Perhaps that was a good loss for the Gophers men's basketball team last night?

By that, of course, we certainly don't mean the 87-79 loss to Virginia was good to watch. There was ugly, ugly defense -- get healthy as fast as you can, Al Nolen. There was awful second half execution, whereby all the crazy shots the Gophers were making in the first half stopped falling and they just looked desperate instead of talented.

But after such a strong start to the season, Minnesota might have started believing it was even better than it really is. A perfect record entering Big Ten play seemed within reach. Perhaps even a national ranking in the top 10 if things broke right. The youngsters, as they say, might have been reading a few too many of their own press clippings (or, um, Internet droolings anyway. This generation doesn't cut out articles for scrapbooks anymore, right?).

If there was a good time for a dud, though, this was it. Virginia is not a great or even very good team, but it was at least a major conference squad. The Gophers hopefully learned that they can't coast against anybody. And Tubby Smith will have plenty of ammunition for practice.

If the Gophers can forget the game but remember the lesson, it could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to their season. If not ... well, we'd prefer not to think about that right now.

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