The immediate impression of new Gophers men's basketball coach Ben Johnson is that you can see why he interviews well.
He is polished. He is prepared. And he knows what to say without making it sound like he's just telling you what you want to hear.
That said, the biggest unknown about a 40-year-old first-time head coach — yes, the Gophers still have the youngest head coach in the Big Ten — is significant: we don't know how his teams will play on the court. I tried to delve into that when talking with Johnson on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen.
Two things seem clear: The Gophers might not always play the same way under Johnson ... but he will always place a high premium on good shooters. That should be a relief for fans who watched Minnesota often take a lot of threes but not make a lot of threes under former coach Richard Pitino.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from my conversation with Johnson:
On what makes someone a successful recruiter: "Trust is huge. They've got to trust my message. They have to trust who I am as a person. … Being consistent definitely helps. Being relatable. Letting these guys know that I care about them more than just as a basketball player. I truly do. I truly want this to be a family environment. I want to have fun with it. I want this to be something they have with lasting friendships for the rest of their lives."
On how he wants his teams to play on offense and how his recruiting will attempt to match that: "I think offensively a lot depends on personnel. I have a way that I would like to play but I'm not going to force-feed that if I have a team that has a different style. … I love the three. A team that can space you, a team that has guys that can make outside to the NBA (line). If you can do that, you open up the post and open up drives. … When you come and watch us play, we share the ball. We make that extra pass and it's automatic. We keep that ball hot and it doesn't stick. … Obviously it starts with recruiting and finding players that fit that. ... I think (there is) going to be a high premium is guys that can shoot the basketball. If you can shoot the basketball, I'm going to love you. I think it's a skill that covers up a lot of mistakes, when you're making shots. But at the same time, you can't just be a jump shooting team."
On why he left the Gophers for an assistant job at Xavier after five years as an assistant under Richard Pitino: "For me it was just a little change in course. Xavier had just won the Big East. They had just been one of the No. 1 overall seeds. … It was a way for me to learn a different style. I've always been intrigued by the Big East. It's a little different, a faster-paced style offense. … For me it was just an opportunity to do something a little different, always kind of with the intention of coming back to the Big Ten.
On whether he considers himself to be a risky hire: "I think there's a risk in everything. I think if certain guys were home runs, it wouldn't be college basketball. I'm smart enough to know that this is hard. And I get it. I'm humbled enough to know this is hard and I'm very fortunate. I'm also confident in who I've prepared under. I'm confident in my abilities as a coach. … It's all about fit. I know I'm the perfect fit for Minnesota. I'm comfortable recruiting here. I'm comfortable knowing what this program means and what the tradition stands for. With that, sometimes you have to bet on yourself. I'm very thankful that Mark Coyle quote-unquote did take a chance on me."