BOSTON–Following a strong three-game run in Vancouver that included wins over two Power 5 schools, Minnesota came into Boston College undefeated and flirting with a top 25 ranking. That ranking will have to wait, though, after B.C. pulled away in the second half, winning 68-56.
Some thoughts on Minnesota’s loss and the path moving forward.
Minnesota struggled badly from the 3-point line, shooting just 17% (5-30), with Dupree McBrayer finishing 0-8. Minnesota’s been better this season behind the arc, in large part thanks to Gabe Kalscheur, who’s arguably been Minnesota’s second-best player this season. The improved shooting abandoned them Monday, however, and made it difficult for Minnesota to put together any kind of sustainable run.
Kalscheur finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 28 minutes, but Minnesota’s other two heralded freshmen, Daniel Oturu and Jarvis Omersa, largely struggled Monday in their first true collegiate road game. Oturu was active on the glass, but found himself in early foul trouble and had trouble finishing around the rim. Omersa played a bit out of control at times—finishing with no points and four fouls in 16 minutes–though that’s not unexpected from a freshman.
Oturu and Omersa’s early struggles, though, have highlighted just how good Kalscheur’s been this season, both in his production and poise. He didn’t seem at all fazed by his first road game, and continues to play calm but purposeful basketball. Just six games into his college career, he’s already playing like a seasoned vet.
Before fouling out with five minutes left, Jordan Murphy collected another double-double, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. His foul troubles, though, highlight how much Minnesota needs Eric Curry back. Matz Stockman has played fairly well in limited action, but Curry is more than just a big body—his rebounding ability and mid-range game will really help Minnesota when Murphy and Oturu get into foul trouble, which has already happened a few times on the young season. If he’s healthy, it wouldn’t be surprising if Curry’s in the starting lineup when the Big Ten season gets fully going in January.
Isaiah Washington showed flashes of the game that made him a highly-touted recruit last season, including two pretty no-look passes to Michael Hurt for easy layups. Other times, though, he dribbled himself into trouble, leading to a forced shot or turnover. After struggling with his jumper most of last season, Washington continues to look for it this year. On Monday, he finished 2-10, and on the season he’s 9-43. Getting production out of the sophomore backup point guard is going to be critical to the success of Minnesota this season. The NCAA denying Marcus Carr’s waiver to play immediately looms large.
After traveling to the west and east coast over the past week, things don’t get any easier for Minnesota moving forward. Up next is a matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium against an Oklahoma State team that already has wins over Memphis and then-No.19 LSU. 48 hours later they face No. 16 Ohio State in Columbus, followed by Nebraska at home. Nebraska won on the road at Clemson earlier tonight, and may be ranked when they come to Minneapolis on Dec 5. The good news for Gophers fans is the tough non-conference schedule, plus a Big Ten that looks to be strong this year after a down year last season, should give Minnesota plenty of chances to pad their resume come March.