Minnesota-Texas A&M Preview
March 23, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Texas A&M coach Gary Blair is concerned about Minnesota's size, and he's not talking about the Gophers' height.
"Their kids are built different. I'm not saying in the Midwest y'all enjoy food, but you've sure got shoulders," Blair said. "The shoulders and the screens that are set in the Big Ten are very, very physical."
The second-round NCAA tournament game will pit the speed of the second-seeded Aggies (26-7) vs. the rebounding and size of No. 10 seed Minnesota (20-11), disproving the adage about things being bigger in Texas.
"You start looking at their team, they've spent a lot of time in the weight room," he said.
Minnesota coach Pam Borton appeared amused when told about Blair's comments later.
"They're not that big. Look at them," she said, pointing to the three players sitting next to her.
But two of them, Emily Fox and Brittany McCoy, were guards. The other was 6-foot-2 Ashley Ellis-Milan. Not in the room was 6-3 Zoe Harper, who pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds in helping the Gophers knock off Notre Dame at home on Sunday, beating the Irish 79-71.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw talked after the loss about how her team was surprised by Minnesota's physical play.
"We thought we were a physical team, but they were physical," she said.
The Gophers' concern is the Aggies' speed. They scored 43 points off of 30 turnovers in beating Evansville 80-45 in the first round.
"We need to take control. We can't get out of control, because they are a very athletic team," Fox said. "We can't get into a track meet with them, because they're too fast for us. We're just going to work on making sure we're in control of the game and settling things down."
The Gophers also must keep the Aggies from driving the lane on offense.
"That's kind of where they get their mojo," McCoy said.
Blair said the differences in style is what makes basketball so great.
"There's a lot of ways to win in basketball," he said. "That's why we have 50 states and 50 different ways to play the way of basketball."