USA Today

Coach Pitino takes a lackadaisical Minnesota team to Lincoln in hopes of snapping a weighing losing streak

Immaturity, undeveloped talent, and a deeply frustrated fan base is currently the stigma swirling around the program. Does that sound similar to another Minneapolis basketball team?

The Gophers are on a 5-game losing streak.  The Timberwolves are on a 6-game losing streak.  Both teams are extremely young and look like they are just ready to call it quits.  Both teams are likely expecting an influx of talent come next season (top-10 lottery pick, highly touted recruiting class), but if the current players on the roster continue to regress next season could be another downer.

Similar frustrations between Wolves and Gophers coaching staff:

  • Kevin Dorsey and Zach Lavine aren't showing any real development as point guards
  • The offense has been stagnant, why haven't we seen more of offensive weapons Ahmad Gilbert Jr. and Shabazz Muhammad?
  • One of your best young players (Murphy/Wiggins) isn't showing the heart that your team needs to get away from these losing streaks

No one expects Pitino to turn this thing around this year.  He and Sam Mitchell are both required to teach young teams on a steep curve, due to lack of veteran depth.  Common sense has me a bit more frustrated with Sam Mitchell and his inability to be able to teach and reach his young players because: 1) He has been around the game longer and 2) He has a HOF and superior motivator in KG

Given the overwhelming animosity from the Timberwolves fan base toward Sam Mitchell, it isn't saying much that I favor Pitino.  If either coach is able to get his team on a win streak I'd consider that a tremendous, barely short of a miracle feat.  Neither is coach's job is safe, however.

I've lost faith in Sam Mitchell.  Many diehard Wolves fans after reading this article Link to Sam Mitchell story , have restored their faith in the coach.  My take was that it was eloquent and its author was charmed a bit by Sam Mitchell.  After sitting in on numerous press conferences with Coach Pitino and speaking briefly with him in private, I must level with the MinnPost writer in that it is easy to be swayed by these professional coaches who are paid partly to be charismatic.  Saying that, I haven't lost faith in Pitino getting things done here.  He doesn't have many winnable games left on the schedule, but at the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tuesday is certainly one of those games.

When teams lose by the margins that the Gophers just did to Northwestern I watch their next game very closely, because how they respond reflects a lot on the coach's ability to inject his character in the team.  My question for Jordan Murphy and Charles Buggs going forward is will you give 100% if the game is close.  I feel like we already know the answer when the outcome isn't in question.

Nebraska would be a big bounce back win.  During the losing streaks the development has seemed to stall, but a win may help set aside the immaturity and initiate a healing process.


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