What went wrong this season?

kiedro

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​What was the foremost reason for the poor season this year? MacNeil's departure? Austin Hollins absence? Poor senior leadership? Pitino's lack of experience?
 

BleedGopher

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I firmly believe that the number one issue this year is that we essentially went into most games this year with 5 scholarships unable (for various reasons) to contribute at a Big Ten level. That is a HUGE hole to be in every single game, especially when the guys you can count are not all Big Ten type of players. Obviously Konate contributed some meaningful minutes late in the season, but up until then, we essentially went into every single game 5 scholarships down. Throw in the fact that Mathieu regressed most of the year, EE and Walker aren't complete players, Buggs is learning every game and Morris doesn't play D or pass.

It's OK to take a flyer on a Big, or knowingly nurture a freshman PF and even OK to take on a transfer who has to sit out...but to do it all at once, in a year when the firm pieces we do have aren't a perfect complement of parts, is not an ideal way to construct a roster.

Of course we didn't know McNeil's situation would play out the way it did, but our margin of error with the roster was already thin with the other decisions already made.

If we use Carlos Morris as the baseline - a good scorer at times, but hardly a solid all-around contributor. So if he's the baseline, we would hope that Pitino could recruit JUCO/HS players better than him. If he had just done that with Lofton's scholarship and one of the Big's, this season is entirely different. And I don't think over-recruiting Morris' level is too much to ask.

Go Gophers!!
 

Block M

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It was a patched together recruiting class to be sure.
I actually feel this team played near its potential but was not tough enough and lacked that clear #1 guy to lean on in the tight games. As you said, the margin for error was essentially zero and the loss of McNeil in particular was difficult to overcome. With so many razor-thin outcomes, I think his loss may have cost them a couple games, perhaps more.

Also, if I had to point to one glaring weakness it was the inability to get offensive rebounds. It was one shot and out all year.
 

Bad Gopher

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I firmly believe that the number one issue this year is that we essentially went into most games this year with 5 scholarships unable (for various reasons) to contribute at a Big Ten level. That is a HUGE hole to be in every single game, especially when the guys you can count are not all Big Ten type of players. Obviously Konate contributed some meaningful minutes late in the season, but up until then, we essentially went into every single game 5 scholarships down. Throw in the fact that Mathieu regressed most of the year, EE and Walker aren't complete players, Buggs is learning every game and Morris doesn't play D or pass.

It's OK to take a flyer on a Big, or knowingly nurture a freshman PF and even OK to take on a transfer who has to sit out...but to do it all at once, in a year when the firm pieces we do have aren't a perfect complement of parts, is not an ideal way to construct a roster.

Of course we didn't know McNeil's situation would play out the way it did, but our margin of error with the roster was already thin with the other decisions already made.

If we use Carlos Morris as the baseline - a good scorer at times, but hardly a solid all-around contributor. So if he's the baseline, we would hope that Pitino could recruit JUCO/HS players better than him. If he had just done that with Lofton's scholarship and one of the Big's, this season is entirely different. And I don't think over-recruiting Morris' level is too much to ask.

Go Gophers!!

Staggeringly astute analysis. I've read it three times now. In a broader sense, it just wasn't a good enough, complete enough and deep enough roster for the rough-and-tumble Big Ten Conference. I've noted that things didn't seem right right off the bat against Louisville, but they seemed to right the ship temporarily after the early hiccups against them and St. Johns. But the Big Ten will test you in ways that a non-conference schedule won't, specifically throwing talented, resourceful teams with some of the best coaches in the business at you twice a week. You can run but you can't hide from that if you don't have the players.
 

bga1

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I firmly believe that the number one issue this year is that we essentially went into most games this year with 5 scholarships unable (for various reasons) to contribute at a Big Ten level. That is a HUGE hole to be in every single game, especially when the guys you can count are not all Big Ten type of players. Obviously Konate contributed some meaningful minutes late in the season, but up until then, we essentially went into every single game 5 scholarships down. Throw in the fact that Mathieu regressed most of the year, EE and Walker aren't complete players, Buggs is learning every game and Morris doesn't play D or pass.

It's OK to take a flyer on a Big, or knowingly nurture a freshman PF and even OK to take on a transfer who has to sit out...but to do it all at once, in a year when the firm pieces we do have aren't a perfect complement of parts, is not an ideal way to construct a roster.

