The strangest thing keeps happening.

I keep watching the Gophers lose, and I keep seeing players I like.

Wednesday night, it was walkon freshman guard Stephon Sharp playing with poise against a good team, scoring 16 points in 37 minutes without a turnover.

And just when it seemed Jordan Murphy might have hit a wall,  he hit 6-of-9 shots in the second half to score 13 of his 16 points.

The Gophers are 2-15 in the Big Ten on merit. This is a bad team beset by scandal. And yet if they can survive the scandal, they could have enough talent to be interesting next year, presuming no more illicit videos surface in the next calendar year.

Either that, or my standards for Gophers basketball are so low that I see promise when I should see utter failure.


Is college basketball all about winning?

For coaches, yes. They get paid a lot of money to win, and to bring money into the University that pays them so well.

For players? Not always. Joey King was disappointed that he didn’t play better in his Williams Arena finale. He scored six points on 1-of-9 shooting, and his voice wavered while he spoke after the game.

But he got to play where he wanted to play, he got to play in front of friends and family.

``We did the most we could with the hand we were dealt,’’ he said.

He also said: ``A lot of people in the stands don’t see me as just a basketball player, but as a good person.’’


When you watch bad teams, you hear a lot about promise.

How should we rank the local teams in terms of actual promise?

My list:

  1. Wolves: Towns, Wiggins and LaVine give the Wolves one sure-thing great player, one sure-thing very good player and one wild card in a sport where you might be able to win big with two great players.

  2. Twins: Sano could become one of the three best power-hitters in the game, Buxton will become a star sometime in the next 15 months and Jose Berrios is legitimate. And the Twins have power arms throughout their organization after neglecting that important asset for too long.

  3. Vikings: Bridgewater, Kendricks, Barr, Diggs, Hunter, McKinnon, Rhodes, Waynes...this is a strong and young roster.

  4. Gopher basketball: Sounds strange, but one good recruiting class can change everything.

  5. Gopher football: Tremendous talent at running back, and intriguing quarterback prospects make this an interesting coaching transition.

  6. Lynx: They need to win while Whalen and Augustus can still support Moore.

  7. Wild: The cupboard is close to bare.


New shows available at Roy Smalley’s Chin Music, The Russo-Souhan Show, MalePatternPurple with Tim Yotter. Next: Jon Krawczynski’s Minnesota Hoops and my latest interviews with key Twins figures.