Game 14: Gophers Visit Drake (12-23-21)

Ignatius L Hoops

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CUTTING TO THE CHASE

Drake ninety-nine and Minnesota sixty-six. If a four-point win over Eastern Illinois four days earlier made Gopher fans uneasy, last season’s thirty-three-point loss to the Bulldogs at Williams Arena confirmed the reality of a long year. The Gophers dropped six of their next seven (Big Ten games all) with their only victory being an overtime defeat of the hapless Badgers. It was a dreadful start to covid ball.

Drake (7-3) simply took Minnesota (7-6) to the woodchipper. The Bulldogs sliced the Gophers for a 33-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. And they kept chopping until a layup with 9:20 remaining in the game pushed the lead to 42. Drake tidied up the chips from there.

Gopher fans weren’t entirely taken by surprise. Drake, after all, was coming off a close 97-103 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Bulldogs finished a reasonably successful 2020-21 season 18-12 overall and 13-5 in the MVC (2nd). Advancing to the WNIT, the Drake lost to Milwaukee before defeating DePaul and Bowling Green.

The 2021-22 version of the Bulldogs is a bit of a reboot. First, nine-year head coach, Jennie Baranczyk, left Des Moines to revive the Oklahoma Sooners. Second, the top two Bulldog scorers from last year’s contest, Kierra Collier (24 points), and Monica Burich (13), also departed. For a moment I thought Maddie Monahan, the third leading scorer with 12 points was no longer on the roster. However, it turns out that Maddie Monahan married over the summer and is now listed as Maddie Petersen.

On the plus side of the Gopher’s ledger, Drake will face a Minnesota squad returning its three leading scorers from that game: Jasmine Powell (22 points), Gadvia Hubbard (17) and Kadi Sissoko (12). And the Bulldogs have the additional task of defending Sara Scalia who was unavailable last December.

Baranczyk was replaced by her longtime assistant, Allison Pohlman. Pohlman arrived in Des Moines in 2007 and was named associate head coach in 2014. As a result, Drake’s playing style hasn’t changed much. It’s five out, quick cutting, positionless basketball with generally balanced scoring. Plus, the offense received a boost from Iowa transfer and three-point artist, Megan Meyer. Meyer helps the Bulldogs average over 9 made threes a game (93-250).

Even after the reboot, Drake was a preseason pick for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference behind last year’s champion Missouri State. For what it's worth, Minnesota is 1-0 against MVC competition this season having previously defeated Bradley 73-54.

Allison Pohlman has suited up the same starting five in Drake’s ten games. Even so, the minutes are spread out with ten players averaging at least 10 minutes/game and no one averaging more than 26 minutes/game. With the Bulldogs averaging over 81 points per game, you must respect more than the starting five.

Like last season, Drake faces Minnesota after playing a Big Ten opponent. This time it was Nebraska. In Lincoln, it was 28-22 Nebraska at the end of one and 45-39 Huskers at the half. Drake was able to cut it to six early in the fourth quarter before the Huskers eventually put away an 89-68 win.

An aggressive man defense wore down the Bulldogs (27 turnovers) as did the post play of 6’3” Alexis Markowski (15 points and 10 rebounds). Whether the Gophers can duplicate the Huskers disruptive intensity is an open question. It’s also a necessity if they are going avoid death inflicted by a team that loves a thousand cuts.

DRAKE’S STARTERS:

As a sophomore, 6’0” forward Grace Berg was named MVC Newcomer of the Year (Berg had transferred from Missouri). She was also named to the All-MVC first team after leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points/game. This season she is averaging 11 points/game.

As a sophomore, 6’3” forward Maggie Bair was last season’s MVC Sixth Player of the Year. This season averages 13.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. She’s doing this in 16.4 minutes of playing time.

Adding some juice and 12 points per game to the starting lineup is Iowa transfer Megan Meyer. The 5’8” guard is the leading three-point shooter 22-57.

