Minnesota lost to DePaul on Friday 73-68. With the loss, the Gophers drop to 3-4 on the season. Daniel Oturu led all scorers with 19.
I am not sure what to think of Minnesota this year. I expected growing pains and a long season of bubble watching. That is still clearly attainable, seven games in with four close losses to high majors is a sign of mediocrity but not the end times. What is tough to deal with is that the Gophers have lost four games with nearly identical performances.
To wit, the team was unable to shoot the ball. Minnesota was 21-61 from the field and 7-29 from behind the arc. Payton Willis (who we will return to speak positively about) was 4-12 from behind the line. Gabe Kalscheur was 2-9. The Gophers lost by two possession. The Gophers 19-30 from the free throw line. That number is “better” than the game because the Gophers missed several front end of one and one opportunities. The Gophers lost by two possessions. Minnesota’s bench combined for 4 points.
And Yet! The Gophers lost to a good basketball team by two possession and had a chance to tie in the final seconds. Four of the five starters were in double figures. Daniel Oturu continues to play like an All Big 10 candidate. Payton Willis injured his ankle, went to the locker room, and returned to will his team back into the game. Alihan Demir(!) had 14 points.
I have read on this blog and other websites that fans are checking out of the season, which given that sports are entertainment is fine. I am not in part because I remain curious as to what kind of team is going to be on the floor at the end of the season.
The Barn was excellent for a nonconference game with no students. Williams is still one of the best places to play in college basketball.
In the preseason, I said that Marcus Carr was going to be the most important player on the team and I have no reason to alter that assessment. Pitino’s offense depends on a point guard who can make good decisions and score when required. Carr is inconsistent on both counts early in the year.
Jarvis Omersa fouled out and Demir had a good game, but I would really like Omersa to take the four spot. That will only happen if he can get his fouling under control, but shifting him to the starting line up and letting Demir come off the bench against reserves would benefit Minnesota’s scoring distribution.
Minnesota next plays Clemson in the ACC/BIG challenge.