#89 Minnesota Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #89
Conference Rank: #11 Big Ten
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After missing the NCAA Tournament in each of his first three seasons at Minnesota, Richard Pitino has now led the Golden Gophers to the Big Dance in two of the last three years. As a 10-seed last season, Minnesota won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2013. This year, however, Minnesota will be forced to enter a bit of a transition year. Top scorers and all-conference performers Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy are both gone. Pitino and Minnesota will have their hands full staying competitive in the always-tough Big Ten.
2018-19 Record: 22-14, 9-11
2018-19 Postseason: NCAA Tournament
Coach: Richard Pitino
Coach Record: 112-92 at Minnesota, 130-106 overall
Key Departed Players:
Amir Coffey, Guard, 16.6 ppg
Jordan Murphy, Forward, 14.4 ppg
Dupree McBrayer, Guard, 8.9 ppg
Isaiah Washington, Guard, 4.3 ppg
Matz Stockman, Center, 3.0 ppg
Brock Stull, Guard, 1.3 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Daniel Oturu, Sophomore, Center, 10.8 ppg
Gabe Kalscheur, Sophomore, Guard, 10.0 ppg
Eric Curry, Junior, Center, 4.1 ppg

Michael Hurt, Senior, Forward, 1.7 ppg
Jarvis Omersa, Sophomore, Forward, 0.9 ppg
Key New Players:
Marcus Carr, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Pittsburgh
Alihan Demir, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Drexel
Sam Freeman, Freshman, Center
Bryan Greenlee, Freshman, Guard
Isaiah Ihnen, Freshman, Forward
Tre’ Williams, Freshman, Guard
Payton Willis, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Vanderbilt
Sophomores Daniel Oturu and Gabe Kalscheur will need to make big leaps from their freshman seasons to keep Minnesota relevant in the Big Ten. Both players had solid years for freshmen in the Big Ten, but they are essentially all that’s returning from a year ago. Oturu started 31 games and averaged 10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Jordan Murphy graduating leaves a huge hole in the Golden Gopher frontcourt which Oturu will need to help replace. Kalscheur is a sharpshooter who averaged 10.0 points while shooting 41% from three. Kalscheur will need to expand his game to help replace some of the scoring that is departed. Eric Curry being fully healthy once again this season would help Minnesota greatly. Curry averaged 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 34 games as a freshman in 2016-17. He then missed the entire 2017-18 season with a knee injury and only played in 15 games last year as he was still recovering. Michael Hurt and Jarvis Omersa also return to give Minnesota some extra depth and experience. The Golden Gophers will add three transfers to the rotation as well this year. Alihan Demir joins Minnesota as a grad transfer from Drexel who is fresh off a first-team All-CAA selection. Demir averaged 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season. The Big Ten is a different animal from the CAA, but Demir gives the Gophers some much-needed experience and scoring this year. Pittsburgh transfer Marcus Carr has a good chance to become Minnesota’s new starting point guard. Carr spent one season at Pitt and averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis also could become a backcourt starter this season. Willis averaged 5.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 33.3% from three in two seasons at Vandy. Four freshmen also join the Golden Gopher roster this year. Isaiah Ihnen is the highlight of the recruiting class as a four-star 6-9 athletic forward from Germany. It’s always difficult to compete in the Big Ten and it could be especially so this season for Minnesota. The Gophers snuck in the NCAA Tournament last year and that was with stars Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy who are now gone. It will be an uphill battle to get back to that level in 2019-20.    
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.6 (233rd in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.4 (122, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.5 (225, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (176, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.3 (344, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.7 (306, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.2 (225, 8)
Rebound Margin: 1.7 (121, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.5 (83, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (62, 6)

Madness 2019 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#122 isaiah Ihnen
#136 Tre Williams