Read my full game story on Minnesota's 62-57 loss to Michigan at Crisler Center today, here.
Three quick observations:
What was that? The team that was hailed as the best passing team coach Richard Pitino had ever worked with, the team that was No. 1 in the nation in assists just had the strangest, most brutal passing game I've ever seen. There were at least five, maybe more, passes that sailed directly out of bounds. That's bizarre. Or, as Pitino called them: "inexplicable" and "ridiculous." There were 17 turnovers in all. Point guard DeAndre Mathieu, who hasn't been the same player since the start of league play, had five of them. It was probably the sloppiest game of the year, and it came against an opponent that wasn't exactly harassing -- Michigan does not have the reputation of being a particularly disruptive team. Minnesota simply couldn't hold onto the ball.
This team full of veterans should be above such breakdowns, but it's not. In two of the last three games, the Gophers have held second-half leads of nine or more. At Purdue, the Gophers were up by 13. Today, Minnesota had a nine-point advantage with 8:56 to play. But the Gophers went 2-for-6 from the field with a pair of missed free throws and three turnovers in the final 4:30. A very frustrated Andre Hollins nodded when asked whether the team -- laden with guys who have been here and done this -- should be expected to do more to hold the team together in moments like that, but all the senior could do was nod and say "Yeah," three times.
At least Rutgers is coming up. With the way Minnesota is playing, a win seems far away. Iowa at home is up next, but the Hawkeyes are no pushover either. If the Gophers can't convert there, they'll go 0-5 to start the conference season for the first time since 2005-06. But hey, Rutgers is just two games away. Surely the lowly Scarlet Knights can help to get the Gophers back on track, right?