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Emerging from the Gopher Basketball Dumpster Fire… an Improved Isaiah Washington

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Unlike their new athletic facilities, the University of Minnesota’s 2017-18 Men’s basketball team hasn’t lived up to expectations. The Gophers entered the season ranked as the 15th best team in the country. As of Thursday, Richard Pitino’s squad sits 11th overall in the Big Ten. That’s out of 14, if you didn’t know. The name of the conference doesn’t make that easy.

Drop it Dropped like it’s hot, drop it dropped like it’s hot. Both on and off the court, the program’s year has been an absolute shit show.

Positives associated with the Maroon and Gold’s campaign have been few and far between. There are PLENTY of things you can read right now on the Gopher Basketball Team (on and off the court) that are PLENTY negative. Try Google or Twitter. I’m not here for that (and I started writing this before any of today’s events unfolded).

Let’s look to the future of this basketball team because that’s something we can be positive about.

Jordan Murphy’s emergence is a good place to start. The guy has been dominant. But, I want to look even farther than that, but not quite 2018-recruit-farther. We’ve been down that road many times already.

Despite losing eight straight games, over the past five of those defeats (Jan. 30th – Feb 13th), Freshman (and VERY highly-touted) Isaiah Washington has taken his game to the next level.

During the past handful of contests, the Harlem native has averaged 16.6 points (47% FG), 4.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds. Just as encouraging, despite a hiccup game (5 TOs) vs. the Hoosiers, he has only 3 total turnovers over the other eight halves of basketball.

In the Gophers’ contests on January 10th and 13th, Jelly shot a combined 5-25 from the floor. Per my Minnesota math, that’s only 20% shooting. Richard Pitino responded by holding the Freshman guard to a combined twenty minutes over the next four contests. Something appears to have clicked over that brief lapse in playing time.

Jelly’s current heater seems to have started on January 30th in Iowa when he was let out of his coach’s proverbial doghouse.

 

Any NCAA Tournament chances for Minnesota are dependent on what would be a miracle Big Ten Tournament championship. Since the year isn’t 1980 and this isn’t the Olympics (and we aren’t playing hockey), my mind is on the future. Our highly accoladed, aggressively confident, point guard of the future being light-years ahead of where he was just a few weeks ago, is good for my peace of brain.

To close, I want it to be known that I love me some Nate Mason. My Jelly centered mindset is no disrespect to our current starting ball-handler. With Mason being a senior and our conference record being 3-12, the situation is what is it. “On to the next one.”

With that being said, I hope the Gophers’ second leading scorer has one more thirty+ point performance before his collegiate career ends, next month. If ever there was a time for a final Mason explosion, and a much-needed Big Ten win, our next game seems like the one.

Johnny Minnesota @TheJohnnyMN
Minnesota Sports Fan MinnesotaSportsFan.com

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