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.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.