So far, other than the loss to Duke, which really isn’t a bad loss at all, the Golden Gophers have looked like a team ready to challenge for supremacy in arguably the best conference in the country.
Minnesota is 10-1, ranked No. 13 in the country, and feeling good about itself after stretching its win streak to six with a 71-57 win over USC on Saturday in Los Angeles.
The victory just happened to be the 500th in the career of Tubby Smith, who has this team focused on playing at a high level night in and night out.
“It was good to do with this group,” Smith said of the milestone win in a post-game press conference. “There’s always a challenge with any group, but this group is a committed group, they have great chemistry, so it’s fun to coach them.”
Andre Hollins has certainly done his part to make this season fun for the Golden Gophers. He dropped 14 points on the Trojans, one of four players in double figures, and was thrilled for Smith and his accomplishment.
The impact Smith has had on Minnesota is not lost on Hollins.
“This is a huge win for Coach’s career,” Hollins said in a post-game press conference. “Part of the history books. Obviously, it shows how great of a coach he is, how great a person he is and it is translating over to us being a winning basketball team.”
Indeed, the Golden Gophers are winning games behind the guidance of Smith and it would be a surprise if they weren’t in the mix for the Big Ten title at the end of the season.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. He is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association as well.
Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or feel free to send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.