Pitino says team bounced back from Ohio State loss with best practice of year
February 25, 2014 — 7:58am
Pitino said Joey King was out yesterday with back spasms but was expected to practice today. The coach called it a "non-issue."
On Saturday, as he headed for the team bus, parked in the underbelly of Ohio State's Value City Arena, Andre Hollins pinpointed the biggest threshhold the Gophers have yet to cross:
Finding mental toughness.
One day later, they took the first steps.
Coach Richard Pitino called Sunday's practice the best of the year "by far" after suffering a brutal 64-46 loss in Columbus.
It was intense. It was physical. It was bloody, apparently.
"DeAndre Mathieu went down with cramps during practice and he could easily have been done for the rest of practice," Pitino said. "It was almost like we were in the Maui Classic. The trainers was on him and he was dying to get back in. Just like the cameras were on him. He was fighting to get back in. Elliott Eliason got elbowed in the nose, I don't know by who, but blood is gushing from him ... He was like hurry up, get me ready to go. So that was really exciting to see."
Pitino said what he planned as an hour and a half practice was stopped at 45 minutes because the players were so intense the coach was concerned about keeping them fresh.
The Gophers will need every bit of that intensity with a home game against No. 20 Iowa on the docket for tomorrow and a road game against No. 16 Michigan looming.
"It was pretty intense," Daquein McNeil said. "Like he said, we were going at it like it was a game. Guys were playing guys from baseline-to-baseline, boxing out really aggressive ... it was pretty fun."
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.