Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nut Cuttin' Time for the Gopher Basketball Program

Duke fan and all I still tune in to Gopher games and I do pay attention to them, even if for the past few years it’s only to have ammo to make fun of Ken with.  This year I paid attention early to see what Duke would be matching up with in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving.  After seeing a "game" team matchup against my (now #1 ranked) Duke squad, I decided I may have to continue to pay attention to this team.  This time I'd be paying attention for good basketball, not just to make fun of Ken. 

Tonight is going to be the most interesting game for the Gophers to a person like me since that Duke game back in November, and it only gets more interesting over the next week.  The Gophers are ranked #8 and still only have that one loss to Duke on their record taking on a surprisingly good #12 Illinois team, in Champaign.

“This is it, finally Tubby has his team!” 

Hmm…I feel like I’ve heard that before but when?  OH WAIT, every year Tubby has been here at this very same time of year!

Class, Prof. Ben's history class is in session, ready yourself for some learnin's ya hear:

2007/08 season, Minnesota is 10-1 after a win over Kennesaw State on December 29, one more game before they head into Big Ten play and everyone is thinking this Minnesota squad is heading to the tournament in Tubby’s first year.  Instead they go 8-10 in Big Ten play and finish 20-14 and mediocre, though vastly improved from the year before no doubt.

2008/09 season, Minnesota is 16-1 following a OT win over Wisconsin in Madison on January 15, their only loss against a top ranked Michigan State team.  This team isn’t just making the tournament; they are likely going to make a run.  Again though they fall apart in Big Ten play (9-9) and finish the year 22-11 after a rather lame performance against Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2009/10 season, Minnesota is 11-3 on January 2, with three legitimate losses against Portland (yes it was legitimate), Texas A&M and Miami.  Winning 7 in a row after a 3 game skid, they looked poised to make a better Big Ten run.  Uh oh, I see a trend though; they fall apart in Big Ten play, go 9-9 again and lose again rather lamely in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, this time to Xavier.  They finish the season 21-14.

2010/11 season, Minnesota is 11-1 on December 23, heading into Big Ten play YET again looking to keep up their early season success.  Instead, they go 6-12 in conference and don’t make any post season tourney to speak of, with a final record of 17-14.

2011/12 season, Minnesota is 12-1 heading into B1G play on December 27.  THIS IS IT BABY!  WE’RE COMIN!!!!  Or not, 6-12 record in conference, leads to a NIT berth and a 23-15 overall record once all is said and done.

"Yeah but, they had transfers...injuries...yeah but....blah blah blah" 

I hear you Tubby/Gopher apologists and I don't give two pieces of Trident for a slap on the back about your excuses.

My point, the Gophers have been here before…A LOT OF TIMES!  It’s nut cuttin’ time for the boys from The Barn.  Prove you can win in the B1G or stop getting your fan’s hopes up.  I feel for my good friend Ken, every year he is hopeful at this time of year, only to be down in the dumps come February.

I even believe this is Tubby’s best team, thing is, this maybe as strong as the B1G (or Big Ten or whatever the hell the conference is now) has been under Tubby’s regime also.  So even with this better luck (severe lack of transfers and injuries this year…shockingly) and better talent the Gophers are still very capable of falling apart, and spiraling back into mediocrity from this lofty early conference season position...again.  The next week will likely let Gopher fans know if they need to again go back to their snowshoeing hobby they have picked up every February and March, or if this year, they can continue to watch their beloved Gophers. 

At #12 Illinois, at #5 Indiana and then home to currently #2 Michigan next Thursday, it’s a stretch any team would struggle with but one the Gophers have to navigate to keep my, and likely many other Gopher fan’s, budding faith in them.

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