Good afternooon Gopher Fans!
After a few days of reflection of the past season I thought it would be
good to give my thoughts on year two. First off, I thought our crowds were
terrific again all season long. Our staff and players truly appreciate the
support. The fans and Williams Arena are
what make this job special. Our loyal
fans deserve a great team and we are doing our best to give that to you! Aside from wins and losses (yes, I do know
that's how we are judged) I thought our offense, pace of play, steal
percentage, and assists all improved from year one. The defense and rebounding still has to get significantly
better. Free throw shooting was a bit of
an issue early but got better as the season went on.
- Obviously we started off with a very tough test vs. Louisville in Puerto Rico
on national TV. We learned that game
that Nate Mason wasn't scared of the bright lights. Unfortunately, Harrell and Rozier were too
much for us to handle. Aside from the
game, I thought the experience was very valuable for our whole program. We constantly talk about sacrifice and
commitment to our guys and there is no greater sacrifice then the men and women
in the armed forces.
We went on to split at Madison Square Garden a couple of
games later. I was very disappointed with the way we finished the St. John's
game. With the game in hand we had too many inexplicable turnovers and fouls that
were too hard to overcome. I liked the
way we rebounded the next day to beat a very good Georgia team. Our guys then went on to beat Wake Forest
handily on the road. Andre Hollins and
Carlos Morris were very good that game.
Our December was certainly successful overall but I would have liked to
have been tested a little bit more to prepare us for Big Ten season. That is my fault and we are looking to add a
quality opponent next season during December.
The question our staff is asking is if we want to start at home or on
the road. We are looking at all options.
- The first five games certainly took a lot out of everyone. To start 0-and-5 was difficult but also to have
it done in the fashion it was tested everyone.
My biggest regret was not having our guys mentally tough enough to
handle that. Throughout the Big Ten slate
I was proud of how positive our guys remained regardless of the fact that we
were swimming upstream for most of conference play. They did a good job of
blocking out the noise. Certainly
winning at Michigan State and Iowa were bright spots. We obviously have to do a better job of
protecting our home court in the future.
We lost a bunch of close ones that could have gone either way. Were we unlucky? I'll never use that excuse.
Big Ten Tournament
- I loved our competitive spirit against Rutgers. Obviously Joey King provided a huge lift for
us. We battled vs. Ohio State but
unfortunately Mo getting in foul trouble was too tough for us to overcome. Russell was spectacular for them again.
Seniors - I thank them for all they gave to our
basketball program on and off the court.
They will all graduate and do great things. It's never easy to have a new coach in the
middle of their college careers. They all embraced me and my staff from day
one. Elliott, Mo, DeAndre, and Andre
have all expressed their desire to keep playing professionally at some
capacity. They will spend the next few
months finishing up classes as well as preparing for whatever their future holds. Kendal will be entering the real world and
will be successful at whatever he does because of his character and work ethic.
- We are excited about next season and beyond.
We will likely have at least eight freshman and sophomores. We will be one of the youngest teams in the
Big Ten but that excites me! Joey King
will need to provide great leadership for everyone in the program. He has everyone's respect and has worked hard
to earn that. If Carlos Morris and
Charles Buggs dedicate their offseason to putting on weight they will make a
great impact next season. Carlos has to
improve his defense and shot selection.
Buggs just needs to continue to grow in all facets as a player. Huge offseason for both of them.
Nate Mason has the ability to be one of the better guards in
this league when it's all said and done.
He has to work hard to not fall into the trap of the sophomore
slump. He will be the number-one guy on
everyone's scouting report. I'm
confident he can handle it.
Bakary Konate has the potential to be special. He has the size and the athleticism. The
biggest thing is getting him game experience as much as possible. Gaston
continues to improve. The little playing
time he did get second semester after coming in behind the 8-ball certainly
helped a little bit.
We are currently in the process of planning a foreign trip in August. We will be able to get ten days of practice
as well some games versus good competition.
