Ben Johnson is a Disaster

go_gophers

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I'm certain that we would all have prefered a national championship in the first year of the new hire. We didn't get the desired quick fix, but here we are. To jam it in reverse while driving down the road now is short-sighted. We've been going through the building process (of a program and a coach). Why not harvest the fruit of those labors? There are no guarantees we'd get the quick fix program savior at this point. The program seems to be trending in the right direction. I, for one, would like to see the end results rather than start all over again.
 

short ornery norwegian

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two things can be accurate at the same time

--the Gophers have improved from last year
--Johnson's overall record is still very poor by historical standards.

the only way that Johnson is going to win over more of the detractors is to win more games. I don't see this team making the NCAA tournament this season - maybe the NIT. But I do think the Gophers need to make the NCAA tournament next season if Johnson wants to solidify his job status.
if they follow an improved season with more improvement next year, that's a good trend. if they take a step backwards.......
 


skiumah1

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You can't see where the improvement in year 3 of Payne and Christie could catapult this team? Or the right portal transfer? Or the addition of Asuma as depth at PG?
Or ideally all 3 - And that's very possible
 

golfing18now

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Nobody is saying you throw out the first 2 years but you should cut a coach some slack for their first few years at a new place, especially when that coach is a first time head coach who is learning on the job and navigating a crazy landscape in terms of player movement/payment, unlike anything we have really ever seen in college sports.

But hey....to each their own. Some want to focus on the positive and look to the future, others want to dwell on the past and refuse to move past it.

Pitino wasn't fired for his last two teams, he was fired for his entire body of work over 8 seasons.

In fairness, I think you need to consider the entire body of work when evaluating both coaches. When citing reasons for firing Pitino, his OVERALL big ten conference was often cited as the primary reason. It wasn't year eight or year six or we can throw out year three or whatever. In Johnson's case, many on here want to pretend the first two years didn't happen or shouldn't matter for whatever reason. That seems inconsistent to me. That said, we should certainly place more emphasis on the recent time period. No doubt.

But let me ask you a different question. Pitino did a better job initially of holding the ship together from the prior regime. Whether that was because the portal wasn't as prevalent (this has negatives and positives) or he was more prepared to be a head coach or he did a better job selling the program to the remaining players......put that aside. Pitino's third year looked a lot like Johnson's second year where it was a complete reset with young players and they both struggled considerably. They each had two conference wins.

Would it then be a more fair comparison to compare Pitino's fourth year to Johnson's third year? Then what transpired after? If not, why not?
 


WilliamsArenaGuy

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Cut Ben some slack? Ben is getting paid millions of dollars to be better than the coach he replaced. Ben is two years older and has significantly more assistant coach experience than Richard, and far more experience recruiting MN than Richard did when he arrived. Ben also coached here for 5 years under Richard. And yet Richard has been far better in his 3 seasons at UNM than Ben has been here, on top of being a better coach while at MN too.

Ben wasn't starting at a new place, it's the place he's most familiar with. And the transfer portal has never made it easier for coaches to win right away, on top of the fact that it's created more parity across college basketball.

There was no excuse to be as bad as the Gophers were the last two years. Before Ben was even hired, the minimum requirement for most fans was to make the NCAA tournament in the first 3 years, something Ben won't accomplish.

For what you and the other Ben apologists can't get though your heads is that being better than historically bad is not an accomplishment. If they fail to reach the postseason again this year, this year is a failure.

College basketball is year to year, it's not 4 years to 4 years anymore. We have no idea what this roster will look like next year and there's no guarantee they will be better.

Despite a better season this year, Ben is still the worst Gopher basketball coach in history by far. That doesn't give you a longer leash, it shortens it. If/when Ben is fired, that matters. The first two seasons just aren't thrown out.
I get it. I really do. I hated the last two years. I wanted him fired earlier this year (or at least expected that he would be at the end of the year). It has sucked.

But at what point do you not feel the need to write six paragraphs and respond to everyone you disagree with? At what do you just let it go, see how the year plays out and then move on one way or another? My god this must be tiring for some of you. It's tiring just trying to read the board and sift through it.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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I get it. I really do. I hated the last two years. I wanted him fired earlier this year (or at least expected that he would be at the end of the year). It has sucked.

