Game 3: Gophers Host George Washington (11-14-21)

Ignatius L Hoops

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BUMPY BEGINNING

During Minnesota’s (1-1) opening loss to Jacksonville (66-69), the Gopher looked like a team jet lagged from flying across the country even though they only had to venture from Dinkytown. Then, Minnesota jetted to the desert and won a spirited overtime battle with a rugged Sun Devil squad (66-59). Now, following a late night flight back to the Twin Cities, Minnesota, a day and a half later, takes on George Washington (1=1) which has faced it’s own bumpy beginning.

First year George Washington head coach Caroline McCombs has a focus:

“We’re going to be a tough defensive minded team,” McCombs said. “We’re going to be scrappy, we’re really going to get after it. We’re going to be exciting in that way. We have to put our hand on something and that’s going to be our defense, something that we know that we can control every day.”

Then, in the first quarter of the opener against American (the Gophers next opponent), the Colonials fell behind 16-8 as the Eagles drove by the flat- footed Colonials for easy first quarter buckets. But unlike Minnesota in their first game, GW regrouped at the start of the 2nd quarter. They held American to 7 points the rest of the first half on the way to a 58-47 Colonial victory. For the game GW forced the Eagles into 24 turnovers-including 9 steals.

“What I like is that we got down and we had to fight through some adversity and that really showed some perseverance with this group,” McCombs said. “I was so proud of that.”

Standout players in the victory were, Ty Moore, a 6’0” transfer from Trinity Valley C.C., who came off the bench for 18 points and 11 rebounds in her debut; and starting forward, 6’0” Mayowa Taiwo, who contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Caroline McCombs arrived in Foggy Bottom last spring following the dismissal of one time rising coaching star, Jennifer Rizzotti. After three losing seasons, GWU’s leadership, parted ways with Rizzotti and her staff and brought in Stony Brook head coachMcCombs. (An aside: McCombs was hired at Stony Brook when Beth O’Boyle moved on to VCU after Marlene Stollings was introduce as Gopher coach). Before Stony Brook, McCombs was a long-time assistant, spending two years at Auburn, two at Northwestern, five at Pitt and six at Valparaiso.

In Rizzotti’s final three seasons, the Colonial’s conference record was 7-9, 8-8 and 5-7. Those results were well below the standard previously set by Jonathan Tsipis and Joe McKeown before they moved on to B1G jobs. Despite the disappointing record, all but two GW players signed a letter to the administration expressing displeasure with Rizzotti’s firing. Eventually, four players transferred out leaving six returnees. That’s a bumpy beginning by any measure. So, McCombs visited the transfer portal to kick start the rebuild. Among the additions were:

The aforementioned Tyasia Moore;

Kyra Frames, a 5’2” guard from Albany where she averaged 8.3 pts and 3.3 rebound. She was the Great Danes best three-point scorer hitting at a .357 pace.

Taylor Webster, a 5’10” guard from UNCW where she averaged 7.8 points and 7.9 rebounds/game.

Laureano Sheslanie a 5’10” guard from Florida Southwestern CC where she averaged 15.8 points and 3.6 steals/game.

Among the returnees were:

Maddie Loder
, an Orono native: the 5’11” senior guard started 18 games last season averaging 4.8 points/game.

Essence Brown; the 5’11” guard average 3.2 points and 2.3 rebounds last season.


Following the victorious opener against American, GW bumped up in class and welcomed #24 Virginia Tech to DC. The Colonials kept the Hokies in sight early only trailing 19-14 at the end of one. Then, Tech took over and coasted to a 75-38 victory. The Hokies attack was paced by:

  • ACC first team center, 6’6” Elizabeth Kitley who scored a career high 34 points in 27 minutes (17-21 from the field). Kitley also grabbed 9 rebounds.
  • Purdue transfer, Kayana Traylor, who came off the bench for 11 points (3-5 from three).
Mayowa Taiwo was the only Colonial in double figures (10). Ty Moore, moved into the starting lineup; but only played a foul limited 18 minutes scoring 2 points. Virginia Tech was more a mountain than a bump.

Perhaps, Bailey Helgren and Deja Winters will provide a variation of the dominate center and the sharp shooting guard off the bench. That would go a long way to smoothing non-conference bumps.



Minnesota Connections:

In addition to Orono’s Maddie Loder, the Colonials have Sophie Hayden a 6’3” freshman forward who played at Minnetonka. Haydon saw five minutes of action versus Virginia Tech scoring two points.:



LAST MEETING:

Back on December 10, 2019 the Gophers over ran the Colonials in D.C. 83-50. Minnesota led 49-22 at the half and coasted to victory. Minnesota was 13-25 from three while posting their 8th straight win. The win streak would eventually stretch to 11.

Current Gopher players who played in the game: Sarah Scalia led the way with 23 points in 30 minutes followed by Gadiva Hubbard 10 points, Jasmine Powell 7 and Klarke Sconiers 7.

Current George Washington players: Essence Brown and Faith Blethen each scored 5 points, Mayowa Taiwo 2 and Maddie Loder 1.