The timing is perfect for such a young team. Incoming freshmen will be allowed to play on
this trip. As I stated earlier we are
looking to add another game against a high major opponent in December. We are still not sure if it will start at our
place or on the road. We believe our Big
Ten/ACC Challenge game will be home but we don't know that for sure yet. We have a bunch of good options on the
board. We hope to complete that soon.
- We have three scholarships still available and we are currently involved with
several prospects for next season.
Having three open doesn't mean we have to use them all, obviously. We believe we will have a top-25 recruiting
class when it's all said and done. Dorsey, Dupree, Jarvis, and Jonathan all
excite me. They will need to be ready to
contribute right away! We hit the road
again in April to watch prospects on their AAU teams for two weekends in what
is called the evaluation period. Closing
down the borders in Minnesota is vital! Thanks
again to everyone again for their support!
Barely two weeks have passed since our players came back to campus for the
school year. We have had a total of six individual instruction workouts
with our guys. Along with working our players out on campus, our staff has hit
the road recruiting.
Freshman Bakary Konate is one of Coach Pitino's early standouts.
I have been impressed with several players. As for the
newcomers, Bakary Konate has stood out the most. This year will be
perfect for him to learn under Elliott and Mo. He is a legit 6-11, plays
with a high motor, and is very skilled. He also is a phenomenal kid and a quick
learner. We are very excited! Andre and Deandre continue to progress
on the court as well as in the weight room. They should prove to be a
very strong backcourt.
Next week we will start team practice for a total of two
hours a week. We will bring them along slowly starting with the basic
fundamentals on defense. The look of this year's team will be
different. We will certainly miss our veterans and they will be tough to
replace. All of our newcomers are eager to learn and will have to impact
this team immediately. It will be fun to see who separates themselves.
September 9th marked the beginning of the recruiting
period. The first three days I was in Minnesota, Kansas, and several
different locations in Florida. Last year's NIT championship and 25 wins
has certainly helped in recruiting. We hope to deliver a very strong recruiting
class that tailors to our system. We will try to get quicker and more
athletic. We constantly talk about our tremendous fan base and our second-to-none basketball conference. Expectations will
be higher this season. They should be! We will embrace the challenge.
Hoops season is just around the corner and we need to be ready.
Not too many programs open up their season vs. a top-five team on national
TV. Gopher fans, I must warn you. Ignore anything and everything
that comes out of my father's mouth leading up to this game. He does it on the
golf course all the time and will start playing mind games with all of us soon
enough! Pay no attention to him. He will say they are young and
inexperienced. They are talented, athletic and obviously well-coached.
He will tell everyone we are the overwhelming favorite. Prepare
yourselves. He tried to coach my team last year during the NIT
championship. I am looking forward to watching him try to coach both
teams at once on November 14th! Haha.
Hope everyone is having a great summer like we are. Personally it has been
a lot of fun welcoming my two-month-old Jack into this world. Jill, Ava, Bernie
and I are extremely fortunate and lucky.
This summer has been much different than last year.
The culture has been introduced and expectations for how to operate on a
daily basis have been laid out. That is always the toughest part of taking over
a new job. These next few months are all about taking the next step as a
team and a program. We have had a few weeks of individual instruction so
far as well as workouts in the weight room.
Head coach Richard Pitino gives his thoughts on the state of the Gophers.
This summer I have chosen to stay away and watch from afar.
This gives my assistant coaches an opportunity to grow as coaches because
when the season starts, I am the main voice everyone hears. It also gives
our players an opportunity to get some much needed space from the pressures of
being coached by the head coach. It's a long season for everyone.
My hope is that when we start back up in the fall, our guys will be fresh
and eager to get back to work.
Carlos Morris- Has put on significant weight since he has gotten here and still
has a ways to go in the weight room. I have full faith that he, with our
strength coach Shaun Brown, will be ready to compete at the Big Ten level.
He will need to come in and make an immediate impact. "Squirrel" is a
very good ball handler and passer; he can get to the basket and make others
better on the court. There's no reason why he can't make a difference
from day one.
