Read my full story on Minnesota’s season-opener win, 76-58 over UMKC here.

Five thoughts:

  1. The small lineup looked pretty good tonight, but don’t expect it to stay. Friday, after an ugly first half, the unorthodox lineup coach Richard Pitino threw out after halftime certainly helped the Gophers turn the page mentally, space the floor, get rid of the zone that was killing them and mostly, score. But while that version – with three guards and Joey King in the middles – was super quick and full of shooting threats, it lost a lot defensively and hypothetically would make for some pretty bad rebounding (although we’re seeing plenty of that as it is). For that matchup it worked, but going forward, Pitino said he doesn’t plan to dig it out much.
  2. Bakary Konate is back and looked pretty good. The sophomore center, who missed over a month with a stress fracture in his left foot, played just six minutes because of Minnesota’s troubles guarding the perimeter and scoring vs. the matchup zone, but he had three blocks in that span and was light on his feet. Afterward he had a boot on, but only because the doctor recommended it for long walks, he said, commenting that he felt great on the court and was more than happy to be playing again.
  3. Which three-point team is Minnesota – that of the first half or that of the second? The Gophers went 0-for-10 from three-point range to start the game and managed to convert just 26.7 percent before halftime. In the second, the Gophers let loose, drilling eight – the key to pushing past UMKC for good. My feel? It’s neither. Minnesota can be a good shooting team, but it was fortunate to get a lot of open looks in the second. In the first, the Gophers looked visibly nervous. Jitters will calm and defenses will get better, so things should balance out a bit.
  4. Kevin Dorsey is fast, but out of control. Hey hey, the 5-11 freshman guard is quick and can be really fun to watch, a la DeAndre Mathieu the last two years. But as Pitino noted tonight, he takes too many “gambles” and got more than a little sloppy at times, turning the ball over seven times. He’s got to tighten up to avoid being a liability.
  5. Looking around the league, Minnesota was lucky to escape and move on. On the first night of games, down goes No. 17 Wisconsin and down goes Illinois. In the Gophers locker room, suddenly an ugly first half doesn’t look so bad. "Early in the season is funky," Pitino said. "It just is. All coaches get scared and they just find a way to weather it. Anything can happen."