All posts by zipsofakron

A decent outside shot.

Gophers roll Western Kentucky in home opener

Four days after being punished by Louisville in an airport hangar on national TV, the Gophers were back in Williams Arena for their season home opener, facing Western Kentucky in what was officially the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Unlike the hangar slop fest, the Gophers were much more in control and confident. And behind a strong all-around performance by Deandre Mathieu and defensive domination, the Gophers took down the Hilltoppers with ease 76-54. Defensively, it was night and day for the Gophers,…

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Gophers rocky in Puerto Rican season opener

We’d read about it for days, feared the worst, hoped for the best and tried to close our eyes and pretend like it didn’t exist. No, it wasn’t the Pitino vs. Pitino narrative jammed down our throats by ESPN but, rather, Montrezl Harrell the monster, who bullied the Gophers all night and came even better than advertised in an 81-68 season opening win for Louisville in the Armed Forces Classic in Puerto Rico. Minnesota had absolutely no answer for Harrell, considered to be one of the…

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6 things I’m watching for when the Gophers face Louisville

So it begins. We’ve seen one live exhibition and one intra-squad scrimmage, and heard from second and third-hand sources about another. What do we know about this year’s Gopher team? Well, not much. Andre Hollins is healthy, I guess. That’s about all we know. And that’s why the season opening game against Louisville is so simultaneously frightening and exciting. The Gophers return almost everybody important, which bodes well for continuity. And from what we’ve seen, most guys have matured and expanded their game. But that’s…

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Gophers rip Minnesota-Duluth in not-secret exhibition

The not-secret portion of Minnesota’s preseason schedule kicked off Thursday night against Minnesota-Duluth. Usually reserved as a hockey rivalry, the Bulldogs probably wished the game was held on ice, as it would have mitigated the talent gap between the two teams. While the Gophers have had close calls with D-II teams in the past,  UMD was no match, falling easily 95-68. Five players scored in double figures. Exhibition games, though, aren’t about the end result, but rather a glimpse at what we we might see…

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Gophers fall to Iowa State in secret scrimmage

Technically it didn’t happen, because scores, stats and individual performances are barred from being reported per NCAA rules, but indications are the Gophers lost 103-78 in Ames in Sunday’s secret scrimmage. Secret scrimmages aren’t anything new as they’ve been around since the early 70s. But it’s been quite a while since the Gophers actually partook in one, so it feels a little strange, considering the mystery that surrounds them. A rule on exhibition games prohibits D-1 teams from playing in front of the public if…

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5 burning questions heading into the season

A new season means excitement, anticipation and, most of all, uncertainly. Richard Pitino builds on a successful inaugural season as Minnesota’s head coach, with plenty of weapons to help extend the momentum an NIT championship. Things appear to be on the upswing, but with the notable loss of Austin Hollins, a Jekyll and Hyde routine from Elliott Eliason last year, and a ton of new faces on the roster, things are anything but settled.

To get us thinking about the upcoming season, we put together five burning questions that have yet to be answered.

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A collective look at the 2015 class

I’ll admit, I’m still getting used to the ruthless efficiency Richard Pitino is showing in all things basketball. It’s actually incredibly disorienting to have someone in charge who’s not only resourceful, but also great at what they do. Like, no one before him thought to turn the Bierman Complex basketball court into a makeshift practice facility?

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A look at the 2014-15 Gopher newcomers

Richard Pitino has brought a lot of attrition to the program, which, for a new coach, isn’t entirely surprising. But the amount of roster turnover during that past two seasons has been particularly hard to follow, with plenty of new recruits, transfers and other various reasons for players to come and go.

A year ago we said goodbye to some seniors and welcomed a bevy of new faces. Next year will be the same, and with several new faces recently announced, it’s a perfect time to get to know the new guys. In fact, if you count Zach Lofton as a recruit, the Gophers have six commitments, five of whom could conceivably get playing time next year. Talk about turnover.

At this point, the playing time and redshirt situation is anyone’s guess, but we DO know who will be here when things get started in November.

The 2014 Recruits

Josh Martin, PF, Bothell (WA) High School
Twitter: @JoshMartin_206

JOSHMARTINGet ready for Hulk. Martin, a 6’9″, 230-pound power forward, is a true character from the Seattle area, and the most likely of the incoming freshman to impact the team next year, if nothing else because the Gophers are so thin at the position. Martin chose the Gophers over Pitt and Florida State, and brings a highlight reel of dunks to the table. In fact, the dude actually broke a backboard this season from throwing it down so hard. Rumor is he’s actually still growing and is approaching 6’10”.

