#46 Minnesota Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #46
Conference Rank: #8 Big Ten

Minnesota Team Page#46 Minnesota Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Minnesota Basketball Tickets

Coach Richard Pitino quickly added some excitement to the Minnesota program. The Golden Gophers were not too far away from an NCAA Tournament berth, but certainly made the most out of their trip to the NIT. Minnesota beat High Point, St. Mary’s and Southern Miss en route to Madison Square Garden and there they took care of Florida State and SMU to win the 2014 NIT title. Year two for Coach Pitino should be at least a little bit better and a little bit is enough to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

2013-14 Record: 25-13, 8-10
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Richard Pitino
Coach Record: 25-13 at Minnesota, 43-27 overall

Who’s Out:
Losing Austin Hollins is a big blow though. He not only ranked second on the team with 12.4 points per game, but was a tough rebounding guard and spearheaded the Gophers defensive effort. Malik Smith was usually the first guard off of the bench. He spent a lot of time behind the arc and could put up points in a hurry when his shot was falling. Maverick Ahanmisi could at least provide a few minutes on the perimeter too. The lone loss up front is Oto Osenieks. He started 23 games during his junior season, but a knee injury ended his career early.

Who’s In:
This is not a great recruiting class, but junior college transfer Carlos Morris fills a hole on the wing and the three incoming freshmen have enough potential to contribute this season and quite a bit down the road. Morris is not the toughest 6-5 guard around, but he is a good shooter and finisher in transition. The backcourt also adds freshman Nate Mason. Bakary Konate and Josh Martin add depth in the paint. Martin has a nice mid-range jumper, but his playing time will depend on how well he can battle in the paint on the defensive end. Gaston Diedhiou could make a big impact in the paint this season if he gains admission to Minnesota. Cleared by the NCAA, Diedhiou still has some work to do before he becomes a Golden Gopher.

Who to Watch:
While Austin Hollins is gone, Andre Hollins does return. Andre is not as scrappy defensively as Austin, but he did lead the team with 13.6 points per game and knocked down 34.9 percent of his three-point attempts. DeAndre Mathieu will be the guy who sets up Hollins. The diminutive point guard can attack the basket with ease and has enough of a jump shot to keep the opposition honest. The offense will work heavily through Hollins and Mathieu, but the hope is the frontcourt can do more scoring this year as well. That will mostly fall on Joey King and Maurice Walker. King stepped into a starting role towards the end of his sophomore season and played very well down the stretch. The 6-9, 225 pound forward has a nice three-point shot and can play at either the small forward or power forward spot. He plays much more like a small forward and will need to be much more effective on the glass if Minnesota wants to play small with King at the four. Maurice Walker is the traditional interior scorer. The bruising senior averaged 7.8 points per game and did a decent job on the glass.

Final Projection:
Walker will likely come off of the bench again this season in favor of Elliott Eliason. Eliason is not a scoring threat, but he is the best rebounder and shot blocker on the team. Daquein McNeil will have to provide some depth on the perimeter, especially if the freshmen are not ready to contribute. McNeil had a pretty uneventful freshman season, but he can spell both Mathieu and Hollins. Coach Pitino has some questions with this team, but he should have enough options just about everywhere on the floor to get a solid eight or nine man rotation going by Big Ten play. If the turnovers can go down and the rebounding can go up, this is a team that can hang around the .500 mark in the conference and make the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
DeAndre Mathieu, Senior, Guard, 12.0 points per game
Andre Hollins, Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Carlos Morris, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Joey King, Junior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Elliott Eliason, Senior, Center, 5.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.4 (157th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.7 (112, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (144, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.6 (119, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (84, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (128, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.2 (31, 3)
Rebound Margin: 0.6 (170, 7)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (86, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (115, 10)


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