The eye test.
The eye test is a concept that many people institute with the world of sports. If a specific team can pass the eye test, there’s a better chance that a team can succeed when it comes to postseason play.
Enter the Gophers. The offense that has been instituted by the coaching staff at Minnesota has been stale over the past few years. It’s a key reason why the Gophers could not pass the eye test or be competitive in Big Ten competition. A flat offense gets taken advantage in conference play. Without consistent scoring and an up-tempo scheme, the team could not finish above .500 in the Big Ten.
It’s also a significant reason why top recruits have shied away from Minnesota.
With junior Apply Valley phenom Tyus Jones literally in Minnesota’s backyard, Tubby Smith is throwing everything he has to get on the favorable side of the top high school recruit.
But the history of recruiting has not been kind to the Gophers and coach Smith. Besides Rodney Williams and Royce White, Tubby has not been able to nab a consensus top-tier recruit.
That concept could shortly change with the improved offense this season. The offensive spike has jumped the Gophers from a top-50 offense to elite level status.
This season, the Gophers are ranked 14th in the nation in adjusted offense.
The four factors that are instituted with adjusted offense is effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, and a number that is determined by dividing free throw attempts by field goal attempts. When Smith was coaching Kentucky, the Wildcats were in the top-25 in efficiency annually.
Adding a player like Tyus Jones would enhance that statistic more for Minnesota. The consensus five-star high recruit was at the basketball game on New Years Eve against Michigan State at Williams Arena. A healthy offense is a major contributor that Jones will be eyeing at as he looks at his options.
He would instantly be introduced to the starting lineup, moving Andre Hollins from point guard to shooting guard. Hollins, the current floor general, would transition to shooting guard well because he is a power guard, not a finesse guard like Jones.
One statistic that has stifled Smith’s teams in the past has been turnovers. He has been in the top-50 in turnover percentage just once in the past decade. A legit ball handling talent like Jones would be something that this coaching staff has not seen.
According to the advanced statistics, coach Smith has left something to be determined on the offensive end of the court in his first five seasons on Minnesota. Now in his sixth season as the Gophers head coach, Smith has his team playing a similar style basketball that his highly ranked Kentucky squads executed that resulted in a national title.
The adjusted efficiency in the offensive scheme has had a huge jump this season. In the past seasons under Tubby Smith, the Gophers have been in the top 30 only once in his tenure. In 2010, Minnesota was ranked 29th in the nation in offense thanks to a high three-point percentage.
The top two contributors on offense this season, according to possessions, will be graduating after the season. The duo of Williams and power forward Trevor Mbakwe is shooting slightly under 60 percent from inside the arch and Mbakwe is ranked seventh in the country in offensive rebounding percentage with 18 percent.
One of many reasons behind the spike in offensive efficiency is the ability to rebound on the offensive glass. Minnesota is ranked first in the nation in rebounding percentage on offense with 48.9 percent clip. The Gophers are the only Big Ten team in the top ten and only one of two in the top 30 in the nation.
Overall, Minnesota has three players (Williams, Hollins, and Austin Hollins) nationally ranked in offensive rating. Something has clicked in the play calling and execution with the Gophers.
If the coaching staff can keep up the efficiency, it will help Minnesota pass both the eye test and put a lock on future elite talent within the state.