Of course we didn't know McNeil's situation would play out the way it did, but our margin of error with the roster was already thin with the other decisions already made.

If we use Carlos Morris as the baseline - a good scorer at times, but hardly a solid all-around contributor. So if he's the baseline, we would hope that Pitino could recruit JUCO/HS players better than him. If he had just done that with Lofton's scholarship and one of the Big's, this season is entirely different. And I don't think over-recruiting Morris' level is too much to ask.

Go Gophers!!

Going into the year they were in good shape except at PF and SF. With McNeil in place at SF they had a solid defender who could contribute some on the offensive side. Getting Carlos Morris as an offensive threat was not bad in view of McNeil's presence on the roster.

At PF Reid Travis was the target and they were in the final 2 on him until the last- certainly losing to Stanford on the basis of the academic opportunity is not a disgrace. So they get Martin who a lot of people were excited about because he represented a rebounding, above the rim power forward. I don't think he was so much a miss physically as a miss in terms of the kid's mental makeup. I think he could have been developed. So here again- I can see what they were doing.

Mason was a good get at guard and I think Konate was a really good future center recruit. Lofton was a head scratcher for me- although some see his potential to be off the charts. I think that the reality of that class was that they had about 5 months to recruit it, they shot for the fences on a ton of guys like Whitehead and many others who turned them down and they filled in with a combo platter of guys who would fill holes this year (Martin, Morris, Mason) and guys who would be ready in 15-16 (Konate, Diedhou and Lofton). The shooting for the fences deal, while admirable, may have cost them other solid, building block recruits.

I don't think their strategy was wrong, but once the guys got here everything fell apart with McNeil, Martin and Lofton all gone before the season was very far along. This next class will be a much fairer barometer of their recruiting skills as they had plenty of time to do it, immediate playing time to sell and they had learned the lessons of the prior year (shooting too high).
 


e.bigelow

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I firmly believe that the number one issue this year is that we essentially went into most games this year with 5 scholarships unable (for various reasons) to contribute at a Big Ten level. That is a HUGE hole to be in every single game, especially when the guys you can count are not all Big Ten type of players. Obviously Konate contributed some meaningful minutes late in the season, but up until then, we essentially went into every single game 5 scholarships down. Throw in the fact that Mathieu regressed most of the year, EE and Walker aren't complete players, Buggs is learning every game and Morris doesn't play D or pass.

It's OK to take a flyer on a Big, or knowingly nurture a freshman PF and even OK to take on a transfer who has to sit out...but to do it all at once, in a year when the firm pieces we do have aren't a perfect complement of parts, is not an ideal way to construct a roster.

Of course we didn't know McNeil's situation would play out the way it did, but our margin of error with the roster was already thin with the other decisions already made.

If we use Carlos Morris as the baseline - a good scorer at times, but hardly a solid all-around contributor. So if he's the baseline, we would hope that Pitino could recruit JUCO/HS players better than him. If he had just done that with Lofton's scholarship and one of the Big's, this season is entirely different. And I don't think over-recruiting Morris' level is too much to ask.

Go Gophers!!

Great post Bleed!
 

macgopher

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I firmly believe that the number one issue this year is that we essentially went into most games this year with 5 scholarships unable (for various reasons) to contribute at a Big Ten level. That is a HUGE hole to be in every single game, especially when the guys you can count are not all Big Ten type of players. Obviously Konate contributed some meaningful minutes late in the season, but up until then, we essentially went into every single game 5 scholarships down. Throw in the fact that Mathieu regressed most of the year, EE and Walker aren't complete players, Buggs is learning every game and Morris doesn't play D or pass and one of the Big's, this season is entirely different. And I don't think over-recruiting Morris' level is too much to ask.

