.
Meanwhile, the team has lost by more than 20 points in three out of four of its road games.
“I think that is what you”ll find is typical of a young team looking for an identity,” Minnesota coach Don Monson said. “But that is the mark of a good team: They don”t need that extra boost.”
Minnesota will get a chance to make that mark soon. Its next three games, including a rematch with the Wolverines a week from Saturday in Ann Arbor, will be away from its friendly confines.