Gophers men’s hoops vs. SW Minnesota State (exhib.)
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Newcomers debut – Seven newcomers for the Gophers are the most for the program since the 2004-05 season. New starters Marcus Carr, Payton Willis and Alihan Demir will be asked to replace Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy, who combined for 39.9 points, 15.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists for a 22-14 NCAA tournament team last season. Freshmen Tre’ Williams, Bryan Greenlee, Isaiah Ihnen and Sam Freeman were part of a 2019 recruiting class ranked among the top 40 nationally. Williams led the Gophers with 15 points per game during the foreign tour to Italy. Greenlee and Freeman will fight for backup minutes at point guard and center. Ihnen would've helped to replace injured big man Eric Curry, but he's out indefinitely with a right wrist injury.
Super sophomores – Sophomores Gabe Kalscheur and Daniel Oturu are the only returning starters for the Gophers from last season. Kalscheur, a guard from DeLaSalle, led all Big Ten freshmen and set a school freshman record with 77 three-pointers on 41 percent shooting last season. Oturu, a 6-10 center, led all Big Ten freshmen in rebounds per game (7.0), blocks (46) and field goal percentage (55.1). Carr, the team’s starting point guard, is a sophomore as well. Kalscheur, Oturu and Carr combined for 47 points the 77-68 overtime secret scrimmage win Oct. 19 at Iowa State. There won’t be another team in the Big Ten relying this much on their sophomore class to make an impact this season.
Three-point threats – The Gophers ranked 344th nationally three-pointers per game (5.3) and 300th in three-point percentage (31.7) last season. Kalscheur was the only true deep threat at 41 percent from long distance. Willis is the best shooter of the newcomers. Willis shot a team-best 50 percent from beyond the arc in scrimmages during practice this summer and fall, according to coaches. Minnesota shot 8-for-23 from three in the 77-68 secret scrimmage overtime win at Iowa State on Oct. 19. Kalscheur and Willis combined to go 7-for-17 from long distance. Ihnen nailed the team’s only other three.
Time: 7 p.m. CT, Monday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: None. Series: Minnesota leads the series 3-0, including last meeting with 81-64 win in 2015. TV: None. Online/Live video: BTNPlus Radio: None.
MINNESOTA GOPHERS (0-0)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G - Marcus Carr 6-2 190 So.
G - Gabe Kalscheur 6-4 200 So.
G - Payton Willis 6-4 200 Jr.
F - Alihan Demir 6-9 235 Sr.
C - Daniel Oturu 6-10 245 So.
Key reserves–Michael Hurt, F, 6-7, Sr., Jarvis Omersa, F, 6-7, So., Isaiah Ihnen, F, 6-9, Fr., Bryan Greenlee, G, 6-0, Fr., Tre’ Williams, G, 6-5, Fr., Sam Freeman, C, 6-10, Fr.
Coach: Richard Pitino 112-92 (7th season)
Notable: The Gophers defeated Southwest Minnesota State 81-64 in their last exhibition meeting in 2015 before Pitino’s third season. Minnesota also beat SMSU 59-50 in 2005 and 88-52 in 2007 … Curry had successful surgery last week on a torn ACL in his right knee suffered during practice Oct. 7. The 6-9 redshirt junior hasn’t played a full season since his freshman year in 2016-17 after tearing ligaments in his left knee in 2017 and foot surgery last season.
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (0-0)
Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG
G- Cliff McCray 6-2 190 Fr.
G – Kenny Byers 6-4 194 Jr.
G- Grant Kramer 6-7 210 So.
F- Braedan Hanson 6-7 231 Jr.
F- Weston Baker Magrath 6-8 237 Jr.
Key reserves– Nick Dufault, G, 5-11, Jr., Jake Phipps, C, 6-9, Fr., Kaden Evans, G, 6-4, Fr., Brian Dayman, F, 6-6, Fr., Kevin Totusek, F, 6-8, So., Andy Stafford, F, 6-5, Fr., Sam Schwartz, G, 6-4, Fr.
Coach: Brad Bigler 122-96 (11th season)
Notable: The Mustangs reached the NCAA Division II tournament in back-to-back seasons combining for 53 wins in 2017 and 2018, which included a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament title in 2017. After sliding a bit with an 18-win season, SW Minnesota State was picked to finish 12th in the Northern Sun this season. Bigler must find a way to replace his senior backcourt of All-American Ryan Bruggeman and Taylor Schafer, who combined to average 39.5 points per game. Byers is the leading scorer returning with 10.2 points per game.
Fuller’s prediction: Gophers 78, SW Minnesota State 63.
The Gophers committed 20 turnovers and 22 fouls in the Iowa State secret scrimmage, but they managed to win in overtime after holding the Cyclones to under 35 percent shooting from the field and 21 percent from three-point range. Richard Pitino’s practices have been all about emphasizing the fundamentals defensively. This might be a better outside shooting team than last season, but it won’t take much to accomplish that fete. Another strong showing on defense Monday will help continue to build confidence going into the Nov. 5 opener against Cleveland State.