On Wednesday, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino announced that senior guard Carlos Morris had been dismissed from the team, pinching the Gophers' backcourt depth and shortening the rotation to just nine scholarship players.
He also removed a veteran from the rotation who was averaging 25.6 minutes a game.
The biggest beneficiary of that shakeup in terms of opportunity will likely be freshman reserve Kevin Dorsey.
The 6-foot, 175-pound guard is averaging 6.6 points in 17.5 minutes on the year but has stood out in bigger chances lately. In the last four games, Dorsey has played 21.5 minutes a game and averaged 15.3 points a game, including a career-high 21 points at Indiana when Morris missed a game due to the funeral of a family friend in Florida. Only five of his 32 turnovers on the season have come in the last seven games.
Dorsey's speed can change a game with his ability to push the pace and get by most opponents. The problem is, his lack of length can halt his momentum at the rim if he's not careful about the chances he takes.
"He's still got to stop getting his shot blocked so much," Pitino said. "He's driving into the trees a little too much ...but he's getting more stable. He's turning the ball over less."
Interestingly, the Gophers have been playing the undersized guard more at shooting guard, in the lineup with sophomore point guard Nate Mason. It's something Pitino said he would never do at the start of the season, but it's looked really effective at times when Minnesota has been able to use their aggressive speed to launch a driving attack, by far the Gophers' best offense.
On Wednesday, Pitino said we'll likely see more of that, possibly starting on Thursday when the Gophers will face No. 6 Maryland at home (7 p.m., BTN).
"We will look at playing him and Nate together," Pitino said. "That's something we'll go to early to make up for this."
That lineup could also include fellow freshman Dupree McBrayer, who has started for the last nine games. Though very undersized, those three seem to play well together and give the Gophers' three options for attacking the lane, making them harder to defend.
Mason smiled on Wednesday when asked about what he likes about the trio being on the court at the same time.
"I feel like no one can stay in front of us, so it's dangerous to have us on the court at the same time because we can get past anyone, get fouled, get to the rim," he said. "Having two point guards on the floor is always blessed."
Whatever the Gophers do, they'll have to make up for a senior who was averaging 9.8 points a game and has been responsible for some clutch three-pointers in big situations this year -- while also trying desperately to take the next step before the sand timer runs out. For a team that has been offensively challenged all season, that's a big task.
"Carlos was a good player, so I feel like everyone is just going to have to step up and provide for what we're going to be missing," Mason said. "Both of those guys, Dupree and Kevin are good players. I feel like it's been shown in a couple games throughout the season but now should be the time when it's obvious."