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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Packers GM Thompson clinging to his green and gold

Aaron Rodgers turned 33 in December. He has to be so peeved over the Packers’ behavior in this free-agency period that he might call up his family to discuss feelings on the issue.

Really.

If I was a Packers follower, I would be seriously worried about the mental stability of Ted Thompson, a general manager who seems dedicated to wasting the remainder of the career of an all-time great quarterback.

This has to be clinical for Thompson. He has the glitch in the thought process that you find occasionally with sports decisionmakers (and U.S. presidents):

The more that key employees, media members and the public tell him what he should do, the more Ted will make certain to do the opposite.

Would it come as a shock if we started hearing reports from anonymous sources that Rodgers had told Packers President Mark Murphy that it’s “him or me’’ when it comes to Thompson?

Offensive line issues have plagued the Packers more often than not during this unfulfilled decade — frequent injuries and questionable depth. In response, Thompson allowed T.J. Lang, the Pro Bowl guard, to leave for Detroit, and also lost center J.C. Tretter.

Right now, Don Barclay — the poor man’s Everett Lindsay — is a starting guard for the Packers.

Also gone are Micah Hyde (big loss), Datone Jones and Julius Peppers from the defense, and fat running back Eddie Lacy and tight end Jared Cook from the offense.

Thompson signed Martellus Bennett as a tight end and picked up another tight end, the released Lance Kendricks. That’s it.

Rodgers has lost Lang, and as important, that pathetic defense on display in the Atlanta playoff loss has gone backwards.

Meantime, there was much misplaced angst about free-agent losses here in Minnesota. Rick Spielman did what needed to be done in getting durable tackles in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, and a running back in Latavius Murray, both a pass catcher and willing to throw a block if someone is about to mutilate his quarterback.

Yes, Spielman is flawed, but he’s not pathologically opposed to paying for the necessary as is his counterpart to the East.

PLUS THREE

Most important players in the Gophers hoops turnaround (in order):

1. Reggie Lynch: Foul trouble aside, he transformed the Gophers defense from an afterthought to a team strength.

2. Amir Coffey: The freshman played up to his four stars and changed the whole perception of the program’s talent level.

3A and 3B. Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy: Big comeback season for the point guard, and a terrific stretch run for the power forward.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at preusse@startribune.com.

Reusse: No. 5 seed more scarlet number than accomplishment for Gophers

This was the Gophers’ 13th appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the seventh time that they have been dismissed in their first game.

Minnesota first played in the NCAA tournament as the Big Ten champion in 1972. It was a 25-team bracket and there was no formal seeding.

The Gophers had a first-round bye, and lost to Florida State (then an independent) in the Round of 16. Hugh Durham’s Seminoles wound up losing to UCLA in the national championship game.

The other 12 appearances have come in the era of seeding. The five previous first-round losses came as follows:

1995-The Gophers lost as an 8-seed to No. 9 St. Louis.

1999-The Gophers lost as a 7-seed to No. 10 Gonzaga, on the day after the St. Paul Pioneer Press broke its academic fraud story and four players (including two starters) were suspended for that NCAA opener.

2005-The Gophers lost as an 8-seed to No. 9 Iowa State.

2009-The Gophers lost as a 10-seed to No. 7 Texas.

2010-The Gophers lost as an 11-seed to No. 6 Xavier.

Thus, the turnaround season for the 2016-17 Gophers also includes by seeding the worst first-round loss in the program’s less-than-storied NCAA history. Yes, these Gophers were over-seeded, but it doesn’t change the historical record:

Richard Pitino’s first NCAA tournament team now has on its resume the highest seed, a No. 5, of any Gophers outfit to be eliminated immediately. And as Chip Scoggins pointed out in Monday’s Star Tribune column, it happened decisively, with Middle Tennessee State (known simply as “Middle’’) being faster, more aggressive and smarter.

Definitely smarter.

Last Sunday, we were told the Gophers had been handed the perfect scenario: Playing nearby in Milwaukee, with a 5-seed, and with Butler as the No. 4, providing an eminently winnable second-round game.

To make things interesting, the NCAA had provided the Gophers with a strong opponent as 12-seeds go, and bettors to Vegas sports books had turned Minnesota from the opening favorite to a 1 ½-point underdog by game time.

Still, Pitino’s lads were a fourth-place team that had been given the second-best seed among Big Ten teams, and if you’re second best the Big Ten has to offer, you should be able to handle the best that Conference USA can bring, right?

I thought that. Statistically, Middle didn’t shoot many threes, and trying to get inside would play right into the Gophers’ hands, meaning those big mitts on the right arms of Reggie Lynch, Jordan Murphy and Eric Curry.

It was 7-0 for the Gophers right of the chute, with Lynch doing his ball swatting, and then Middle got smart, and the Gophers became dense.

