Losing teams have hope
A glance at this week's Associated Press Top 25 reveals the following four nuggets: No. 6: Texas A&M No. 16: Air Force No. 19: Clemson No. 20: Washington State No. 24: Virginia Tech The point? Those are five reasons why fans of the Gophers sh...
A glance at this week's Associated Press Top 25 reveals the following four nuggets:
No. 6: Texas A&M
No. 16: Air Force
No. 19: Clemson
No. 20: Washington State
No. 24: Virginia Tech
The point? Those are five reasons why fans of the Gophers shouldn't completely give up long-term hope in the program. Because despite the current five-game losing streak and the team's inability to score, the five currently ranked programs are examples of how programs can be turned around.
Winning immediately is still difficult, but winning in three or four seasons can be accomplished. Consider:
In 2003 - four seasons ago - Washington State went 7-20 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-10. In that same season, Virginia Tech went 11-18 overall and 4-12 in the Big East. And Air Force was 12-16 overall and 3-11 in the Mountain West.
Three seasons ago, Texas A&M lost all 16 of its Big 12 games and went 7-21 overall. At the same time, Clemson was only 10-18 in 2004 with a 3-13 record in ACC play.
With the exception, perhaps, of Texas A&M, none of the programs has made the leap into the Top 25 by landing a lot of incredible recruits. Instead, they've improved by recruiting good players and developing them.
They've also improved by playing very good defense. Texas A&M (second), Air Force (sixth) and Washington State (18th) all rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. Virginia Tech is 38th and Clemson 58th.
Basketball programs can be turned around more quickly than football programs - and that gives the Gophers hope.
Michigan's 71-58 loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday night wasn't a surprise, but the Wolverines' 19 turnovers were cause for concern.
So, even though Michigan is 16-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten, Tommy Amaker's team has a lot of work to do.
Saturday's game at Indiana begins an important stretch that includes games vs. Iowa, at Ohio State, vs. the Gophers and at Michigan State. Winning one of those three road games would be a big help to Michigan's NCAA hopes.
Reality or just talk?
Watch the Texas Longhorns for five minutes and it's hard to keep from being captivated by the play of freshman Kevin Durant.
With Durant scoring 23.9 points and grabbing 11.1 rebounds per game, he's drawn some comparison to Carmelo Anthony. It was four seasons ago when Anthony led Syracuse to a national championship in his only season of college basketball.
Texas coach Rick Barnes doesn't want to hear that kind of talk.
"We're not a Fab Five or Syracuse remake until we start guarding someone," Barnes told the Dallas Morning News. "We've lost games where we scored 100 points twice this season. That's unacceptable. We've got to defend or we won't be anything but a team that comes close."
Stephen Sir, the Northern Arizona guard who played at Cretin-Derham Hall, has always been a excellent outside shooter. But since Jan. 1, he has been vinyl-car-seat-in-July hot.
In seven games in 2007, Sir has made 36 three-pointers with 66.7 percent accuracy. To put that into perspective, that's as many as the Gophers as a team have made in their past eight games.
This and that
-How many other high-major coaches other than Tennessee's Bruce Pearl would paint their chest in school colors and hang in the student section for a women's game? That's why Pearl is so refreshing compared with the growing number of paranoid, control-freak college basketball coaches.