News that Bakary Konate will be on the shelf for at least a month with a stress fracture in his foot is up there with the worst news the Gophers could have received this early in the season. Already thin down low, this means the team has no true center and will need to pinch hit with Gaston Diedhiou. That’s a horrifying thought considering his lack of experience and lack of developed skills.
The injury news also means a clear opening for one of Minnesota’s newcomers, Jordan Murphy to get a boost in playing time. One of the fresh faces on the team, Murphy comes in as a combo SF/PF, with an ability to make an immediate impact on the team. Who is Murphy, you ask?
From: San Antonio, Tx.
Murphy originally signed to play with Shaka Smart at VCU, but with Smart leaving for Texas, Murphy was released from his original LOI. He had interest from schools like Marquette, Maryland and Indiana, and was one of Texas’ top high school prospects. He averaged a ridiculous 23.6 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.1 apg and 1.9 spg.
What does he do?
Murphy is a combo forward, so he’s capable of banging down low with the bigger guys, but is quick enough to play the 3 and be dangerous in transition. He is long enough to be dangerous on defense. A do-it-all forward, he can slash, rebound, dribble and shoot. In fact, he’s not afraid to step out and hit a three. And his defensive prowess suggests he’ll excel in a system that rewards intensity — kind of like Richard’s.
As a freshman, he’s got some growing to do, strength-wise, if he wants hang in the paint in the B1G. At 220, he’s a little undersized as a PF, but does stretch the defense if he’s going up against bigger, slower guys. The biggest knock him currently is the consistency of his jumper.
What’s his place on the team?
With Konate out, Murphy is already in the starter conversation for day one. The Gophers are slim on size, and really can only rely on Konate, Diedhiou, Murphy and Joey King. We already know what we have with King, and it’s entirely possible that Murphy beats him out as a starter. Even if he doesn’t start, look for him to get significant minutes sharing time with both King and Carlos Morris. Even further, Pitino hasn’t been shy about saying Murphy is in line to receive major minutes from the outset.