Last season, as a senior, Maddie Petersen was First Team All-MVC. The 5’8” Petersen has started almost every game for the Bulldogs in her previous four years. You’d have to be Ali Patberg to bring more on court experience. She brings her passing acumen back to Des Moines for a fifth season.

The experienced starters are joined by highly recruited freshman, Katie Dinnebier. The 5’8” Dinnebier was Iowa’s 2021 Miss Basketball. In her first start Dinnebier nailed the game winning three to defeat Creighton 82-79. That’s a brilliant way to introduce yourself. She also leads Drake with 41 assists and 20 steals.

SOME BENCH PLAYERS OF NOTE:

The 6’3” freshman, Anna Miller who played for Rochester Mayo scored 17 points to lead Drake over Creighton. Her season high was 18 (7-7 from the field) against an undermanned Northern Illinois team which the Bulldogs held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

The 6’0” sophomore forward, Courtney Becker, was named to the MVC’s All-freshman Team. This season she has led Drake in rebounding averaging 6.1 a game.

6’1” senior forward Allie Woolridge averages almost 20 minutes and grabs almost 6 rebounds per game.

5’9” junior guard, Sarah Beth Gueldner, is not hesitant to launch threes.


PREVIOUS MEETINGS:

Drake and Minnesota have played 15 times with the Bulldogs holding a 9-6 edge. 12 of the matchups occurred between 1979 and 1988. Minnesota won in 2003 and 2004 which were the last games before the current home and away series.

DRAKE RECORD (7-3):

Wins: Creighton 82-79, @ Nevada 77-75, (N) San Francisco 84-60, (N) Idaho 83-66, Longwood 104-82, Simpson 101-57, Northern Illinois 96-44

Losses: South Dakota 46-61, Iowa State 76-98 and Nebraska 68-89


Maggie Bair Last Six Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Nevada1790252
San Francisco740171
Idaho960113
Longwood2291151
N Illinois1252131
Nebraska1441211


Grace Berg Last Six Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Nevada741261
San Francisco423200
Idaho1743232
Longwood1624234
N Illinois1072230
Nebraska1136304


Probable Starters:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’3”FJrMaggie Bair16.413.15.8
6’0”FRJrGrace Berg24.011.04.2
5’8”GJrMegan Meyer22.912.02.5
5’8”GFrKatie Dinnebier25.710.33.6
5’8”GGMaddie Petersen24.26.12.6


Others:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’3”FFrAnna Miller16.39.05.6
6’1”FSrAllie Woolridge18.55.45.6
6’0”FSoCourtney Becker18.96.16.1
5’11”GFrMaggie Phipps6.24.62.2
5’9”GJrSara Beth Gueldner11.43.10.6
 


Katogopher

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With the Vikings playing on Monday instead of Sunday this week I was able to catch some of the Drake/Nebraska game. Drake sure does like to cut and drive thru the lane, something our Gophers have trouble defending. Also, Nebraska went after Drake by going to the low post for scoring, again not a Gopher specialty on offense. I’m hoping that somehow during finals break the Gophers were able to practice these two areas. I would like to see Micheaux get more touches in the low post.
 

Ragnor

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With the Vikings playing on Monday instead of Sunday this week I was able to catch some of the Drake/Nebraska game. Drake sure does like to cut and drive thru the lane, something our Gophers have trouble defending. Also, Nebraska went after Drake by going to the low post for scoring, again not a Gopher specialty on offense. I’m hoping that somehow during finals break the Gophers were able to practice these two areas. I would like to see Micheaux get more touches in the low post.
I totally agree, I would like to see anyone shoot more in the post especially Helgren. She seems to panic with the ball in the post and play hot potato with it. The only threat besides Micheaux in the post right now is Sissoko and I think her biggest problem is slowing down her mind and getting her head around before she releases the ball when taking a shot in the post.
 

