Ben Johnson makes it clear: Gophers will be all about ferocious defense; Johnson says Ihnen could be one of the best defenders in BT

BleedGopher

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per Joe:

Johnson said he's spent time with the team breaking down film of recent champions, including the Baylor Bears NCAA title in 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 and even the Bobby Jackson-led Sacramento Kings summer league team last year.

"You're showing guys, 'Fellas, I don't care what sport you look at – baseball, football, basketball – if you're trying to win a championship, you can't be middle to bottom half of the league in defense. It's impossible. And here's the numbers that back it up. You want to look at any championship that's won, I guarantee you that if they're not No. 1, they're top five. Hands down. College, pros, it don't matter," said Johnson.

"That's when you tell guys, if you wanna win and if you're about what I think you're about, then this is a non-negotiable. This is not a debate. We're not sitting here going back and forth. I've shown you the data, I've shown you the proof, you guys know, now it comes down to you. I try to put it on them. If you're about what you tell me you're about, then we're going to give it up on this end of the ball. And that's just the way it is. If you're not going to do it, then that next guy's going to do it. We'll figure out the five guys that are going to commit to the defensive side of the ball."

Ihnen, who missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury, could be a huge part of Minnesota's defensive mindset. At 6'10'', Johnson has big hopes for the native German, who he believes could be one of the best, if not the best, defensive player in the Big Ten.

"If you're the most versatile defender in the Big Ten and that's who you become, I guarantee you someone at the next level is going to notice," said Johnson, noting that he's encouraging Ihnen to assume the identity of a fierce defender and all-around player, rather than trying to be a scorer.

"Again, I try to tell Isaiah this and I told my staff this the other day: His impact, because of who he is and his size and his versatility, it's different than most players I've ever had. He's not a guy that has to go out there and get points. I try to tell him that. You're not going to help our team and you're not going to make the NBA because you're going to go out there and get 20 a game. Obviously if he did that, great. But that not necessarily determines your success rate. You're a guy, at 6'10'', if you can guard the point like [Scottie] Pippen used to do back in the day full court, that's different. That's going to impact our team. That's going to put you on the radar because you just don't see that anymore. If your versatility to guard 1 through 4, 1 through 5 even, that's different. That's a separator for you," Johnson explained.


Go Gophers!!
 

leib0039

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Well, at least Ben is consistent. II better be a whole new player this year because he is literally the only guy Ben talks about! Obviously, the coach knows better but I thought it was interesting RJ had a projected depth chart a week or so ago and had II behind Battle (not a lot of time available there) and 4th on the PF depth chart. I mean I hope II is Pippen but yikes thats a HUGE jump for a guy who was average at best and hasnt played in well over a year.
 


short ornery norwegian

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Or that Johnson plans to use Ihnen in different schemes and different roles than Pitino would have.

yes, we have only seen a little bit of Ihnen - but that was under a different coach and system. So, it's difficult to accurately predict how Ihnen might look in a new coach and new system.

it's all about putting round pegs in round holes - not trying to cram a square peg in a round hole.

put the player in a situation where he has the highest opportunity for success and the lowest risk of failure.

Can Johnson do that? we shall see.

but, if a player is a good athlete, works hard and is willing to learn, you can do a lot with a good athlete.
 

gopherguy15

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Maybe we'll see a little bit of Ihnen at the top of a 3/4 court press like Holman back in the day. That was fun to watch, though I can't remember how effective it really was.
 




Gold Vision

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Nothing about last year’s team screamed good defense let alone “ferocious” defense. Hopefully we have the players and the bench to improve there. It certainly sounds like it should be a point of emphasis.
 

Gopherfan84

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Nothing about last year’s team screamed good defense let alone “ferocious” defense. Hopefully we have the players and the bench to improve there. It certainly sounds like it should be a point of emphasis.
We played 6 guys 97% of the minutes. That is why. We did see guys in better positions throughout the year but they were worn down
 



bga1

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Nothing about last year’s team screamed good defense let alone “ferocious” defense. Hopefully we have the players and the bench to improve there. It certainly sounds like it should be a point of emphasis.
I agree. Last year's team lacked quickness, size and a bench that could provide competition for players who couldn't defend. That's a tough combination.
 

Gold Vision

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We played 6 guys 97% of the minutes. That is why. We did see guys in better positions throughout the year but they were worn down
The bolded is why I have hope for next year. It’s definitely a point of emphasis for Ben.

Disagree on your second point. While our competition definitely got much better, our defensive efficiency statistics consistently trended downwards throughout the season while offensively we stayed rather consistent through the conference season.
 

alchemy2u

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Or that Johnson plans to use Ihnen in different schemes and different roles than Pitino would have.

yes, we have only seen a little bit of Ihnen - but that was under a different coach and system. So, it's difficult to accurately predict how Ihnen might look in a new coach and new system.

it's all about putting round pegs in round holes - not trying to cram a square peg in a round hole.

put the player in a situation where he has the highest opportunity for success and the lowest risk of failure.

Can Johnson do that? we shall see.

but, if a player is a good athlete, works hard and is willing to learn, you can do a lot with a good athlete.
It also has to do with motivation. Ben sounds like he has ideas on how to motivate the players to give them the best shot at getting a shot at the next level.
 




