Coming later today and tomorrow: two more "Wait, what happened to?" segments on the other two prominent players who didn't score Wednesday: Joe Coleman and Austin Hollins.
When Tubby Smith took the podium after the Gophers' loss at Nebraska on Wednesday, there were a lot of victims.
The coach lit into Julian Welch, criticized Andre Hollins and talked about the great deficit that existed without Austin Hollins’ shooting as of late.
But Rodney Williams was barely mentioned.
How is it that a senior and one of the most physically talented players on the team has become an afterthought? How is a scoreless performance by that player, one of the christened leaders, not the biggest story of the night?
Well, partly because there was so much that went wrong, Smith’s finger was getting plenty of exercise as it was. But there wasn’t the outburst that could have been because, well, Williams just hasn’t been that guy for a while. The forward has scored in double digits just twice in the last eight games, and he hasn’t scored more than 10 since the last Nebraska game on Jan. 29, when he went off for 23.
Remember when he was rolling through the non-conference slate, dominating and looking as though he had turned a corner in his career? That seems like a long time ago.
Williams didn’t have close to the same energy on Wednesday, going 0-for-4 from the field including 0-for-2 from 3-point range, and may have settled the argument of whether Smith should play him on the wing more.
When an offense that features a player like Williams is going though Andre Ingram for most of the first half while the former floats around the perimeter, that’s a problem.
Can Williams turn it around in the few games he had left with the Gophers? Maybe the better question is can the Gophers even hope to make any kind of run in either the Big Ten tournament or the NCAA tournament without him?
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.
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