Summer Snippets: Notes from the Gopher Hoops Offseason

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For the first time since Richard Pitino's introduction as head coach in April, the Golden Gopher basketball team held an offseason media session. Pitino talked about what he has seen from his team so far, and what he hopes to achieve over the rest of the summer. Golden Gopher players were also available, speaking with the local media for the first time. Notes and quotes from today's interview session follow below.

Head Coach Richard Pitino

On his philosophy for summer practice:

"This is the summer. If I come in here going nuts in July, in June, they're going to hate me come December. So I try to take it somewhat easy on them but also kind of instill the culture. We're allowed two hours (per week), and when the season starts we practice much, much more than that. So for me, I'm just trying not to make them feel like this is the season."

Go Gophers! Richard Pitino Go Gophers! Pitino and the Gophers met the media on Tuesday. Go Gophers!

Pitino and the Gophers met the media on Tuesday.

"A lot of our practices have been going up and down as much as possible, not blowing the whistle that much, getting them to play through mistakes."

"This time of year, it's probably good when they screw up, because you can show them on film."

*Pitino said the Gophers have played a lot of five-on-five to get used to the pace he would like them to play. Building chemistry, instilling team culture and preparing for the pace are the main offseason focuses.

On some of his personnel:

"I think Austin (Hollins is) a really good player. We're going to rely on him a lot, just because he's done it. He'll be fine in any system that he plays in. Andre (Hollins is) another guy we'll rely on a lot."

"What you see right now is not what you're to get with Charles Buggs. Hopefully he'll continue to grow, continue to improve. When he puts on weight and when he figures out how to play for me, he'll be a very good player down the road. It's going to take time, though."

*Pitino said that the starting point guard spot is open for competition, but he would be "shocked" if Andre Hollins doesn't start as either point guard or shooting guard.

*The Gophers are still waiting to find out if transfers Malik Smith and Joey King will be cleared to play in the upcoming season. Smith played for Pitino at Florida International last year, while King transferred from Drake for family reasons. Pitino said that Smith has played the best in practice so far because he is used to his system.

Meet the New Guys

Malik Smith (Senior/Guard)

On Pitino:

"I love the way Coach Pitino plays. A lot of shots. I love to shoot. ...He's a demanding coach. He's going to get the most out of us. He's a good guy."

On his new teammates:

"There's no bad teammate. Everybody's good people."

*Smith started 31 of 32 games for FIU last season. He averaged 14.1 points per game and made 96 three-pointers on the year.

Joey King (Sophomore/Forward)

On coming back to his home state (King attended Eastview High School):

"It's definitely a great opportunity. I'm enjoying my time at Minnesota, being close to home. It's really special playing for the hometown team. It was sad to leave Drake, but I couldn't be happier here. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the Big Ten."

On his game:

"I want to bring an aspect of toughness. I'm a pick-and-pop 4-man, so I can shoot the ball from outside."

*King was selected to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team last season at Drake.

Daquein McNeil (Freshman/Guard)

On his new teammates:

"I love them. They're all embracing me, welcoming me. I'm the only freshman, so they're always trying to make fun of me, but they're pretty good guys."

On what he is most looking forward to about the season:

"Getting to the games. ...Right now we're playing against each other, but it will feel good for all of us to be on the same team."

*McNeil, a combo guard, averaged 19.0 points per game as a senior at Vermont Academy

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