Gophers coach Richard Pitino purposefully matched up his projected starters against the reserves to open Sunday’s maroon and gold scrimmage.
Pitino wanted to see how the second unit would respond to the challenge in front of fans at Williams Arena. He eventually mixed and matched players to keep it competitive, but a few players who could bolster Minnesota’s bench this season stood out in the game.
Freshman guard Isaiah Washington had 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range. He also had five turnovers, four assists and three rebounds in 32 minutes.
Sophomore forward Michael Hurt finished with 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting, three rebounds and a steal in 31 minutes.
Junior forward Davonte Fitzgerald had seven points on 3-for-8 shooting, 14 rebounds (12 defensive) and two blocks in 32 minutes.
All three players will be looked to provide different roles off the bench for the Gophers. Washington was a little careless with the ball at times, but he was able to get into the lane when he wanted. The New York native also hit two shots from beyond the arc.
He’ll need to take care of the basketball better if he wants to be a starter, but Washington showed Sunday he doesn’t just have a scorer’s mentality. One of his best plays came after the defense collapsed on a drive in the second half before he zipped a pass to Reggie Lynch under the basket for the slam.
Hurt and Fitzgerald have to replace injured sophomore Eric Curry at backup power forward. The 6-foot-7 Hurt was more aggressive than I've seen him attacking the basket. He's not just settling for jump shots, even finishing a layup over Lynch, the Big Ten's top shot blocker.
One of the best things from the scrimmage was seeing no more limitations for Fitzgerald from a physical standpoint. The 6-8 former Texas A&M transfer’s length and athleticism were on display with his double-digit rebounding performance. Combining the Creighton scrimmage, Fitzgerald has 20 rebounds in his 44 minutes in two games.
Matz Stockman, a 7-1 Louisville transfer, made his debut in a Gophers uniform Sunday with four points, six rebounds and a block in 12 minutes. Stockman is definitely taller than 7-feet. He runs the floor and is active on the boards, but the Norway native is very raw offensively.
Freshman guard Jamir Harris struggled with four points on just 2-for-8 shooting from the field in 29 minutes. He was also 0-for-4 from three-point range.
-- Below are the starter’s stats: Mason had 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, seven assists and two steals in 31 minutes. Sophomore Amir Coffey had 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting and three assists and junior Dupree McBrayer had eight points on 2-for-10 shooting with three assists.
-- Minnesota’s starting frontcourt of Lynch and Jordan Murphy combined for 28 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks (all from Lynch).
-- Senior forward Gaston Diedhiou was away from the team this week to deal with personal matters, but he’s expected to return.
-- Coffey's windmill dunk off one leg in transition Sunday was arguably the highlight of the scrimmage. The former Hopkins standout and All-Big Ten freshman looks even more explosive this year.