Minnesota pulled off one of the season’s more miraculous turnarounds on Tuesday night, going from a team that had just lost to Iowa and Ohio State by a combined 47 points the week before to a team that managed to knock off the No. 1 team in the country in Indiana.
We know how it happened — Trevor Mbakwe came out swinging, and Indiana just didn’t have an answer inside.
The ‘Why?’ is the more interesting angle.
How can a team that looks like they have given up on their season turnaround and put together one of their best — and, in all likelihood, the game in which they put out the most effort — performances?
Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune has the story, and according to her it all stems from a player’s only meeting the team had over the weekend:
And as the team talked, that anger and discontent rose.
“It was a little bit emotional,” Austin Hollins said. “We definitely got everything out there that we needed to and we talked about it as a team. We talked about what we needed to do as a team moving forward and holding each other accountable.”
Whereas in the past, a couple of players would do the bulk of the talking in such situations, Andre Hollins said this time, everyone got involved. There was open discussion, tossing around ideas, different perspectives. Players believe the session had something to do with Tuesday’s victory that yielded a memorable court-storm at the Barn, and they hope the perspective gained can help the team finish strong.
It will be interesting to see where Minnesota goes from here. It looked like they had righted their ship earlier this season when a win over Wisconsin led to an all-out locker-room dance party — Tubby Smith has some moves, and apparently likes Ke$ha — but that was followed by the losses to Ohio State and Iowa.
At 7-8 in the Big Ten, Minnesota has three very winnable games left on their schedule. It’s tough to imagine them playing their way out of the NCAA tournament at this point, but the last thing any team wants to do is to back their way into the postseason.
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.
And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.
The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.
“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”
Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.
“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.
Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.
Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.
He also happens to be pretty athletic.
Don’t believe me?
Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:
Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.
Not bad, young fella.
After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.
The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.
A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.
“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”
While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.
Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.
Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.
The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.
Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.
(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)
The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.
At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.
The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.