Nate Mason- Pleasant surprise! Think Andre Hollins, Gopher fans - very similar
games. Nate has a great disposition on the court. He seems unfazed
at all times. He does a little bit of everything well and can
play multiple positions. I am very excited about his potential.
Josh Martin- I watched him work out yesterday for the first time of the summer
because we have been resting him due to a minor knee issue (I repeat, MINOR).
One word when describing his athletic ability... WOW. Josh has an infectious personality on the
court and is always encouraging his teammates. He has a chance to be a
very, very good player. Fan favorite!
Zach Lofton- The sky is the limit for Zach. He has all the tools and talent
to be a big-time guard. Phenomenal athlete, great length and has the
ability to get his shot off at any time. We need him to be ready next
Gaston Diedhiou and Bakary Konate- Both guys are working hard physically
as well as academically to finish up strong. We expect both to be on
campus and ready to go come the fall. Very excited to coach both student-athletes.
Returners- Who has made the biggest jump over the summer? This award
goes to Daquein McNeil. That small forward spot will be a fun competition.
I really like the direction Day Day is headed.
My staff and I hit the road on Wednesday to go find the next great
Gopher. Recruiting has been going very well. Year one was good, I hope
year two can be GREAT.
Hope everyone has a great 4th of July! Go
The University of Minnesota basketball team held its preseason media day on Monday afternoon at Williams Arena. The Gophers took their team picture before opening up the court to local media members. Mike Grimm and Corbu Stathes of the Gopher Radio Network held an interactive interview session which allowed fans to send in questions.
Head coach Richard Pitino, entering his first season at Minnesota, said that he has been impressed by the fan support for the program. He also discussed the team's fast-paced playing style and the improvements he has seen since his arrival.
Pitino said that the Gophers are anxious to play against opponents other than themselves. They will have their first chance to do so this Friday, when they will take on Cardinal Stritch in an exhibition game at 7 p.m.
Head coach Richard Pitino and the Golden Gopher basketball team's three captains met with the media on Tuesday afternoon. Seniors Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi and junior Andre Hollins have been elected captains by their teammates.
Pitino, who has now been Minnesota's head coach for almost six months, said he would consider a starting lineup that includes all three captains. He said that the team is "right on schedule" in terms of strength and conditioning at this point in the year. Since Pitino's arrival, the Gophers have been working on learning a new style of play. Full team practices started last week.
"At the start of practice, everyone's excited," Andre Hollins said. "You can tell around the locker room -- managers, players, coaches -- everyone's excited for the season."
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."
Pitino and the Gophers met the media on Tuesday.
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)
"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
Gopher basketball players, media, staff and fans got their first look at new head coach Richard Pitino this morning. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, Director of Athletics Norwood Teague and Pitino gave opening remarks before Pitino and Teague fielded questions from the media.
Teague said that Pitino has all the key characteristics that he looked for during the coaching search. These qualities included "relentless" recruiting, ability to develop student-athletes on and off the court and ability to "manage and build this program to the highest level."
"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity," Pitino said. "Minnesota basketball has got one of the best traditions in all of college basketball."
Members of the Gopher basketball team, who sat in the first few rows during the press conference, met their new mentor earlier in the morning. Both coach and players are eager to get to know each other better.
"He really gave us a positive vibe," Austin Hollins said. "He's coming in, and he has a solid plan that he really wants to enforce. He knows what he wants to do. I think all the guys are going to be on board with that."
Before the media even started asking questions, Pitino already talked about the style of play he would like to implement with his new team.
"He really wants that hard-nosed defense up the court," Hollins said. "Then on offense, we're just going to run them down--a lot of pick-and-rolls, getting up and down, getting a lot of shots up."
After about half an hour of answering questions, Pitino did one-on-one interviews with local TV stations, along with Mike Grimm and Spencer Tollackson. Watch Grimm's exclusive interview above and by clicking here.
Thank you so much Gopher fans for all the support!Today is a special day!!!