Aesop70

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I totally agree, I would like to see anyone shoot more in the post especially Helgren. She seems to panic with the ball in the post and play hot potato with it. The only threat besides Micheaux in the post right now is Sissoko and I think her biggest problem is slowing down her mind and getting her head around before she releases the ball when taking a shot in the post.
Sconiers is a junior now. It's a little disappointing that she hasn't developed enough to at least give a handful of quality minutes. I'm not necessarily blaming her. The coaching staff has been very poor at developing post players. It seems like whoever they are when they arrive is who they'll be throughout their time here. Something that need to change if we're going to take the next step and start competing in the BIG and within the top 20.
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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But now the focus is on getting more production from the frontcourt. Whalen said it was the focus of practice the past week.

"We worked a lot on passing in the post, and working on different things we can do to get those going, Rose [Micheaux] and Bailey [Helgren] and Kadi [Sissoko] on the block. Having balance is the big thing.''

The Gophers are third in the Big Ten Conference in three-point shooting percentage (.379) and first in threes made (114). But they need more production – and more consistency – from the forwards and centers
 

richardpierceb

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Drake is a big basketball fan. How many times he came to the men's NBA matches, it's funny that he came to watch the women's league as well. :)
 
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Gophers112233

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I'm just happy we WILL have more than 2 starters against Drake this season, unlike last year! and have more then 7 healthy players to play against them today!
 




thatjanelpick

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Tuned in late. Sissoko has two fouls in the first three minutes of the game? (Hoping the stats are wrong...)
 



tripledouble

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For those of us who thought Kadi would have to have a great year in order for the Gophers to have a good year, we can throw that thought out the window. She turns the ball over way too often and she can't stay on the floor. An upperclassman making freshman mistakes.
 




Frink

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Powell and sissoko really unfocused today. We should be leading this game by a half dozen instead we're down four
 


Katogopher

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Not watching but listening to the radio. Sounds like Powell’s layups are coming up short? She gets a lot of layups opportunities but wishe she could finish stronger.
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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Maggie Bair, who went out with bloody nose a couple of minutes into the game, returned to the bench but doesn't look like she's returning to the game.
 


MNGirlsHoops

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Why are we so predictable on defense? How mixing in a zone when Kayla and Laura are in.. they cant guard the cuts..
And our offense when stagnant again just standing around.. Sara and Deja should always be one pass away, instead they are two or three passes away buried in the corner.. This high ball screen offense is to robotic
 

whalenfan

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I dont really understand the defensive complaints, Drakes a great shooting team and you gotta get out and defend the 3's and by doing that your gonna give up some backdoor cuts and drives to the lane. They held a really good offensive team to 29 pts in the half. Gotta get the offense going.
 

blkroll

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I wish Bailey would look to shoot. In watching the game and there were at least 2-3 times where she got the ball at the free throw line and all she would have to do is face the basket and shoot.
 


FanofGoldy

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I totally agree, I would like to see anyone shoot more in the post especially Helgren. She seems to panic with the ball in the post and play hot potato with it. The only threat besides Micheaux in the post right now is Sissoko and I think her biggest problem is slowing down her mind and getting her head around before she releases the ball when taking a shot in the post.
Totally agree regarding Helgren. I cringe every time she’s in the game. No threat to score at all. I’d rather see as Sconiers in there. Gophers will never be a top 20 team until they learn to develop and use their posts.
 


gopherdudepart2

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Sconiers is a junior now. It's a little disappointing that she hasn't developed enough to at least give a handful of quality minutes. I'm not necessarily blaming her. The coaching staff has been very poor at developing post players. It seems like whoever they are when they arrive is who they'll be throughout their time here. Something that need to change if we're going to take the next step and start competing in the BIG and within the top 20.
I wish some how we could get Jim Peterson or Rebecca Brunson to help coach the post. He was always so good with the Lynx post players.
 



gwbbfan82

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Would you rather give Drake open 3's? They play a 5 out offense and everyone on their team can shoot it.
28 points in the paint. Most of them 3 - 5 feet from the basket. Maybe it's pick your poison.
 




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