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Last night was an embarrassment for Richard Pitino and the Minnesota Gopher basketball team. Needing at least 5 of their last 6 to finish the regular season with dance shoes on, Indiana at The Barn was on the easier side of that upcoming stretch; which still has #9 Maryland at home, Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, and the Hoosiers back at their place on the docket.
But winning wasn’t part of last night’s Gopher game plan. The shooting was terrible (surprise, surprise) and the effort and defense faded to close out the 2nd half. The Gophers looked like a defeated team; not just in last night’s must-win game, but for the season.
There’s a lot wrong with this basketball team right now and it’s clear they have lost all confidence in their shooting, which eventually impacts the psyche that surrounds the rest of the game.
They also lack depth everywhere, especially in the post and at PG. Marcus Carr and Daniel Oturu might as well have invisible shock collars that deliver 1000 volts if they breach the painted boundary where it’s rumored breaks and water exist…
That leads to (a lot) more minutes for somebody who should never be allowed to touch, let alone dribble or shoot a basketball, during 40 minutes of a live major-college basketball contest… Alihan Demir.
If you aren’t sure where Alihan Demir came from, it’s Drexel University, where he played for his second two years of college eligibility. He played his Freshman season at somewhere called Central Wyoming College, where he supposedly dominated.
While at Drexel, his numbers were good too, averaging nearly 15 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Watching his film from then, he can shoot, rebound, and looks like an incredible passer too… He is clearly one of the better players on the floor… which leads to a conclusion we already knew was obvious…
It’s more crystal clear than ever, and take notes NDSU football fans, how massive the gap is between high-major college sports, and what is played at lower D-1 levels.
Sure, you can show up with your best game of the season, when given ONE opportunity, like smaller basketball teams who make it into March Madness OR NDSU football going in for their Daytona 500 to start the season vs a sleepy Iowa Hawkeyes team…
…but if you mix low-tier D-1 talent amongst the best in the world of that age group, the cream always rises to the top and the sticky residue that nobody wants falls to the bottom.
And that’s exactly what has happened for much of the season, while Alihan Demir has been on the floor. It’s easy to see when you watch…. He isn’t as fast, tall, or athletic as everyone else and he doesn’t overshadow those deficiencies with additional skill or basketball smarts.
He’s dropped from splits of | 15 / 6.4 / 2.5 | at Drexel, down to | 7.2 / 4.8 / 1.5 | in his only season here in Minnesota. I guess that will happen when you go from a “strength of schedule rating” (according to sports-reference.cbb.com) of -2.5 at Drexel to 11.85 (toughest in the country) here.
When someone sticks out this badly with his poor play, you don’t even need the numbers. Check my TL from last night, because it was obvious. He had turnovers, was missing assignments and (like always — and like everyone else) missing shots.
Can we cut Alihan Demir?— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) February 20, 2020
Richard Pitino should be fired just for playing Alihan Demir this entire game.— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) February 20, 2020
His missed shots are so much uglier that others, though. I’ve seen more of his 3-pointers go in via the bank, than shots that hit nylon, or even rim, first. Alihan Demir just isn’t very good. It’s not even his fault. I’m sure he works very hard…. facts are just facts.
The blame for this blog about how bad Alihan Demir is, belongs on the shoulders of Richard Pitino. Last night, he just continued to take Jarvis Omersa and Isaiah Ihnen off the floor, to be replaced with Demir.
Omersa brings energy, toughness and effort that is unmatched by anyone on the floor, including Alihan. He can’t shoot worth a shit and he’s not a very good dribbler… but neither is Demir, and Jarvis isn’t awkward and unathletic, to boot.
Ihnen might not play the PF naturally, but the basketball world is changing. The kid is 6-9, with a 7-4 wingspan and will knock down outside shots when left open. He needs help with offensive aggressiveness and I’m sure he’s raw on defense but what Freshman coming over from Germany wouldn’t struggle with those things?
Again, Ihnen isn’t the perfect option… but he’s better than Alihan Demir.
I’m sure Richard Pitino promised certain things to the Grad-Transfer when he was combing the market last offseason, and Pitino seems like a man of his word… but we had certain expectations for Alihan when he was brought in to start next to Dan Oturu, too.
Richard gives him 26 minutes per game, easily living up to whatever playing time promises he made… and in return has been provided with absolute garbage for that time.
Put him on the bench, see what you have in the youngsters, and let’s move on from this Drexel experiment.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan