For the Gophers to Succeed, Isaiah Washington Needs to be Better
As the calendar year comes to an end, so does Gopher Basketball’s non-conference schedule. 2018 will feature 16 straight Big Ten matchups before Minnesota Men’s Basketball begins postseason play.
For the Maroon and Gold to fulfill expectations, and finish in the top 3-4 in the Big Ten, Isaiah Washington needs to be better.
Isaiah Washington entered this game shooting 36 percent from the field, lowest among #Gophers that average more than a minute per game. He’s opened this game 1 for 9. https://t.co/Pq6YiMyW0g
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) December 30, 2017
The above Tweet was sent during Saturday’s game vs. Harvard. Washington shot 3-8 the rest of the way. He finished the victory 4-17 from the floor, in over 35 minutes of action, with starting PG Nate Mason out with an injury.
The 6’1″ Freshman guard deserves all the credit in the world for the 13 rebounds he grabbed vs. the Brainiacs. Despite the shooting problems, he kept his head-up and continued playing with effort, and that’s fantastic. Coach Pitino and I LOVE that shit.
With that said, in Big Ten play, Minnesota can’t afford games where Isaiah Washington shoots below 30%.
Another tough outing for Jelly came in November vs. Miami. Obviously, that was a difficult stage for a Freshman to make his NCAA D1 starting lineup debut. Regardless, the 5 turnovers he had in 27 minutes greatly contributed to that loss.
Despite flashes, the start to his college/Gopher career hasn’t been as smooth as some fans imagined it would.
Isaiah Washington brought the JELLY to college ? (via @BigTenNetwork) pic.twitter.com/cs7om5eVtz
— Overtime (@overtime) December 30, 2017
It’s better to make the mistakes now. If Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer can stay healthy the rest of the way, their early season injuries may turn out to be a blessing. With those two banged up, Washington’s been able to procure more minutes out of the gates, than he would have with those two at full-health.
Struggling at your new job is a tale as old as time. Not even a sandwich-making wizard, former-Subway superstar is hanging “Employee of the Month” plaques after their first few shifts at Jimmy Johns. Initially, you don’t even know how to punch out. Think about that… Millions of people every year, literally don’t know how to leave work.
A month later, that same Jimmy Johns’ employee is firing Dave from Wisconsin for stealing cheese (never trust a Sconnie around cheese). Things change quickly. Ask Jimmy. Even he took a little while to warm up to his new teammates.
With his fellow Sandwich Artists forced to miss time, Isaiah Washington has been putting in double-shifts. Hopefully, ironing out the wrinkles now, will pay off during the proverbial lunch-hour.
Does Isaiah Washington’s game have the ability to translate to Big Ten Basketball?
Does Jimmy Butler get buckets? There’s a reason Jelly was so highly coveted coming out of high school. He (rated an 85 overall by ESPN) was a MUCH higher rated recruit than: Nate Mason (77), Jordan Murphy (77), & Reggie Lynch (60).
For the Gophers to “succeed” this year, he needs to crank his level of play up a notch (or two). As for what “succeed” in this realm means, that depends on who you ask. I’ve been defining it as a Top 3 Big Ten regular season finish and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. As this stage, there’s zero wavering from that definition.
Along with injuries, lack of bench scoring has been a worry throughout the first almost two months of the season. The playmaker that is Isaiah Washington has the solution to that problem written all over him.
Assuming Mason and McBrayer can get, and stay healthy, Jelly will move back to the role in which Richard Pitino originally envisioned. With better play out of the New York City sensation, this Minnesota Gophers team will be just fine.
And as for Isaiah’s future as a sandwich artist (or Big Ten PG)? He’ll be JUST fine. Actually, REALLY fine.
COMING TOMORROW TO VICE SPORTS: At the age of 18, @Jellyfam_Dimes is both a New York City legend and a basketball anomaly. pic.twitter.com/RKF7srKGqQ
— VICE Sports (@VICESports) July 13, 2017
Johnny Minnesota @TheJohnnyMN
Minnesota Sports Fan MinnesotaSportsFan.com