Gophers Add 6’9″ F Gaston Louis Diedhiou to 2014 Class

Gophers Add 6’9″ F Gaston Louis Diedhiou to 2014 Class
April 11, 2014

Reports this afternoon are that 2014 Gaston Diedhiou has committed to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Diedhiou, age 20, is from Dakar, Senegal, which has produced a lot of basketball talent over the years.

Having spent years in Spain, Diedhiou played for Canarias Basketball Academy (“CBA”) two years ago. The 6’9″, 225+ pound forward saw action on the east coast at the 2013 National Prep School Invitational (NPSI), but didn’t leave much of an impression.

He’s tall, long, athletic for his size and has some upside, but at this point is a project.  With the roster and calendar as they both currently sit, a calculated risk is warranted at this point for the Gophers. The desire would be that Diedhiou becomes a good rebounder that can defend well with his size and athletic abilities.

Based on his background, we’d hope amateurism issues wouldn’t cause a delay in his first appearance on the court, but it’s difficult to tell what the NCAA might do on any given day. The CBA has sent a lot of talent to U.S. colleges over the past several years and the Academy operates in conjunction with Oakley College, an academic institution on the Canary Islands.

The CBA and Oakley are well known in the college basketball world and Minnesota fans have seen many alums this past season, most recently 10 days ago when the Gophers played Florida State at Madison Square Garden (7’2″ Boris Bojanovsky).

There are some CBA ‘highlight videos’ out there of Gaston, but we’ll point you to a couple of real game-day game clips.

Overall, is this a “stretch”? Sure, but if things go well Pitino and staff will be able to point to “the Diedhiou success story.”

In the first two videos below, Gaston is #44 in orange. This game against Bridgton Academy (ME) was a 60-468 loss.

…and finally - below is game footage of CBA vs. former Gopher target Goodluck Okonoboh… #44 in black is Gaston Diedhiou… he only lasts 24 seconds in this clip after being called for an offensive foul while being guarded by Okonoboh

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VCU Shows Minnesota How to Build a Practice Facility

VCU Shows Minnesota How to Build a Practice Facility
March 22, 2014

In the past we have brought up the inaccurate claims that were on Minnesota AD Norwood Teague’s bio, specifically around a new basketball practice facility at VCU. Teague came to the Twin Cities from VCU and was touted as a big time fundraiser. Many believed (and still do) that he had constructed a basketball practice facility in Richmond, but he had only suggested a facility be built for around $10 million with private funds. That amount quickly grew to an estimated $14.5 million.

Fast forward to earlier this month and finally real plans have been set in motion for the Rams basketball program. The plans now look quite a bit different than they did in 2011:

  • The project’s estimated cost has risen to $25 million. VCU says a significant factor in the increase is that when new AD Ed McLaughlin arrived in 2012, he determined the current plans wouldn’t work from a Title IX perspective. A new, larger location that could better accommodate both the men and women was needed.
  • Private funding wasn’t going to get the job done. The school announced they would reallocate student fees to help pay for the project. There has been clamoring from some students, but after another strong season (until last night’s loss) support for VCU basketball is very high.
  • Per review of a draft of the Executive Committee’s minutes from earlier this month, VCU’s board has approved entering into a line of credit agreement to front the money needed for construction. This should enable the project to get started (shovels in the ground) this spring, with completion possible before the start of classes in fall 2015.

Last summer Norwood Teague announced his idea of a $190 million facilities plan for the University of Minnesota. We found the idea to be borderline absurd [See: Minnesota's Facilities Plan Set Up For Failure - July 10, 2013] and still do. Things have been quiet since last summer, but we understand a “fundraising feasibility study” has been “wrapping up”.

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Are You Smarter Than a D-I Coach?

Are You Smarter Than a D-I Coach?
March 20, 2014

Quiz time. It’s a simple one. Many folks, including coaches, media, fans and “experts” use RPI strength of schedule (“SOS”) to describe a schedule’s “toughness”, “difficulty”, “level of challenge”, etc.

Indeed, SOS is used interchangeably with other descriptors when many argue how difficult a team’s schedule was.

Let’s pretend you’re Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and your 2014-15 schedule is set with one exception. Coach K, Tyus Jones and Duke have agreed to play the Gophers and left it up to you as to where you want to play – Williams Arena or Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Which game location will make Minnesota’s RPI SOS stronger?