Go Gophers!!
So many say Mathieu regressed. I don't get that and season statistics seem to show this. TO's were cut in half from 102 to 54. Last year he went maybe 3 conference games without a turnover and this year at least 7. In his last 12 games last year he committed something like 28 TO's and this year 9. Steals were up over 20% per game, assists up marginally, and rebounds essentially the same. Only place he was down was points and free throws percentage, but he was only down 4% on FT and still above the league average. Down in points not shocking with many more shooters this year. Overall he had a decent year, not stellar but not regressing either. Certainly would have loved to see him take over more late in close games but I don't think that he was any different in late game play last year.
 

march madness

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For one i think our team slightly overachieved last year. I think the glaring weakness this year, was the overall lack of physically strong and athletic players at the 3 and 4. This was a major cause of losses against: Iowa, Nebraska, and Penn St. Although Morris is quicker than Austin he isnt anywhere near the defensive player and he weighs at least 20-lbs less. Having Austin on players like russell, Newbill, Wells, would have mattered. So lack of depth, playing a very small mid major like lineup really hurt us. If we arent getting 10 steals and forcing 15+ turnovers a game the small lineup hurts. Not sure it will be any bigger or better next year unless we get a muscular juco as we have a bunch of short and skinny guys comming in next year.
 

bleedsmaroonandgold

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I'm not sold on a shortage of players being the issue. Going into the year, if you would have told me (for whatever reason) that we would have EE and Mo at center, and expected Joey, Squirrel, Hollins, and Mathieu to log the bulk of the minutes at their positions, I would have still predicted a better finish than we had. The problem in my mind was individual players not playing up to their ability. Whether that was an effort, coaching, motivation, or whatever problem is debatable, but if the guys I listed had all played like they are capable of, I would have expected us to do better, even without Hulk, Lofton, and Day-Day.

EE: He looked appreciably worse than he did as a junior. Took a step backwards.

Mo: Was serviceable, good point producer, but after him having a year playing in his new body I really expected him to be able to use it to out muscle guys for boards. I didn't see enough of him really trying hard fighting for contested rebounds, he only seemed engaged we he had a chance to slam home an open dunk.

Joey: I really like the kid. He is the epitome of doing a lot with a little. Not blessed with great skills or athleticism, but he works hard, plays smart, and gets the most out of what he's got. With him, I don't feel like we saw much improvement from his end of season form last year. I had hoped to see him take a big step forward with a year of experience in the B1G, and in hindsight maybe I should have recognized that he was at his ceiling. Not knocking on the guy, he is what he is and we get his best.

Squirrel: Obviously a juco in his first year would be a wild card, but I guess my expectation of him was that he would at least pretend to understand that he has duties when the other team has the ball.

Hollins: I think he takes an unfair amount of criticism. His skill set is not very well suited for Pitino's system, and that is not his fault. At the same time, we really counted on him to be our leader and best player, and we could not afford for him to be as streaky as he was. To lose what was supposed to be our top contributor for such an extended stretch of the season hurt.

Mathieu: No way to sugar coat it, he took a step backwards. I don't by the whole "the other teams had a chance to scout him" bit. He simply lacked the intensity and killer instinct that he had last year. I expected him to take a major step forward after getting used to B1G basketball for a year.
 



JimmyJamesMD

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Joey: I really like the kid. He is the epitome of doing a lot with a little. Not blessed with great skills or athleticism, but he works hard, plays smart, and gets the most out of what he's got. With him, I don't feel like we saw much improvement from his end of season form last year. I had hoped to see him take a big step forward with a year of experience in the B1G, and in hindsight maybe I should have recognized that he was at his ceiling. Not knocking on the guy, he is what he is and we get his best.

I've been as big of a King basher as anyone. (Sorry Joey). But I thought he played really well the last handful of games or so. The other teams couldn't leave him him open on the perimeter. He extended his range out to NBA land. He even looked a little more aggressive in the paint, gathering rebounds and scoring on the block a little bit. My hope is Pitino can get a PF JUCO player to start, because King is still suited best as a bench player, but I think he will still help the club next season.
 

WanderingGopher

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I actually feel this team played near its potential but was not tough enough and lacked that clear #1 guy to lean on in the tight games.

Number one reason right there, hands down.

The only reason we're talking so much about all of these other issues is because the guy(s) we thought would be our studs did not turn out to be studs. If you look at Maryland, Dez Wells and Melo Trimble had the kind of season that I thought Hollins and Mathieu would have for us. If you switch the performances of those pairs of guards, Maryland would be where we are, and vice versa. (I predicted us to go 12-6 before the season).
 

kiedro

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I continue to wonder about the atmosphere in the locker room. Did Morris cause dissension with me first attitude? We're Mo and Andre adequate leaders? Was Pitino do hard on the players?
 

