Morgan State to visit Gophers at the Barn

Head coach Tubby Smith wants more discipline from his team despite Saturday’s 91-55 win.

Marco LaNave

Just two days after the GophersâÄô convincing victory over Brown to break a three-game losing streak, head coach Tubby Smith said he wasnâÄôt very happy. As Minnesota (5-3) prepared for a game against Morgan State (5-3) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Williams Arena, Smith said the team needs to show better discipline and execution, which he said were still unsatisfactory in the GophersâÄô 91-55 rout of Brown on Saturday. âÄúEverybodyâÄôs happy because we won. I wasnâÄôt very happy, to be honest,âÄù Smith said. âÄúNot because we played poorly, but because of the glaring things that we did against other teams that cost us [in] the other three losses.âÄù Smith said his players continued to struggle stopping drives to the basket, contesting shots and executing transition defense. He plans to scrutinize those areas against the Bears. âÄúHappiness is temporary; itâÄôs very temporary,âÄù Smith said. âÄúI want the joy and the satisfaction that theyâÄôre doing it right every time.âÄù Junior guard Blake Hoffarber, who had a double-double against Brown, said that coaches and players dissect each play on film after every game. âÄúEven if itâÄôs a good play, thereâÄôs always going to be something wrong,âÄù Hoffarber said. âÄú[The coaches] will always point something out.âÄù On film, Morgan State âÄî an NCAA Tournament team last seaon âÄî appears to be an athletic group, senior guard Lawrence Westbrook said. Morgan State, located in Baltimore, Md., lost three of five starters from last season but returned leading scorer Reggie Holmes, a senior guard who is averaging 24.6 points per game and has scored 30 points in three games this season. Holmes played only 16 minutes because of foul trouble in a 90-81 loss on Nov. 22 at then-No. 20 Louisville. But he responded with a career-high 34-point performance on Nov. 24 at Arkansas to lead the Bears to their first-ever victory over an SEC opponent. Tuesday will already be the eighth road contest in nine games for Morgan State. The program is on the rise under fourth-year head coach Todd Bozeman, who was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Coach of the Year the past two seasons. Bozeman was named the mid-major coach of the year after leading the Bears to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance last March. Bozeman came to Morgan State in 2006, 10 years after he left California amid an NCAA investigation that led to the program forfeiting all but two games from the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. Bozeman had taken over mid-season in 1993 and led California to an upset over Duke in the NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16 berth. The Bears of Morgan State have become far more dangerous under Bozeman and will be a step up from Brown, which couldnâÄôt and didnâÄôt give the Gophers much defensive pressure. But senior forward Damian Johnson said the Gophers still learned from SaturdayâÄôs blowout win. âÄúWe [saw mistakes] that wouldnâÄôt work [against] teams with much more talent, teams that are much more competitive,âÄù Johnson said. âÄúI doubt we come close to making those mistakes again.âÄù Westbrook said the coaches are continually challenging players to eliminate those miscues. âÄúItâÄôs just a daily grind,âÄù Westbrook said. âÄúYouâÄôve just got to take constructive criticism and [youâÄôve] got to have thick skin and just work on what theyâÄôre asking you to do.âÄù Smith said Saturday that he was pleased with the focus and preparation before the last game. His expectations remain the same for Tuesday night and the rest of the season. âÄúItâÄôs a labor of love, and weâÄôre going to get there,âÄù Smith said.