One of the biggest critiques of Gophers men's basketball in recent days is the team's inability to make free throws, especially in clutch moments. Minnesota is shooting just 69.8 percent from the stripe, 66.1 in conference play. What makes this fact more interesting — or maddening, depending on your perspective — is that Minnesota actually leads the Big Ten in free-throw attempts.
So essentially, the Gophers are taking what should be a major strength and turning it into a weakness. If Minnesota increased its efficiency at the stripe by 10 percent, for example, in conference play, from 66 percent to 76 percent, the Gophers would have an extra 19 points. Given that they've lost the past four by a total of 20 points, that's a hefty chunk of scoring left on the table.
What's to be done? Well, there isn't much. The players have said that they shoot free throws before and after practice and coach Richard Pitino said Monday night on his radio show on 1500-AM that if the players don't hit at least 70 percent, they're assigned extras. But he also hesitates to put a huge spotlight on the issues, given the uniqueness of the problem.
Gold in the Barn: startribune.com/gophers