Game 2: Gophers host Lehigh (11-13-22)

Ignatius L Hoops

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SHARE IT AND SHOOT IT

We’ve covered Lehigh’s Minnesota connection during the Mountain Hawks previous two outings to Williams Arena in 2017 and 2019. So, there’s no need to reprise their focused recruiting of the Gopher state. As usual, there are six Minnesotans on their 14-player roster: Freshmen Katie Hurt (Rochester John Marshall) and Lily Fandre (Eagan); Sophomores Kaylee Van Epps (Chaska); Junior Mackenzie Kramer (St. Micheal Allbertville) and Senior’s Anna Harvey (Lakeville South) and Frannie Hottinger (Cretin-Durham Hall). Plus, for good measure, there’s even a player named Kamara St. Paul; although she’s from New Rochelle, NY.

There could’ve been a seventh Minnesotan; but Emma Grothaus, the 6’3” forward from Mahtomedi, decided to spend her covid year at the University of Washington. Grothaus was Lehigh’s second leading scorer averaging 12.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. In her first game for Washington, Grothaus came off the bench to deliver 14 points and 12 rebounds in 21 minutes as the Huskies defeated Utah Tech.

However, Grothaus’s departure wasn’t Lehigh’s most notable exit. Last April, Sue Troyan, the Mountain Hawks head coach for 27 years, transitioned to a senior leadership role in the athletic department. Troyan’s final team finished 5th in the Patriot League with a 11-7 record (19-11 overall). Bucknell ended Lehigh’s season in the quarter finals of the Patriot League tournament. Troyan’s squads made four NCAA tournament appearances: 1997, 2009, 2010 and the covid year of 2021. In 2021, they were ushered out of the tourney by West Virginia 53-77 in San Antonio.

Shifting onto the head coaching chair is Princeton grad Addie Micir. Micir is entering her fourth year at Lehigh. As an assistant, Micir was in charge of an offense that has led the Patriot League for the last two years in scoring, assists and made three pointers. Yes, she’s not only a Princeton grad; she played point guard for Courtney Banghart’s first two teams. Micir led the Tigers back-to-back NCAA appearances while earning back-to-back Ivy League Player of the Year honors. So, I doubt the Mountain Hawk “share it and shoot it” offense will be a surprise to anyone:

"Lehigh ranked seventh in the nation in 3-pointers attempted (877), eighth in 3-pointers made per game (8.7), 37th in assists per game (15.4) and 33rd in assists to turnover ratio (1.12).

The Mountain Hawks set a Patriot League record, and a program record of 17 made three-pointers against Loyola last season. In that game, Lehigh also made 25 field goals, and 23 of those were assisted.

"It's something we do," Micir said. "It's language to what's been done. We like to put up a lot of threes, and we like it to be a high-assist game."


Of course, if you have a style of play it helps to return players who play that style. They do.

Micir’s first team is headlined by two Minnesotan’s, G/F Frannie Hottinger and G Mackenzie Kramer. Both were named to the pre-season All Patriot League first team. Last season, Kramer was their leading scorer at almost 16 points per game. From behind the arc Kramer was 195-235 (.403). Hottinger was the third leading scorer with 11 points per game. She was 20-62 from three in a season limited by a mid-January injury.

In the opening 60-43 win against D2 Stonehill, only Hottinger (21) and Kramer (13) were in double figures. And the Mountain Hawks were enthusiastic, if inaccurate, from behind the arc 7-34.

Before facing Minnesota, Lehigh traveled to Brookings to play the team which booted Minnesota from the WNIT, South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits, who have 5 Minnesotans on the roster, opened the season with a home loss to Creighton 69-78. So SDSU was primed to get a win supporting their top 25 projection. SDSU took care of business 91-73. The game turned on a 29-14 second quarter Jackrabbit spurt. Throw out the second quarter and the other three quarters are 62-59 SDSU. Maybe the Mountain Hawks are a little more dangerous than the average Patriot League representative. Perhaps that’s why Lehigh was picked by Patriot voters to finish second behind Boston University and ahead of last season’s champ, Holy Cross.

