Ben Johnson still has work to do to put together a full roster for next season.
With the summer recruiting season right around the corner, though, the first-year Gophers coach feels fortunate to have a full staff in place ready to help him promote his program.
On Thursday, Johnson introduced his final assistant, Marcus Jenkins, to the media. The former Richmond associate head coach and his new boss talked about a variety of topics from losing players to the transfer portal to Jenkins having Minnesota ties, too.
Here are five things you should know from the interview.
Johnson on losing 10 players from last season into the portal (Isaiah Ihnen only returning player):
"I think it kind of is what it is. Everybody's fair game to make their own decision, especially when there's a coaching change, to do what they feel is best. And I totally get this, I don't take any of this stuff personal. I don't think anybody should, really. I think anytime there's a major change at the top, and you have a whole new staff, there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of uncertainty from a student-athlete standpoint. They're seeing this portal open up, and they're seeing everybody kind of move around. They've been recruited by people other than me that they have no pre-existing relationships. And I get it. And I think it goes back to getting that comfort blanket in that trust … I think we've done a good job as a staff of replacing, and filling it with people that fit what we're trying to do. So, I was looking it as a positive thing. It's a time for us to really kind of manage the roster from day one, the way we want it."
Johnson on what comes next after Division II All-American transfer Parker Fox's knee surgery:
"You feel for Parker. He's dreamed of this opportunity and this moment. And I know, I've really been looking forward to him contributing this year to this team. And to have that happen. I think that was the first thought that that crossed my mind is, you know, just you feel for the kid. And so, now it's just more trying to build confidence in him and allow him to attack the rehab and not really rushing. You never want to lose a guy. You want to have all bodies on board. But at the same time, we want to be smart with the process and his recovery. He's got a bright future. He's going to have a big-time career for us. So, I think he's just being patient. It's communicating with the training staff and in the medical doctors to make sure that his rehab is progressing the right way. And I'm really in no rush. I'm going to listen to him and his body, and our team physicians. And if he's able to come back and it works, great, we'll figure it out. And if he's not, he'll recover fully. And he'll be ready to go in the spring for next year."
Jenkins on what he brings to the Gophers as a former Richmond assistant and Air Force player:
"I like to think I'm a pretty good leader. Having gone to the Air Force Academy. Leadership is drilled into you, whether you want it to be or not. It's going to be on you to figure out what you are and how you're going to morph that into your own style. So, I think those two things are something that I'll be able to bring right away. At Richmond, I was the offensive coordinator as the associate coach. And so I know Ben's got an idea of exactly how he wants to play. He's explained that to me, and it really fits well with my own idea of what good basketball is. Having the floor space and having guys in in the correct area. Is it sharing the ball? It really fits and having those conversations with him. Him really telling me what he would hope I would bring to this program is what made this this a no brainer for me."
Jenkins on meeting his wife at an Air Force base in Montana. He's from California. She's from Minnesota:
"She did ROTC at Notre Dame, and she shows up at Malmstrom Air Force Base as a lieutenant as well. And she's from here, she's from Eden Prairie. And when we were when we first started dating, I had met her family a few times and loved them. I specifically told her, 'I love your family. But I just can't go for Christmas. I can't, I can't. The summer, I'll be at the lake all the time. But I can't go for Christmas.' And now it's all come full circle. And she and her family, her mom and dad both [graduated from the U]. They're ecstatic to have the grandkids around. And I echo those sentiments really. Really happy to be here."
Johnson on if he'll incorporate the Princeton offense with Jenkins on his staff:
"I have a ton of respect obviously for how they played at Richmond. I don't think we'll go for Princeton by any means. But I'm open. I love offensively what they did. Obviously, Chris Mooney had a ton of success. And so, I think I'm pretty foolish not to pick Marcus's brain on certain actions we can incorporate what we want to do and how we want to play. Because I do want to play more with concepts than actual set plays every single time down the floor. So, you might see a wrinkle or two here and there out of what we run, and try to get some variety. New ideas and new ways to do things is always good."