With Gopher basketball, Gopher hockey, and the Wild all playing yesterday, the stage was set for a perfect lazy Sunday of watching sports. Here’s how it all turned out.
Gopher Hoops vs Iowa
The Gophers were coming off a big home win over Wisconsin and looked to build some momentum as they traveled to Iowa City to take on the lowly Hawkeyes. The game started out perfectly as the Gophers were playing fast, hitting free throws, and taking care of the ball. They built a 16 point lead and then suddenly, something happened-the opposing coach made an adjustment.
As we have seen far too many times this season, Tubby Smith had no answer. Iowa started playing a 2-3 zone and began to full court press, and it looked as if the Gophers had never practiced for, played against, or even heard of such defensive strategies. Tubby has been coaching college basketball for 34 years and his five best players are two seniors, a junior, and two sophomores; there is far too much experience on this team for them to be so utterly flummoxed by basic basketball defenses.
The Gopher players each did their best Pele impression as they kicked the ball around constantly, literally handing the ball to Iowa over and over. The Hawkeyes, not ones to look a gift gopher in the mouth, took full advantage and raced their way to a sickening 21 point victory.
The bad news is that the Gophers now have the same Big Ten record as crappy Iowa. The good news is that this game may very well have sealed Tubby’s fate. Unless he can get his guys to somehow make a miracle run in the NCAA tournament (provided they even make it there), I expect the University to cut him a $2.5 million check and hire a coach who can actually, you know, coach.
My eagerly anticipated Sunday sports-fest had started off with a stomach-turning embarrassment.
Gopher Hockey vs Wisconsin
There are two evils in this world that I find equally offensive and I dream of the day when they are both relics of the past: the clubbing of baby seals for their fur, and all Wisconsin sports teams. I can’t stand anything about the teams or their fans. Every time a Minnesota team (or any team, for that matter) hands them a loss, I do believe an angel gets its wings.
The Gophers had beaten the Badgers 3-2 in Madison on Friday night, and looked good doing it. Sunday’s game was played outdoors at Soldier Field as part of Hockey Day America. I’m not sure why hockey teams from Minnesota and Wisconsin were playing on a football field in Illinois, but I didn’t have the energy to sort out the logic and lay on my couch at the same time.
Despite having a large edge in shots and looking clearly like the better team, the Gophers found themselves in a 3-0 hole. Wisconsin, cleverly employing the “blind squirrel” offense, used their total lack of skill to chop and bounce their way to an insurmountable lead. The Gophers did make a come back and cut it to 3-2 with a minute and a half left, but couldn’t pull it out.
I was now two-thirds of the way through my Super Fantastic Sports Sunday Fun Fest-O-Rama, and I was having as much fun as a colonoscopy patient.
Wild vs Red Wings
The Red Wings had spanked the underachieving Wild earlier in the season, and I had already spent 5 hours watching my teams lose, so I was fully expecting the Wild to become the hypotenuse on my triangle of loserness. It sure looked that way early on.
The Red Wings were faster, hungrier, and they bottled up the Wild in their own zone for long stretches. After the first period it was 1-0 Detroit, and it appeared I was in for yet another disappointing loss. I was so frustrated over watching my teams lose that I almost turned the channel to the NBA All-Star game. Thankfully I came to my senses and decided to stick it out with the Wild.
I was handsomely rewarded. Minnesota scored 3 goals in just over four minutes in the second period, and it would be enough as they held on for the 3-2 victory. Recent call-up Jason Zucker had a beautiful goal that should give Wild fans hope that their young guns will be bolstering the offense as the season moves forward.
Just as I thought my entire day would be spent wallowing in frustration and Cool Ranch Dorito crumbs, the Wild came through and put the fun back in Sunday Funday.