As expected, against SDSU Lehigh was led by Frannie Hottinger with 25 points and 7 rebounds with substantial help from Mackenzie Kramer who provided 21 points and 4 rebounds. Unfortunately, beyond Anna Harvey (9 points and 3 rebounds), the dynamic duo had little help. The share it and shoot it offense was 9-27 from three and arrives “home” in Minnesota operating on two or maybe three cylinders.

GOPHERS VERSUS LEHIGH

As previously mentioned, Lehigh and Minnesota have met twice with Lehigh traveling to Williams Arena both times. The first meeting was a 107-73 Gopher victory under Marlene Stollings in 2017. That was the last Gopher team to make the NCAAs. The second, in 2019, was a 77-48 Minnesota win during Lindsay Whalen’s second season. There are two Mountain Hawks remaining from the 2019 game: Hottinger (7 rebounds in 20 minutes) and Harvey (9 minutes and no notable stats). No Gophers remain; but the leading scorers were Pitts with 19, Scalia 12, Powell 14 and Adashchuk 12.

Frannie Hottinger First Two Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Stonehill (Exhib)21182320
South Dakota St2570372


Mackenzie Kramer First Two Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
Stonehill (Exhib)1331321
South Dakota St2143353


Probable Starters with Last Year’s Stats:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’9”GJrMackenzie Kramer30.915.92.9
6’0”G/FSrFrannie Hottinger20.911.05.6
6’1”FSoMeghan O’Brien20.04.84.4
6’0”GSoKaylee Van Epps11.03.22.3
5’7”GSrAnna Harvey14.22.91.6


Others With Last Years Stats:
HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’6”GSrElla Stemmer10.23.71.1
6’0”GJrMaddie Albrecht8.31.61.8
6’1”G/FJrJamie Behar11.13.12.6
6’1”FFrLilly Faudre
 

Bfan

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Thanks for that. Lehigh sounds interesting, as in the offense history is interesting.

I now need to check if their players are reliable 3's shooters to make that actualy work. Playing along the perimeter is great but what happens if you actually shoot from there ither than your one player that can.
 


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Lehigh went 9-27 (.333) on 3-pointers in the loss to #23 South Dakota and the week before that went 7-34 (.205). That's .205 one game and .333 the other.

You don't want to be the opponent where their 3-point randomly gets .450 hot that game and it falsely looks like a feast against your wet paper bag defense.

Last season overall they shot .323 on 3-pointers
 

Bfan

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Last season, opponents shot ,426 on 3-pointers against the Gophers.

Part of that will be corrected this year since Sara "wet paper bag defense" Scalia is no longer handing out plates to a buffet. Braun is a massive talent upgrade when it comes to defense.

It would be real nice if the Gophers defense improves. For a variety of complicated factors, including player skills and recruiting, the Gophers have been sub-par on defense the last few year. I mean, Kadi Sissoko (a good player) played power forward out of necessity, but is she an ideal post player?

Last season Gophers rebounded 36.9 per game while opponents rebounded 37.05 per game. During top teams, that became for lopsided.

The season before it was 35.2 versus 36.9.

The season before that it was 37.2 versus 38.6.

The season before that, Whalen's first year (with some inherited players), the Gophers actually did well at 40.5 rebounds per game versus 33.9 for opponents. That's +6.6 per game. It's like a roller coaster that reached a high peak and then went down.

Again, with Scalia's lounge-buffet defense gone it should help.

That's probably one of the main takeaways I want to see from the Gophers this season and especially next is that the defense has improved.

It starts with effort and more effort.

Offense is driven more from skill. In defense, effort really does make the difference. Do what it takes to stop the other team from rebounded. That extra oomph to position better than the other side.

So if the Gophers are playing on the perimeter and shooting or slashing in for a shot, it would be real nice if the team was back to that 40.5 rebounds per game mark to gain the rebound in case the shots don't go in.

Target: +3 rebounds per game.

If the Gophers want something special to happen in 2024, '25, '26, that negative defense rating has to change.
 


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And, traffic alert for Sunday! Volleyball at the Pav at 2 PM, so expect a mess on University Avenue.
 

MNGirlsHoops

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Last season, opponents shot ,426 on 3-pointers against the Gophers.

Part of that will be corrected this year since Sara "wet paper bag defense" Scalia is no longer handing out plates to a buffet. Braun is a massive talent upgrade when it comes to defense.

