Getting anywhere on time with a 4-year-old is highly improbable, so when my daughter and I settled into our Williams Arena seats Sunday afternoon and the score was only 9-2 in favor of the visiting team, I considered it a small victory even if the score itself was a large surprise.
Was this really the best time to bring her to her first game (and my first in a while)? Was a five-game Gophers winning streak suddenly in jeopardy against what seemed on paper like an overmatched Penn State team?
As it turns out, all was well — more than that, in fact. The Gophers were just doing us a favor and starting the game on preschooler time.
Minnesota embarked on a 35-8 run from that point forward, eventually cruising to a 97-67 victory to extend that streak to six games.
What’s even more remarkable is that the unbeaten streak followed a run of seven losses in eight games. An astute observer might have wondered if the Gophers would win again this season. As it turns out, they haven’t lost.
On Sunday, pretty much every possession on both ends of the floor seemed to make sense and ended either with a good shot for the Gophers or a bad one for Penn State. The Gophers are playing with an impressive flow and confidence.
The offensive efficiency was remarkable (aided by 9-for-18 from three-point range) and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds to Penn State’s eight suggests whatever the Gophers are giving up in size with the small lineup that has fueled the streak, they are more than compensating with quickness.
My 4-year-old was a big fan of winning, a bigger fan of the pink uniforms they wore Sunday and the biggest fan of Goldy Gopher. Her chief complaint was not catching a mini basketball during an in-game promotion (join the club … with close to 6,000 fans announced Sunday, she was hardly alone). A more minor complaint emerged later: All the clapping from fans was hurting her ears.
It probably sounded like music to first-year coach Lindsay Whalen. And the noise didn’t stop my daughter from rushing down to the court for a high-five from Kenisha Bell (17 points, seven assists) postgame.
But next time, she said, we’re getting autographs.
• • •
Had we chosen the Wild game instead, we theoretically would have benefited from a starting time one hour later than the basketball game and maybe — maybe — could have been on time.
The rest of the news, though, would have been as redundant as it is bad. Minnesota lost at home again, this time a listless 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Blues.
The Wild is still improbably being propped up by the rest of the Western Conference’s cavalcade of mediocrity. If the season ended right now, Minnesota would make the playoffs as the second wild card.
It’s going to be pretty much impossible for the Wild to fall out of the race before the trading deadline next week, meaning General Manager Paul Fenton might have to make decisions based more on instincts than raw numbers.
• • •
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wins points for honesty. After embattled star Anthony Davis left a game last week that New Orleans went on to win, Gentry said:
“I’m happy for all of them. Because to tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire. … We want guys to be professional and we want them to do this, but it’s hard for guys to go through what they’ve been through.”