Well, the Huskies’ season is over and perhaps fittingly it ended with a game where they struggled early on, made a furious comeback late only to come up short. So many games were like that this year. The season was like that this year.
From my game story …
But the Huskies essentially lost the game in a frustrating first half when Washington (24-11) looked sluggish on defense, stagnant on offense and timid when it came to physical play.
You can list the losses – Duke, South Dakota State, California, Oregon – where the Huskies played that way.
But coach Lorenzo Romar was quick to mention the most frustrating loss of all.
“It was a little like when we played against Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament opening game,” Romar said.
Ah yes, that game. The game that was a major reason Washington was playing in the NIT and not the NCAA tournament. The game that best summed up the Huskies’ season.
Surely, it couldn’t happen again.
But it did. Minnesota dominated the Huskies in the first half, comfortably leading at halftime, 38-26.
The Gophers (23-14) did pretty much what they wanted offensively and defensively. Minnesota shot 16-for-31 from the field in the first half. Of those 16 field goals, 10 were assisted baskets. Of those 16 field goals, seven were dunks and three were layups.
One thing that clearly miffed Romar is the way his team played in the first half. He didn’t think they played together as a group. And these two quotes were quite telling without him fully coming out and saying it …
You knew they were going to bring it and they were going to bring it the right way. Hats off to them, because they are a true team, and that’s what you really want your team to be, a team.
Well, any time you’re fighting back, it’s always tough. But in the second half, I thought we were, a team. And when you are a team and everybody is playing together on one accord, you don’t realize that you’re in the trenches as much because you’re just playing. You don’t care about anything but playing together and making the next possession go your way on the offensive or defensive end.
Romar really emphasized the word team in each of those comments. He didn’t point any fingers at any one player in particular. But people can make their assumptions.
Also Tony Wroten was benched for almost a 10-minute span in the second half. There were some reports that he had the flu. Romar said he was unaware that Wroten was sick. And when asked if Wroten was sitting out because of illness, Romar quickly said, “No.”
Wroten was benched because of poor play on the defensive end. He gave up too many easy baskets. He let guys get buy him and on about four occasions didn’t hustle back in transition. Honestly, if Romar had another option late in the game when he decide to go to a smaller lineup – like Scott Suggs – I don’t know that Wroten would have been back in the game.
The reason for the eFG% stems largely from a first half in which the Gophers shot over 50 percent thanks to seven dunks and three layups.