Early Friday morning, just as fresh stories about the team's second consecutive loss – and the words coach Tubby Smith said afterward as he openly questioned the team’s effort – were getting published online, Rodney Williams sent a tweet to the Gophers’ other four starters:
After practice on Tuesday, Williams addressed the tweet, saying it was in reaction to some “outside comments” and not related directly to the team.
“It was just a dumb comment I made,” he said. “I was just mad about everything. I should have never made that comment.”
After the Michigan game, a visibly frustrated Smith took the podium and, unprompted, stated concerns with the team’s practices heading into that game.
“I was disappointed in our practice yesterday, to be honest with you in the defensive effort, especially in our starting group, and it showed today,” he said then. “It raised its ugly head.”
With the Gophers heading to Northwestern to play the Wildcats tomorrow, Smith continued to hedge some on his Thursday night comments. In Monday’s teleconference, the coach revealed that Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman had a couple of minor injuries against Michigan, with the former dealing with a sore hip and “tweaked” knee and the latter sitting out a couple of practices due to a turned ankle.
“I think we were trying to be less intense because we just wanted to make sure everybody was healthy,” Smith said. “So that probably was a poor depiction on my part to do it that way.
“Rodney hadn’t missed any practices, but I knew they weren’t themselves … we had geared down a little bit just because you don’t want too go too hard, because we’ve been going two-a-days, we’ve been going in the morning, lifting and shooting and then coming back in the afternoon. So that’s the past. We’ve changed that.”
Other notes from today’s media access:
- Coleman said he had practiced with the team the last two days. “It’s doing better,” he said. “It’s a lot better than it was at Michigan. I sprained it in the Indiana game, in the second half, and then reinjured it in the Michigan game. Mainly in the second half it started bugging me. But I think I’ll be alright. I’m not making excuses for it or anything.” Williams is also expected to play tomorrow.
- Despite Williams’ injuries, Smith made it clear he would like to see more from his senior forward. “He’s got to be more aggressive,” Smith said. “He’s got to want the ball, he’s got to go to the basket, be stronger going to the basket, attack the rim. That’s what he does best and he didn’t do that at all in that game. That’s something you expect your veteran players and your seniors to do.”
- Smith said he considered shaving the moustache after the team’s second loss, but decided to keep it as a symbolic fight against cancer in honor of the granddaughter of a former assistant coach of his, Mike Sutton.