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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Miami - H. Alvarez
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 12:10 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Boston - R. De La Rosa 12:10 PM
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly
Minnesota - P. Hughes 12:35 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 1:15 PM
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Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Detroit - D. Price 3:05 PM
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Seattle - C. Young 3:05 PM
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San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 3:00 PM
Chicago
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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