It would be real nice if the Gophers defense improves. For a variety of complicated factors, including player skills and recruiting, the Gophers have been sub-par on defense the last few year. I mean, Kadi Sissoko (a good player) played power forward out of necessity, but is she an ideal post player?

Last season Gophers rebounded 36.9 per game while opponents rebounded 37.05 per game. During top teams, that became for lopsided.

The season before it was 35.2 versus 36.9.

The season before that it was 37.2 versus 38.6.

The season before that, Whalen's first year (with some inherited players), the Gophers actually did well at 40.5 rebounds per game versus 33.9 for opponents. That's +6.6 per game. It's like a roller coaster that reached a high peak and then went down.

Again, with Scalia's lounge-buffet defense gone it should help.

That's probably one of the main takeaways I want to see from the Gophers this season and especially next is that the defense has improved.

It starts with effort and more effort.

Offense is driven more from skill. In defense, effort really does make the difference. Do what it takes to stop the other team from rebounded. That extra oomph to position better than the other side.

So if the Gophers are playing on the perimeter and shooting or slashing in for a shot, it would be real nice if the team was back to that 40.5 rebounds per game mark to gain the rebound in case the shots don't go in.

Target: +3 rebounds per game.

If the Gophers want something special to happen in 2024, '25, '26, that negative defense rating has to change.
"Sara has fully embraced the challenges our coaches have given her on the defensive side of the ball," Holmes said.
looks like 3 steals in 15 minutes last night.
I'm telling you folks, these are still young kids - this game isn't about individuals, its about execution of a defensive game plan, which I haven't seen MN's identity on Defense in recent years... If on ball defense is an issue and thats the style you want to play, you correct it.
 

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"Sara has fully embraced the challenges our coaches have given her on the defensive side of the ball," Holmes said.
looks like 3 steals in 15 minutes last night.
I'm telling you folks, these are still young kids - this game isn't about individuals, its about execution of a defensive game plan, which I haven't seen MN's identity on Defense in recent years... If on ball defense is an issue and thats the style you want to play, you correct it.
Thank you for that. Your post has weight and clearly more know than I know. I encourage anyone to share insights. Something hasn't been right on defense. My goal was to use some interesting imagery that stands out.

I came back to actually delete my hyperbole humor as appearing too pointed, having made my points, but now it's up for good since it received a response.

In honor of Scalia who was great to watch, she achieved some awesome things. Then Scalia was named to preseason honor lists this year as a top player entering this season.

In three games so far this year on 44:49 minutes (against easier competition, which is fine), she is:

.409 on field goal shooting, very good.
.462 on 3-point shooting, super awesome.
5 total rebounds, I don't know.
4 steals, fine but that position can generate much more. It's not for me to say. So I'll say it's fine.
0 blocks, not a big factor at that position.
2 assists. I don't know.

So I mean that's Scalia. It looks to me like a great shooter.

Calling her wet paper bag defense probably was not fair, especially for Scalia who is so nice of a good person, as has been said.

I'm just trying to create attention to the defense. I did that last week writing about Gophers rebounding. I'll say it again next month. Defense, defense, defense.

This offseason there was talk of the Gophers signing via the transfer portal Abby Prohaska of Notre Dame who is known for her enthusiastic play. She signed with San Diego. I'd like to see that kind of enthusiastic presence on defense, especially rebounding to where you're suppose to be.

I think about the mayhem the Ohio State press defense causes.

Come on Gophers!

Maybe it's just the zone defense thing. I don't know.
 

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Let's fast forward to the 2025 NCAA Tournament when the Gophers are in the Sweet 16 -- a lock to happen with the talent we expect on the team.

And to do that let's go back to Creighton's upset win over Iowa in the 2022 tournament. How did they do it?

1. Luck. A couple key Iowa shots did not fall in.
2. Defense is keeping superstar Caitlin Clarke's scoring down.
3. Far outperforming Iowa on rebounds.
4. Hot shooting of Creighton's Lauren Jensen.
5. Effort.

Now let's jump fast forward to the 2025 tournament. The Gophers are going to have the shooting firepower, no doubt, and maybe the defense people.

I have little faith in the Gophers defense otherwise.

Jumping back to the 2022 tournament, the Gophers in that situation put up the points but never "pull a rabit out of their hat" on defense to somehow slow Clarke and win the rebounds game.

