I think it has been good for everyone that the Gophers had nearly a week off following their pathetic performances at Iowa and Ohio State. I know I've appreciated the time off, to the point where I am once again excited to watch some Gopher basketball.
But what about the team? How have they utilized their time off? And what do they need to do to win tonight?
Everyone has their own suggestion as to what mind-set the Gophers need to have tonight. Amelia reports that Tubby wants them to play angry. Chip Scoggins wants them to play with confidence. Maybe they need more leadership. Off Tackle Empire looks at basketball stuff and implores the Williams Arena crowd to make a difference. Yes, yes, yes and sure. Can't argue with any of that.
But it is also rather interesting that Tubby brought in a sports psychologist to help his team with the mental aspect of the game. Some may chuckle at this, but it really cannot hurt. At least he's trying something to alter the direction of the team. Nobody would talk specifically about the team's session but Dr. Rick Aberman did give some generalizations about what he does.
“Generally, I help people understand how their thoughts and emotions impact performance,” said Aberman, who works with the Minnesota Twins and Gophers football, baseball and men’s tennis. “We know that physical skills and talent are important, but they’re not as important as people think. So we focus a lot on developing one’s emotional intelligence, their ability to make good decisions — particularly good decisions under pressure. We try to help them utilize their emotions to work for them and not against them.”
I do like the sound of making better decisions under pressure and maybe this is something that will give the Gophers some confidence heading into tonight's tilt against the #1 team in the country. Dr. Aberman has worked with Gopher teams in the past and has had some success. He was with the Gophers in 2005 when they won their final 4 regular season games to get into the NCAA Tournament, the one and only time in Dan Monson's tenure.
Overall I like what I've been hearing the last couple days out of the Gopher camp. Maybe (just maybe) this team took the past week to get their head back on straight and will be ready to finish off the Big Ten season with a few wins. I'm not counting on a win tonight, but getting the next three would be a huge boost heading into the Big Ten Tourney.
Rodney certainly need the week to heal and it also sounds like he is stepping up his leadership as he sees the end of his Gopher career coming.
Smith expects senior forward Rodney Williams to start Tuesday against Indiana because “he looked good in practice” and “he’s ready to step up.” Williams has been more vocal and shown leadership in practices since the Ohio State loss last week, according to Smith.
I don't know how all this translates into tonight's game. Hopefully we play with confidence and considering Indiana doesn't typically play well in the Barn, maybe we'll be storming the floor. Maybe not, but it would be nice to enjoy a great game with the Williams Arena crowd blowing the roof off the Barn!