Struggling men’s hoops team carries on

Jabari Ritchie

With Minnesota’s men’s basketball team on a two-game losing streak following a promising start to its Big Ten season, the Gophers have a timely midweek-bye before they host No. 20 Ohio State on Saturday.

Minnesota (10-7, 3-3 Big Ten) won three straight conference games for the first time in three seasons before dropping two road games to unranked Wisconsin and Michigan.

“We dropped the last couple games, but the attitude’s still the same,” forward Dusty Rychart said Tuesday. “We’re still positive. We want to be the best we can and we still have a chance to be one of the top teams in the Big Ten. We’ve just got to come through, play full games and, when we do have a lead we can’t let it slip like we did against Michigan.”

Inconsistent performances led to the Gophers’ recent losses. A 17-4 run came too late in the loss to the Badgers and the Wolverines overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half of last Saturday’s contest.

“I have no clue what’s causing it or how we can fix it at all,” Rychart said. “Guys just aren’t playing the whole 40 minutes and they’re letting up. We have down spurts, and we need to bring that down to once or twice a game instead of four or five.”

Even in many of its victories, Minnesota has struggled to produce from start to finish.

“It’s just a phase, but we’ve basically been going through it all year,” forward Rick Rickert said about Minnesota’s struggles. “We haven’t reached our peak yet. We haven’t played as well as we’ve wanted to, so we’re definitely not where we want to be yet. That’s still yet to come.

“We’ll have this whole week to prepare for these guys and they’re a very good basketball team. We’re going to be busting our butts in practice.”

The Gophers, who are just 1-6 away from Williams Arena, will also look to take advantage of the three-game homestand beginning Saturday.

“The road has always been a problem, especially in the conference,” Rychart said. “It’s hard to win on the road in the Big Ten. You feel more comfortable when you’re at home and you have the fans behind you, so it’s definitely going to be nice playing here again.”

Bennett expected to play

Senior Travarus Bennett, who injured his back against the Wolverines last weekend, had an appointment with a chiropractor on Tuesday.

Bennett, who has started at guard for most of the season, is not expected to miss any games. He has not practiced since the injury.

Jabari Ritchie covers men’s basketball
and welcomes comments at [email protected]