GOPHERS MEN'S HOOPS VS. CLEVELAND STATE
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Transfers of power – Seven newcomers for the Gophers are the most for the program since the 2004-05 season, but transfers Marcus Carr, Payton Willis and Alihan Demir will be asked to replace Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy. Coffey, Murphy and McBrayer combined for 39.9 points, 15.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists for a 22-14 NCAA tournament team last season. Carr and Willis combined for 26 points and 12 assists in last week’s 73-48 exhibition win vs. Southwest Minnesota State. Demir had just three points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field in last week’s exhibition win.
Super sophomores – Sophomores Gabe Kalscheur and Daniel Oturu are the only returning starters for the Gophers from last season. Kalscheur, a guard from DeLaSalle, led all Big Ten freshmen and set a school freshman record with 77 three-pointers on 41 percent shooting last season. Oturu, a 6-10 center, led all Big Ten freshmen in rebounds per game (7.0), blocks (46) and field goal percentage (55.1). Carr is team’s starting point guard and co-captain with senior forward Michael Hurt. There won’t be another team in the Big Ten relying this much on their sophomore class to make an impact this season.
New three-point line – College basketball’s new three-point line is 22 feet and 1 3/4 inches, which is the international three-point distance. How much will that hurt teams from improving their shooting? The Gophers ranked 344th nationally in three-pointers per game (5.3) and 300th in three-point percentage (31.7) last season. And that was with Kalscheur scorching the net from long distance. Willis is the best shooter of the newcomers. But freshman Bryan Greenlee shot 54.5 percent in five exhibition games this summer and fall. Minnesota shot 8-for-21 from beyond the arc in last week’s exhibition game victory, including Greenlee and Willis combining for 5-for-10 shooting.
Time: 7 p.m. CT, Tuesday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: plus-20.5. Series: Minnesota and Cleveland State first meeting. TV: None. Online/Live video: BTNPlus Radio: 103.5.
MINNESOTA GOPHERS (0-0)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G - Marcus Carr 6-2 190 So.
G - Gabe Kalscheur 6-4 200 So.
G - Payton Willis 6-5 200 Jr.
F - Alihan Demir 6-9 235 Sr.
C - Daniel Oturu 6-10 245 So.
Key reserves–Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Sr., Jarvis Omersa, F, 6-7, So., Bryan Greenlee, G, 6-0, Fr., Tre’ Williams, G, 6-5, Fr., Sam Freeman, C, 6-10, Fr.
Coach: Richard Pitino 112-92 (7th season)
Notable: Redshirt junior big man Eric Curry had successful surgery last month on a torn ACL in his right knee suffered during practice Oct. 7. The 6-9 redshirt junior hasn’t played a full season since his freshman year in 2016-17 after tearing ligaments in his left knee in 2017 and foot surgery last season … Off the bench, freshmen Isaiah Ihnen was expected to help replace Curry’s minutes at power forward, but he’s out Tuesday with an injured right wrist. Fellow freshmen Tre’ Williams, Greenlee and Sam Freeman were part of a 2019 recruiting class ranked among the top 40 nationally.
CLEVELAND STATE (0-0)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G - Kasheem Thomas 6-0 185 Sr.
G - Franklyn Penn Jr. 6-3 190 Jr.
G - Tre Gomillion 6-4 215 So.
F- Deante Johnson 6-9 210 So.
F- Algevon Eichelberger 6-8 250 Jr.
Key reserves– Jaalam Hill, F, 6-7, Sr.; Jalen Williams, F, 6-8, Sr., Torrey Patton, G, 6-5, Jr.; Craig Beaudion, G, 6-3, Jr.
Coach: Dennis Gates 0-0 (1st season)
Notable: Cleveland State fired coach Dennis Felton last season after he went 22-44 in two years, including 10-21 in 2018-19. The Vikings were ranked 10th in the Horizon League preseason poll this year. Cleveland State’s top returning players are senior guard Kasheem Thomas (5.8 points and 2.9 assists per game) and junior forward Algevon Eichelberger (5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds).
Fuller’s prediction: Gophers 75, Cleveland State 58
The Gophers can’t afford to keep this game close in Tuesday’s opener. They need to put on a show for the home fans since they won’t be back at the Barn until Nov. 21 against Central Michigan. That’s three straight games (vs. Oklahoma in Sioux Falls, at Butler and at Utah) and more than two weeks away. Not only is playing well at home a factor but blowing out the opponent is also extremely important. Minnesota suffered in NET (NCAA’s Evaluation Tool) rankings last season even after a 5-0 start. Pitino’s team just wasn’t very efficient on both ends of the court even in victories.