Souhan: With no excuses, Gophers fall hard

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2014 - 10:33 AM
hide

Gophers Andre Hollins and Joey King stripped the ball away from TAMCC's Jake Kocher during the second half at Williams Arena in Minneapolis Saturday, December 28, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

Richard Pitino is setting a bad example for his team. Thursday night, in a fit of pique, Pitino ripped off his jacket and threw it behind him toward the bench. It flopped on the hardwood and slipped off the raised court.

His players shot the ball with similar accuracy, and results.

Thursday night at Williams Arena, the Gophers lost an essential game for the most fundamental of reasons.

They shot the ball like they were inebriated fans dragged onto the court for a hokey halftime promotion wearing baseball caps and boots.

Pitino wisely built his first Gophers team around his best players: his guards. He starts three guards and a thin forward. He favors pressure defenses, a fast pace, the three-point shot and drives through defenses spread thin trying to cover so many shooters.

Thursday night, in the Gophers’ first game of the Big Ten schedule, they were lucky to face a Michigan team playing without star forward Mitch McGary. The team also lost star Glenn Robinson III to an ankle injury.

Those injuries forced Michigan, too, to play small, robbing the Gophers of any excuses. Minnesota would have the most experienced players on the court, would not be forced to play with distinct disadvantages in frontcourt size and depth, would have a purported home-court advantage, and would play knowing that a strong start to the Big Ten season could lead to an NCAA berth.

Knowledge, in this case, was not power. Apparently, this form of knowledge was incapacitating.

Austin Hollins made one of his nine shots, missing all six of his three-pointers. Andre Hollins made three of his 10 shots, and one of his five from beyond the arc. DeAndre Mathieu went 3-for-10, and Oto Osenieks went 1-for-7.

It’s not a complicated game. The Gophers outrebounded Michigan 38-24 and took more shots, by a margin of 53-44. They lost because their best shooters either forced bad shots or missed good ones.

That is not how this team should lose. This team should lose when it faces bigger, stronger teams, not when Elliott Eliason is able to grab a game-high 10 rebounds.

“We chart what we call challenged shots,’’ Pitino said. “We went 1-for-8 on challenged shots. We rushed some of them when we should have drove it. But they also played very good defense, so give them credit for that. It was a little bit of both.’’

There are two soft spots in the Gophers’ Big Ten schedule. The first began Thursday, and included the home loss to Michigan, Sunday’s home game against Purdue, and a trip to Northwestern.

In late January and early February, the Gophers will play at Nebraska, home against Northwestern, and at Purdue.

To go .500 in conference play and earn a bid to the tournament, the Gophers probably needed to win five of those games. Their margin for error disappeared Thursday in a blaze of hurried jumpers.

“We’ve got to understand that we’re just building this thing,’’ Pitino said. “We’re in the infancy of this thing.’’

Asked how he could build a program to resemble Michigan’s, Pitino said, “It’s all about recruiting, it really is. We’ve got to build that culture.’’

That’s true, and intriguing. Pitino is right: He will have to be a better recruiter than Tubby Smith to win big at Minnesota. But to cite recruiting after a wrenching home loss? Let’s hope he doesn’t read Tubby’s Cliff’s Notes and start complaining about the lack of a practice facility.

  • related content

  • Gophers drop Big Ten opener 63-60 at home to Michigan

    Friday January 3, 2014

    The Gophers went 5-for-19 from three-point range and turned over the ball 15 times against a depleted Wolverines team.

  • Postgame: Gophers squander golden opportunity

    Thursday January 2, 2014

    Michigan was without Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III for the second half, and had no answer for Minnesota on the boards. Still, the Gophers couldn't come out on top.

  • Richard Pitino coached a tight game that the Gophers lost 60-63 to Michigan.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close