IOWA CITY — Minnesota Coach Richard Pitino took to social media Sunday to show his program still has confidence despite backsliding through the Big Ten in recent weeks.
Sunday, Pitino posted on Twitter: “Best practice of the year by far. Showed me our guys really care.” By Monday, he jokingly tried to retract his tweet, but only slightly.
“Somebody actually hacked into my account, and it wasn’t me,” Pitino said with a laugh. “I think the best part about it was their attitude was great; you could tell they were really, really eager to work. We had guys like DeAndre Matthieu, (who) was getting cramps and he was fighting his way to get back into practice. Elliott Eliason had a bloody nose and was trying to get it patched up as quickly as possible so he could get back into practice. So I’m really excited about it. You could tell that all the guys were really, really excited about the opportunity to play a top-20 team in our building.”
There’s no whiff of desperation or giving up from the Gophers, who face No. 19 Iowa at 6 p.m. Tuesday (BTN). Minnesota has lost six of its last eight games and now appears outside the NCAA tournament bubble. In that streak two tough home losses to Northwestern and Illinois, coupled with a triple-overtime setback at Purdue, have the Gophers reeling at 17-11 and 6-9 in Big Ten play. Saturday’s 64-46 loss at Ohio State adds to the pain after the Gophers led 30-18 early in the second half.
But the past has no value to Pitino. The Gophers are looking forward to playing long-time rival No. 19 Iowa (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) followed by Big Ten leader No. 16 Michigan (19-7, 11-3).
“We don’t look at desperation at all really,” Pitino said. “We’re very, very positive with a lot of things that we’ve done. Certainly we’ve got to correct a lot of mistakes, but I think more than anything, the past is irrelevant, the future is irrelevant, We’ve put ourselves in a good position right now with three games left. We can choose to look at it one way or we can choose to look at it another way. We’ll choose the positive here. You get two top 20 teams, you get to play them two games in a row and then you play a good Penn State team at home. We’re excited about those opportunities that we’re in.”
This is the 194th meeting between the schools, the most-played series for Iowa and one game behind the Wisconsin rivalry (195) for Minnesota.
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