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Dre Hollins Field Goal Shooting Pre/Post-Injury

Dre Hollins Field Goal Shooting Pre/Post-Injury
March 15, 2014

After shooting 0-for-7 in last night’s loss to Wisconsin, Andre Hollins has seen his 2FG% drop to 41.4% for the season. Since coming back from an ankle injury, Dre’s 2FG% has been dreadful. However, when he has been set for 3-point attempts he’s been knocking down shots at an excellent rate.
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Unbalanced: Big Ten Records vs. Top Six

Unbalanced: Big Ten Records vs. Top Six
March 9, 2014

There are many ways to measure and argue true strength of schedule (and many ways not to – for example, claiming that the RPI’s “SOS” is a good measurement of the toughness of a schedule is a poor argument).

With unbalanced conference schedules like the Big Ten has, it’s worthwhile to look a bit deeper at the conference standings. As an example, here are the records of Big Ten teams against the top six finishers in the conference this season (listed from best to worst win percentage):

Games Wins Losses Win %
Michigan 9 7 2 0.778
Wisconsin 7 4 3 0.571
Ohio St. 8 4 4 0.500
Nebraska 7 3 4 0.429
Indiana 10 4 6 0.400
Michigan St. 8 3 5 0.375
Iowa 9 3 6 0.333
Penn St. 9 3 6 0.333
Minnesota 10 3 7 0.300
Illinois 11 3 8 0.273
Purdue 10 1 9 0.100
Northwestern 10 1 9 0.100

Several things stand out, including that Michigan State and Iowa have poor records against other teams who finished in the top half of the conference.
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Minnesota’s Team Sheet; Hoping for PSU x2

Minnesota’s Team sheet; Hoping for PSU x2
March 9, 2014

Below is Minnesota’s official team sheet heading into Friday’s games (click for larger view). If the Gophers beat Penn State tonight, they will play the Nits again on Thursday in Indianapolis. Win both games against Penn State, then lose the next, and Minnesota’s RPI projects to be approximately the same as it is today (around 50).

Should Nebraska fall at home to Wisconsin this afternoon, we would like the Gophers chances better than the Huskers. As noted on the team sheet below, the two “bad losses” Minnesota has were with Dre Hollins injured. His first game back was Purdue and he did log a lot of minutes, but statistically and visually it wasn’t even close to being the real Dre. The committee can and should take this into consideration and is a reason why we wouldn’t count the Gophers out of the tournament even if they lose on Friday of next week (i.e., only win one in the Big Ten tournament).

A loss today would be painful and require a run in the conference tournament. Instead of Penn State at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, Minnesota would play Indiana at 11 a.m. CT. A win and the Gophers are very much in the conversation.

Games don’t get much bigger than this. Penn State should have a few fans in the building to support Minnesotans Ross Travis (Chaska HS, 43 Hoops) and Graham Woodward (Edina HS, D1 Minnesota), but The Barn will be packed and loud for the Gophers.  (Game time is 4:15 p.m. CT / TV: BTN)

MN TS 030614

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Gophers Scale Back Outside Attack in Big Ten

Gophers Scale Back Outside Attack in Big Ten
March 8, 2014

Minnesota will finish the regular season with a higher 3FGA/FGA percentage than has been seen over the last decade. However, in Big Ten play the Gophers have noticeably trended away from the 3-point shot as compared to their offensive attack in the nonconference portion of their schedule.

Today we take a look at what other Big Ten teams have done and how Minnesota’s trend compares to their peers.

“[W]e believe the Gophers will have a higher 3FGA/FGA percentage in 2013-14 than has been seen over the last decade.” – LateNightHoops.com, August 5, 2013
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Gophers Fall to Michigan, Set Season-High Mark

Gophers Fall to Michigan, Set Season-High Mark
March 1, 2014

Minnesota lost in Ann Arbor Saturday night by a final score of 66-56. The team has work to do in order to make the NCAA tournament and they have a long time to think about that fact. The final regular season game for the Gophers is a week from Sunday when Penn State visits Williams Arena.

Things started out fine for Minnesota as Michigan struggled to find their shot. With 10:23 left in the first half, Minnesota held a 13-7 lead and Michigan was just 3/14 from the floor.

From 10:22 through the rest of the game, the Wolverines would shoot an effective field goal percentage of 72.2%. We’ve talked several times about Minnesota’s 2FG% defense – most recently in an article from last month… it’s now time to revisit – a “new bar” has been set.
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