Gophers try to talk it out

The team is hoping to communicate on the court more after a three-game skid.

Minnesota guard Nate Mason drives the ball to the basket in the second half against the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 21, 2015 in Madison, Wis.

Amanda Snyder, Daily File Photo

Minnesota guard Nate Mason drives the ball to the basket in the second half against the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 21, 2015 in Madison, Wis.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers have struggled this season to find a groove because of a lack of talking.
 
During Minnesota’s three-game losing streak, the team wasn’t conversing much on either end of the floor, and the team sunk down to 5-5.
 
“Communication is a big key,” sophomore guard Nate Mason said. “We feel like communication can help us offensively and defensively more than anything.”
 
The Gophers have been turning the ball over often because the players aren’t talking on the court.
 
Minnesota has 36 turnovers in its last three games. Seventeen of them came in the team’s double-overtime loss to South Dakota on Dec. 5.
 
Communication issues have also hurt the Gophers defense. The Gophers are second to last in scoring defense among Big Ten teams, allowing 74.3 points per game. The team allowed South Dakota State to shoot almost 50 percent in a blowout loss last Tuesday.
 
Minnesota also gave up 13 points off of nine turnovers in the game and 12 points off of fast breaks.
 
“Transition defense is about taking great shots because if you take great shots, you’re hopefully going to make them and you don’t have to break out,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “[Communication] is on everybody.”
 
The Gophers are still breaking in five new freshmen, which is one of the reasons for the inconsistency. 
 
“There’s a lot of guys that have not played with each other, so [how we can improve] is just kind of getting them more comfortable with each other,” Pitino said after the loss to South Dakota State.
 
The Gophers have failed to help each other out on the floor during their three game losing streak. In the loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Gophers only had five assists the entire game, and four came in the first half. 
 
Minnesota is ninth in the Big Ten in assists, with an average of 13 per game.
 
Fixing the team’s passing problems and communication issues is likely going to require a group effort before the start of Big Ten play.
 
“I think [communication] is a collective mission,” freshman guard Kevin Dorsey said. “Everybody has to talk. If we all talk, we won’t have any problems like we did [against South Dakota State].”