Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Season's Over

I guess I haven't posted in a while and you've probably been sad about it and cried a lot.  For that I suppose I'm sorry.  I've been busy and tired and quite lazy. 

So late congratulations to the Gophers on winning the NIT.  It sucks to be in the NIT, but if you get stuck there you might as well win the damn thing.  No, this is not better than a loss in the First Four as far as being a fan or program-wise, but hey, a bunch of kids worked their asses off, got to spend some time in the NYC, and won a championship for themselves.  Awesome for them, and although I doubt it helps recruiting it probably doesn't hurt to play two games in MSG on ESPN.  Great seeing Austin Hollins win MVP or MOP or whatever too after playing great, especially because somewhere around early mid-season some of the looney tune fans around here (gopherhole) were calling for him to be benched.  Because they're super rational you see.

Meanwhile Joey King reminded us that off the bench scoring guy is probably his upside, not his downside, and Dre Hollins told us the reason he didn't look healthy the second half of the year was because he wasn't healthy the second half of the year. Malik Smith managed to hit a couple of shots to close out his career, Oto Osenieks came back for an encore, and Maverick still fell down a lot.  Mo and Elliott continued to look like two halves of an excellent player, and DeAndre Mathieu looked like a contender for Big 10 Player of the Year next season.  Fun end to the year, even if I only watched 1.5 games of the entire NIT.  Sorry.

So close the books on 2013-2014, and I'd probably give the season a B.  I didn't expect this team to make the NCAA Tournament and they came awfully damn close, then closed with a strong run through the NIT.  It pains me to think that it's likely they were 1 win away from an NCAA bid and that the win could have come at any time, including at home against shitty Illinois.  Of course, it's also possible that even with that win they could have gotten snubbed which would really sting.  Good season based on preseason expectations, but slightly poor season based on mid-season feelings.  Sounds like a B.

Now we move on to Pitino Year 2.  It's a pretty solid roster.  The guards should be outstanding with Dre Hollins (hopefully healthy) and Mathieu forming one of the better back courts in the conference, if not the country and likely, I think, solid back-ups in Daquein McNeil who looked pretty good as a freshman and will be a year older and freshman Nate Mason.  Losing both true 3s in Austin Hollins and Malik Smith will sting, but JuCo swingman Carlos Morris can hopefully fill those shoes.  King and Charles Buggs are the returning PF, but freshman Josh Martin already has a Big 10 body so should be able to give minutes, if nothing else, and hopefully more.  Center will be the same two headed monster but with another year stronger, wiser, and hopefully better.

Plenty of questions and holes, but that describes most teams at this point, and having your starting back court and center position rock solid is a good start.  Plus the Gophers have three open scholarships for next season right now.  One of them is supposed to be filled by Djuan Piper, according to the rumors, and it was supposed to happen tonight.  It sounds like his decision has been pushed to tomorrow (Thursday) and according to the rumors it's either because of academic issues or second thoughts.  Neither is good. He's ranked #147 by 247sports now and is a damn sight better than anything else the Gophers are going to pluck from the high school ranks this late - Spring recruiting can get rough (Mav -> hi!) and Piper and Bakary Konate, who I need to write up at some point, look like about it.

Of course, the great thing about the Gophers' position is they have space and they have needs, and with the transfer happy NCAA culture these days (which I enjoy) a graduate transfer PF or shooter guy would make a whole ton of sense for both parties.  A lot of names are starting to surface and there are a lot more sure to come, not to mention non-grad transfers who could hope to get waivers or just sit a year before playing.  The Gophers have a lot of flexibility with the roster for next season, and there's no way they're done yet.  This should be fun.

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