George Washington Record (1-1):

Wins:
American 71-41

Losses: Virginia Tech 38-75





Tyasia Moore Last Two Games

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
American18111304
Virginia Tech230184


Mayowa Taiwo Last two Games:

TeamPtsRebAsstMinFoul
American1070263
Virginia Tech1050243


Probable Starters:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’0”FRJrMayowa Taiwo24.510.06.0
6’0”FGTyasia Moore23.610.07.0
5’11”GJrEssence Brown32.65.05.0
5’2”GGKyara Frames24.12.04.0
5’11”GSrMaddie Loder18.31.50.5


Others:

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”GSrTaylor Webster22.7853.0
5’10”GJrSheslanie Laureano18.73.51.0
5’8”GSoAurea Gingras15.94.01.5
5’7”GGSierra Bell9.52.50.5
6’1”FJrFaith Blethen7.80.00.0
 
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ecoperson

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Ignatius L Hoops- Where do you find these write-ups? If you have a hand in writing them, they are very well done and insightful.
 



Bunyan

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Looking for a strong start and limiting turnovers.
 


tripledouble

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Sissoko got off to a great start before she left with an injury. Mershon and Winters picked up the rebounding slack and Winters picked up the scoring slack after Sissoko had to leave. Gopher D was solid all day against a talent-short GW team. Nice to see 13 Gopher players see action in an easy win.
 

whalenfan

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Sissoko got off to a great start before she left with an injury. Mershon and Winters picked up the rebounding slack and Winters picked up the scoring slack after Sissoko had to leave. Gopher D was solid all day against a talent-short GW team. Nice to see 13 Gopher players see action in an easy win.
I expected an ugly game today, Im guessing they got in at like 4am from ASU and play a day later. Refs must be putting an emphasis on moving screens this year because they are calling some real ticky tack ones. Hopefully Kadi is allright.
 

MNGirlsHoops

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MN defense was really good today, they put pressure on the ball and they made it difficult for GW to get looks. the 4th was a little sloppy, but with that kind of lead, playing on short rest, down a person, the coaches can live with that.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Sissoko was on the bench after half-time. Generally she kept applying an ice bag to her nose. Kadi did hop up and join in the time out huddles.

At one time both teams were a combined 5-26 from the field. I think it got worse. Winters is certainly working her way into the lineup. Now, if we can just get one of the posts to step up.
 



Gophers112233

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Sissoko was on the bench after half-time. Generally she kept applying an ice bag to her nose. Kadi did hop up and join in the time out huddles.

At one time both teams were a combined 5-26 from the field. I think it got worse. Winters is certainly working her way into the lineup. Now, if we can just get one of the posts to step up.
for a post to step up... first we would have to use them in the offense... we HARDLY look at the post honestly.. this reminds me of the Stolling offense where she would just have a post out there for the height.. we do NOT look at our posts.. Rose had a couple good seals today and nothing.. and tbh I'm getting tired of Smith, yes she plays wonderful defense but c'mon at some point show us WHY you are a 5/4 star recruit offensively..
 

MNGirlsHoops

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for a post to step up... first we would have to use them in the offense... we HARDLY look at the post honestly.. this reminds me of the Stolling offense where she would just have a post out there for the height.. we do NOT look at our posts.. Rose had a couple good seals today and nothing.. and tbh I'm getting tired of Smith, yes she plays wonderful defense but c'mon at some point show us WHY you are a 5/4 star recruit offensively..
first you have to post up to be looked at. I dont think that is why we brought Baily in and quite frankly I'm not sure Klarke knows how to post up yet. I do think we could have a set play to just go inside even though we wont score off of it to keep the defense guessing. Baily did lock her girl under the basket and put it in, so it can happen. Rose is to young to feed the post right now, she needs to contribute with O boards and put backs.
The sad thing is Ayoka Lee is a big from MN that is just tearing it up at KState, plus we all know about Cizano at Iowa. SDSU's starting forwards are from MN, we need to get some of these kids and develop them.
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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After three games:
Smith is 1-5 in 41 minutes of play
Hubbard is 4-18 in 71 minutes
Sconiers is 0-5 in 36 minutes

Our offense is operating a few cylinders shy of an engine.
 

BballMama

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first you have to post up to be looked at. I dont think that is why we brought Baily in and quite frankly I'm not sure Klarke knows how to post up yet. I do think we could have a set play to just go inside even though we wont score off of it to keep the defense guessing. Baily did lock her girl under the basket and put it in, so it can happen. Rose is to young to feed the post right now, she needs to contribute with O boards and put backs.
The sad thing is Ayoka Lee is a big from MN that is just tearing it up at KState, plus we all know about Cizano at Iowa. SDSU's starting forwards are from MN, we need to get some of these kids and develop them.
SDSU’s posts are from South Dakota, but USD’s top 2 posts are both from the Twin Cities. One is even on the Naismith Watch List. There are quite a few very good Minnesota players not playing for the Gophers. Whalen is doing a better job of getting the local girls, and we are already seeing the change with the class that she just signed.
 



