Loss Leaves Gophers with Questions

A season-ending loss left the Gophers without many answers in a season that featured the "resignation" of their head coach and ended on an eight-game losing streak.

Minnesota's whole goal this season was not to relive last season.

That desire provoked Dan Monson's "resignation" in late November, as the Gophers administration foresaw another season falling far short of expectations.

The Gophers weren't as good as they were at this time a year ago — as evidenced by their nine-game losing streak — including three losses to Michigan.

They dropped a 49-40 first-round game against the Wolverines in the Big Ten tournament.

"It's a broken record, but I don't know what else to tell them," interim coach Jim Molinari told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "They're all going to be back, so they can be one of the teams next year in February playing for NCAA bids or NCAA position. That's basically the situation."

REPLAY: Michigan overcame a rough start and an even more ragged shooting performance to knock off Minnesota 49-40 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in Chicago.

Michigan, moving on to face No. 1 Ohio State on Friday, got the Gophers despite shooting 27 percent from the field.

Minnesota was led by Spencer Tollackson's 15 points. He missed free throws with under two minutes to play that would have cut it to a two-possession game.

The Gophers lost for the 22nd time this season, shooting 31.8 percent from the field and making just 9 of 17 foul shots.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • Minnesota finished ahead of only Northwestern in Big Ten scoring offense (57.3 points per game). It's a hard thing to figure because the Gophers ranked fourth in 3-point shooting (36.6 percent) and third in free-throw percentage (.728) in league play.

    Alas, the Gophers committed more turnovers per game than anybody except Michigan State — and forced the fewest turnovers in the league which kept them from getting many easy baskets.

  • Minnesota finished dead-last in turnover margin and assist-turnover ratio. Wisconsin won the first category and Ohio State the second, which helps to explain why those two teams are among the top five in the country.

  • If any Minnesota player is going to earn all-Big Ten honors, it figures to be junior F Dan Coleman.

    In league play, Coleman ranked among the top 12 in scoring (13.6 points per game) and among the top five in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and blocks (1.44 bpg). He also converted 78 percent of his free throws.

  • Minnesota's active roster featured four juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen — including six players who had never played for the Gophers before.

    The juniors received 86 starts, the sophomores received 39 starts and the freshmen got 25 starts. First-year Gophers, which included transfers Lawrence McKenzie and Limar Wilson, received 67 starts.

    Clearly, though, the firepower belongs to the class that can be seniors next winter. McKenzie, Dan Coleman and Spencer Tollackson combined for 1,153 of the team's 1,840 points in the regular season.

  • Minnesota's current eight-game losing streak is the program's longest since the 2003-04 season, when the Gophers dropped eight straight Big Ten games from January 13 through Feb. 8.

    The program hasn't endured a nine-game losing streak since Clem Haskins' first squad dropped its final 16 games in 1986-87.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's hard. It's very hard. Young people love to win. Coaches love to win. You're working. You're working and you're not seeing any reward." — Interim Minnesota coach Jim Molinari said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

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