Offensive Struggles Reach Historic Levels

The Gophers men's basketball problems on offense are becoming consistent and historic.

Let's get this straight.

After last week's problems, Minnesota coach Jim Molinari announced his guys need to kick it up a few notches defensively.

Then, after the Gophers held Iowa to 60 points in its own gym, Molinari announced his guys need to kick it up a few notches offensively.

What happens if Minnesota loses at home to either Illinois or Northwestern this week? A proclamation that the Gophers need to get better on special teams?

But seriously, Minnesota is in the midst of an offensive crisis rarely seen in the modern era. With 45 points at Wisconsin and 49 points at Iowa, the Gophers failed to score 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1977-78 season.

Perhaps more concerning, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it's just the second time in the last 50 years that Minnesota has struggled so badly in consecutive contests.

How can this be? After all, the Gophers are the only team with two scorers among the top seven in the Big Ten.

After juniors Lawrence McKenzie (15.7 ppg) and Dan Coleman (15.4 ppg), it's a long way down to their No. 3 scorer now that center Spencer Tollackson (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is on the shelf with a broken hand.

Minnesota's next-best scorer is Jamal Abu-Shamala at 5.2 points per game.

"Scoring's an issue," Molinari told reporters after Saturday's loss at Iowa. "We've got to finish around the basket. We've got to try to get fouled. We've got to try to do those things. We've got to find a couple more players who can play in the rotation."


  • Freshman center Bryce Webster received his first career start in Saturday's 60-49 loss at Iowa — and acquitted himself nicely. In 28 minutes, Webster delivered four points and four rebounds while holding down Iowa's big men.

    "I think he's really going to be a good Big Ten player when he gets time and confidence," interim coach Jim Molinari told reporters after the game. "I thought he was a presence. I think he tried to rebound in there."

  • Minnesota is the only team in the Big Ten with a losing record. Not coincidentally, the Gophers are the only team with a negative scoring margin (minus-1.6 ppg) and one of three teams with a negative rebounding margin (minus-3.1 per game).

  • Junior C Spencer Tollackson missed Saturday's loss at Iowa with two broken bones in his left hand. The team's No. 3 scorer (12.5 ppg) and No. 1 rebounder (6.5 rpg) is virtually a lock to miss this week's home games against Illinois and Northwestern, but might be able to return the following week.

  • Sophomore swingman Brandon Smith returned to the team last week after sitting out three games during a suspension. Smith did not play against Wisconsin, but the Gophers could use his scoring punch (4.7 ppg in 14.4 mpg).

  • Minnesota's shortened bench makes it even tougher to get a necessary scoring punch from its reserves. The Gophers received just 2 bench points in 42 minutes Saturday against Iowa, which means their reserves have been outscored in every Big Ten game this season.

  • Minnesota hasn't settled on a consistent lineup or rotation all year as interim coach Jim Molinari continues to reward his guys for working hard (or not working hard) during practice.

    PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters — F Dan Coleman, F Jamal Abu-Shamala, C Bryce Webster, G Lawrence McKenzie, G Limar Wilson. Key Subs — G Kevin Payton, F Jonathan Williams, G Lawrence Westbrook.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have a lot of guys that aren't quite ready. The ones that are ready are Lawrence (McKenzie), Spencer (Tollackson), Dan (Coleman) and Jamal (Abu-Shamala). The other ones are kind of feeling their way. They're just going to have to feel their way quicker." — Minnesota coach Jim Molinari to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


    Minnesota 65, Purdue 59

    Wisconsin 68, Minnesota 45

    Iowa 60, Minnesota 49


    Vs. Illinois, Wednesday, Jan. 17

    Vs. Northwestern, Saturday, Jan. 20

    At Michigan State, Wednesday, Jan. 24

  • Gopher Illustrated Top Stories