whalenfan

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for a post to step up... first we would have to use them in the offense... we HARDLY look at the post honestly.. this reminds me of the Stolling offense where she would just have a post out there for the height.. we do NOT look at our posts.. Rose had a couple good seals today and nothing.. and tbh I'm getting tired of Smith, yes she plays wonderful defense but c'mon at some point show us WHY you are a 5/4 star recruit offensively..
This is one of the reasons i dont like recruiting rankings, if Smith wasnt highly rated everyone would appreciate her game more. She created 4 or 5 turnovers by herself defensively today which is ridiculous. I too would like to see her get going offensively but shes dam good defensively. As far as post ups go we tried hard at ASU in the 1st half to get post touches but it didnt work, Klarke went 0-4 and Kadi missed her 1st couple post ups. We definitely need more paint touches but i dont know if post ups with our bigs is the way to do it. The coaching staff is gonna have to get creative to generate some more easy looks in the paint.
 
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Belzx009

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Winters has been a good addition. I still have hope in MIcheaux. My question is Hedman….wasn’t she a top 100 recruit?!?!

i like that they played defense in this game.
I like that they won a close game in ASU.

I was ticked after first game, but the trajectory of this team is positive.

I do foresee some transfers after this season. Which may be ok with what they have coming in, as I see 3 of 4 getting instant playing time (I hope anyway).
 

Chico Gopher

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This is one of the reasons i dont like recruiting rankings, if Smith wasnt highly rated everyone would appreciate her game more. She created 4 or 5 turnovers by herself defensively today which is ridiculous. I too would like to see her get going offensively but shes dam good defensively. As far as post ups go we tried hard at ASU in the 1st half to get post touches but it didnt work, Klarke went 0-4 and Kadi missed her 1st couple post ups. We definitely need more paint touches but i dont know if post ups with our bigs is the way to do it. The coaching staff is gonna have to get creative to generate some more easy looks in the paint.
History is full of 4/5 rated prospects who don't play to that level (at least offensively) at the college level. In Smith's case, defense definitely counts. Yes, her lack of offensive production is frustrating, but if she keeps playing defense the way she does, I'm good with having her on the floor.
 

MNGirlsHoops

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History is full of 4/5 rated prospects who don't play to that level (at least offensively) at the college level. In Smith's case, defense definitely counts. Yes, her lack of offensive production is frustrating, but if she keeps playing defense the way she does, I'm good with having her on the floor.
Smith seems like a good kid, but I don't think she as good as defender as everybody is saying, I would say her physical body type is to her advantage, but she has average quickness at best. I would take a person like Winters with her slender build and long arms and turn her into a lock down defender. Unfortunately, just keeping it real, Smith is on the fence for playing time, especially next year when Katie is back and we add Braun and Battle. I'm rooting for her, because she is a good kid
 

Chico Gopher

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Smith seems like a good kid, but I don't think she as good as defender as everybody is saying, I would say her physical body type is to her advantage, but she has average quickness at best. I would take a person like Winters with her slender build and long arms and turn her into a lock down defender. Unfortunately, just keeping it real, Smith is on the fence for playing time, especially next year when Katie is back and we add Braun and Battle. I'm rooting for her, because she is a good kid
I haven't seen enough games and concentrated enough on Smith's team defense techniques specifically enough, nor have I been at team practices and meetings to completely understand what Whalen is teaching. But I can say that I've seen plenty of players get game time mainly because they are mentally in tune with what the coach wants in terms of defensive concepts and always being in the right place at the right time. It may not be obvious to us when watching a game, but may be exactly what the coach is asking for in practice every day.

I've also seen many players who were limited as one-on-one defenders, still be considered defensive leaders because their team defense and understanding of concepts was outstanding. Some might ask, how can you be a good defender if you have trouble staying in front of somebody. From what I've seen, most team defensive rotations are created on the assumption that somebody is going to get beaten and everybody else automatically needs to know where to go to cover.

As I mentioned, I don't know if that's the case with Smith, but it could be and it wouldn't be that unusual.
 

BigTenGuy

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This is one of the reasons i dont like recruiting rankings, if Smith wasnt highly rated everyone would appreciate her game more.
By her senior year, Smith wasn’t that highly rated by most evaluators. By the fall of 2020, when the Gophers introduced her as a 5-Star, that was false hype that needlessly raised expectations. Her senior year HS ratings were as follows: ASGR 126; Blue Star 152: Prospects Nation 121; ESPN 68 (4 Star).
 

MOGopher

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2021 Katie Borowicz 104
2021 Maggie Czinano NR
2020 Alexia Smith 121
2020 Caroline Strande 70
2019 Jasmine Powell NR
2019 Sara Scalia 112
2017 Destiny Pitts 64
2016 Gadiva Hubbard 149
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Tony Liebert:

NC A&T transfer graduate student Deja Winters led the way with 17 points, her most in a Minnesota uniform. Her 6-13 shooting performance with eight rebounds gave the Gophers some much-needed production.

“Her familiarity with our system and what we do has just gotten better,” Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “Just getting more comfortable and fluent with the stuff we run, what we’re trying to do and getting more comfortable with her teammates, it’s a process.”
 




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