BarnBoy

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​What was the foremost reason for the poor season this year? MacNeil's departure? Austin Hollins absence? Poor senior leadership? Pitino's lack of experience?

All of the above. No foremost reason.
 



WindyCityGopher

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I think a symptom endemic of a team that was 3-7 in games decided by 5 points or less is they typically don't have the instinct necessary to close out games. It might be the lack of pure talent or it might be the lack of mental toughness and the refusal to lose (or both), but one thing was clear with this team...they had no remorseless assassin who would rip your guts out with a clutch shot, or a defender (or defenders) they could count on to lock down opponents' top offensive threats when it counted most. Largely their roster was a collection of JAGs (Just a Guy), with the most steady contribution from Mason, and brief flashes of brilliance by Hollins and Mo, but otherwise nothing that could carry them throughout a season.
 


Minnesconsin fan

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So many say Mathieu regressed. I don't get that and season statistics seem to show this. TO's were cut in half from 102 to 54. Last year he went maybe 3 conference games without a turnover and this year at least 7. In his last 12 games last year he committed something like 28 TO's and this year 9. Steals were up over 20% per game, assists up marginally, and rebounds essentially the same. Only place he was down was points and free throws percentage, but he was only down 4% on FT and still above the league average. Down in points not shocking with many more shooters this year. Overall he had a decent year, not stellar but not regressing either. Certainly would have loved to see him take over more late in close games but I don't think that he was any different in late game play last year.
good points-- i noted this in another thread-- halfway through the year, Deandre was getting ripped for poor play, but he was really good statistically down the stretch (last 6 or 8 games) and the wins still didn't come.

the lack of a go-to guy that can create his own shot, or break down a defense and kick to an open shooter or slasher was really magnified in all of the close games. Not that that guy helped Penn State all year, but you can see what it did for them in a few games. Against us, it seemed like the only guy to touch the ball for Penn State the last 5 minutes was the defensive rebounder and then on offense, DJ Newbill.
 


GopherWeatherGuy

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DEFENSE. This team won when they played defense. They would not have lost so many close games if they could defend. The scoring was there all year.
 

corcoran1

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Basically this was a team made up of guys who should have been substitutes on a mid-level B1G team. Losing the team's only good perimeter defender, McNeil, was basically a back breaker for a pretty untalented basketball team. Bleed is basically right. The best and smartest player on the team is JK, which means we aren't a B1G team. That is not a knock on JK, but he is not a star B1G player. You can hide a couple of guys on a team that are not good athletes if they are consistent at what they can do well. None of our non-athletic players EE, Mo, Dre was reliable game in and game out. I'll give Mo credit for coming on late in the season. None of them were tough in the clutch. Joey could be a good starter on a talented team, as the best player on a B1G team, that is a big problem. Additionally non-athletic players have to be able to shoot free throws reliably, and execute plays and defense reliably. If they can do that they can contribute to a good team. If you watch good bb teams in the B1G over the years, they are not loaded with Louisville/SEC quality athletes. What they do have is smart players who can execute consistently and shoot free throws. We had too many non-athletic players who could not execute plays consistently and definitely could not shoot free throws.
Morris aside, who is not a smart player at this point, the seniors were also not really smart bb players in the clutch, especially for being in the system for five years. Buggs is definitely a work in progress in basketball knowledge. Very good athlete who has about 25% of JK's hoop smarts. If that can change he can be a good player, but it won't change this fall.Hope for 2016-17 for Bugg's hoop smarts. Bugg's is learning basic basketball knowledge while playing B1G hoops, very uncomfortable to watch. Mason was the second smartest player on the team, if he was a point guard that would have helped this year as well, but he is not a true point guard.
Basically the players on this team are not that talented, not consistent and share a lot of the same weaknesses e.g. bad defenders and rebounders. If a player just can't or won't play defense, rebound, or shoot free throws, being a senior does not help much.
Finally, I think RP is an optimist, who over estimated what he could do with some of these players to help the improve. He did help Mo a lot. DeAndre, Andre', EE, and Buggs really have not developed much. This is a common mistake with people new to leadership positions. I would guess he has learned a lot from the last two year.
1) Some guys just don't want the responsibility for scoring.
2) Practice time is not a substitute for court time on a player's own initiative. Buggs just does not play enough ball to learn the game. (A parallel to Mariucci's axiom that the best coach is ice time. If a kid is not a hoops junky, he is not going to get court smarts in college practice.)
3) You can teach some guys to rebound, but the best ones know how to do it before they get to college.
4) Playing defense is a lot about wanting to. Some guys like Clem,Keady, Painter, Izzo are tough enough to drive guys to play good defense. If you aren't one of them you need to recruit guys who want to play defense. A corollary to Coach Kill's rule that you recruit kids that hit, you don't teach them to hit.,
 

