Oregon provides men’s hoops next chance for regroup

by Jabari Ritchie

Last Friday, Minnesota’s men’s basketball team traveled to Athens, Ga., looking to regroup after being upset at home by North Carolina-Wilmington.

But following the Gophers’ 77-55 loss to Georgia, Minnesota hopes its struggles have reached a low.

The Gophers (4-3), who have lost three of their past four contests, get an opportunity to rebound from last week’s dismal efforts when they host Oregon (4-2) Monday night.

“Not all of us have been through situations like this, especially in the preseason,” said senior forward Dusty Rychart, the only player to score in double digits in Minnesota’s losses to Georgia, UNC-Wilmington and Wake Forest.

“Everyone’s trying to help the situation, so I think it’s going to iron itself out. It’s a frustrating time, but hopefully we’ll stay positive and it will turn out for the best.”

In the three games since the Gophers gave up a late lead at Wake Forest, Minnesota has posted increasingly poor performances.

On Friday, the Bulldogs (6-1) handed the Gophers their first convincing loss of the season. Minnesota was outrebounded, made 20 turnovers and shot just 28.8 percent from the field.

“We haven’t really been pointing fingers, but we’re not internalizing everything. That’s something I think we’re starting to do now,” sophomore forward Michael Bauer said. “It’s a team thing, so we have to fix it as a team.”

After scoring at least 79 points in their first four games, the Gophers’ offense was shut down last week.

“When you’re averaging 85 points and in a week you have two games where you score 50 and 55, you’re obviously trying to get your offense back on track,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said. “Everybody is not on the same page. We’ve got to get rid of some of that confusion. We’re not going to fix it in two days, but hopefully we can progress.”

Oregon, which is also on a two-game losing streak, opened the season with four consecutive 90-point games. The Ducks, whose losses were by a combined five points, boast a .496 field goal percentage and have shot 41 percent from three-point range.

“It’s a very talented crew,” said Monson, whose father coached Oregon from 1983 to 1992. “Luke Ridnour is one of the best point guards we’ll face all year. Luke Jackson is a very skilled (small forward). I’ve known both of those kids since I had them in camps in seventh grade.”

In the frontcourt, Minnesota must contend with a big lineup that includes 7-foot-2 center Chris Christoffersen, who has averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game.

“They’re Pac-10 and they’re one of the teams that’s going to come in here and give us a hard-fought game,” Rychart said. “It’s going to be a war because they’re coming here to beat us. It’s definitely going to be tough.”

ï Freshman guard Maurice Hargrow, who has averaged five points and 10 minutes per game, broke his nose in Friday’s game. Hargrow is expected to miss this week’s games against Oregon and Maryland-Eastern Shore.

“It hurts because Moe was giving us energy off the bench,” Monson said. “He was doing a good job.”

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