Tough To Win Basketball Games if You Can’t Put the Ball in the Basket

In 1891, a man named James Naismith invented the game of “basketball” in Springfield Massachusetts. The object of the game was to score more points than the other team, by putting a ball through (or in) a basket. It’s evolved a lot since 1891 but the main objective remains the same, as eloquently lays it out:

The ultimate objective of basketball, like most team sports, is to outscore your opponent. In basketball, players score points by throwing the ball through the basket, an act known as shooting

Someone should tell that to the Gopher Men’s Basketball team.

Last night, the Gophers played in Champaigne, Illinois vs the #19 Fighting Illini, where they shot a vomit-worthy 19/60 from the field. That is a real statistic and good for (in case math isn’t your thing) 31.7% from the field.

It’s hard not to laugh at those numbers because they are almost impossible. I might be able to shoot 30% if you blindfolded me and put a beeper on the rim…

The Gophers only gave up 24 points in the first half defensively, but were still trailing by 4, entering halftime. That’s right, we barely made it to 20 points in 20 minutes. 1 point/minute (again, for those who struggle with math)…

But wait… it can get worse. In fact, it was worse just one game before, in a loss @ Michigan State. The Gophers couldn’t even get above 30% in that game, shooting 16/57 from the field (28.1%). Again…. not a typo.

Pitino’s crew has struggled to shoot all season, topping 50% just 7 times in their 21 games (all wins), and just twice in Big Ten play (Michigan, Ohio State). Their record though, says they don’t even have to get to 50% to win games.

The Gophers have won EVERY SINGLE GAME THIS SEASON WHERE THEY SHOOT OVER 40%… and even snuck out victories over Penn State and Florida International, shooting just 38% from the field. Imagine only having to shoot 40% to win games… and still being just a .500 team.

None of this should be a thing… that’s the worst part. Gabe Kalscheur has one of the purest shots I’ve ever seen… yet it never goes in and Payton Willis is always hurt. Alihan Demir graduate transferred here as a stretch-4 who could shoot the 3, but we’re actually lucky if he even hits backboard.

Richard Pitino planned for this team to be lethal from the outside, opening the lanes for Carr and Oturu to go to work. Instead, they’ve been one of the worst shooting teams in the Big Ten, leaving Oturu on an island by himself with Marcus Carr trying to hard to swim to him with a lifejacket.

The bright side of this blog was 2 paragraphs ago… just make 2 out of every 5 shots, and you’ll win game and go dancing next month. Why does that feel like a lot to ask?

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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