It is my fervent hope that we are not going to be made to endure another postmortem from the involved parties that suggests the male representatives for University of Minnesota basketball have been the victims of a star-crossed campaign in the Big Ten.

Failed NFL teams are quick to suggest that with a couple of plays here and there, those close games would have gone their way, and they could have been a playoff team.

Of course, this denies the fact that most NFL games are close, with a high percentage decided by a touchdown or less.

If you’re a team that makes key plays here and there over the course of a season and wins the TD-or-less games, you’re winners. If you don’t, you’re losers, not only in the standings, but as coaches and players.

Same with hockey.

“We lost (however many) one-goal games,’’ the coach says. “If we had won only one-third of those games, our season would’ve been completely different.’’

And baseball. Same deal.

“All those one-run and two-run losses’’ … completely different season.

Hogwash. Claptrap. Balderdash.

There is a penthouse, and there is dirt-floor cellar, but mostly, there is a huge middle when it comes to the distribution of talent in professional sports and big-time college athletics.

They play close games. The teams that have inspired coaching and determined players win a good share of those, and can have a respectable season. The teams with uninspired coaching and weak-willed players lose most of those, and have horrendous seasons.

And that lack of inspiration and will … it truly comes to the fore when a Big Ten basketball team, playing in an ancient arena where the audience often has created a tough environment for any visitor, manages to lose to both Northwestern and Penn State in a period of 2 ½ weeks.

The Penn State team that came into Williams Arena on Sunday had lost six straight in the Big Ten. It was 2-14 against teams other than Minnesota. And D.J. Newbill had 28 points for the visitors before he hit a bomb at the buzzer to beat the Gophers 79-76.

The shot was long range and it was contested. Obviously, it was not contested fully, because the one Nittany Lion who could beat the Gophers on a play like that did beat them.

The Gophers’ uninspired coaching and the lack of will among athletes allowed Penn State to once hold a 13-point lead, and when it was tied in the final seconds, those qualities allowed Newbill to get away a shot.

A game-winner. Penn State, 2-14 vs. a dozen Big Ten teams, 2-0 vs. the Gophers.

Pathetic. Wretched. Pitiful.

The Gophers finished 6-12 in the Big Ten, with six losses by five points or less.

So what? That’s what losers do – get beat in close games.

Older Post

Another basketball section final, 46 years later

Newer Post

Twins closer Glen Perkins optimistic after bullpen session