Gophers win the rebounding game? Ha ha ha.

So that is the challenge to the Gophers people. Show us you can manufacture via effort and smarts something like that on defense.

And Gophers advance to the Final Four.


 



Ignatius L Hoops

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Returning the conversation to Lehigh, here's Kent Youngblood:

The last time Minnesota fans saw Mallory Heyer and Kaylee Van Eps together on a basketball court was in the closing seconds of the 2021 Class 4A girls' championship game at Target Center.

Chaska was tied with Rosemount. Out of a timeout, Chaska ran a play it had practiced during the season but not yet used. Heyer got the ball at the free-throw line, then made a pass to Van Eps on a backdoor cut for the winning layup.

"Mallory hit me in the perfect spot,'' Van Eps said.

They'll be together again Sunday at Williams Arena. But not in the same uniform. A young Gophers team coming off a season-opening victory over Western Illinois will face a veteran Lehigh team playing for the second time in three days; the Mountain Hawks played at South Dakota State on Friday.

It will be a reunion. One of many.
 

HitMeAgainIAmStillMoving

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Great stuff here. Thanks for the data. This is my first year of really knowing the woman's team since Lindsey senior season and I need this to get up to speed. It is the fresh(wo)men that hooked me.
The "handing out plates to a buffet" line is great. I don't know if I have ever followed any team that said they had enough defense.
 

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The pipeline that Lehigh has established from Minnesota is incredible. As an alumnus of St. Thomas (also an alumnus of the U of M), I can't help but wonder if we'll see the day when some of the women who've been heading east will opt to stay closer to home and play instead for UST. Most of the players who have opted for Lehigh are not Power 5/BIG type players (maybe with the exception of Hottinger), and St. Thomas might be a good option for at least some of them.

Looking forward to this afternoon's game. Like the way this year's Gopher team has been sharing the ball. Seems that the Gophers have 3 very good guards. Do we call them the Killer B's or the Busy B's? And I like the work Rose has been doing in the post. Has she learned to shed the early foul troubles she was hampered with last year? Either way, it's nice to see a post who doesn't treat the ball like a hot potato when it's passed to her. Liked the 15-foot baseline jump shot she hit last week and like when she'll hunt shots when she gets the ball. Hoping that she'll be able to pass the ball out to the perimeter when she is double-teamed. I've already noted that Oberg is a very good post passer.

Go Gophers!
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Here's how Lehigh approached recruiting Minnesota players (from a 2019 article). St Thomas might need a different approach:

One of the main draws of Lehigh in the recruiting process actually stems from the state of Minnesota itself, as the University of Minnesota is currently the lone Division I institution in the entire state. Playing Big Ten basketball is tough for a lot of student-athletes there, as just one native Minnesotan currently belongs to the Golden Gopher roster. That, along with rigorous and rewarding academic success played a big role in Hedstrom committing to Lehigh, eventually getting five other current Mountain Hawks to commit as well.

"Athletically, Minnesota has some very strong high school girls basketball in the state, it also has very strong academic high schools that place a heavy emphasis on the STEM fields such as engineering and pre-medicine," Troyan said. "Given these two factors combined with the fact that there is only one Division I college in the state (U of Minn.), we as a coaching staff felt it could be an area that would be good to target as a large amount of Division I prospects end up going out of state for their basketball experience. Most of our players who have come from Minnesota are either studying engineering (Walker, Grothaus, Harvey) or Pre-medicine (Hedstrom, Sexe).

"I think we've taken the approach that 'you can have it all' in terms of choosing a major and studying what you want to study at Lehigh, we will not limit our players in this area. It's our role to help our players manage their experience so they can excel at everything they do."

This isn't the first time that Troyan and her coaching staff has had success recruiting in a particular area that resulted in multiple high-caliber student-athletes, as about a decade has passed since those individuals made a championship impact on the Lehigh program. That recruiting philosophy seems to have carried over to the present when talking about the Minnesota connection.

"About 10 years ago, we had made similar recruiting inroads into the state of Ohio. Most of our league followed us there, so we began to look at other geographic pockets where we felt like we could make a similar impact," said Troyan. "Our Ohio kids won two league championships, so recruiting in geographic pockets has been successful in the past for our program. Part of the reason Minnesota has been successful is the relationships we have developed with coaches in the area and the fact that our Minnesota kids are having a great experience at Lehigh both in the classroom and on the basketball court."
 



