Read my full story on Minnesota’s 74-65 loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, here.
Three quick observations before I unload for two days off and lotsa holiday cooking/ drinking:
Here we are. The point of the season where the losses start to take their toll in a different way. It was business as usual for Minnesota with all the familiar foils. Defense. Rebounding. A disjointed offensive attack. The fans were more vocal and frustrated as they filed out of the arena. The players were more muted and sullen – sullen in attitude if unrealistically optimistic in their thoughts on how to turn things around. And Minnesota coach Richard Pitino was as salty as ever, chastising one reporter for a question about Jordan Murphy starting for the first time as if he was scolding a child for grabbing candy off the shelf. Sure, he might be tired of starting lineup questions, but given the state of how Minnesota is playing right now, Pitino should turn cartwheels at the chance to answer a question – any question – about something as tame as the lineup or Murphy, one of the Gophers only real bright spots at this point.
The Gophers are afraid to go inside (but going inside is the only way they’ll win). Minnesota visibly avoided going inside to center Bakary Konate and Pitino said afterwards that he doesn’t think there’s a trust between the players and the raw sophomore big man. That may be so, and Konate has yet to prove he can convert with the ball in his hands, but considering the Gophers aren’t much of a shooting team, trying to get some baskets inside is kind of a necessary deal. As for driving to the hoop, the Gophers aren’t doing such a good job of that either, a fact that hurt them doubly on Wednesday, in a flopping offensive effort in the second half and in just 11 trips to the line, where the Gophers made only four baskets.
No good news on Kevin Dorsey. The freshman guard was on the court for shoot-around without the walking boot, but he didn’t participate. Pitino said he had hoped Dorsey would be able to warm up with the team and have a chance to play but the 5-11 guard was too sore. “We thought maybe there was a chance but he could not put pressure at all on his heel,” Pitino said. The team will reevaluate his status after taking Christmas Eve and Christmas off.