Something's always wrong with Gophers basketball. Tuesday, before the last home game of the season against 11th-ranked Purdue, the team revealed that Eric Curry would miss the rest of the season because of foot injury.
The last time the Gophers earned an NCAA tournament bid, it was Nate Mason's balky hip and Akeem Springs' torn Achilles that made winning easy for Middle Tennessee State two years ago.
Suspensions. Scandals. Coaching changes. An athletic director who fired Tubby Smith before resigning amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Gophers football is known for bumping its head against a glass ceiling. Gophers basketball more often faceplants on black ice.
In only two of the past 24 seasons have the Gophers won an NCAA tournament game. After their most recent victory, they fired their coach.
Smith's reign was disappointing because he failed to live up to outsized expectations. He also was the most successful coach the Gophers have had since Clem Haskins, and the university allowed Norwood Teague to fire him without having a clear plan to hire someone better.
If you agree with the NCAA's virtual reality that the Gophers didn't make it to the Final Four under Haskins, the Gophers' only NCAA tourney victory since 1994 belongs to Tubby.
When Teague couldn't land an experienced coach, he hired Richard Pitino, who has, depending on your willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt, either been lucky to keep the job or unlucky to have key injuries hamstring shallow rosters.
Perhaps creeping apathy caused by decades of underachievement was the reason Williams Arena was not close to being packed Tuesday night, despite the obvious attractions.
It was Senior Night. Purdue is an excellent and entertaining team. A Gophers victory likely would secure a tourney berth. And the Gophers roster is filled with endearing stories, from Jordan Murphy's four years of boxscore stuffing to local kids such as Amir Coffey and Daniel Oturu playing starring roles.
Before the game, the Gophers announced Curry would miss the rest of the season. Three hours later, after a dominating performance turned into a tense, 73-69 victory, Pitino took the mic. "Thank you to the best fans in the world," he yelled.
Forgive him his giddiness. Tuesday, the Gophers provided a reminder that a few decades ago a ticket to Williams Arena was as good as sports got in the Twin Cities.
In the tense and nostalgic confines, Murphy unveiled his greatest hits, grabbing 14 rebounds while scoring 13 points with four assists.
"I don't know if Jordan Murphy has ever missed a practice," Pitino said. "He's so reliable, so durable, so positive."
Coffey sliced his way to 32 points, eight rebounds and three assists. With Oturu strangely ineffective and Curry out, senior Matz Stockman produced nine points, seven blocks, six rebounds, two assists and a steal, finishing a game-best plus-12.
"Stockman was really good," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "He could have been the difference."
Mic in hand after the game, Pitino quieted the fans on the court. He promised that Murphy's jersey will soon hang "up there" in the Williams rafters. He handed the mic to Stockman, and the crowd chanted "MVP."
"It was an important win," Pitino said. "I think, personally, that solidified us to go to the NCAA tournament. It was emotional, to have a night where you have Dupree [McBrayer] and Jordan, who stayed for four years, to fight through adversity, to have a court storming.
"When you're a young coach and you're trying to build, that's very important and very rewarding, to see your guys experience that."
The Gophers will miss Curry, and they have reason to lament their luck, but they didn't wallow in regret Tuesday. Murphy and Stockman ensured that senior night was worth the price of admission, and the cold walk to the arena.
Amid Pitino's hyperbole, he got two things right:
Murphy's jersey belongs in the rafters, and his last game should be played in the NCAA tournament.