There are plenty of unknowns as the 2013-14 Gophers barrel toward the season with a new head coach and four new players.
While the personnel is now set, how those players will contribute – and in what capacity -- is still very much up in the air.
Minnesota has plenty of backcourt options, with three of the four new players being guards. Two on the roster are locks, in Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins – but both can be flexible in which positions they play, and there are many other options for a third guard in what will almost surely be a guard-driven lineup.
Assuming that Joey King will be eligible right away (which is still up in the air), he and Elliott Eliason are the likely starters for the power forward and center roles.
A few possibilities of how the guards could fit in:
Lineup 1: Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Wally Ellenson, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Lineup 2: Maverick Ahanmisi, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Lineup 3: Andre Hollins, Maverick Ahanmisi, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Lineup 4: Andre Hollins, Malik Smith, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Lineup 5: Deandre Mathieu, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Lineup 6: Andre Hollins, Daquein McNeil, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason
Coach Richard Pitino has said that he’s shuffled things around quite a bit, and it’s likely he will take a few more weeks at least to determine what his ideal opening day starting lineup might look like.
But he’s also indicated he’s not so worried about putting numbers on his guards.
“I think you’ll see within the way we play, all five guys touch the basketball,” Pitino said. “So legimately, any one of our guards could play the 1 [point guard], 2 [shooting guard], 3 [small forward] in our system. There’s not a whole lot of difference. Really, the only one that probably won’t be able to play the 2 or the 3 is Deandre, just because of his size defensively.
“Almost every play that we run for the 2, we run for the 3 and we run for the 1. The 2 runs the left side, the three runs to the right side and the 1 runs right up the middle. Other than that, that’s not a whole lot of difference.”
Andre Hollins said he’s been shifting back and forth between the 1 and 2 spots in almost every practice, which he says doesn’t feel disruptive at all.
“It really doesn’t matter what position you’re at because you’re coming off ball screens, and you’re making almost the same plays,” he said.
The flexibility should help to keep the guys fresh, especially with such an intense, uptempo system. For now, it probably turns up the competition in practice, with so many options at Pitino’s disposal.