Season Preview: Minnesota
Last Season: 24-10, NCAA 1st Round
Key Losses: Akeem Springs
Key Additions: Jamir Harris, Isaiah Washington, Davonte Fitzergald
In his third season as the head coach of the Gophers, Richard Pitino was finally able to lead his squad to the NCAA Tournament. Losing in the first round to a very good Middle Tennessee State club, it was by no means a waste of a season. This was the first time in several years Minnesota found its way into the Big Dance. A big part of this was the commitment of hometown kid Amir Coffey, stellar defense from Reggie Lynch, and leadership of Junior point guard Nate Mason. Richard Pitino was finally able to bring in a big time recruit and put a lineup on the floor that could consistently compete. With losing only one experienced Senior, the Gophers are poised to have an even better 2017-2018 campaign.
Looking ahead, Minnesota returns rising star Amir Coffey and elite rim protector in Reggie Lynch. Coffey is a slashing type of wing who can get buckets in spurts and Lynch’s defense is the linchpin of this Gopher defense. The main ball handler will still be Nate Mason, who has shown flashes of greatness (@ Purdue last season) not only assisting his teammates, but scoring in bunches. Another productive returner is Jordan Murphy. An All Big Ten third teamer, Murphy is a high energy guy that makes an impact all over the floor. Add in Texas A&M PF Davonte Fitzgerald and top 60 ranked Freshman Isaiah Washington in the mix and you have not only a talented team, but a deep team. I am really impressed with what Coach Pitino has cooking up in Minneapolis. Should be a solid team on both ends and make some noise in conference play this season.
Scanning this roster up and down, I see many guys who could be considered most essential to the team’s success. For this Gopher team to hit their ceiling, I believe Amir Coffey has to have a fantastic season. Coming off a 12 PPG and 4 RPG season, Coffey is a guy who I see only getting better. He uses his athleticism to be a force slashing to the rim. Even his jumper showed promise last season and his 33% from deep isn’t terrible and should only go up. Can Coffey become more diverse on the offensive end, he will have a massive year for the Gophers.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Nate Mason
SG: Dupree McBrayer
SF: Amir Coffey
PF: Jordan Murphy
C: Reggie Lynch