Just a few notes from this morning’s teleconference with coach Tubby Smith:
- Smith said he feels that the difference between winning and losing often comes from the adjustments one team makes after halftime. That said, he recognized that the Gophers have started off unacceptably slowly in a handful of games this season, including Saturday’s loss at Indiana. “I think a lot of it has to do with our aggressiveness in the first half, or lack of aggressiveness,” he said. “Looking back against Indiana, I thought that’s what happened.
- Some have mused that the winner of the Big Ten title could endure as many as six losses. Smith seemed to doubt that number, but noted the competitiveness of the conference this year. “I don’t think that’s happened anytime since I’ve been here, usually it’s 3, 4, 5 losses,” he said. “There’s a lot of balance in this league, but there’s still [two] teams undefeated in this league in Big Ten play, so it’s a matter of who gets hot and who stays healthy through the course of the season, or who’s playing well. … But I can appreciate that because every game is going to be tough.”
- It’s no secret that the Gophers’ bench has been inconsistent lately, with just two players scoring in reserve in Minnesota’s loss at Indiana, and none at Illinois. Part of that is due to the fact that Smith has been playing the reserves less, which he says has come with his trust in and dependence on the starting five. “They’re in better shape than they were earlier, and earlier in the competition is different,” he said. Still, he hinted he would like to get more results from his bench going forward.
- Smith addressed the new potential NCAA transfer rule (which has yet to be voted on) that would allow players to transfer without sitting out a year if they maintain 2.6 GPA or higher. “That would be interesting,” he said. “I assume it would be like a free agent market, probably. That’s what it would be. And that’s what the NCAA thinks they need to do if they’re going to be student friendly, and that’s their big mantra now is look out their student athletes. I would venture to say you’re going to see a lot more transferring if you do something like that. They already blame us for the transfers. I wonder who they’re going to blame now, when the transferring doubles.
- On the way his players reacted to the Indiana loss: “We’ve had our share of losing streaks where we’ve been on a high and been on a low the last couple of years, and we have some veteran players but again we’ve got to talk about it, we’ve got to address it. I like the way our spirits were not too deflated because of the way we competed in the second half, had we not competed as hard as we did in the second half, then it would be an issue. I think because we felt like if we had played a better first half, I think our guys feel that they could have a better result, and been able to pull that game out, but we didn’t, so now we have to correct the issues, correct the things we did wrong and move on. We’re not going to harp on that game because we’ve got a lot more games, it’s only the fourth game in the Big Ten. We’ve got a lot more games to play, so we’ve got to forget that and get on to the next game.”