Yesterday, I encouraged Minnesota Vikings fans on Facebook to turn their attention to the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team. Now, I ask GSB (Goethe Sports Blog) Nation to do the same.
What do you want first? Good news or bad news? Let’s go with the bad.
The Vikings are not a good football team. I would say up until two weeks ago, fans were holding out hope they would get things turned around. But after back-to-back clunkers against division rivals Chicago and Green Bay, it’s pretty safe to say at 3-7 that the season is over.
To make matters worse, those Vikings fans ready to run head coach Brad Childress out of the snow-filled Upper Midwest will have to tolerate his presiding over the team for at least one more week, according to this story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
NOTE: Scratch that above statement. The Vikings fired Childress and promoted Leslie Frazier to interim coach a couple hours after I wrote this. I’ll leave the rest of the post as is for now.
After watching the Vikings the last couple of weeks, I’ve noted how surprisingly deep the Vikings problems run:
- Any discussion about the Vikings starts and ends with Childress. I’ll never understand how their best player – Adrian Peterson – is limited to just 15 touches in a game like he was Sunday. And in his last three games, he hasn’t reached 20 carries in any of them. Their second-best player on offense – Percy Harvin – had just two catches for 12 yards. Chilly has to find a way to get Peterson and Harvin more involved.
- Brett Favre is brutal right now. And unlike any other team that has a struggling QB, I don’t think Vikings brass is capable of sitting Favre. I know it’s hard to believe for some people, but I think we’re at the point where Tarvaris Jackson gives you the best possible chance to win. In an NFL that’s built to encourage offense, Favre has 10 TD passes and 17 interceptions. Wanna take a guess how many QBs with enough pass attempts to qualify for QB rating have thrown more picks than TDs this season? Just five. And three of the other four have the difference between the two categories at two or less. Favre, by the way, has the worst QB rating of any player who has played in more than six games this season.
- The Vikings corners and safeties are having a really difficult time right now. Chris Cook, of course, got plenty of attention Sunday, and not just for his struggles on the field. He got into an argument with defensive end Ray Edwards on the sidelines that that TV cameras caught, too.
I could go on and on, but let’s get to those beloved Gophers.
The Minnesota men’s basketball team won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship Sunday. In back-to-back games, they beat the No. 8-ranked team in the country – North Carolina – and a Final Four participant from a season ago.
Sunday’s game was pretty well-played, much moreso than Friday’s win over the Tar Heels. West Virginia had a guard that in the first half couldn’t miss in Casey Mitchell, who finished with 27 points. Yet the Gophers built a one-point lead at halftime, then kept a slim lead throughout much of the second half.
I’ve heard the naysayers point out that the Mountaineers aren’t even ranked and that the Tar Heels hardly looked like the eighth-best team in the country. I have two points for you:
- Aren’t teams looking bad against the Gophers a byproduct of Tubby Smith’s defensive system?
- The Gophers are doing all of this without their best player in guard Devoe Joseph, who is serving an indefinite suspension for violating team rules.
The Gophers look really deep right now. They have had depth the last few years. But that depth is now starting to really develop.
Al Nolen was superb on Sunday. Still like to see him cut down on taking long-range shots, but he’s pretty adept at doing anything else.
Trevor Mbakwe is a man among boys down in the post. And Blake Hoffarber was doing his thing as well, knocking down open 3s, including a big 3-pointer in the final minute to give the Gophers a lead on Sunday. And South Dakota’s own Colten Iverson had a great game Sunday too.
Although I don’t really need to tell North Dakota State fans any of this. Bison fans can see for themselves what the Gophers look like on Wednesday when NDSU travels to Williams Arena. Should be fun.