Hopkins tested, but still no. 1

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The Hopkins/Henry Sibley contest from last night wasn't always the prettiest basketball game but it had drama, it had talent, it was physical, and it was exciting. The Royals withstood their own poor free throw shooting and the Sibley size to come out on top 77-73 lead by the 23 points of Joe Coleman and 18 from Marvin Singleton. Jake Kreuser played the best game of his career with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
It was number one versus number two last night at the Lindberg Center where the Royals have won 55 of their last 56 games. They lost there in March of 2008 when Minnetonka defeated them 93-79 and before that you have to track back to 2005 when Armstrong was victorious in February of that year.
The final score read 77-73 with Hopkins victorious and overall it was an interesting contest. If the teams played again on Friday you could see a much different outcome as you look at some of the factors that changed the game.
• Sibley had 22 turnovers most of which became Hopkins fast break baskets.
• Hopkins was woeful from the foul line missing either 16 or 17 free throws out of their attempted 35 (differing reports are available).
• The officials had the tough task of judging nine block/charge calls. Only a couple were obvious and in the end the majority went the way of Hopkins. Were the calls right or wrong? You would need replay to be sure but these were big calls and different officials may swing things in a different way.
• Sibley had three regulars and their sixth man hampered by major foul trouble and when Mike Rostampour had to sit 51 seconds into the second half with foul number four Hopkins went on a huge run.
• Hopkins missed a lot of shots around the basket. Part of this was because of the Sibley size and the other part was just plain missing shots at the rim that they would normally make.
All those factors suggest that a second meeting could have a much different result. You could say that about a lot of contests but this game especially considering how many miscues there were.
Using their size Henry Sibley jumped out to a 10-4 lead going to Kreuser for three early field goals but the Hopkins ball pressure began to force turnovers resulting in easy baskets that gave the Royals the lead 22-21. Hopkins extended their lead to 39-27 late in the first half using their pressure defense to create turnovers and produce transition buckets. Mike Rostampour being out of the game with three fouls and Sibley missing some bunnies also played a part in the run.
Hopkins took a 42-33 lead into the half and then ballooned that lead to 51-33 as Sibley continued to struggle with the Royal pressure defense in the second half. However, the Warriors would come back behind there straight Kreuser field goals and a Jimmy Ryan three that made the score 56-47.
After sitting much of the second half with four fouls Rostampour came back in and combined with Kreuser to give Sibley another lift. Mike scored twice and Jake twice inside as the Sibley bigs worked the high-low and Dante Grant contributed points for the Warriors who went on a run of their own. Meanwhile Hopkins began to have a lot of trouble finishing both jumpers and shots at the rim and then they had a fast break turned misfire as D.J. Peterson tried a pass off the backboard for a Coleman dunk but Ryan hustled to break the play up for Sibley. The Warriors tightened the game to 61-57.
Just when it felt like the Warriors had a chance to get Tom Dasovich his first win over mentor Ken Novak Jr. the Hopkins pressure defense hurt Sibley again. Siyani Chambers and Joe Coleman both finished plays alone in the open floor as Sibley couldn't handle the backcourt trap. Hopkins finally started to drop some foul shots as Chambers, Singleton, Peterson, and Coleman all made pairs opening the lead to double figures before Jackson scored eight late points to make the final score 77-73.
Player Notes
Jake Kreuser - Playing in front of Lafayette head man Fran O'Hanlon, Jake put a big smile on the face of his future coach with 21 points and 13 rebounds on nine of 11 shooting from the floor and three of six shooting from the foul line. Jake ran the floor very well, did a pretty good job of making Marvin Singleton shoot over his seven foot size, Jake was as physical and into the game as he's ever been even smacking the wall when he picked up foul number four, and Kreuser secured rebounds as powerful as he ever had.
Kreuser had a spin move lay-in with Singleton defending that maybe was his best play of the night (although his scores running the floor, catching, and finishing were also quite impressive). Jake used good footwork and the leverage of his seven-foot frame to clear the Hopkins defender and then he finished at the rim. For the third off-season in a row Jake added 12-15 pounds to his frame and he's using it to bounce players off when he's finishing. It wasn't a great night for Jake in terms of the win-loss record but it was an outstanding indicator of how much his game has grown.
Jordan Jackson - Jackson is simply an athletic scorer. He had a highlight dunk in transition, Jackson hit several jumpers including a three, and his first step was able to get past the Hopkins athletes and to the rim for scores when he had room. Jordan also had seven turnovers and that's something he has to work on but athletically Jackson competed with the best in Minnesota last night. NDSCS was right there to chat with him after the game. He made six of nine shot attempts including two treys for 18 points.
Mike Rostampour - As usual Rostampour was mixing it up and getting in foul trouble. He sat for part of the second half and eventually fouled out with ten points and nine rebounds. Mike shot four of nine from the floor.
Marvin Singleton - One of the things that will always be under the microscope in terms of prospect status is the ball skills of Singleton. There is no doubt that his ball handling is better as he looks more comfortable on the perimeter and he seems trusted by his coaches out there. At the foul line Marvin's shooting release looks very solid as he made seven of eight free throws. He did have some trouble making shots over the length of Kreuser as Marvin's final totals included five of 16 shooting but his 18 points were important. The five field goals included a three from the wing plus Marvin secured eight rebounds with four assists.
Joe Coleman - Remember that picturesque reverse lay-in that Bobby Jackson made for the Gophers in 1997 in the Final Four? Joe had one last night in the first half that looked quite similar as he attacked one side and then flew by the Sibley bigs to the other side of the rim making the shot in about the same kind of spectacular reverse like fashion. Joe shot nine of 19 from the floor and five of eight from the foul line for 23 points. He also had nine boards and a pair of assists.
Zach Stahl - Zach did a nice job of coming off the bench and giving Hopkins some scoring production at the midpoint of the game. The sophomore wing totaled 11 points.
D.J. Peterson - With Toledo assistant coach Brian Lloyd watching him and Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti coming over after seeing Cole Stefan earlier in the day Peterson scored 11 points with nine rebounds, and six assists. He struggled from the free throw line making two of eight attempts and D.J. shot four of nine for the game. His trapping defense and push of the basketball up the floor really fueled the transition game.
Siyani Chambers - Chambers made three of ten shot attempts and five of six free throws for 11 points.