There is an unwritten rule in college basketball: When your favorite team beats an opponent that is not in the Top-25, not in the top-five in its conference, has no historical relevance, or is not your bitter rival, you don’t rush the floor.
Nevertheless, when the Indiana Hoosiers beat the Gophers two Sundays ago, we saw the Hoosiers faithful storm the court. Such debauchery should be reserved for a special win. Beating the Gophers does not qualify.
So when will beating the Gophers matter?
Head coach Tubby Smith will deservedly enter the Hall of Fame one day. He won a national championship in his first year at Kentucky. He is one of just six coaches who have guided four schools to the NCAA tournament. Eight more wins this season and he'll have his 17th consecutive 20-win season, which is the longest active streak. Smith also had three Sweet 16 appearances in four seasons at Tulsa and Georgia.
Smith has been so good at what he does that I can’t help but wonder when his iconic touch will translate to my alma mater.
Losing Royce White and Trevor Mbakwe to suspension hurts. White is a natural scorer and a gifted rebounder, two areas in which the Gophers need help. And the way Ralph Sampson and Colton Iverson are playing, Mbakwe would play 25-30 minutes per game and likely lead the team in rebounding.
Mbakwe, who is sidelined until his felony assault case in Miami is resolved, will very likely redshirt this year. In November, athletic director Joel Maturi told the Star Tribune "I'd be surprised" if Mbakwe were found guilty. I wonder, if Maturi has done his homework in this matter and truly feels this way, why not let him play now?
Of the Gophers currently playing, have Sampson III, Iverson, Paul Carter, or Devron Bostick shown any improvement? Has Carter been given a fair shot?
Lawrence Westbrook on a good team would be featured as a spark-plug sixth man, but on the Gophers he has to be "The Man."
I have questions about Tubby’s ability to coach a productive half-court offense. After blowing a double-digit lead, the last possession against Michigan State on Saturday was a failure. They were down one, yet the final shot appeared to be for Blake Hoffarber from 23-feet. When that broke down, Westbrook went one-on-one, something that floundered for a seventh time in that game. An option might have been Sampson III on the low block, but Westbrook had no thoughts of giving that ball up.
Tuesday night against Northwestern, Hoffarber, like he has so many previous times this season at "The Barn," delivered. Oh by the way, he was a Dan Monson recruit.
Yes, the Gophers are second in the Big Ten in scoring, but that is a misleading statistic when you consider their soft non-conference schedule and propensity to score off defensive pressure.
Landing top-10 recruit Cory Joseph -- Devoe's brother -- would help immensely, but he might end up at Villanova or Texas. The two commitments Tubby has garnered -- guard Austin Hollins and center Elliot Eliason -- are not considered to be significant.
Further, two of the team's three most important players -- Damian Johnson and Westbrook -- are seniors. If the team does not make a deep run this year, when will they?