I love basketball season and I love the start of practice. For 7 seasons I coached at the college level and there wasn't much better than mid-October and the first few weeks of practice.
I will surely get around to a full blown Golden Gopher Basketball preview but I'll save that for another day. I am excited about this season and although I am a known homer I really think there year has some potential. Here is my anticipated starting lineup.
PG - Lawrence McKenzie - we'd be a LOT better if Lawrence could play SG but I don't have any confidence that Payton or Nolen can play the point.
SG - Brandon Smith - I'm afraid that Abu Shamala will actually start here but he is not a Big Ten basketball player. Smith has a ton of talent and could be a matchup problem at SG.
SF - Damian Johnson- not sure how good Johnson is but I thought he improved last year and could be a solid forward for Tubby. Hopefully he can defend and be smart offensively.
PF - Dan Coleman - needs to polish his game a little and show some rebounding passion
C - Spencer Tollackson - it was obvious how much Tollackson meant to this team last year, they were unwatchable when he was injured. He provides some presence in the paint and is respected more by B10 opponents than he his by gopher fans.
That is my best guess. If Tubby can find a better PG I would bump McKenzie to SG, Smith to SF and Johnson to the bench. This team will have very little depth but I think Coach Smith will have these boys ready to play a better brand of basketball this year.
Things have been active in September and into October for the basketball staff. We currently have 3 commitments and are working hard to land probably 2 more players.
- Colton Iverson - 6'9" PF from South Dakota. I've written some on the Iverson signing already but this is exciting and he will certainly contribute immediately as a freshman.
- Paul Carter - 6'8", PF JUCO transfer. Carter will come in as a sophomore and also should be an immediate contributer. He is more of a slasher than Iverson.
- Devron Bostick - 6'5", SF JUCO transfer - Bostick will come to the U as a junior. Last year Bostick was a 2nd team JUCO All-American. This kid is a scorer and is looking to improve his outside shot before he gets to MN. I'm guessing Bostick will be a major contributer immediately and will be relied upon to pick up the scoring hole left by McKenzie/Tollackson.
- Ralph Sampson - C - It was rumored that Sampson was giving an edge to Georgia Tech over Minnesota but soured on the Yellow Jackets when it became apparent that he was their 2nd choice. As GT fell out of favor, it appears that teams like Maryland and Kentucky have moved up the list. This would be a great signing for Tubby. He could use a solid but not flashy 4-star true center to man the paint.
- Devoe Joseph - G - Devoe is a 4-star guard out of Canada. He is likely a good SG at the college level but part of his recruitment surrounds his desire to play point as that would be his best shot at playing at the NBA level. I guess Joseph is kind of a big deal in Canada, mostly because basketball is not a chief export of our northern neighbors. Michigan, VirTech, Tex A&M and others have offered. UCONN and GTech are also interested.
- Krystopher Faber - C -another true center (6'11") that would look good in maroon and gold. Faber has a lot of interest from high major schools like Wash St, UConn, Minn, Ore, Syracuse, etc. But has only received scholarship offers from mid-major schools. He will take an official visit on Nov. 3rd. Faber is kind of hit right now but I have to imagine that is only because we are getting late in the recruiting game and landing any kid with size and some talent looks better and better as we get closer to the fall signing day.
- Scottie Haralson - SG - an athletic scorer who visited last weekend. You could argue that Haralson should be in the group above, but if we land Joseph I can't imagine that we'll also sign Scottie. The Mississippi native has offers from many SEC schools, OleMiss, Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn. I feel pretty good that Haralson will be our 5th or even 6th commitment this year.
- Verdell Jones - PG - another player who could be put up with Joseph and Sampson. We need a PG pretty bad but I would assume that if Jones committed we would lose Joseph as he wants to play PG. Jones is another 3-star kid and the 26th best PG according to Rivals. Minnesota will have to battle with Kentucky and Tennessee as other big schools who have offered Jones.
- Josh Crittle - PF - Kansas State and Oregon are the other high majors to offer Crittle who is a 3-star player and ranked as the 38th best PF according to Rivals. We need help in the frontcourt but with 2 PFs already committed I can't imagine we'll sign a 3rd unless we cannot land a true center. Crittle also visited last weekend with Haralson.
- Jarrod Jones - PF - another PF caught in a number crunch with Iverson and Carter. 3-star, 6'8" big man who has no offers from a high major school (including MN at this point). Jarrod did just visit unofficially and enjoyed his visit (but then who ever says they didn't enjoy their visit). I don't see him ending up a gopher but you just never know.