Bad Gopher

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I think a symptom endemic of a team that was 3-7 in games decided by 5 points or less is they typically don't have the instinct necessary to close out games. It might be the lack of pure talent or it might be the lack of mental toughness and the refusal to lose (or both), but one thing was clear with this team...they had no remorseless assassin who would rip your guts out with a clutch shot, or a defender (or defenders) they could count on to lock down opponents' top offensive threats when it counted most. Largely their roster was a collection of JAGs (Just a Guy), with the most steady contribution from Mason, and brief flashes of brilliance by Hollins and Mo, but otherwise nothing that could carry them throughout a season.

...or it might be lack of confidence. Hard to pin it down why they were not confident enough to make big plays at the end of games. It's too easy to blame everything on coaching, but you look at teams who are confident and who dagger you, they are conditioned to be ready and confident when the chips are down. That's my daughter's HS gymnastics team, who've won four straight state titles and 8 out of the last 10, many times by attaining their best score of the year in the state meet. Their coaches have methods to get them mentally prepared.

The closest thing we have to an assassin is Nate Mason, who's nickname is...The Assassin. He just has that mentality. They'd have won at least three fewer games this year if not for his late-game plays and steadiness.
 

gopher7

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Last year we probably over achieved a little bit.

That meant trouble coming into this year, because everyone expected the same thing or better.

Then this year everything that could have gone wrong did. We had all of the off court issues with Lofton, McNeil, & Martin, losing two potential contributors right away, then we had the English proficiency thing keeping another guy out. We had some players not play to their potential, then we lost all the close games and things just went downhill from there. This was not good news for a team that was already shorthanded on talent.
 

Mulligan

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It's OK to take a flyer on a Big, or knowingly nurture a freshman PF and even OK to take on a transfer who has to sit out...but to do it all at once, in a year when the firm pieces we do have aren't a perfect complement of parts, is not an ideal way to construct a roster.

Of course we didn't know McNeil's situation would play out the way it did, but our margin of error with the roster was already thin with the other decisions already made.

Right on, and it could very well be that the margin for error will be even less next year. Instead of 3 players that could be counted on for next year, there are 3 scholarships available where you hope Pitino gets lucky with a spring recruit. That was one of the frustrating things about Tubby and it's damn near depressing to be going through it again. Bigger question marks at center; still no rugged power forward; and less experienced guards. Someone a while ago made the very good point that the other teams have players returning who have already produced or shown great potential. We're basing our hopes on people like Konate, Morris, and Buggs. Maybe with as much physical ability but guys who have a long, long way to go.
 

BBQ Platypus

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I'm disinclined to trust explanations appealing to "grit" and "clutch." A team's record in close games will generally regress toward the mean in the long run. (You can dispute that if you like, but that doesn't make you any more in opposition to the facts).

I'm more concerned about the tangible issues with the roster. But this team's other flaws, whether they come from scheme, talent, or both, were simply insurmountable. The rebounding and perimeter defense were poor. The frontcourt was dreadful (and it ain't gettin' better next year). The roster depth was nonexistent. Indeed, the roster depth might be the biggest problem you could point to this season. Given that this is a stitched-together Frankenstein of a team, straddling two eras of play, the fact that five scholarships were essentially dead weight this year was frankly devastating. The Gophers needed more contributors and they didn't get them.

That inability to bring in players who could contribute is on Pitino. So, too, is the regression of the seniors. There's no Hocus Pocus Hoosiers crapola going on. Lack of depth and talent, lack of defense and rebounding, and a lack of senior production were the problems this season. 'T'weren't complicated.