But at what point do you not feel the need to write six paragraphs and respond to everyone you disagree with? At what do you just let it go, see how the year plays out and then move on one way or another? My god this must be tiring for some of you. It's tiring just trying to read the board and sift through it.

I hear ya, this thread only really gets bumped by the BJ defenders who want to argue after every gopher win. This thread is usually pretty quiet after Gopher losses, because none of us get enjoyment out of seeing them lose. And I don't find arguing here exhausting at all, I actually find it funny and entertaining most of the time.

Time will tell though. I'll have a much easier time eating crow and being happy if Ben and the Gophers are successful than it seems the others will have if Ben continues to fail. In the meantime, this is the Ben is a disaster thread. You know what you're getting when you enter.
 


MNVCGUY

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But let me ask you a different question. Pitino did a better job initially of holding the ship together from the prior regime. Whether that was because the portal wasn't as prevalent (this has negatives and positives) or he was more prepared to be a head coach or he did a better job selling the program to the remaining players......put that aside. Pitino's third year looked a lot like Johnson's second year where it was a complete reset with young players and they both struggled considerably. They each had two conference wins.

Would it then be a more fair comparison to compare Pitino's fourth year to Johnson's third year? Then what transpired after? If not, why not?
The comparison between Pitino year 4 and Johnson year 3 is actually a pretty good one in that there are a lot of similarities between the squads (at least in terms of roster makeup). Some key sophomores (McBrayer, Murphy) and a future star freshman (Coffey).

That being said, I am not a fan of comparing coaches and teams because every situation is so different. In the end, Johnson will be judged on his whole body of work at the U but the people doing the judging won't be nearly as hung up on the year to year record the way fans tend to be.

Year one was a mostly lost year. Fans hated it but I would bet internally they were not surprised by how things played out. New head coach, new roster with a focus on making sure a big class could be brought in for year 2, injuries, and roster movement like nobody had dealt with before across college basketball.....it wasn't hard to see the struggles coming. The only surprise in year one was how well the team played initially as the older players came together quickly before falling apart late due to a complete lack of size. Recruiting class for year one was a waste with a complete bust in Thompson already signed before Johnson got here.

Year two was about getting in a bunch of true freshman and letting them take their lumps. Injuries made things more difficult but I would again bet that Coyle understood the season was going to be rough given the makeup of the team going in.

Year three is here and we are starting to see signs of growth. Johnson has brought in some good recruits and added some good transfers. Team looks to be firmly in the middle of the pack as far as the conference is concerned. Looks likely to fall short of an NCAA bid but things are definitely trending in the right direction.

Year four? Much will probably hinge on how much of the roster they can keep together. If the bulk of the players come back I like their chances to keep building on this year. With how rough the first two years were it is likely that Johnson won't have a long leash. If the team falls apart and drops back to the bottom of the pack he is likely to get fired.

I know that doesn't answer your question fully but it is how I view things. I get labeled a Johnson apologist but I don't really think that exists. The reason those of us that refuse to be negative about the team are willing to give Johnson a chance is because the best case scenario for the team is that he figures it out and is the head coach here for a long time.
 




EasyThere Pilgrim

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In fairness, I think you need to consider the entire body of work when evaluating both coaches. When citing reasons for firing Pitino, his OVERALL big ten conference was often cited as the primary reason. It wasn't year eight or year six or we can throw out year three or whatever. In Johnson's case, many on here want to pretend the first two years didn't happen or shouldn't matter for whatever reason. That seems inconsistent to me. That said, we should certainly place more emphasis on the recent time period. No doubt.

But let me ask you a different question. Pitino did a better job initially of holding the ship together from the prior regime. Whether that was because the portal wasn't as prevalent (this has negatives and positives) or he was more prepared to be a head coach or he did a better job selling the program to the remaining players......put that aside. Pitino's third year looked a lot like Johnson's second year where it was a complete reset with young players and they both struggled considerably. They each had two conference wins.

Would it then be a more fair comparison to compare Pitino's fourth year to Johnson's third year? Then what transpired after? If not, why not?
I've always been against citing a new coach's OVERALL record. I'll never understand the obsessing over the first 2 years.

Especially if he inherited a dumpster fire...and has things improving in Year 3.