The social media world was buzzing yesterday with the University of Minnesota's impending hire of Richard Pitino as the Gophers' new head men's basketball coach. We've collected some of the notable Tweets and Facebook posts from yesterday's eventful day:
Sunday, March 24, in Austin, Texas, the Gophers will
continue their quest to make a deep NCAA Tournament run
a Third Round matchup against No. 3 seed Florida in the South Regional. GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett took a peek at what the Gators have accomplished so far this season, and how the Gophers will match up with them.
Florida Preview Head Coach: Billy Donovan Overall Record: 27-7 SEC Conference Record: 14-4
Top 5 Leading Scorers: Erik Murphy-12.8 ppg; Kenny
Boynton-12.3 ppg; Mike Rosario-12.2 ppg; Patric Young-10.5 ppg; Scottie
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Patric Young-6.3 rpg; Will Yeguete-5.9
rpg; Erik Murphy-5.5 rpg; Casey Prather-3.8 rpg; Michael Frazier II-3.3 rpg.
Notable wins: Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State,
Marquette, Florida State, Air Force Academy, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky,
Florida is a
team that is a serious contender for the Final Four if they are hitting on all
forward Erik Murphy and senior point guard Kenny Boynton lead the Gators. The
two led the team in scoring and on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin's defense has also been important to Florida's success.
average 71.9 points per game and allow just 53.5 points per game, which is
third in the nation. In fact, Florida's defense has been so stout that it has
allowed more than 70 points just once (80 points in a loss to Arkansas) and
allowed 50 points or fewer 13 times this season.
In their Second Round game, the Gators held the highest scoring team in the nation in
Northwestern State to 34 points below its season average.
Florida is not without its weaknesses. The Gators are 0-6 in games decided by
six points or fewer this season. They have also let three double-digit leads
Gophers can get up and down the court and take the Gators out of their element
and turn this into a high scoring game, there is a good chance they could make
it into the Sweet 16.
Friday, March 22, in Austin, Texas the Gophers will begin their quest to make
it to their second Final Four in school history in a second round matchup against
No. 6 seed UCLA in the South Regional. Here is a preview of what the Bruins
have accomplished so far this season.
NCAA Tournament Preview: UCLA
Head Coach: Ben Howland
Overall Record: 25-9
Pac-12 Conference Record: 13-5
Leading Scorers: Shabazz Muhammad-17.8 ppg; Jordan Adams-15.3 ppg; Travis Wear-11.2 ppg;
Kyle Anderson-9.8 ppg; Larry Drew II-7.6 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Kyle Anderson-8.6 rpg;
Shabazz Muhammad-5.3 rpg; Travis Wear-5.2 rpg; David Wear-5.0 rpg; Joshua
Austin Hollins and the Gophers are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.
Notable losses: Georgetown, Cal Poly, San
Diego State, Oregon, Washington State
Gophers second round matchup against UCLA is a tough one to predict. UCLA won
the regular season Pac-12 title this season, but also went through some rough
stretches as well.
Bruins are led by freshman guard/forward combo Shabazz Muhammad, who leads the
team in scoring and is likely to be a top 10 pick in the NBA draft this season
should he choose to exit early.
can get up and down the court, averaging 74.7 points per game, which is 28th
in the nation. The team also is averaging 16.1 assists per game, which is 11th
in the country. However, the Bruins also give up a lot of points as well. In
the Bruins' 34 games, they have given up at least 60 points or more 26 times.
before the NCAA tournament, UCLA suffered a big hit. The Bruins will be without
freshman guard Jordan Adams after he broke his foot in their Pac-12 Conference
tournament semifinal victory over Arizona on Friday. Adams is the team's second
scorer and led the Pac-12 in steals with 73 this season. Sophomore Norman
Powell will take his place in the starting lineup.
could work in the Gophers favor is UCLA's depth. With the loss of Adams, the
Bruins will likely stick to a seven-man rotation. If the Gophers can make this
game into a track meet, there is a good chance they could move on.