The college basketball season officially ended a week ago after North Carolina defeated Gonzaga in the NCAA championship game in Arizona.
But members of the Gophers men's basketball team had already thought about their offseason goals after the NCAA tournament opening round loss to Middle Tennessee last month. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino (in his blog last week) and several returning players (after their last loss) discussed what they need to work on going into the 2017-18 season, which will have high team expectations.
Nate Mason: “Has to develop a consistent catch and shoot jumper as well as slim down which will help his foot speed,” Pitino wrote in his blog. Mason had five points on 2-for-10 shooting and four turnovers against Middle Tennessee, but he was suffering from a hip injury. The All-Big Ten first-team guard posted a picture right after the NCAA tournament loss with him on crutches back in Minnesota. He also wrote a couple weeks ago that he didn’t need surgery. But Pitino said last week that Mason still hasn’t been able to do a workout since his last game. Despite a sour ending, it was clear Mason had a "terrific junior year and was a huge reason for our success," Pitino said.
Jordan Murphy: “I think I need to work on a little bit of everything,” Murphy said last month. “I need to work on (shooting). Nothing in my game is perfect or completed. Just need to get back in the gym and do everything. It was a huge motivation for me (to be named All-Big Ten third team). But I’m going to aim higher, put my goals higher. It was a great honor. I was glad I was recognized but it’s just back to work.” Pitino also wrote in the blog that the 6-6 sophomore forward needed to work on his all-around game. He said Murphy is “on the verge of becoming a special player.”
Amir Coffey: “Definitely my strength and get some weight on me,” Coffey said about his main offseason goal. “My jump shot and dribbling. Just want to work on my overall game and come back as a complete player next year.” Pitino said that he’s excited because the All-Big Ten freshman guard has a lot of potential. “Have to work on his right hand as well as shooting more of a jump shot then a set shot. I want him to start dreaming big because he's a special talent,” Pitino wrote in his blog about the 6-8 Coffey.
Reggie Lynch: “I still feel like I need to make improvements on my defense (not fouling as much),” Lynch said last month. “I would say improving my offensive game in general and patience in the post. Some people say I go too quick with my moves. Foul shooting can always be improved for any player. For me, just rebounding as well. I don’t think I need to work on my shot blocking. I’m good there.” Pitino exclaimed that it was a “Huge offseason for Reggie!” The Gophers coach also wrote in his blog that Lynch, a 6-10 junior center, needs to be commit himself to spending time in the gym working on his offensive game down low.
Dupree McBrayer: “I still can become a better jump shooter,” McBrayer said. “I need to work on my right hand a little more. I need to work on finishing. I need to work on being a leader. (Senior captain) Akeem (Springs) has taught me some stuff. So I’ll try to use that with these young guys coming in.” Pitino wrote that the 6-5 sophomore guard “could be a legit force,” if he gets up to 200 pounds (190 right now). He wants McBrayer to live in the weight room this offseason.
Eric Curry: “My lost-post scoring,” Curry said on where he needs the most improvement. “I’m 6’9”. I should be able to score down there very efficiently whenever I want to. Getting more strength (will help), even though I got a lot this summer. A lot more strength and my low-post game.” Pitino wrote that the freshman big man can make a “huge jump,” if he lives in the gym this summer.
Michael Hurt: Pitino wrote in his blog that he was confident Hurt would put in work in the weight room. The 6-6 freshman forward said last month that his goal was to continue to get stronger and keep his weight to around 215 going into next season.
Davonte Fitzgerald: The 6-8 junior forward is still rehabbing a torn ACL from last October. But he said last month that he’s shooting and moving a bit. He expects to be cleared for full contact by June. Pitino wrote in his blog that Fitzgerald showed flashes when healthy of “being our best player” because of his versatility.
Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou: Konate, a 6-11 junior, has to improve his balance as well as his offensive game, according to Pitino. Diedhiou, a 6-10 junior, has to work on his offensive game and his left hand, the Gophers coach wrote last week.