Interesting new blog from Richard Pitino, who breaks down the Gophers’ individual performances in a team scrimmage on Saturday.
You can read the entry -- which went up yesterday -- in its entirety here.
Some highlights taken from the collective pros and cons:
- Rebounding needs to improve. Only one player grabbed more than four rebounds (which Austin Hollins and Mo Walker both tallied). That was Elliott Eliason. Offensively, the Gophers managed just six rebounds between the split teams. Pitino points out in his blog that Wally Ellenson (who didn’t have any, but had three on the defensive end) needs to excel in that area.
- Pitino tried Ellenson at power forward. Four-guard lineup anyone? It seems that in absence of the NCAA piping up about the Joey King waiver, Pitino is preparing at least some to that end. Seemed as though he liked Ellenson's effort there.
- Turnovers could get worse before they get better. If you watched the Gophers at all last season, you’re aware that ball handling was a major issue. Now, in Pitino’s uptempo system, that weakness (if it remains that way) is going to be exposed more than ever. Minnesota will need to tighten up in the next couple of weeks in that regard. The maroon and gold teams totaled 25 turnovers between them, including three unforced slipups from Maverick Ahanmisi, two unforced from Andre Hollins and a total of six from JUCO Deandre Mathieu.
- Joey King likes to shoot. He took seven 3-pointers on Saturday, and didn’t make a single attempt in two-point range. Pitino made it clear on his blog that he doesn’t necessarily like that, listing King having “an identity crisis and [thinking] he was Malik Smith” under the negatives for the power forward. King’s ability to make a long shot (although he connected on just two of seven) should be considered a strength for the team in the long run, with the opportunity for potential miss-matches. Sitting out on the perimeter, however – particularly with, like, a million guards in the fold – is just not going to work.
- Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Elliott Eliason are three that looked pretty good. Pitino called Austin “the consummate pro” and commented that though the guard was never subbed for, he didn’t play tired. He lauded Andre’s activeness on defense, and Elliason’s post D and “improved” body language, something that was something of a concern last year, when the center would visibly beat himself up on the court. The two Hollinses will be the leaders of this squad, both from an emotional and skill standpoint. And considering the thin frontcourt, Eliason’s production and ability to take the next step will be very, very important.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is just one preseason scrimmage. Not too much can be drawn from the results. But it does make for an interesting glimpse – and we will all get one in person, on Friday.