Hey, welcome to autumn! We’re back from our mandatory summer vacation, ready to get back into the swing of basketball. October means two things – the end of the baseball regular season and the official beginning of college basketball season. Did you know March Madness is only six months away? I know. And the opening tip for the Gophers is less than a month away, when the Golden Eagles (really?) of Minnesota-Crookston come to town for an exhibition game.
That reminds me. Did you know the Gophers are pre-season conference favorites? Well, they’re not. They definitely are not. That was a cruel joke.
And that’s where we’re going to start.
Guys and gals, it’s not going to be a fun season. In fact, if you’re into wins and trophies and stuff like that, then it’s really going to be a miserable year. There are going to be a lot of losses. Like, a lot of losses. Some are going to be to teams like Penn State and Nebraska, and it’s going to feel strange. In fact, we might even challenge Rutgers for sole possession of the conference basement. It’s not going to be pretty.
But success this year is not going to be measured in the win column, no. Success is going to be measured by growth in individual players, team cohesiveness, and the eye test that measures if they’re gaining steam game by game and month by month. Instead of asking “did we beat Maryland?” we’re going to have to ask, “Is Nate Mason looking more like a leader on the court?” Instead of, “what are the prospects against Wisconsin next wee?” we’re going to have to ask, “How is Dupree McBrayer looking like a PG we can trust next year?”
The roster is full of guys you’ve probably never heard of, and need a cheat sheet to keep nearby. They’re all young, and they’re all inexperienced. But I can assure you, they’re all really good and they’re going to be great in the coming years.
But this year is not that year. Richard Pitino has done a great job on the recruiting trail. He’s closed the borders with the state’s top talent and has brought in some notable names (even some that won’t ever play). In fact, the 2016 class is currently ranked #13 in the nation according to 247 Sports. 2015, though, is going to take some grit, determination, and acceptance that the future is almost here and Richard is just about to get his pieces in place. Give him some room to work. Molding a program does not happen overnight, and we signed on for this when we ran Tubby out of town.
In the coming days and weeks we’ll be walking through the 2015-16 roster, who they are and what you need to know. Really, though, the team has two seniors (Carlos Morris and Joey King) and one junior (Charles Buggs). The rest are sophomores and freshman. There’s no leader and there’s no clear cut guy to turn to in tight situations. We’re just waiting to find out who that will be.
Keep an open mind. It’s gonna be real interesting.