The Gophers gave official debuts to both basketball teams on Tuesday at Williams Arena, with Lindsay Whalen starting her fourth season in charge of the women's program and Ben Johnson taking over the men's team after eight seasons of Richard Pitino.

Whalen has the status of an all-time great Gophers athlete. Johnson's playing career for the Gophers was two seasons: part of a NIT semifinalist in 2003, then a starter on a team that shared last place in the Big Ten in 2003-04.

This was the scene greeting the two ex-Gophers on the official Opening Day of Year 93 in our stout old Barn.

NOON: Gophers women vs. Jacksonville Dolphins

A half-century later, the Dolphins and basketball can't be mentioned without a reminder of superstar Artis Gilmore, coach Joe Williams and a team trampling the NCAA field with its 100-point offense until losing, 80-69, to UCLA in the title game.

It was 1970 and the NCAA didn't trust coaches in white suits, eventually vacating Jacksonville's tournament run and unleashing probation. This action was taken even though it's likely Williams wasn't rewarding athletes as handsomely as was booster Sam Gilbert for coach John Wooden at UCLA.

Which has nothing to do with Tuesday's opener of the Gophers' doubleheader.

This was a Dolphins' women's team that was 1-13 in the ASUN Conference in 2020-21, sending coach Darnell Haney into the transfer market with some success.

Whalen also brought in a pair of transfers, graduates Deja Winters and Bailey Helgren, and was relying on a full roster to put behind the past two winters with a 12-24 Big Ten record.

The strength was anticipated to be two junior guards, Sara Scalia and Jasmine Powell, complimented by senior Gadiva Hubbard.

The 5-11 Winters, previously at Seton Hall and then North Carolina A&T, is also going to be playing heavy minutes. She looked better than her boxscore line (4-for-12) when teaming with Scalia for the Gophers' best stretch of the early afternoon.

The Gophers had out-bricked the visitors in the first quarter, shooting a smooth 20% (3-for-15) and scoring nine points.

Whalen said later, "I think, early on, they had us out of our rhythm,'' in what she knew was a giant understatement.

That changed in the second period when Scalia made three three-pointers and Winters made a pair. Those five makes in 11 threes put the Gophers ahead 32-29 at halftime.

Everyone could relax — although the everyone was several hundred spectators, with this noon start, and not the 2,500 announced.

Whalen wanted an early game and Jacksonville was available. The men's team was scheduled for a night game … so noon it was.

Jacksonville showed up with a much-better collection of athletes than was anticipated after its 2020-21 disaster. The Dolphins didn't go away in the second half, and then forced clutch turnovers down the stretch, and there it was at game's end:

Dolphins 69, Gophers 66.

Scalia and Powell were brought to a postgame interview with Whalen. Scalia had 25 and looked as if her dog had died, after she committed a couple of crucial turnovers. Powell had 15, but was only 2-for-9 from the field, and equaled Scalia in glumness.

It was not a celebratory way to start the Opening Day twinbill at Williams Arena.

7 P.M.: Gophers men vs. Kansas City Roos.

The crowd for the men's opener was sparse. The cheer from those assembled when Johnson was introduced as the new man was shy of robust.

The pessimism surrounding a team that lost 10 players to transfer and then brought in athletes from a variety of non-major conferences was too much for Gophers fans to put aside, so a few thousand ticket-holders in the announced attendance of 8,975 stayed away.

Kansas City is picked to finish sixth in the 10-team Summit (newcomer St. Thomas is No. 10), which seemed reasonable for the level of talent on display.

The Gophers came off as well-prepared through most of the first half. Point guard Payton Willis, here for the second time as a transfer, was the dominant player on the court for an early hunk of the game.

Jamison Battle, former DeLaSalle Islander and back home as a sophomore transfer, demonstrated he's ready to fire — 7-for-13, 18 points. Luke Loewe, Sean Sutherlin, E.J. Stephens, a raft of transfer guards, made some plays.

Yet, the Gophers let an 12-point lead in the second half dwindle to 54-52, before Eric Curry, grad assistant transformed into starting center, found Loewe for a lay-up with an outstanding pass.

The Gophers took off from there, a 12-point run that put away the Roos in what became a 71-56 victory. The crowd actually got worked up during that run, giving Ben Johnson a few cheers to remember from victory No. 1, in a rookie season when all are expected to be precious.