Read my full story on today’s 74-68 loss at Indiana, here.
Three quick observations before I soak up a little more of this Bloomington warmth (yeah, it was 60 degrees today, and I’m not sorry):
Here we are again. There was a slew of late-game hiccups I won’t trudge through again as I did in my game story, because it’s a storyline that is very familiar to Minnesota fans. The silver lining of the last five games is that the Gophers were there at the end, but of course the flip side is they’ve found ways – many of them remarkably similar – to walk away with a thanks-for-playing slap on the back, but no improvement in the standings. Part of it is youth, but it isn’t all youth. There is some bad decision-making from coaches and players in there, some bad free-throw shooting and some nerves and some element of the fact that the Gophers have played against more talented teams in those situations that have managed to lock it down when it mattered. For all Minnesota’s miscues at the end on Saturday, the Indiana’s 2-3 zone probably had some say as well.
Some positives. No one is giving out any ribbons as my surly emailers are suggesting, but there are some things to like here. Tonight, with Carlos Morris absent – he was attending the funeral of a family friend – and Joey King not scoring at all, the Gophers’ youth took over. The speed of Nate Mason, Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer all in a lineup together is hard to contain. Those guys’ attack tonight was the major reason Minnesota was able to hang around. And in the most intimidating environment they’ve been in this season, for the most part, they didn’t look shaken. Mason is probably playing the best basketball of his life. Dorsey might be ready to take the next step. McBrayer is getting more consistent. If nothing else, that’s important growth for next year.
That pep band, though. Sorry if I’m gushing about lil Bloomington too much – it is one of my favorites on the circuit after all. Great restaurants. A Courtyard right downtown. Random 60-degree days in January. My favorite arena in the league. And this band! Playin’ everything from Walk the Moon to Silento with impressive ease and depth of sound -- gosh darn, they’re good – so good they have their own fans in the stand. This list put them at No. 4 nationally in 2013 and if I have any say, they’re still at least that high.