The Minnesota Gophers Gophers men’s basketball team wants to “kill” opponents. This doesn’t necessarily mean blowout wins that demoralize the other team, but rather an internal stat:
Three consecutive defensive possessions without giving up points constitute one “kill.”
Head coach Ben Johnson said it’s common for his players to ask during timeouts how many kills they have. Sometimes they remind one another when they have two stops and need a third to complete the feat.
“They are starting to really be cognizant of that, which is good. It means that they are paying attention,” Johnson said. “They understand that if you can get ‘X’ amount of kills, it improves your winning percentage. To get them bought into that is big. We will keep selling it as part of what we do.”
The Gophers (4-0) had 12 “kills” in a 78-49 win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday and will look to add more against Jacksonville (2-1) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Williams Arena.
At the beginning of the year, the Gophers put together video clips of Baylor, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Sacramento Kings. They were the three winners of the NCAA Tournament, the NBA Championship and the NBA Summer League, respectively. The message was that there was common denominator between all three: solid defense.
Johnson said Xavier started tracking “kills” three years ago when he was an assistant coach there, and the 12 Minnesota had against Purdue Fort Wayne was the most Johnson has seen across that time period.
Minnesota had six “kills” in a 73-69 win against Western Kentucky on Nov. 12 and seven in regulation in a 87-80, double-overtime win over Princeton to seize the Asheville Championship.
“If you get to seven, that is the key,” Johnson said. “Seven really tips it. Not that you can’t win with under that, but if you get to seven, your chances are in the 90th percentile of getting a win from games that we’ve done it at Xavier and here. That is the goal.”
It’s all part of trying to establish a defensive ethos in Johnson’s first season at Minnesota.
“It’s something that Coach really emphasizes and we try to execute it as best we can during the game,” guard EJ Stephens said Tuesday.