MNGirlsHoops

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The pipeline that Lehigh has established from Minnesota is incredible. As an alumnus of St. Thomas (also an alumnus of the U of M), I can't help but wonder if we'll see the day when some of the women who've been heading east will opt to stay closer to home and play instead for UST. Most of the players who have opted for Lehigh are not Power 5/BIG type players (maybe with the exception of Hottinger), and St. Thomas might be a good option for at least some of them.

Looking forward to this afternoon's game. Like the way this year's Gopher team has been sharing the ball. Seems that the Gophers have 3 very good guards. Do we call them the Killer B's or the Busy B's? And I like the work Rose has been doing in the post. Has she learned to shed the early foul troubles she was hampered with last year? Either way, it's nice to see a post who doesn't treat the ball like a hot potato when it's passed to her. Liked the 15-foot baseline jump shot she hit last week and like when she'll hunt shots when she gets the ball. Hoping that she'll be able to pass the ball out to the perimeter when she is double-teamed. I've already noted that Oberg is a very good post passer.

Go Gophers!
St. Thomas will be on the schedule a lot in future years, and it makes sense to not play them now.. You can lose to Lehigh, you CANT lose to St. Thomas- for MN, this is the second year now that there is another D1 team to recruit against, so avoid them until you can get your power 5 program in the upper half of the BIG.
Lehigh has Frannie Hottinger, who I predict will get 15+ boards today, Anna Harvey and MacKenzie Kramer - all 3 are from MN and played for North Tartan. This game will be competitive, Anna and Frannie are seniors and have experience, they will not be intimidated.
I have to see more of MN, River falls and western IL is not a good sample size to understand where this 'team' is. By 'team' I mean offensive and defensive schemes and halftime adjustments.
At the very least, it should be an entertaining game with all these Minnesota HS kids, I'm looking forward to it.
 

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2nd quarter 7 minutes left. Minnesota is losing the rebound game and losing.

The win-loss record this season doesn't matter. What matters is the record next season. This is a year to grow and improve.

1668374953797.png
 


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Announcer at around 5:26 when Lehigh was defending:

"...Lehigh's aggressive ball at the rim defensively -- but also at the outlet passes." END QUOTE. Now that's the kind of effort needed on defense.

Seconds later: "Battle did not go aggressively after the rebound, luckily Oberg was able to grab it off the loose ball."

OK, so it was a confusing play, and this season is a freshman learning year. No worries. This is a growing year.

But how often have we heard that in past few years about Whalen's defenses? I've mentioned it may be the talent.

Quote:
  • "Mentality
    • The first thing that every great rebounder must have is the right mentality. Rebounding must be a conscious choice that you make as a player. You must decide to give maximum effort every time that a shot goes up. There are no plays off when it comes to being a great rebounder.
  • Outwork
    • It is not always about size, but how much you are willing to work to get the ball. If you are willing to do your work early and finish all the way through to the rebound, you will give yourself a great chance of getting the ball, regardless of size." END QUOTE
Unlike offense that is based on skill, effort really does make a big difference on defense.

 

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The gophers have taken 13 more shots but made 2 less shots than Lehigh. Gotta put the ball in the hole, take some pressure off the defense. They need to come out more aggressive on offense in the 2nd half. 3-12 from 3 and 14-45 shooting is not going to get this done.
 


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Finally hitting some shots, Katie hitting a few threes all the way from Roseau! Keep it up.
 

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5:40 left in the 3rd.

Great effort by Rose Micheaux. She has a double double and some great efforts fighting for the ball. A role model of effort tonight.

Borowicz is hot right now to rally the Gophers.
 


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Gradwell has a nice looking shot that doesn't go in so far this season. She gets looks and fires, nice shotmaking, but missing.

So far 0-4 on field goals this game and 0-3 on 3's. For the season 1-7 and 1-5.

Braun so far is 3-9 on 3's, Heyer is 1-2 on 3's, and Borowicz is 2-3 on 3's.
 

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Am i the only one having issues with the stream on BTN plus? Stream keeps saying “Stream not found” and going out.
 




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This defense is not going to get the job done.
 






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