Fire Richard Pitino

PHOTO: BEN SOLOMON – RUTGERS

I’m going to try and stay as calm as possible through this post but to make any guarentees on how this piece turns out would be foolish.

I wrote about it this morning. The Gophers had to beat Rutgers tonight to keep real hopes of the NCAA Tournament alive. The Scarlet Knights are no joke this year, especially at home.

The Gophers played well enough to win. It wasn’t a great effort but this isn’t a team that will give you consistent great play. They just don’t have the point guard play for that type of consistency. But better coaching tonight could have led to much better results.

What bothers me most about Richard, hands down, is his inablity to adjust on the fly. He’s obviously a great young basketball mind and you have to believe he sees the problems (and strengths) of his offense.

Like he has struggled to do for the past two seasons, Pitino was unable to manipulate the offense to focus on what was working vs Rutgers compared to what wasn’t. The Knights clearly wanted to make the Gophers shoot from the outside and Gabe Kalscheur was making them pay early and often. He had 12 points on 4-4 from 3-pt land with 6:55 left to play in the first half. How did he finish? He went 2-2 the rest of the game and finished 100% from 3 and 7-10 from the field…. for 21 points total.

You have a guy who is shooting 100% from 3 and you only get him 6 attempts? I hope Mike D’antoni was watching this game and is leaving Richard Pitino hate voicemails afterward for such stupidity.

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Instead, you play Gabe defensively on Rutgers best offensive player throughout the game, tasking him with heavy defensive responsibility. Normally, I’m all for this. Gabe is a two-way player and will be one of the best in the Big Ten in that regard, throughout his career. However, when Gabe is the only guy who can knock down a shot and he is currently shooting 100% on the night, you change things around. Especially when Gabe was in foul trouble in the second half… it makes no sense.

Offensively, we continue to smash our head against the concrete wall with Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey. Coffey has been struggling offensively for most of Big Ten play and Murphy cannot play in the traffic that is being committed to him from defenses right now. At 6-4, he’s just not tall enough or skilled enough to handle those kinds of traps down low. But, he continues to force it and Richard continues to allow it. He also gets the ball at the top of the key WAY TOO OFTEN in this offense, when the defense knows he will never shoot it from there.

When the Gophers have to setup a half-court offense, I want to rip my eyeballs out of my head and smash them against the same concrete wall Richard Pitino uses when scheming his offense every week.

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What pisses me off the most about this week-over-week is that we continue to talk about the same problems… Nothing changes. The offensive scheme stays the same over and over and over and over and over and over…

After tonight’s game, Gabe is shooting 42% from the 3-pt line this season. That’s good for top-50 in the country. Yet, he’s only shot 154 threes. The leaders in that category have over 300 attempts on the season…

If you have a top-50 3-pt shooter on your team and your biggest team weakness is scoring on offense…. the fix (or at least part of it) should seem obvious, right?

Nope, continue to run your offense through a guy, who you just said last season, is better offensively when he’s getting his points from hard work and offensive rebounds… I just don’t get it.

I’ve tried to give Pitino the benefit of the doubt but with the recruiting cupboards essentially empty for 2019 and 2020 and what is soon to be 5 of 6 years without an NCAA Tournament appearance, it’s time for the next coaching chapter of the Minnesota Gophers.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan