Coach Richard Pitino had to rebuild the Gophers coming off a disappointing 15-16 finish last season.
The Gophers returned backcourt starters Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur, but losing All-American center Daniel Oturu early to the draft would’ve been a fatal blow for most teams.
Not the Gophers. Their ceiling is even higher with transfers Liam Robbins and Both Gach getting NCAA waivers granted to play without sitting out this year.
The healthy return of veteran post Eric Curry from a season-ending knee injury was another boost to the Gophers, who could go nine or 10 deep.
Below is the U’s projected rotation to open the 2020-21 season Wednesday against Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Projected starting lineup
G- Marcus Carr, 6-2 Junior
Carr can score with the best of them (35-point outburst in an upset over Ohio State last year). And the Gophers were 2-10 when he scored 12 points or fewer last season. But he leads all returning power conference players with 6.7 assists per game and set the school single-season record with 207 assists.
G- Gabe Kalscheur, 6-4 Junior
Three-point shooting dipped from big freshman year (41.0 to 34.1%), but he finished strong with 26 points and a school-record tying eight threes vs. Nebraska.
G — Both Gach, 6-6 Junior
Gach’s 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game could’ve been greater if he wasn’t dealing with a knee injury last season at Utah. At his best, the Austin native had 19 points vs. the Gophers and a career-high 28 points while hitting the game-winning free throws in overtime against Colorado on March 7.
F- Eric Curry, 6-9 Senior
Suffered third injury setback with a torn ACL last year. But in 49 career games, the Memphis native averaged 10.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes, which includes playing on the 2017 NCAA tournament team.
C- Liam Robbins, 7-0 Junior
After losing 70 pounds since high school, Robbins became a formidable inside presence in two years for Drake, including averaging 14 points, seven rebounds and nearly three blocks to earn All-Missouri Valley second team honors last season.
Projected top reserves
F- Brandon Johnson, 6-8 Senior
Johnson, who averaged 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds last season at Western Michigan, adds toughness and experience to the frontcourt. Could be a candidate to start at power forward once he gets comfortable.
G- Jamal Mashburn Jr., 6-2 Freshman
The son of ex-Kentucky and NBA forward by the same name has a Big-Ten ready body and can add three-point shooting and ball handling at backup point guard.
G- Tre’ Williams, 6-5 Sophomore
In one of his five starts, the Texas native had a season-best 10 points and five rebounds against Northwestern.
F- Isaiah Ihnen, 6-9 Sophomore
Minnesota’s sixth man at the end of last season, the German native averaged 6.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and shot 12-for-29 from three-point range in his final seven games.
F- Jarvis Omersa, 6-6 Junior
The Gophers were better when Omersa used his freakish athleticism to attack the glass (7-1 when he grabbed four rebounds or more last season).