Patrick Reusse is the worst sports columnist. I don't like to link to his columns cause I don't want to encourage reading his "work."
So Pat was at the gopher game last night. What bothers me is that he clearly went into the game with his column already written. I don't need everything to be rosey, but he was able to take a 19 point win and turn into a negative column about the team and the University. This reeks of scrutinizing close enough and ignoring certain facts to find the negativity that fits your presupposition.
Let me dissect...
"The athletic department is more than willing to accept the extra dollars from those loyalists, but too cheap to pay for a TV hookup of the Big Ten Network. That's right, folks: The Gophers' basketball blackout exists not only in your cable-equipped TV den but also in much of Williams Arena."Before he gets into the actual game Pat needs to rip the U for not hooking up the Big Ten Network in to the Barn suites. While this is ironic that the BTN isn't even broadcast in the Barn, it is hardly worth ranting about for 6 paragraphs before he deftly segways into the actual game.
We then head right into the game action and Pat leads off with this...
"The game you didn't see on Wednesday night was Smith's first Big Ten home game. The Gophers were fortunate the opposition was Northwestern, since they had long stretches of very mediocre play."This was the smooth transition into the game. But of course a 19 point win over a clearly inferior opponent was marred by "long" (?) stretches of mediocre play. Here is where I'll go check out the play by play on Northwestern's box score.
The first LONG STRETCH of mediocre play lasted 1:34. Minnesota committed two turnovers and Northwestern scored on two possessions. NU starts with a 5-0 run. This is cause for concern because no self respecting basketball team with dreams of being slightly over .500 in the Big Ten would turn the ball over on consecutive possessions and allow 2 baskets. The gophers then go on a 6-0 run to retake the lead. After a few min of back and forth the relatively short stretch of 9:11 when the Gophers went on a mediocre first half run of 22-2 run doesn't count.
"They were down 20-14 in the opening eight minutes. Then, they allowed Northwestern to cut an 11-point halftime lead to 44-38 in the first three minutes of the second half." - (notice he completely skipped the 22-2 run)I guess this must have been LONG STRETCH #2, 3:04 and an NU run of 9-2. Holy crap another run by the opponent. How dare we think this team can be any good if we give up a run like that. Oh, and after that 9-2 run, Minnesota went on a 14-3 run of their own (not worth mentioning though).
Here is what Pat focused on, Northwestern runs of...
5-0 (1:34) - "confused for several minutes"
Here is what Pat did not focus on, Minnesota runs of...
6-0 (1:34) - no mention how it answered the 0-5 NW run
14-3 (4:15) - no mention how it answered the 2-9 NW run
The numbers kind of speak for themselves. I have one more to debunk before I wrap it up.
"There were several minutes at the start when Tubby's Gophers seemed to be as confused by Northwestern's zone defense as was Monson's club in recent seasons."Simply not true. Their first two possessions were turnovers but after that they moved the ball and took good shots. Every single possession? No, but they quickly attacked what they thought was the weakness by having Coleman attack the basket from the high/mid post. This then opened up weakside shooting for Hoffarber who was red hot. Several minutes of being confused? Does he really think this was an accurate description of what happened?
I don't know what Reusse was expecting? NOBODY thinks this is a flawless team that is destined for the 2nd or 3rd weekend of the NCAA Tourney. And nobody thinks that beating Northwestern is worthy of hanging a banner in the Barn. But you can't fault the Gophers because Northwestern went on a couple runs. You can't ignore the fact that the Gophers answered every NW run with a bigger run of their own. EVERY team in NCAA basketball will give their opponent runs. That is the nature of basketball. Consistent mediocre play (in my mind I guess) would have made for a much closer game.
I guess a 19 win at home over a bad Northwestern team proved to Reusse what he already knew. This Gopher team isn't perfect.
By contrast, Marcus Fuller of Pioneer Press acknowledged only the important stats like forcing 19 turnovers, 22 points off turnovers and covered the significant runs.
Or imagine if Pat would have written this piece instead of Jim Souhan. Tubby would be a huge disappointment because he hasn't beaten anybody and Kentucky lost to Gardner-Webb because of the talent Tubby left them.
1 more Quick Rant
I'm a box score junkie, I wish gophersports.com would give us a better box score. Most other schools will give you the full box score including 1st half only stats and play by play (Northwestern's for example). The U gives us just the final box. I don't think it would be too much to ask to get the full info.
This isn't a big deal but you get so much more info from play by play and 1st half box scores. Just about everybody else gives you that info including every school in the MIAC (local D3 conference).