I'll never forget guys on the Husker Board saying Fleck is nothing in his Year 3 during our 11-2 season...citing his overall record. Makes no sense.

As for Ben and Gopher basketball...we need high school recruiting, player development, and transfers. All 3. No...transfers alone aren't enough. When Ben's recruits are juniors & sophomores next year...that will be the time when transfers can complete the team.
 

Go Gophs

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Have to recognize this Ben team is much different. I went and looked at BT defensive and rebound stats. They are top 1/3 in both categories. THIS is a reason to get excited. These are things you can build an identity on. Play defense and rebound. It will keep you in games even when you can't score.
 

Bad Gopher

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two things can be accurate at the same time

--the Gophers have improved from last year
--Johnson's overall record is still very poor by historical standards.

the only way that Johnson is going to win over more of the detractors is to win more games. I don't see this team making the NCAA tournament this season - maybe the NIT. But I do think the Gophers need to make the NCAA tournament next season if Johnson wants to solidify his job status.
if they follow an improved season with more improvement next year, that's a good trend. if they take a step backwards.......
Let me add a distilled third bullet:
--because of how abysmal his first two seasons were, a more competent little-engine-that-could season feels like a huge accomplishment and has people saying I told you so.

This team has underperformed its talent. The rotations are still shrouded in mystery and frustration. They've choked away at least a couple games due to tactical errors and almost choked away the Northwestern game with a late tactical error. Credit to Johnson for assembling this talent, especially with how little success and evidence of competence he has to recruit to. But let's be clear here: the goal is sustained success significantly higher than what we're experiencing this year.
 



CPTMidnight

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Let me add a distilled third bullet:
--because of how abysmal his first two seasons were, a more competent little-engine-that-could season feels like a huge accomplishment and has people saying I told you so.

This team has underperformed its talent. The rotations are still shrouded in mystery and frustration. They've choked away at least a couple games due to tactical errors and almost choked away the Northwestern game with a late tactical error. Credit to Johnson for assembling this talent, especially with how little success and evidence of competence he has to recruit to. But let's be clear here: the goal is sustained success significantly higher than what we're experiencing this year.
What are you even talking about?
 

TwistingMyMelon

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Let me add a distilled third bullet:
--because of how abysmal his first two seasons were, a more competent little-engine-that-could season feels like a huge accomplishment and has people saying I told you so.

As I've told you before, people are just trying to enjoy what they have in the present. Then there are people like you who can only wish for a time machine to take them back to 1997.
 

Bad Gopher

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As I've told you before, people are just trying to enjoy what they have in the present. Then there are people like you who can only wish for a time machine to take them back to 1997.
Being a person of science, I know that time can only go forward. Anyone who doesn't believe that this program can achieve that level of success again isn't a true fan.
 

MplsGopher

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Being a person of science, I know that time can only go forward. Anyone who doesn't believe that this program can achieve that level of success again isn't a true fan.
One thing that’s nice about basketball (and volleyball) is that, beyond (ice) hockey, it’s (they’re) the only NCAA team sport(s) where it’s plausible for Minnesota to compete for a natty.

That does not hold true for any of the other team sports, certainly not in football with how the system works now. And other outside sports, we just don’t have the weather and population to have the raw base of talent to compete nationally.

(Wrestling, gymnastics, track, etc are not team sports. I don’t care that they fake a “team” score by cobbling together individual performances.)
 

skiumah1

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How difficult it must be to defend a position that has radically changed this season. I admire Ben even more than I did before but not because he's winning more games. It's because he is doing it the right way.
BS - It's about the wins haha - At least that's what it is for me
 

golfing18now

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The comparison between Pitino year 4 and Johnson year 3 is actually a pretty good one in that there are a lot of similarities between the squads (at least in terms of roster makeup). Some key sophomores (McBrayer, Murphy) and a future star freshman (Coffey).

That being said, I am not a fan of comparing coaches and teams because every situation is so different. In the end, Johnson will be judged on his whole body of work at the U but the people doing the judging won't be nearly as hung up on the year to year record the way fans tend to be.

