Thanks to my colleague Jason Gonzalez for collecting quotes from today's media access in Minneapolis for me.


It wouldn't be surprising if Minnesota coach Richard Pitino took a look at practice on Sunday and had flashbacks to Florida International, the small Division I college he got his first year of head coaching experience before joining the Gophers.

There, Pitino had just eight players on scholarship, and had to substitute his players in all sorts of situations.

He probably didn't think he'd run into the same issues at Minnesota, but some odd circumstances have brought shades of those days. 

Minnesota expected to have 13 scholarship athletes this year, but things haven't exactly worked out according to plan. First, international big man Gaston Diedhiou was denied by the school's Office of Admissions. Transfer guard Zach Lofton -- who would have redshirted this year regardless -- was kicked off the team for failing to meet the obligations and expectations of the team. Then last week, guard Daquein McNeil was arrested on two counts of felony assault. 

Sunday, the team was even more short-handed -- with redshirt sophomore forward Charles Buggs and freshman guard Nate Mason both out with a stomach virus, Pitino said on Monday.

The Gophers play Wake Forest in Winston Salem, N.C. in the Big Ten - ACC Challenge (6 p.m. CT on ESPNU) on Tuesday.

"We practiced with eight scholarship guys and two walk-ons and no subs," he said. "So it was not the best practice. But it is what it is ... The flow of practice is not going to be real good for a while, but that doesn't mean that we still can't win games."

Both Buggs and Mason were expected to practice on Monday, a necessity for a team that has seen its main rotations jumbled.

With McNeil -- who generally backed up the shooting guard and small forward positions -- out, several guys are playing out of position.

Power forward Joey King is practicing some at the small forward. So is Buggs. And senior guard Andre Hollins. Raw freshman center Bakary Konate is getting more minutes at power forward. And Mason is trying to get reps at point guard, shooting guard and small forward.

"It's really weird seeing guys out there just because we're used to having the same guards we run with every day, and having [the same] big men screening and rolling," senior DeAndre Mathieu said. "But we're working on it and I guess we're going to have to deal with it until -- I don't know."

In Pitino's offense, there isn't much difference between the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. Where the trouble comes is on defense, particularly in the zone where two guards are in front, two forwards in back and a center in the middle. Players get used to certain rotations and their roles in those spots.

"Well, when we're playing a zone we have Andre in the back sometimes, that's not ideal, or Nate in the back sometimes," Pitino said. "It's like when do I crash offensive rebounding wise? When do I get back? A lot of those things.

"... But that's just the reality right now."

Older Post

By circumstance, Charles Buggs has become a notable piece of Minnesota's rotation

Newer Post

Pregame: Five things to watch vs. Wake Forest tonight