Gophers currently slumpingMinnesota has developed a troubling pattern since hiring coach Tubby Smith: a midseason slide. The Gophers are counting on a return home this week to help restore their rhythm and turn the current four-game losing streak into an aberration rather than a trend.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota has developed a troubling pattern since hiring coach Tubby Smith: a midseason slide.
The Gophers are counting on a return home this week to help restore their rhythm and turn the current four-game losing streak into an aberration rather than a trend.
“It’s mostly mental. We have to just keep having faith,” center Trevor Mbakwe said. “We all still believe we’re one of the best teams in the country. Now we’ve just got to go out and play that way.
In six years with Smith, Minnesota has lost only eight nonconference games. Regardless of the quality of those early victories, the Gophers have always taken plenty of confidence and momentum into Big Ten play.
But whether the cause was injuries to irreplaceable players, disruptive off-the-court issues or simply tougher competition that exposed some flaws, they have always faded — be it in mid-January, early February or a late skid into tournament time in March.
The Gophers reached as high as eighth in The Associated Press poll, but they tumbled from 12th all the way to 23rd in the latest rankings released Monday after losing on the road last week to Northwestern and Wisconsin.
“Nobody likes to lose, but it happens. That’s part of sports. We’ve got to fight through it as a team,” swingman Austin Hollins said.
They had myriad chances to win both times, but a two-game total of 92 points and a pattern of untimely fast-break-squelching turnovers led to defeats that dropped their record to 15-5 including 3-4 in the conference.
One of their problems has been a lack of production from the reserves, but in the last two games starters Joe Coleman, Hollins and Rodney Williams combined for 27 points and together shot 9 for 39 (23 percent) from the field.
“I’ve got to be more aggressive, more vocal. It didn’t help that I wasn’t hitting any shots,” Hollins said. “I thought I did a decent job on defense, but at the same time that can always get better.”