Year one was a mostly lost year. Fans hated it but I would bet internally they were not surprised by how things played out. New head coach, new roster with a focus on making sure a big class could be brought in for year 2, injuries, and roster movement like nobody had dealt with before across college basketball.....it wasn't hard to see the struggles coming. The only surprise in year one was how well the team played initially as the older players came together quickly before falling apart late due to a complete lack of size. Recruiting class for year one was a waste with a complete bust in Thompson already signed before Johnson got here.

Year two was about getting in a bunch of true freshman and letting them take their lumps. Injuries made things more difficult but I would again bet that Coyle understood the season was going to be rough given the makeup of the team going in.

Year three is here and we are starting to see signs of growth. Johnson has brought in some good recruits and added some good transfers. Team looks to be firmly in the middle of the pack as far as the conference is concerned. Looks likely to fall short of an NCAA bid but things are definitely trending in the right direction.

Year four? Much will probably hinge on how much of the roster they can keep together. If the bulk of the players come back I like their chances to keep building on this year. With how rough the first two years were it is likely that Johnson won't have a long leash. If the team falls apart and drops back to the bottom of the pack he is likely to get fired.

I know that doesn't answer your question fully but it is how I view things. I get labeled a Johnson apologist but I don't really think that exists. The reason those of us that refuse to be negative about the team are willing to give Johnson a chance is because the best case scenario for the team is that he figures it out and is the head coach here for a long time.

Thanks for the well thought out response here MNVCGUY.

I'll admit that I'm still slow to jump on this bandwagon. No doubt this team has shown some improvement this year. No doubt they are better defensively which is paramount to more success when you will never out-recruit some of your peers in this conference. No doubt they have more big ten caliber players on the roster. Ben Johnson deserves credit for all three. On the other hand, that offense. Ooof.

Ben Johnson is a great ambassador for his program and will recruit high character players. He is an easy guy to root for and people seem to care (more than I clearly do) that he's a local guy. But he also needs to stop with his incessant downplaying of his own program and lowering of expectations. His non-conference scheduling supports his own contentions. But "culture" and "doing in the right way" and "it's a process" might all buy you time but two untimely transfers in this free agency/NIL period of NCAA basketball and you are set back a year or two.

The overall record might be too convenient for some of us that use that to downplay his tenure here. I think it is fair to listen to that argument from some posters such as in the post you wrote above. We all have ears and can listen to what Ben Johnson is trying to accomplish here and the leash many posters on this board are willing to give him. But we also all have eyes and can see what other coaches in similar situations have done in a much tighter timeframe.

Ben Johnson will get a year four, barring an absolute collapse in the last 10 games. I hope he acts more like a big time college program in his scheduling and expectations next year and less like the "little engine that could" as referenced by another poster later in this thread. Watching Colorado State, New Mexico, Iowa State and others in the NCAA tournament this year should be a friendly reminder.

Thanks again for your response.
 

short ornery norwegian

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one of the factors that separates Johnson's tenure from other coaches is the portal.
but the portal is seen very differently depending on who is looking at it.

some say that the portal means a team can rebuild immediately- just bring in a crop of new players and you can be better overnight - no need for a multi-year rebuilding project.

but at the same time, the portal is also presented as a potential danger - if the coach doesn't keep his players happy, or if another school offers more NIL, your best players can leave through the portal and set the program back.

and there is some truth in each argument - with NIL being the common denominator. If you have NIL, you can bring in better players through the portal. If you don't have NIL, you can lose your best players through the portal.

so with NIL and the portal, Ben Johnson is facing challenges and opportunities that previous coaches did not have to face to the same degree. and that in turn impacts how he will be - or should be - evaluated.
 

bga1

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one of the factors that separates Johnson's tenure from other coaches is the portal.
but the portal is seen very differently depending on who is looking at it.

some say that the portal means a team can rebuild immediately- just bring in a crop of new players and you can be better overnight - no need for a multi-year rebuilding project.

but at the same time, the portal is also presented as a potential danger - if the coach doesn't keep his players happy, or if another school offers more NIL, your best players can leave through the portal and set the program back.

and there is some truth in each argument - with NIL being the common denominator. If you have NIL, you can bring in better players through the portal. If you don't have NIL, you can lose your best players through the portal.

so with NIL and the portal, Ben Johnson is facing challenges and opportunities that previous coaches did not have to face to the same degree. and that in turn impacts how he will be - or should be - evaluated.
This is a major, major reason why they need to keep Johnson (assuming that he doesn't falter badly in the 2nd half of the Big Ten season) unless they have a proven big time homerun hire who would attract NIL $$$. Right now Johnson has a relationship with his players that gives us the opportunity to keep them if the NIL is within range. If you go to a new coach, its off to the highest bidder unless that coach is a game changer.
 

