Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino admitted Wednesday’s 95-68 loss at Illinois felt bad in real time. Then he watched the game film. “It felt worse,” Pitino said of a defeat to an Illini team which was 0-5 in Big Ten play before administering a 27-point beatdown of the Gophers in Champaign, Ill. Early Friday morning, Jan. 18, Pitino replayed the carnage once more. “It felt worse again, so I probably need to just stop watching it,” he said.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Big Ten Network produced an online highlight package from the Minnesota men’s basketball team’s 59-52 victory over Wisconsin on Thursday, Jan. 3. While the game included a big Badgers comeback and some clutch plays from Gopher teammates, it starred only Amir Coffey. For 45 seconds, footage from Kohl Center in Madison exclusively featured Minnesota’s point guard, with an array of pull-up runners in the paint, three-pointers, spin moves and finishes in the lane, as well as fast-break layups and floaters over shot blockers.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Emmit Carpenter was out to dinner with friend Jace Trettin in early December when the Gophers kicker asked the 5-year-old boy what he wanted for Christmas. Trettin told Carpenter he wanted Legos, and to go on rides with his 23-year-old pal at Mall of America.
DETROIT — The Gophers lately haven’t had a lot of players with the option to leave early for the NFL draft. Tight end Maxx Williams left after his redshirt sophomore season in 2014, and was taken in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, it’s been quiet. But receiver Tyler Johnson has added some intrigue after a monster junior season.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rest in peace, RPI. The Rating Percentage Index had been a primary metric for qualifying men’s basketball programs for NCAA tournament selection since 1981, but this year it has been cast aside for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET. NET will rely on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and quality wins and losses. When the games are played will be omitted, and margin of victory will be capped at 10 points to prevent an incentive to produce the biggest blowouts.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers volleyball powerhouse has been built as a meritocracy. With that standard, two freshmen will be counted on when second-seeded Minnesota (27-3) faces No. 15 Oregon (22-10) in an NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen matchup at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers volleyball team has bulldozed most of its opponents this season, but they’ve been run over themselves twice -- and one of the culprits is up next. That would be No. 15 Oregon, which beat second-ranked Minnesota way back on Sept. 7, 3-1, during a tournament in Palo Alto, Calif. The teams meet again Friday, Dec. 7, with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. “I mean, they’re good,” Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon said of the Ducks. “We knew they were good, and they’re still good.”
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gophers senior forward Jordan Murphy asked head coach Richard Pitino an off-the-court question a few weeks ago: What should he say to Dupree McBrayer? McBrayer’s mother, Tayra McFarlane, was not well and Murphy wasn’t sure how to approach it with his teammate. “Nobody knows what to say,” Pitino told him. “You just say you’re there for them and you be there for them all the time.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The intrigue Sunday was less about where the Gophers would play their bowl game and more about who they would play. Answer, Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit. Since Minnesota became bowl eligible with a 37-15 win at Wisconsin on Nov. 24, most national experts had the Gophers headed to the Quick Lane Bowl for the second time in four years. To get there, Minnesota had to win two of their last three regular-season games.
MINNEAPOLIS — Like the Gophers men’s basketball team, the Big Ten Conference was way, way down last season. With the Gophers as one of its biggest disappointments, the Big Ten had only four teams advance to the NCAA tournament a year ago — its fewest bids since 2008. On the flip side with Minnesota’s 6-1 start through November, the Big Ten is way, way up so far this season.