While suffering through the latest embarrassing loss for the Gopher basketball team, I got to thinking what other activities I could be doing that would be more enjoyable. Here’s what I came up with:
- Get an unnecessary root canal
- Watch a Lifetime movie
- Hug a cactus while naked
Given that the Gophers play #1 Indiana next, I’m thinking I might as well book my flight to Arizona right now.
The Gophers once again looked completely lost. They turned the ball over constantly (a season-high 24 turnovers), bricked a ton of shots, and left opposing shooters wide open. Just when they threatened to make a game of it near the end of the 1st half, coach Tubby Smith decided it was a good time to remove the one player that was making a difference, Maurice Walker. Result? A putrid final stretch culminating in a 26 point loss.
I just don’t buy the argument that the Gopher players aren’t that talented. All of the players on the starting five could have went to a number of top programs and were highly regarded coming out of high school. These kids can play great when they have confidence and make quick decisions, just as we saw earlier in the season vs Michigan State.
But this team has lost all its confidence, and the blame must rest squarely on Tubby’s shoulders. The primary responsibility of a coach is to motivate his players; lots of teams have talent and many run the same offenses, the difference is if the coach can get his players to play fast and get into a rhythm. Tubby’s players are hesitant, scared, and slow.
There was a brief stretch where Maurice Walker was doing things no Gopher has done this season. He was making smart skip passes, finding open shooters, and getting good position in the post. This type of play must have looked so foreign to Tubby that he pulled Walker for not following the game plan. I see no other reason why he wasn’t kept in the game. (Yes, Walker was turning the ball over, but so was every other Gopher, so why not stick with the guy that was at least doing something?)
Here are some stats from the game; you might want to get a bucket or go into the bathroom while reading them just to be safe.
- The Gophers leading rebounder was their point guard
- The team had a total of 7 assists, and no player had more than one
- They shot 29% from the field; 13% from behind the arc
- Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman combined for 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 7 fouls
- Oto Osenieks, who is to the Gophers what an appendix is to a human (i.e. useless and potentially harmful), was the second leading scorer (10 points), only 1 point behind Dre Hollins
They did manage to shoot 75% on free throws, so I guess that’s…something. (Trying to keep a straight face.)
After the Indiana game, the Gophers get to close out the season against Penn State, Nebraska, and Purdue, three teams with a combined Big Ten record of 8-31. I would like to think the Gophs would win these last three (after being destroyed by Indiana, of course), and that their 9-9 conference record would get them an NCAA berth, but with the way they’ve been playing, no game is going to be an easy one. I’m even concerned that Penn State’s only Big Ten win might come when they visit Williams Arena. My pessimism knows no bounds at this point.
Can the Gophers still make something of this season? Sure, anything’s possible. And monkeys might fly out of my attic, too, but that’s also highly unlikely.
(Sigh) At least the Timberwolves won tonight.