Read my full game story on tonight's loss to St. John's in the first round of the NIT Season Tipoff at Madison Square Garden, here.
It's easy to jump to conclusions about why Minnesota played so poorly.
The Gophers, after all, were only 30-some hours from the stunning announcement that one of their guards, Daquein McNeil, had been arrested on two counts of felony assault, when they took the court to play St. John's in an ultimate 70-61 loss in which they played their worst game of the year by far.
Maybe the off-the-court crisis played a role. Maybe it didn't. The only thing obvious after Minnesota let a 10-point lead crumble away is that the Gophers aren't ready for the spotlight just yet. And they might not be ready to play on the road at all.
Five quick reactions:
Fouls. Turnovers. Sloppy shots. The Gophers have a reputation of falling into patterns with all of these things at times. Tonight, it was the case in all of the categories.
Mental toughness. Coach Richard Pitino has warned us that this team might not have the leadership it needs to get through very tough times on the court just yet. That certainly seemed to be the case on Wednesday, when no player was willing or able to grab the team by the collar and shake it back to life.
Where was Mason? The freshman was one of the only bright spots for the Gophers on a night where almost everything seemed to go wrong. The guard finished with a team-leading 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench, but was riding the pine again for big gaps down the stretch. We didn't get to ask Pitino about any of this because we were cut off after just five minutes when he was on the podium.
Bad Dres = Bad Gophers. This is how it works. If Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu have bad games, the team has a bad game. The pair combined for just 15 points, nine turnovers and five fouls. It's hard to win a game in which that happens.
St. John's is not very good. This is not Louisville. This team won after shooting 39.7 percent from the field, 15.4 percent from three-point range, 59.5 percent from the free-throw line and turning the ball over 18 times. That's as egregious as all of the Gophers' mistakes.