 

The Video:

Gaston Diedhiou, PF, Canarias (Spain) Basketball Academy
Twitter: @big6as

gaston2Say it a few times .. Gaston Diedhiou. Pronounced Gas-TONE Dee-EYE-doo. He comes to the Gophers as a fairly under-the-radar recruit and is definitely a project, albeit one with nice upside. Originally from Senegal, Diedhiou is similarly sized to Martin (6’9″, 225-ish), but isn’t quite as polished. Per TheGopherReport, which has a nice write-up about him:

Diedhiou has a good size frame backed up by his athleticism. In the limited video of his game I was able to track down it appears he has the ability to run the floor as well as defend the low post and hedge the pick and roll.”

Canarias has produced a lot of good D-I talent over the years, so the risk is a calculated one for Pitino. Also check out Late Night Hoops’ write-up about him for additional background.

The Video:

Bakary Konate, C, Sunrise (Kansas) Christian Academy

1076325Noticing a trend with recruits here? Pitino is going big, and rightfully so. Konate is another presence down low, originally from Mali, giving the Gophers another African connection in frontcourt. And at 6’11”, 220 pounds, Konate has plenty of frame to add size. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to develop some good nicknames when Konate and Diedhiou man the posts together in the future.

Konate chose the Gophers over Texas A&M, Creighton and Tulane and actually had interest from Louisville back when Pitino was an assistant. He has a noted ability to defend the rim (duh) and run the floor, which fits well with the system Pitino likes to run. According to The Gopher Report, he has decent shot for a big man, but has room to improve on offense. You can pronounce his name like this: Bah-CAR-ay Ko-Naw-Tay.

Nate Mason, G, Montrose (MD) Christian High School
Twitter: @NateMason_2

469887Mason was a fall commit and brings a combo guard presence that could earn him significant playing time right out of the gate. At 5’11, he’s considered a scoring guard in a point guard’s body, but it’s certainly too early to tell how he’ll be used in Pitino’s system. The Daily Gopher has a nice profile on Mason, as does Late Night Hoops.

 

The Video:

Carlos Morris, G, Chipola (FL) Junior College
Twitter: @CarlosMorris_11

ll30cmbqq7i6y4ig“Squirrel” Morris brings another fun nickname and an additional guard presence to the Gophers. Originally a pretty nice prospect set to go to South Carolina, he didn’t have qualifying test scores and opted to go the JUCO route. The Gophers outdid Seton Hall and UAB to get his services.

As a JUCO transfer, he’ll have two years of eligibility and should have enough experience to contribute right away. He’s known as a scorer and a defender, so would be a natural fit to fill at least some of the initial void left by Austin Hollins. At 6’6″ he brings some good length. Check out The Daily Gopher’s write up for some good background.

The Video:

2014 Transfers

Zach Lofton, G, Illinois State
Twitter: @ZachLofton

loftonLofton has taken a long road to get to the Gophers. Originally a local prep standout at Columbia Heights, he went the JUCO route initially before ending up at Illinois State. He’s always wanted to be a Gopher, which is great to hear, so having him amped to be in town and fulfill his dream of contributing to the program is a fun story.

At 6’4″, Lofton brings an immediate impact to the Gophers from a shooting perspective and is a dynamic presence on offence. Per Marcus in his story on Lofton: “[He] has deep shooting range, can beat his defender off the dribble and is an athletic finisher in transition.” At Illinois State last season he averaged 11.3 points per game.

Lofton will likely have to sit a year, per NCAA transfer rules, but should be ready to contribute for two years starting in 2015.

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Let’s wrap the 2013-14 season

I guess I’ll start at the end. The Gophers are the 2014 NIT champions. The best of the second-best. The champion of the bubble teams. Conquerors of the consolation. All that. While it might not sound all that impressive only a year after being ranked as high as #8 in the nation and getting into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, think of the context. Exactly one year ago we were little more than a week into the Richard Pitino era. The son of…

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Gophers find themselves in another NIT championship

In a game that felt like it would never end, and with a clown car of announcers and color commentators talking about anything other than the game in front of them, the Gophers overcame a back-breaking end of regulation to rebound and take care of Florida State in OT in the NIT semifinals, 67-64. With the game well in hand heading into the final 10 seconds of regulation, Malik Smith, perhaps the team’s best free throw shooter, clanked two attempts, resulting in utter panic and…

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