Last year the Minnesota Men’s Basketball team had a lot of promise being rated in the Top 25 by multiple sources at the beginning of the year. The team had the players to be selected on Selection Sunday. Three key injuries and an allegation later the team found themselves with a losing record at the end of the season, leaving much more to be desired from the talented squad.
The hometown fans will be excited with a recruiting class completely comprised of Minnesota natives. Daniel Oturu, a center out of Cretin Derham Hall, Jarvis Omersa, a power forward out of Orono High School, and Gabe Kalscheur, shooting guard out of DeLaSalle, make up a solid recruiting class for Coach Pitino. 247sports.com ranks the class 8th in the Big Ten conference. CDH won the state championship with Oturu leading the way and converting an alley oop at the buzzer. As a Top 50 recruit, Oturu is a versatile center who graduates as the state’s all-time leader in blocks. Omersa is an incredible athlete, who can play either power forward or small forwards. Omersa adds much needed depth to Gopher’s lineup. Gabe Kalscheur is a three time state champion with a good looking 3 point shot, but his greatest asset may be his defensive ability as the Gophers finished 249th in points allowed per game. Additional newcomers to the team are Peyton Willis, Marcus Carr, and Brock Stull. Willis, a transfer guard from Vanderbilt, will be sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules. Carr is a transfer combo guard from Pittsburgh and is hoping to get a waiver to play this season from the NCAA. Stull is a grad transfer from UW-Milwaukee and will be able to play right away. Gopher fans may remember UW-Milwaukee as the place crowd favorite Akeem Springs is from. Coach Pitino is hoping for the same impact from Stull, primarily as an experienced leader.
Gopher Basketball is ranked as high as fifth and as low as 11th in Big Ten preseason rankings. All rankings cite the same weakness in the Gopher’s lineup, the point guard position. Nate Mason leaves a gaping hole at the position after finishing his illustrious career fifth in scoring and second in assists in men’s basketball history. Isaiah Washington is the frontrunner for the starting position with Senior Dupree McBrayer and Junior Amir Coffey expected to provide relief. If Marcus Carr receives his waiver to play from the NCAA, Carr will not only provide needed depth to the position, but compete with Washington for the starting position.
The expected starting lineup will consist of Sophomore Isaiah Washington, Senior Dupree McBrayer, Junior Amir Coffey, Senior Jordan Murphy, RS Sophomore Eric Curry. First couple of the bench will be Freshman Daniel Oturu and Senior Brock Stull.
Richard Pitino is heading into his 6th season as Head Coach. Added a couple new coaches to his staff in Rob Jeter and Kyle Lindsted. Rob Jeter is a well known coach and famous recruiter with ties to the midwest. Lindsted started a high school basketball program that has produced numerous D1 talent and is known for player development.
As a whole this year’s squad looks to be a solid one with frontcourt depth and All Big Ten preseason player Jordan Murphy leading the way. Coffey, McBrayer and Curry look to have big seasons following there injuries last year. My prediction has them as a bubble team come March with Murphy and Coffey earning All Big Ten and Oturu named to the All Freshman team. If this team stays healthy, Pitino should be going to his 2nd NCAA tournament in 3 years.