How does a team look like a final four team in December turn into a team that needs to win at least a couple of games down the stretch to make the field of 65?
Is it overrated talent? Is it Tubby? Is it the conference? Answer. All of the above! Lets start with the talent…Rodney still can’t shoot the ball nor has his handle improved. When I was a kid, players like him were called soft. Dre Hollins is a 2 guard! Coleman is… well what is he? Trevor is not close to pre injury status. Austin Hollins is there best player, but he has a big hole in his game too. His handle is keeping him from being a star! Coaching? What is their identity? What is this team? Early in the season, defense turned to offense regularly. Now, they can’t score and they turn the ball over 20 plus times a game. Whats Tubby running on offense? Heard that question before? This is a serious problem since MN now has some really good high school ballers and this staff has not figured out that todays players do not want to play 47-45 games. Jones and Vaughn are not playing at MN. Sad but true.
The Big 10 is getting a lot of best conference chatter nationally so I have to give the experts some room here. My opinion for what its worth is that the Big 10 may have the best conference top to bottom rankings wise. But the eyeball test has me thinking that they will continue to lose ground in the Blue Chip talent chase overall. Yes, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State will continue to get their studs. But the conference has 12 teams! I watch Wisconsin play and I think, what is that! Northwestern plays keep away until the shot clock is down to 5 on every possession. Purdue, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State, MN. I just named the other 9 teams in the conference. Which one of them is headed to the sweet 16? Ok that was rhetorical. The referees call the games like they’re Rugby matches! Its brutal to watch. 19-18 at halftime is routine and 45 free throws is the norm. Are you kidding me! For every Zeller that decides to go to the Big 10, there are 10 Tyus Jones that say, the heck with that style of ball, I’m taking my talents to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina etc. etc.
Thats a problem people. Don’t be fooled. This conference is not a national threat from top to bottom. So what if they put 7 even 8 teams in the tourney! There are really 2 teams with any chance to do damage. Indiana and Michigan. So yes, on paper its a big time conference but the eyeball test has it with the same number of contenders as the ACC, Big East, and SEC.Heck Gonzaga has a real chance to do something this year. Again! So my point on this matter is that the perception of the conference inflates the early season rankings and expectations. At the end of the day, the Big 10 routinely puts 6 to 8 teams in the tournament and most years theres 1 or 2 that get deep.
My conclusion is that the U of M basketball team is underachieving but not nearly as much as you think. Tubby probably has to go. I’ve met him and he’s a great man and has led the team back from the Monson era. They are now respectable after the Pryzbiila, Rickert, and Humphries debacle. But he has become stubborn in his approach to todays college game. He doesn’t adapt to his talent like those guys coaching at Duke, North Carolina, Louisville etc. And his biggest failure is his inability to secure a top of the line point guard. Its just time. It’ll be expensive so its 50/50 that he he stays. Lastly, the conference is not doing itself any favors. They continue to pride themselves on being the roughest conference in the country. But the appeal of this conference to the bluest of blue chippers continues to fall behind. The Big East tried to sustain that from the Georgetown, Seton Hall and Syracuse days of the mid 80’s. Syracuse adjusted faster than the rest and are consistently good. The rest haven’t and continue to try to catch up.
Talent makes conferences good! Name the last dominant player from the Big 10 to excel at the NBA level. Take your time. I’ll wait.