Holy Man

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Well, at least Ben is consistent. II better be a whole new player this year because he is literally the only guy Ben talks about! Obviously, the coach knows better but I thought it was interesting RJ had a projected depth chart a week or so ago and had II behind Battle (not a lot of time available there) and 4th on the PF depth chart. I mean I hope II is Pippen but yikes thats a HUGE jump for a guy who was average at best and hasnt played in well over a year.
Ben gets the benefit of the doubt but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m a little jaded by coach speak that talks up players that don’t live up to the hype. The injury recovery subdues my confidence as well. I hope he turns out as good as Ben projects but there is a tall ladder to climb for Ihnen.
 




bga1

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Ben gets the benefit of the doubt but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m a little jaded by coach speak that talks up players that don’t live up to the hype. The injury recovery subdues my confidence as well. I hope he turns out as good as Ben projects but there is a tall ladder to climb for Ihnen.
That's reasonable. I do like that Ben has narrowed the focus to defense. It is defense and rebounding in space that I believe Ihnen can be a difference maker. Can he be a good offensive player? We haven't seen that, but in his sophomore year we did see flashes of what Ben is talking about. For him, I think the idea of finding one thing to be great at and letting the rest come with the process is a really good approach. Ihnen has size, speed and hops that you can't find everywhere.
 

Chico Gopher

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Regarding knee injuries, everybody is different. I watched a local big suffer an ACL tear in mid-Jan. Had the surgery a couple of weeks later, and showed up for Oct. practice and you'd have never known he had any type of knee issue of any kind. Played at a superstar level all season long.

I would assume that Coach Ben has been monitoring Ihnen's recovery process very closely and has a much better idea of where he is physically than any of us.

Regarding hype, been watching the stuff about Larry Bird and Air Jordan lately, and from the looks of it, Bird and Jordan never missed a shot! Nobody lives up to hype. I think that's why it's called hype.. Of course, one man's honest expectations and projections based on what they're seeing every day is another man's hype.
 


Lion King

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Nothing about last year’s team screamed good defense let alone “ferocious” defense. Hopefully we have the players and the bench to improve there. It certainly sounds like it should be a point of emphasis.
BATTLE will not be playing furious DEFENSE !!
 

Bob_Loblaw

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Nothing about last year’s team screamed good defense let alone “ferocious” defense. Hopefully we have the players and the bench to improve there. It certainly sounds like it should be a point of emphasis.
I thought they played pretty smart defense and I thought they played hard.

For that roster, I give Ben a lot of kudos for that. I realize that Big 10 basketball is about results but I am also not going to ignore nuance when it comes to grading Ben's performance. The team lacked any depth and they weren't very athletic. I'm excited to see what guys like Payne (likely in a couple years), Ihnen, and Parker Fox look like hedging the PNR rather than Curry and Daniels.
 

Bob_Loblaw

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BATTLE will not be playing furious DEFENSE !!
He was an undersized 4 playing with an undersized 5 who didn't have the knees to jump. I didn't have a huge issue with Battle's defense. It's not that I thought it was spectacular but I think it was a tougher matchup for most 4s to defend him than vice versa (even without any sort of defensive chops from the 5).
 


cheeseheadgophfan

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I thought they played pretty smart defense and I thought they played hard.

For that roster, I give Ben a lot of kudos for that. I realize that Big 10 basketball is about results but I am also not going to ignore nuance when it comes to grading Ben's performance. The team lacked any depth and they weren't very athletic. I'm excited to see what guys like Payne (likely in a couple years), Ihnen, and Parker Fox look like hedging the PNR rather than Curry and Daniels.
From what I've seen (only 4 games) defensively and physically, I think Payne can contribute this year.....
 


cheeseheadgophfan

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Ben gets the benefit of the doubt but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m a little jaded by coach speak that talks up players that don’t live up to the hype. The injury recovery subdues my confidence as well. I hope he turns out as good as Ben projects but there is a tall ladder to climb for Ihnen.
I totally agree.....Ben gets the benefit of the doubt, because he doesn't have a history of hyping up guys who ended up not producing. But like you, I'm jaded from past experience with Pitino. Just a few examples---Jelly was probably the most hyped recruit that I can recall (not all from Pitino) but I also remember him making the comment that Martice Mitchell (who no longer appears to be playing basketball) had NBA ability. SMH
 

alchemy2u

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I thought they played pretty smart defense and I thought they played hard.

For that roster, I give Ben a lot of kudos for that. I realize that Big 10 basketball is about results but I am also not going to ignore nuance when it comes to grading Ben's performance. The team lacked any depth and they weren't very athletic. I'm excited to see what guys like Payne (likely in a couple years), Ihnen, and Parker Fox look like hedging the PNR rather than Curry and Daniels.
Exactly, it was his first year coaching with a totally new team of players transferring up from smaller schools. Of course the team had a tough time winning games in the B1G, but they showed grit, toughness and a general smartness of play that will be fun to watch. It will take time, but Ben is showing the potential of building a nice program.
 

Spaulding!No!

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Exactly, it was his first year coaching with a totally new team of players transferring up from smaller schools. Of course the team had a tough time winning games in the B1G, but they showed grit, toughness and a general smartness of play that will be fun to watch. It will take time, but Ben is showing the potential of building a nice program.
His team took last.
 

cjbfbp

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We played 6 guys 97% of the minutes. That is why. We did see guys in better positions throughout the year but they were worn down

Agreed. Also, the post defense was weak in general throughout the year; that should be better this year given the new personnel.
 
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