Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Myth-busting on start to U's basketball season

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 7, 2014 - 2:43 PM

There are a couple of myths floating about on Rich Pitino's basketball team.

The first of those was that the Gophers nearly pulled off an upset of Michigan in the Big Ten opener. The Gophers were 2 1/2-point favorites, based on three factors:

1) The Wolverines two highest scorers from the NCAA runners-up of 2013, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., were taken in the first round of the draft and are playing in the NBA.

2) Center Mitch McGary, a preseason All-America, was sidelined and will miss much of the season for back surgery.

3) The game was at Williams Arena, which is worth three points to the gamblers on all occasions.

Michigan also lost Glenn Robinson III, its best remaining player, due to injury in the second half. If the betting crowd had known Robinson would be unavailable for half of the game, the Gophers would have been 6-point favorites, rather than 2 1/2.

FACT: Michigan pulled off the upset in the Big Ten opener.

There was also this headline on Sid Hartman's column: "Gophers, Pitino exceed expectations.''

This is subject to opinion, of course. Sid and I discussed this Sunday night on the fine-tuned, well-produced The Sports Show. We agreed to disagree (as is often the case) on what occurred during the first two conference games of Pitino's tenure.

Sid was in the "near upset for the Gophers'' camp for the Michigan game. And he was equally impressed with an 82-79 victory over a Purdue team that is loaded with freshmen and looking ahead to a return to the Big Ten's first division next season.

Most of us can appreciate the change in style that Pitino has brought to the Gophers. Watching a basketball team try to play fast is more appealing than what we saw from Tubby Smith's teams.

Each season, we would hear about the Gophers using more pressure defense and getting out on the break, and by February, they would be bogged down ... trying to beat the Wisconsins of the Big Ten with a molasses pace.

So, yeah, this is better, but to suggest the Gophers going through the non-conference schedule at a very Tubby-like 11-2, and then splitting two Big Ten games in which they were favorites is surpassing reasonable expectations ... well, I disagree with the Great Man.

I was surprised that the Gophers handled Florida State in December. I was surprised that they lost to Michigan. So far, I'd say Pitino is .500 when it comes to producing surprise.

That's because any references to Pitino having a "young team'' are false. He has a young program, but it is built on a very experienced roster.

Senior Austin Hollins and junior Andre Hollins are among the most-veteran guard combinations in the country. They came into this season with a combined 174 games played and 129 starts for the Gophers.

Front-court starters Elliott Eliason and Oto Osenieks are both fourth-year juniors ... four years in a Big Ten program. The minutes of the pair were erratic with Tubby, but they entered this season having played in a combined 126 games.

Backup center Mo Walker is also a redshirt junior with 42 games played entering this season.

Three-point gunner Malik Smith is a senior transfer with 54 games at two junior colleges and 32 games (31 starts) for Pitino last season at Florida International. Point guard DeAndre Mathieu is a junior, with 29 games (nine starts) at Morehead [Ky.] State, and then 34 games as a junior college star at Central Arizona.

Joey King is a sophomore forward with 32 games of Division I experience at Drake.

Daquein McNeil, a freshman guard, is the only player of inexperience who will see the court when it matters -- and he's still ninth in the rotation.

So far, the 2013-14 Gophers have moved faster to have about the same start as they would've had with Tubby (although he might have beaten Michigan).

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Washington 27
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Southern U 39 FINAL
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Florida 63
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Santa Clara 72
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Iona 81 FINAL
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IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
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Kansas State 71
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Manhattan 73
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Marist 58
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UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 75 FINAL
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
UNLV 46
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Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
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(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
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East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
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(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
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FIU 69 FINAL
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Wake Forest 64
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Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
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SMU 55
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Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
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Arizona 60 FINAL
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Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
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La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
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Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
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Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
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Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36
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<
Gophers Football 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 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

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