Minnesota lost 71-69 at the Kohl Center. The record is irrelevant now because short of a Big Ten Tournament win the Gophers are not going to any post-season tournament this year. Daniel Oturu led all scorers with 26 points.
Oturu’s night was exactly as you would expect. He more or less owned Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter, but only had help from Marcus Carr (21 points). While it is completely possible for Minnesota to win on the strength of their two leading scorers (they have done it four times this year) having no help from the secondary players makes life more difficult. Chief stat that makes life more difficult: 13/23 from the foul line. Second staff that makes life more difficult: 4/19 from behind the three point line.
Since the Gophers are all but mathematically eliminated from any tournament, let’s turn to some potential positives for next season, an exercise all too common in Minnesota fandom. Isaiah Ihnen should start the rest of the season. 2/7 from the field (all three point shots) is not great, nor are the three turnovers. Worse still is the mistake at the end to let his man cut baseline for the go ahead score. Still, those are mistakes that freshmen make. Ihnen did plenty of good in his 24 minutes. He had 10 rebounds, played mostly admirable defense on both guards and bigs, and looked like he belonged out on the basketball court. Another off-season of food and shot practice and his potential is sky high.
Daniel Oturu will likely go pro, though anyone claiming he is a lottery pick has some terrible sources. The sophomore is simply too good right now, and the draft is weak. HOWEVER, suppose he decides to return. There is a lot to like about Oturu and Ihnen at the posts next season, to say nothing of the return of Eric Curry.
Tre Williams hit two big shots down the stretch. Williams has a confidence and a willingness to take shots that I admire. If channeled effectively, that attitude can take players far in the college game. He only played 15 minutes against Wisconsin, which for me was a bit low as Payton Willis was getting regularly beat by Brad Davison.
Jess Settles is the worst analyst working on television today, and it is an absolute crime that the Big Ten Network cannot find someone better to explain the game to viewers. I am sure Settles is a perfectly pleasant individual, but yeesh.
I’m 90% certain that the missed shots right now are yips related. The remaining 10% is that the team might just be miserable at shooting, but I respect Richard Pitino enough to believe that he’s not stupid enough to base an entire offense off something his team is terrible at. Compare the Gophers at Northwestern and the first half of the Maryland game for examples of what Minnesota looks like when three point shots fall. The entirety of the base set opens up, the high ball screens and staggered screen action becomes deadly, defenses seize up, and Oturu runs riot on whatever big has drawn the death assignment. Now look at what happens when those same open shots brick. Teams sag into a pseudo packline, clog the lane, and bother Oturu with doubles and physical pushes.
Yeah, Oturu was fouled by Reuvers and it was not called. Don’t spot your opponent a 12 point lead in the second half and then we can talk about missed calls.