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Here's how razor thin success is. We had the Wisconsin game in our grasp. If we had won that one, Wisconsin would be 7-4 and we'd be 6-4 and sitting in 4th. This team is close to being a really good team. You can't see where the improvement in year 3 of Payne and Christie could catapult this team? Or the right portal transfer? Or the addition of Asuma as depth at PG?
Have enjoyed the close games and wins by this year's team. They are on a razor's edge though. One win/loss they go from 5th to 10th. The team and Ben are improving! Enjoy the change.
 

MUgopher32

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Thanks for the well thought out response here MNVCGUY.

I'll admit that I'm still slow to jump on this bandwagon. No doubt this team has shown some improvement this year. No doubt they are better defensively which is paramount to more success when you will never out-recruit some of your peers in this conference. No doubt they have more big ten caliber players on the roster. Ben Johnson deserves credit for all three. On the other hand, that offense. Ooof.

Ben Johnson is a great ambassador for his program and will recruit high character players. He is an easy guy to root for and people seem to care (more than I clearly do) that he's a local guy. But he also needs to stop with his incessant downplaying of his own program and lowering of expectations. His non-conference scheduling supports his own contentions. But "culture" and "doing in the right way" and "it's a process" might all buy you time but two untimely transfers in this free agency/NIL period of NCAA basketball and you are set back a year or two.

The overall record might be too convenient for some of us that use that to downplay his tenure here. I think it is fair to listen to that argument from some posters such as in the post you wrote above. We all have ears and can listen to what Ben Johnson is trying to accomplish here and the leash many posters on this board are willing to give him. But we also all have eyes and can see what other coaches in similar situations have done in a much tighter timeframe.

Ben Johnson will get a year four, barring an absolute collapse in the last 10 games. I hope he acts more like a big time college program in his scheduling and expectations next year and less like the "little engine that could" as referenced by another poster later in this thread. Watching Colorado State, New Mexico, Iowa State and others in the NCAA tournament this year should be a friendly reminder.

Thanks again for your response.

The “little engine that could” thing is kinda emerging as the new biggest issue that like you said needs to be immediately corrected next year.

Because right now, while Ben can get credit for in yesr 3 having a clearly more talented roster from the first 2 seasons. He also has to take flack on the flip side.

He either 1. Was full blown negligent in his non con scheduling or 2. Did not believe in the talent of this team at all.

So early on in the process it can be forgiveable. But there absolutely going forward cannot be a time where a 12-8 big ten conference record isn’t solidly in the field, and in this years case likely not even enough to be first 4 out. That’s how bad the scheduling was. Illogical.
 

stocker08

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The “little engine that could” thing is kinda emerging as the new biggest issue that like you said needs to be immediately corrected next year.

Because right now, while Ben can get credit for in yesr 3 having a clearly more talented roster from the first 2 seasons. He also has to take flack on the flip side.

He either 1. Was full blown negligent in his non con scheduling or 2. Did not believe in the talent of this team at all.

So early on in the process it can be forgiveable. But there absolutely going forward cannot be a time where a 12-8 big ten conference record isn’t solidly in the field, and in this years case likely not even enough to be first 4 out. That’s how bad the scheduling was. Illogical.

Or it's neither of those. As evidenced by the Mizzou and San Fran games....this Gophers team needed time to mesh with the number of new players being worked into the mix. Doesn't mean that Johnson didn't believe in the talent of the team. I mean.....the Gophers were still picked by most to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten. Today there's a good chance for a middle of the pack finish and an NIT berth.....which provides a lot of momentum going into next year with the possibility of returning everyone.

Now....if next year's non-con schedule is as weak as this year's......I think we've got a problem. Because next year they absolutely should be contending for an at-large bid. Nobody thought we would be this year.
 

