Minnesota men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has brought a steady hand to the wheel in his first season with the Gophers, and never was that more evident than at today's media availability when Pitino told reporters about a "heart-to-heart" he had with players this afternoon.
The 31-year-old Pitino said that for the first time this year, he felt players weren't enjoying the game, instead falling into the mentality of "here we go again, the Gophers are going to lose again in February."
So Pitino held a closed-door meeting to clear the air for a team that was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation last year before finishing the Big Ten season by losing 11 of their last 16 games.
Other quotes from Pitino, according to the Star Tribune:
"That was the first game I felt we did not enjoy being out there. I sensed that we were putting too much pressure on ourselves about making the tournament.
"I could sense in that game, they were [saying] 'Oh god, we can't lose to Northwestern at home. But why not? They're a good program, they're a good team, they're doing a lot of really good things in the league.
"They just really didn't look like they were enjoying themselves that game. Every game other than that, they've looked like they're enjoying themselves, and I think that's just the fear of failure."
Minnesota has lost two in a row without leading scorer Andre Hollins after upsetting Wisconsin the game in which he was injured, and could really use a bounce back win, once again without Hollins, Wednesday against 3-6-in-the-conference Purdue.