Gophers coach Richard Pitino knew what fans were thinking when it came to his nonconference home schedule in his first few years with the program.
It wasn’t attractive enough.
There were always complaints about not having any marquee opponents at Williams Arena. While not being able to convince any top-tier teams to come to the Barn, Pitino felt like he delivered with tougher opponents.
In 2016-17, Minnesota played St. John’s and Arkansas at home, and also Vanderbilt within a few hours from the Twin Cities for fans to travel to in Sioux Falls, S.D. This season, Pitino specifically scheduled a home-and-home with Utah not just to provide an early test.
“I did plan the Utah game with the fans in mind,” Pitino said. “We play that Oklahoma State game at U.S. Bank [Stadium], which is great, but it’s not a home game. We’re playing those three games in Vancouver [Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday], which is great, but they’re not home. And then at Boston College.”
For the first time since 2007, the Gophers will only have two home games in November. They won’t be back to play their next game at the Barn until Dec. 5 against Nebraska in the second of two early Big Ten games, including Dec. 2 at Ohio State.
No Carr waiver update
Sophomore guard Marcus Carr filed an appeal last week after his waiver to play this season was denied by the NCAA, but he hasn’t heard back about the second go round.
Carr was a starting point guard for the Panthers last season and led the team in assists, but he decided to leave the program after second-year coach Kevin Stallings was fired. Stallings received a $10 million buyout.
“I think it’s challenging for him with the process,” Pitino said about Carr. “He was recruited by a coach and staff who assured him they would be there. In sports, we understand things can change. But to go to a place and after a year the coaches he went to the school for are gone — that’s a big deal. People have got to understand a lot of these kids choose it for the head coach and the staff. That’s hard on young people. That’s why we think he should play right away.”
Signing day ahead
The Gophers have four scholarships for the 2019 recruiting class with no commitments so far with the early signing period beginning Wednesday. Three-star Wasatch Academy (Utah) guard Tre Williams took an official visit last weekend to Minnesota and is expected to announce his decision this week.