Then came the past week. Swept by the South Dakota schools. So. Gross. A loss to SDSU on it's own wouldn't even be that bad, really. The Jackrabbits have a sweet name, rank 50th in kenpom's ratings right now, and only have one loss on their schedule (though they haven't really beaten anyone). That alone you could stomach. But South Dakota is a garbage diaper dumpster fire. They're 6-3 but have beaten nobody and have some bad, bad losses. The Gophers had extra chances to get their shit together with the two overtimes and it just never happened. Then SDSU just completely dominated from the start. This is so ugly.
The team is just completely clueless defensively. The rank 229th in defensive efficiency, giving up 1.04 points per possession, and this is against a schedule that features nobody ranked above the top 50 overall - that's really bad! Here is a list of the power conference teams that are worse: . That's not a typo. There is nobody worse. The only other times since 2002 (kenpom's existence) they've been worse than a 1 were Pitino's first year, the Molinari year, and Monson's worst year - and those were full season numbers which included Big Ten play. This is just horrible. Let's check something. Let's pretend the Gophers finish at that 1.04 mark, which frankly seems pretty optimistic, and see how that rates historically among Big Ten teams.
- 2008 Northwestern, 1.075
- 2007 Penn State, 1.057
- 2004 Ohio State, 1.052
- 2015 Indiana, 1.048
- 2005 Penn State, 1.044
- 2016 Minnesota, 1.041
I mean this isn't just a bad defense, this is a horrific historically bad defense. If things hold here it's the sixth worst defense in the Big Ten in the last 14 years.
It's so bad that you can't even simply blame the young team right now, you have to take a hard look at Pitino. I fully supported the hiring at the time, and I have no quibble with the recruiting steps he's taken, but the on court and off court prep work is not coming together as I expected. When he first got here there were some missteps and weird on court decisions, but you kinda figured that would improve since he was so young and inexperienced and I was willing to give him time. But we're in Year 3 here, and not only has his coaching not improved, it's possible it's actually gotten worse, and I'm particularly talking about the constant defensive mistakes by the players. If it's one player then ok, he's kind of a dunce, but it's multiple guys and it's happening often. Teams don't shoot over 40% on threes against you by all being hot over 9 games.
Hey, I'm not saying to run him out of town or he needs to be fired or anything, but this team really needs to show improvement as the season goes along or there are going to be some hard questions to think about. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, because I really like the direction the recruiting is heading in.
Next up - Oklahoma State in Sioux Falls, which is some kind of hilarious joke having to traveling to that damn state right after both their schools beat the Gophers. Oklahoma State is also a bad team, sitting at 5-3 with zero Top 150 wins and their best wins over Long Beach State and Long Beach State who they've beaten twice which is weird. They're coming off a loss to Missouri State, yes that Missouri State, and have also dropped games to Tulsa (decent) and George Mason (bad). So congratulations Sioux Falls, here comes some crappy basketball.
The Cowboys don't shoot the three well and they don't shoot it often at all (though I expect both these to change on Saturday). They do, however, take great care of the basketball (this matters less this year than other years since the Gophers are not creating any turnovers), and they make their two point shots and excel at free throws. They don't cause many turnovers either, which means the Gophers will have plenty of chances to run offensive sets that don't go anywhere. This is a terrible match-up.
OSU lost their top returning scorer to injury early on this year, not to mention the other 3 top scorers to graduation, so the cupboard was pretty bare. They managed a nice, well rounded, spread it out scoring attack with five players averaging between eight and thirteen points per game this year. Jeff Newberry (13.0ppg) is your do it all guard type, Chris Olivier (12.1ppg) is a low post scorer who is frankly going to eat Bakary Konate alive, Jawun Evans (10.1ppg) is the freshman point guard (4.3apg) and best shooter on the team with Phil Forte on the shelf with an elbow injury, Leyton Hammonds (9.8ppg) scored 20 in his first game back from injury versus Long Beach, and Jeffrey Carroll (8.1ppg) is a person.
This could just be me being pessimistic because ugh, but I honestly think this Gopher team is much worse than I thought, and I also believe Oklahoma State is a terrible match up for this team. I do believe doors will be blown off on Saturday.
Ok State 88, Gophers 70.