Minnesota destroyed an undermanned Nebraska team 107-75 on Senior Day at the Barn. All 13 players for Minnesota scored. Gabe Kalscheur led all scorers with 26 points.
For the first time this season, Daniel Oturu was not the star of the show. That was Gabe Kalscheur, who remembered that he is a sharpshooter. Kalscheur tied the school record with eight made threes, and did that on 8-11 shooting from distance. A story line throughout the season was the question of where Kalscheur’s shooting has gone. The sophomore has struggled (much like Blake Hoffarber did) to find his groove throughout the season. Let us all hope that he has found it again because Minnesota is a fantastic basketball team when they have a third option.
The Gophers are also a good basketball team when they make three point shots generally. Minnesota might have set a school record for made threes with 18, and were 51% from distance on the night. So much of Pitino’s offense relies on having a three point threat, one that has been absent for much of the year. Now, admittedly, Nebraska might be the worst major conference basketball team I have seen in the last decade. That will help any team’s shooting.
Alihan Demir had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his final appearance at Williams Arena. Brought in to be a depth player, Demir had a distinctly polarizing season at Minnesota. His slump from distance made it an open question among fans as to why he was seeing minutes instead of Omersa or Isaiah Ihnen. For all that, he continued to play hard through the season. Tonight was a good reward for that persistence.
No player has taken more undeserved crap from the peanut gallery than Michael Hurt. Minnesotans are quick to demand that we get #OneofUs and then spend extensive amounts of time berating them when they do not live up to expectations. Hurt had five points and seven assists in his final game at the Barn, and will do excellent things after he graduates. His senior speech talked about the importance of Minnesota kids playing and winning at Minnesota, a speech that will hopefully not fall on deaf ears for the numerous high profile Minnesota recruits in the audience.
Daniel Oturu may have played his last game in the Barn as well. The Gophers can still make the tournament by winning the BTT, a possibility that is quite slim. As a result, there is a good chance that we will never see Daniel Oturu on the national stage that he deserves to play on. Should he go to the NBA, he will be a late first round or early second round draft pick. Should he stay, the Gophers have a strong case for a very talented roster next season.
Isaiah Ihnen needs more reps on defense, but his game has grown by leaps and bounds over the last month. Expect a big jump next year.