If we’re doling out grades for Minnesota’s trip to Puerto Rico, I’d probably give them a solid C. The table was set for a nice little 2-1 trip with wins over solid programs, but tripping up against a strangely energetic Tubby Smith Texas Tech team sealed their fate and sent them back to Minneapolis with only a single victory over Missouri State to show for it. Things could have been worse, sure, but getting thoroughly outplayed by a team like Texas Tech just illustrates how far this team needs to go to be a threat against even the most mediocre of BCS teams. The Gophers return to their regularly scheduled cupcake programming, with a cameo by Clemson in the B1G/ACC Challenge on Monday.
A couple of things standout from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
We’ll be saying this a lot this year, but rebounding is going to be the difference maker in almost every game they play. They have yet to win a rebounding battle this season and, as evidenced by the Texas Tech game, second chance points are coming at the most inopportune times. In the second half, there were a number of times where loose rebounds or put-backs silenced a Gopher run and gave the Red Raiders plenty of momentum.
Who’s the go-to?
After two initial games where the Gophers weathered a comeback and doubled down on themselves, the same can’t really be said for the Tip-Off. They crapped away the game down the stretch against Temple, nearly gave it up against Missouri State and just looked flat against Texas Tech. Which begs the question — who’s the leader here? Joey King isn’t exactly the most vocal guy on the court and Carlos Morris is hardly who you want young guys to replicate. Which means, in the interim, the team will need to figure out who is going to take charge when things are starting to fall apart. Kevin Dorsey looks like he wants to be that guy, but he’s also a true freshman and understandably raw. Nate Mason is also a candidate, but he’s also prone to bouts of frustration and poutiness. Until the personnel issues are sorted out, there appears to be a vacuum of leadership, which will continue to lead to a lack of cohesiveness in close games.
Up next: the pesky Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.