Read my full game story on Minnesota's 70-58 loss at Maryland here. (Final, with quotes will be posted on this link as soon as it is edited.)
Three quick observations before I head back to DC:
Minnesota needs an effective Mo Walker. The Gophers center was the main impetus for Minnesota's 13-0 run that briefly put the team back in contention just before halftime. It was no accident that his absence (he was trapped a lot in the second half) caused the offense to stutter later. Without Walker drawing the defenses in, the Gophers aren't able to find as many looks on the perimeter. Today, Minnesota managed to convert just three of 22 three-pointers attempted. An inordinate number of them were blocked, lending to the theory that, well, the shot selection wasn't that great either. Speaking of which ...
Whoa, Carlos. The JUCO transfer finished with 18 points, second only to Walker (who had 20 points and 10 rebounds), but the inefficient manner in which he did so took away from the luster a little bit. Carlos Morris went 7-for-21 in all, good for just 33.3 percent from the field, while taking 32 percent of Minnesota's shots. Afterward, Pitino acknowledged that the wing "probably took too many shots," but noted that Morris' effort was necessary, especially with Andre Hollins (1-for-9) and DeAndre Mathieu (four points, one assist, five turnovers) struggling to get anything going. I get that but Morris is still clearly learning when to take a good shot and when to keep looking, or pass -- there were a lot of rushed possessions that helped Maryland escape out to a strong start in the second half once more.
I'm confused. Is this a good passing team or not? For most of the non-conference schedule we've been talking about it. Minnesota, after all, was ranked tops in the nation in assists (and coming into the game was still second in the country). But in the last two games it hasn't looked like it. The Gophers have managed just 20 assist to 25 turnovers a stunning turnaround. It starts with DeAndre Mathieu who, after ranking first in the league in assist-to-turnover ration has put up an ugly 2-to-9 inverted ratio in the last two contests.