Gophers7633

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Or it's neither of those. As evidenced by the Mizzou and San Fran games....this Gophers team needed time to mesh with the number of new players being worked into the mix. Doesn't mean that Johnson didn't believe in the talent of the team. I mean.....the Gophers were still picked by most to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten. Today there's a good chance for a middle of the pack finish and an NIT berth.....which provides a lot of momentum going into next year with the possibility of returning everyone.

Now....if next year's non-con schedule is as weak as this year's......I think we've got a problem. Because next year they absolutely should be contending for an at-large bid. Nobody thought we would be this year.

I disagree with that. There was only 10 days between the San Fran game(our worst game of the year IMO) and our best game(beating Nebraska). We just played like shit against San Fran. It would have been better to keep the MTE(playing SDSU, Xavier or UW) and not schedule Missouri at home and San Fran on a neutral.

I don't really have any faith in this staff to put together a competent OOC schedule. Unless we get a Gavitt Game, I'd expect much of the same garbage, unfortunately.
 


GFBfan

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The “little engine that could” thing is kinda emerging as the new biggest issue that like you said needs to be immediately corrected next year.

Because right now, while Ben can get credit for in yesr 3 having a clearly more talented roster from the first 2 seasons. He also has to take flack on the flip side.

He either 1. Was full blown negligent in his non con scheduling or 2. Did not believe in the talent of this team at all.

So early on in the process it can be forgiveable. But there absolutely going forward cannot be a time where a 12-8 big ten conference record isn’t solidly in the field, and in this years case likely not even enough to be first 4 out. That’s how bad the scheduling was. Illogical.
Could it be 3. No NCAA hopeful team wanted to schedule us because they didn't feel a win would help their NET and a loss would be a bad (Q3 or 4) loss.
 

Gopher_In_NYC

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The “little engine that could” thing is kinda emerging as the new biggest issue that like you said needs to be immediately corrected next year.

Because right now, while Ben can get credit for in yesr 3 having a clearly more talented roster from the first 2 seasons. He also has to take flack on the flip side.

He either 1. Was full blown negligent in his non con scheduling or 2. Did not believe in the talent of this team at all.

So early on in the process it can be forgiveable. But there absolutely going forward cannot be a time where a 12-8 big ten conference record isn’t solidly in the field, and in this years case likely not even enough to be first 4 out. That’s how bad the scheduling was. Illogical.
Spring training bro?
 

stocker08

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I disagree with that. There was only 10 days between the San Fran game(our worst game of the year IMO) and our best game(beating Nebraska). We just played like shit against San Fran. It would have been better to keep the MTE(playing SDSU, Xavier or UW) and not schedule Missouri at home and San Fran on a neutral.

I don't really have any faith in this staff to put together a competent OOC schedule. Unless we get a Gavitt Game, I'd expect much of the same garbage, unfortunately.

The San Francisco game was only 20 days into the season and only 10 days after losing to Missouri. Absolutely needed time to mesh and get some of the new guys comfortable. For example.....Hawkins in those first eight games of the season.....had ONE game (New Orleans) with an assist to turnover ratio over 2. One. And that's despite the super weak schedule that you love to whine about. In the 12 games since (starting with Nebraska).....he hasn't had a single game with an assist to turnover ratio at or below 2. That's a significant, game changing difference....especially from the point guard....who plays all but a handful of minutes each game.

I mean.....if you cannot see how much better the team has been since the start of the season.....you aren't trying at all. Which actually makes sense from one of the boards leading haters.
 

Bad Gopher

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The “little engine that could” thing is kinda emerging as the new biggest issue that like you said needs to be immediately corrected next year.

Because right now, while Ben can get credit for in yesr 3 having a clearly more talented roster from the first 2 seasons. He also has to take flack on the flip side.

He either 1. Was full blown negligent in his non con scheduling or 2. Did not believe in the talent of this team at all.

So early on in the process it can be forgiveable. But there absolutely going forward cannot be a time where a 12-8 big ten conference record isn’t solidly in the field, and in this years case likely not even enough to be first 4 out. That’s how bad the scheduling was. Illogical.
I was one of the early vocal critics of the weak scheduling, but one has to be fair: these days, you have to set your schedule long before you know what your roster is. One way or another, though, the thing this reasonably talented roster needed was some testing and seasoning, and they didn't get it. It was the exact wrong non-conference schedule they needed to optimize their development.
 




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