A time has come where it is no longer acceptable to look down upon the Gophers. Coach Pitino showed that he understood their change in status when he spoke to his team before their home game against Ohio State on Sunday, by the way, click here for the latest college football lines.
The men’s basketball coach couldn’t ignore the fact that his team’s pair of straight wins on the road over Northwestern and Purdue had garnered them some much-needed recognition, and it is in such situations that many teams often fall to complacency.
The Gophers cannot afford to let their gaze slip away from the prize, and Coach Pitino told the team as much, reminding them of the hard work and determination that had eventually driven them to succeed.
A failure to keep these ingredients in mind could just as easily see the Gophers fall to new depths of despair; last season’s 8-23 record is the sort of nightmare the Gophers need to avoid.
And things are obviously panning out far better this season; fans probably didn’t expect the team to be ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 25, but that is what will happen if the Gophers beat Ohio State on Sunday.
Pitino’s four-year reign at the Gophers hasn’t seen them achieve such success, so Pitino will be pleased. His speeches do not sound quite as hollow as they used to, especially seeing as his team isn’t as troubled as previously presumed.
Pitino has always lauded the benefit of not being ranked; in fact, he has claimed before that he doesn’t even want to be ranked, primarily because it fed into the narrative of the Gophers being underdogs and there were ways to use such situations to the benefit of his side.
The Gophers are fighting for an invitation to the NCAA tournament, but the Big Ten Schedule is still young. There is no telling how things will pan out in the long run. The Gophers lost to Michigan State in overtime.
The fact that that is their only loss in conference play is very encouraging. At the moment, Pitino wants to discourage his team from thinking that they have arrived. Such complacency can lead to teams being humbled in the most humiliating ways.
Pitino has continued to encourage his players to forget all talk about rankings and postseason play; they can only afford to contend with the challenges of the present, and only by staying humble can they keep progressing.
The Gophers haven’t been ranked since 2013 when Tubby Smiths was still in charge. Starting Center Reggie Lynch has admitted that talk of the team being ranked is somewhat rife amongst his colleagues.
Like any other athlete, the prospect of being ranked appeals to them. In fact, it drives them. However, that doesn’t mean they are taking their eyes off the ball. The Big Ten is very competitive this season.
None of their teams has managed to really pull away. A number of teams are presently bunched up together. Michigan State and Wisconsin are the favorites at the moment; though, the Gophers could become real contenders in the weeks to come.
Tag(s): Gopher Basketball