The excellent turnover margin shows that, unlike, say, Brewster, Richie is at least trying to implement some kind of coherent system, and knows at least to some extent how to accomplish that. If he fails (which looks like more of a possibility now than it did six months ago), it won't be for the same reasons Brewster failed.
 

gopherhoopsguy

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So many say Mathieu regressed. I don't get that and season statistics seem to show this. TO's were cut in half from 102 to 54. Last year he went maybe 3 conference games without a turnover and this year at least 7. In his last 12 games last year he committed something like 28 TO's and this year 9. Steals were up over 20% per game, assists up marginally, and rebounds essentially the same. Only place he was down was points and free throws percentage, but he was only down 4% on FT and still above the league average. Down in points not shocking with many more shooters this year. Overall he had a decent year, not stellar but not regressing either. Certainly would have loved to see him take over more late in close games but I don't think that he was any different in late game play last year.

I could not disagree more. What dre brought last year was what this team needed. I guess u were looking at stats instead of watching games.
Last year he played balls to the wall going a 150 mph up and down the court getting easy layups getting to the foul line or get very easy shots for a wing shooter or a post dish. We're there TO hell yes but the way he played there was going to be some but clearly made team better.
This wanted keep TO down not aggressive at all and was a pass first PG who didn't bring bulldog mentality to the game.

McNeil hurt this team the most. He was a tough as a son bitch player. He was our get in your face defensive stopper who was replacing Austins D and could score a little bit. Instead we got a better scorer with Morris but absolutely no D and lost toughness.

We were a soft team this year both dre soft Morris very very soft king tough for his size walker soft.

I thought buggs should of played more.
How would of gaston bee if he practiced 2 more months when freshman were learning everything.
 

CDH27

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Defense and Rebounding must improve for this team to be competitive in the Big 10.
 

macgopher

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I could not disagree more. What dre brought last year was what this team needed. I guess u were looking at stats instead of watching games.
Last year he played balls to the wall going a 150 mph up and down the court getting easy layups getting to the foul line or get very easy shots for a wing shooter or a post dish. We're there TO hell yes but the way he played there was going to be some but clearly made team better.
This wanted keep TO down not aggressive at all and was a pass first PG who didn't bring bulldog mentality to the game.

McNeil hurt this team the most. He was a tough as a son bitch player. He was our get in your face defensive stopper who was replacing Austins D and could score a little bit. Instead we got a better scorer with Morris but absolutely no D and lost toughness.

We were a soft team this year both dre soft Morris very very soft king tough for his size walker soft.

I thought buggs should of played more.
How would of gaston bee if he practiced 2 more months when freshman were learning everything.

I agree with your assessment of Dre and he was more fun to watch last year, even if he was out of control a lot. I am just trying to make the case that he didn't regress with arguably better stats this year. I wonder if Pitino or someone else made him throttle down his play, that Pitino or someone else said we have other guys to throttle up. Pure speculation, if I am right it clearly didn't work. I wish we would have seen last years Dre, but I still say that he didn't regress.
 

EG#9

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I largely agree with Bleed's response. While it certainly is possible to be a good team and not play many guys, you usually have a couple of standouts on your roster when you only have 7-8 real options. Pitino couldn't use the bench as a teacher/motivator for Carlos or most other players on the roster( you could argue he could have used it for Mo) because he had no place else to turn. So if someone wasn't bringing the energy/focus Pitino desired one game, he couldn't just plug someone else in. The other issue with not being an overwhelmingly talented team (though certainly talented enough to do much better than they did in this version of the B1G) without depth is you don't have anyone to turn to when your "stars" (using that term very loosely) have an off game. To use the Carlos Morris example, if the Gophers had a second "Carlos Morris" in the back court this year, that guy likely would played over Andre Hollins when Andre was ineffective on offense this year. That player either comes in and doesn't improve over Dre, or occasionally gets hot and helps us win a game. Just having another option when someone was cold would have been huge, to say nothing of having a rebounder to play in place of King when he was getting eaten alive on the boards. Trying to get through this year with 5 guys for the 1-3 spots and not having a real option beyond Joey King at the 4 were issues that most of us saw coming, so I think it's fair to criticize Pitino on this point.