Middle stuck with its aggressive approach, and then it threw a zone trap and a matchup zone at the Gophers, and they reacted like Tubby Smith’s Gophers used to when they saw Bill Carmody’s zone with Northwestern:

Like it was a quiz in advanced trigonometry, with a few seconds and no outside help to answer the question.

The Gophers certainly weren’t getting help from Richard Pitino and his staff on how to attack this thing. Nate Mason, unanimously selected as the all-Big Ten point guard, was a confused mess … and then came up with a sore hip in the second half for good measure.

The Gophers did make the inevitable push to get within four later in the second half, and then faded again. Somehow, they wound up with a decisive three- or four-minute stretch where it became the Dupree McBrayer show.

I like McBrayer as much (and maybe more) than the next observer, but someone should have reminded Dupree that Amir Coffey still was on the court. If they were trying to force something by storming the Middle defense, the Gophers had a better chance with Coffey.

He’s an outstanding freshman, he’s going to get a bit thicker, and he’s going to be great before he leaves after his junior season. Mason’s back, McBrayer’s back, the Washington kid is coming in from New York with what appears to be a sizable talent and ego, but next season … this should be Coffey’s team.

In the end, the Gophers took advantage of a softer-than-usual Big Ten to put together an eight-game winning streak and peak at 11-6 in the conference, and then this happened:

They were terrible in the second half and lost at Wisconsin to end the regular season. They had a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament and outmuscled Michigan State in the quarterfinals. They were awful in losing to Michigan in the semifinals. And then they became the best-seeded team in Gophers’ history to lose in the NCAA’s first round.

Not much of a finish.

The excuse of the Akeem Springs’ injury will be offered by many as a big factor in those last two losses, but the absence of depth is also on Pitino.

Ahmad Gilbert, a sophomore of some talent, was buried all season in what seems an obvious attempt to get him to transfer and seize the scholarship. He could have played some, with Coffey as co-handler of the ball with Mason, but after sitting all season, it was too late for Gilbert to help after Springs was hurt.

Good season. Far from the great the maroon zealots want to offer.

And in the end, the No. 5 seed becomes a scarlet number more than an accomplishment.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Philadelphia (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Philadelphia at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Baltimore at Twins (spring training)

    6:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at L.A. Lakers

    9:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Vancouver at Wild

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at New England

    1 pm on Ch. 29, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey vs. Notre Dame

    2:30 pm on ESPNU, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Baltimore (spring training)

    5:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Portland

    9 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Detroit

    11:30 am on Ch. 11, 100.3-FM

  • Boston at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Pittsburgh (spring training)

    5:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN

  • Timberwolves at Indiana

    6 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Washington at Wild

    7 pm on NHLN, 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Boston (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Tampa Bay (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • L.A. Lakers at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Ottawa at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Pittsburgh

    Boston

     

    - F

    7

    10

  • Minnesota

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    4

    2

  • Miami

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • NY Yankees

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    5

    5

  • NY Mets

    Washington

     

    - F

    0

    1

  • Cincinnati

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    2

    4

  • Colorado

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    3

    8

  • Milwaukee

    Oakland

     

    - F

    5

    15

  • Chicago Cubs

    Arizona

     

    - F

    5

    5

  • LA Angels

    San Diego

     

    - F

    2

    6

  • Detroit

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • LA Dodgers

    Texas

     

    - Bot 8th

    10

    0

  • Seattle

    San Francisco

     

    - Top 3rd

    4

    0

No NFL games today

  • Phoenix

    Brooklyn

     

    - F

    98

    126

  • Toronto

    Miami

     

    - F

    101

    84

  • LA Clippers

    Dallas

     

    - 3rd, 5:29

    58

    63

  • Memphis

    San Antonio

     

    - 3rd, 5:17

    55

    63

  • New York

    Portland

    9:00 PM

  • Tampa Bay

    Boston

     

    - F

    6

    3

  • Columbus

    Washington

     

    - F

    1

    2

  • Arizona

    Florida

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • Carolina

    Montreal

     

    - F

    4

    1

  • Pittsburgh

    Ottawa

     

    - 3rd, 0:20

    1

    1

  • New Jersey

    Toronto

     

    - 3rd, 3:40

    2

    3

  • Philadelphia

    Minnesota

     

    - 3rd, 11:20

    2

    1

  • Calgary

    Nashville

     

    - 3rd, 11:50

    1

    2

  • Vancouver

    St. Louis

     

    - 3rd, 14:10

    1

    2

  • Dallas

    Chicago

     

    - 2nd, 1:50

    1

    1

  • Edmonton

    Colorado

     

    - 2nd, 15:38

    2

    3

  • Winnipeg

    Los Angeles

    9:30 PM

No MLS games today