Tubby picks on another senior to be a scapegoat

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2012 - 12:21 AM

When the Gophers lose, the coach criticizes some players who can't change their games.

hide

Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith

Tubby Smith's ballclub had not won a Big Ten game since it went to Iowa City on Feb. 13 and cruised to a 62-45 victory. On Wednesday night, 325 days since that victory, Iowa came to Williams Arena for a visit in which Tubby's athletes had the task of proving this was not another conference campaign headed for the doldrums.

The Gophers had opened Big Ten play with narrow losses at Illinois and at Michigan.

The expectation was the Gophers would be invigorated by a return to The Barn, where they were 10-0 in nonconference games -- mostly vs. suspect competition, but still 10-0.

There were decades when Ralph Miller, Lute Olson, George Raveling and Tom Davis brought the Hawkeyes to Minneapolis and the cheer "Let's Go Hawks" would roll down incessantly from the upper reaches of The Barn.

Those days were long gone, when Steve Alford turned this proud program in the wrong direction, and then Todd Lickliter turned Iowa basketball into a disgrace.

Lickliter was fired in 2010, with four years left on a seven-year contract, and the Hawkeyes hired Fran McCaffrey from Siena. Iowa was 11-20 in 2010-11, giving it a fourth consecutive losing season for the first time in school history.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes came out of Wisconsin with a shocking 72-65 victory -- primarily because the Badgers went 3-for-28 from behind the three-point line.

This Big Ten home opener for the Gophers started with Iowa playing what came to be known as "Lickliter ball" to grateful opponents. The Hawkeyes were missing from all distances, getting beat off the dribble, and the Gophers led 32-21 when McCaffrey called an emergency timeout with 5:06 left in the first half.

It wouldn't be fair to say Williams Arena was rocking, because that doesn't really happen these days, but the announced crowd of 12,018 was satisfied -- with the exception of the occasional hoots aimed at Ralph Sampson III, the senior center.

The Hawkeyes went to a zone, not McCaffrey's preferred defense, but he had to do something.

The Gophers looked at the new defense as if they had been handed a pop quiz in calculus, and didn't score the rest of the half. Iowa closed with 10 in a row, and it was 32-31 at halftime.

The second half mostly belonged to Iowa -- until it missed six free throws in the final 39 seconds. The Gophers had a chance to tie before the buzzer, when Maverick Ahanmisi failed to twist in a layup.

Hawks 64, Gophers 62.

Last winter, when things turned ugly, Smith started sending arrows in the direction of Blake Hoffarber, a senior playing out of position at point guard.

Suddenly, the coach was saying that Hoffarber could not settle for jump shots but had to be more aggressive in taking the ball toward the basket. Interesting theory ... since Hoffarber's game for 3 1/2 seasons had been firing from distance with a lightning-fast trigger.

The 6-11 Sampson has been a target for The Barn's spectators for most of his time here. The fans have wanted to see power and aggression from Ralph the Third, even as it became clear his game was shooting 17-foot jumpers, playing a high-low game with the now-injured Trevor Mbakwe and blocking shots.

Moving his feet and handling the ball in traffic always have been problems for big Ralph, and they got him in trouble again Wednesday. He had six turnovers, four rebounds and missed a lone free throw in a 12-point night.

There was enough disappointment in this loss that Tubby decided to go back to slinging arrows. Two days earlier, he had offered praise for Sampson, but now he was trying to explain another loss and said of Ralph the Third:

"He has to be stronger with the ball. He has to go strong to the basket and not settle for jumpers."

Sampson has a better chance to make a jumper than to go strong through traffic to get a basket, but this was another gut-wrenching loss and Tubby needed a Hoffarber for a new winter.

When you're a coach with a big reputation and a big contract, everything is fair game -- including questioning a player who can't seem to change his game halfway through a senior season.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. preusse@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 10 1st Half 4:48
UC Santa Barbara 25
Baylor 39 2nd Half 15:50
Memphis 37
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close