To go in a different direction, what went wrong with this season was the game at Purdue. The Gophers were up 55-44 with 9:37 remaining in the game and had never trailed. KenPom had the Gophers at something like 94% to win the game at this point. The Gophers melted down from there in shocking fashion allowing a team that was defeated to get back in the game quickly and eventually take the W. The Gophers turned it over 5 times down the stretch, went 2-4 from the free throw line, and lil Dre, Andre Hollins, and Joey King all noticeably struggled.

Just one game right? Wrong. Unfortunately, that game clearly got in the heads of this team. After a pretty convincing loss at Maryland, they came back home for what should have been an exciting home opener with the blackout against Ohio State. Instead the team felt the weight of a "must win" game and let an Ohio State team jump all over them for a 41-29 halftime lead. They came back in the second half to briefly take the lead against a Buckeye team that had not had a road win yet. Nate Mason would miss a huge free throw that would have given the Gophers the lead with 30 seconds remaining. OT was tough: The 3 Seniors we were counting on all turned it over (Hollins, Walker, Mathieu) and the 4th (Eliason) predictably went 1-2 from the line. Michigan was next and the Gophers were up 49-40 with just 7:41 remaining in the game. The Gophers were in a familiar place with KenPom having them at a win probability around 95%. The Gophers would again turn the ball over 5 times and go 3-6 (and 1 of their last 4) from the line down the stretch. Inexplicable turnovers by Joey King were noteworthy, but most glaring was Senior Andre Hollins just giving the ball away with the Gophers down 2 and a minute to play.

Now it was Pitino's turn to exhibit the same type of panic his team had shown in late game situations. With his team at 0-4 in conference play, Pitino decided to make lineup changes for the next game against Iowa. Walker, Morris, and Mathieu were benched for Eliason, Buggs, and Mason. The team did not react well and was down 12-4 to open a game that they would ultimately lose by two. This was the game where it was very apparent that guys were not giving maximum effort, but new starter Nate Mason and previously benched Carlos Morris would spark a monster comeback in the second half. The Gophers would lead 73-69 with 2:30 left. After Iowa went 1-2 from the line, Nate Mason would miss a huge 1-1 free throw (see a them here?) and Iowa would go to the other end and hit two. With the Gophers up 1, Eliason is fouled and he missed an equally huge 1-1 free throw. Iowa makes a 3 to take a two point lead, then lil Dre answers with a layup to knot it up with 1:39 left. Then Senior Andre Hollins commits a turnover (see a theme...) with the Gophers chance to take the lead. The Gophers get it back one more time with the game tied and miss two shots, allowing Iowa to come down and hit the game winner. Mathieu's game tying layup was still in his hand as the red lights came on.

In my opinion, this team never recovered from the Purdue game and as soon as adversity hit it would crumble. When the pressure was off they could execute (getting down early at home and coming back for example), but as soon as things got uncomfortable the same guys would make the same mistakes. Even in the win at Iowa, the team did just about everything it could to give away a game it lead by 10 with 1:56 to play. They saw things unraveling in the manner they did against Purdue, and they would succumb to it instead of fight it.

As much as a lack of depth (preventable) and poor defense (arguably preventable) hurt this team, so did a lack of mental toughness. It's too bad, the B1G was wide open this year and a winning conference record and a decent seed in big dance was there for the taking.
 

tinyarch

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There are a number of factors.
Gophs were:
Weak rebounding the ball
Slow to rotate to defend 3 point shots
Undisciplined with their possessions...often negating the turnovers they created.
Undersized at the guard spots, which forced a 2-3 zone and contributed to weak rebounding.
Often unable to make the shot when it was necessary to do so. (This is where the "unlucky" comments come from with Pitino.)
Athletically sub-par and intellectually challenged regarding mental toughness needed in the B1G.

We'll see what the new recruits bring to the table to add strength to those deficits.
 

Dr.Don

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The Gophers did not offer the job of locker room chaplain to tinyarch, he got pissed and cast damnation on the team.

It's all tinyarch's fault.
 

Holy Man

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The Gophers did not offer the job of locker room chaplain to tinyarch, he got pissed and cast damnation on the team.

It's all tinyarch's fault.

I didn't get the job either, but I didn't apply. No damnation from here, though.
 




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