When it comes to the best dunkers in basketball, big men usually don’t get picked.
Their dunks aren’t as pretty. Maybe they don’t get as high off the floor, either. But a dunk is a dunk.
If big guys don’t get credit for being the best, at least they should be recognized for doing it the most.
Minnesota’s top dunkers so far this year are two post players: Reggie Lynch and Jordan Murphy.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound Lynch leads the Gophers with 13 dunks this season, including eight slams in the last four games. The 6-7, 240-pound Murphy is close behind with 12 dunks this year, but he went without a dunk for three games before an emphatic two-hand flush in Wednesday night’s 76-66 win vs. LIU-Brooklyn.
Lynch is a defensive force, leading the Big Ten in blocks. But he won’t hesitate to throw it down on a defender’s head. He had three dunks in the second half alone vs. Georgia Southern on Dec. 9.
Murphy would get at least two dunks a game last season, finishing with a Big Ten-best 45 his freshman year. He had the most spectacular dunk so far this year in the season opener vs. Louisiana-Lafayette.
Who will win the battle for best dunker on the team by seasons end? We’ll see. The race is tight right now, with both players capable of punishing the rim with the best of them.
Through 12 games last season, the Gophers had 27 dunks from only three players, including Murphy’s 16 to lead the team. They have 46 slams from six players this season after an 11-1 start. Why more dunks? Richard Pitino’s team is longer and more athletic this year.
One guy who desperately wants to join the dunk club this season is 6-4 senior Akeem Springs, who missed an alley-oop in Sunday’s win vs. Northern Illinois. He claims he had a few alley-oop dunks at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, his old school. He kept trying them, because his coach hated it. Pitino doesn’t mind.
“It was a great pass,” Springs said about Nate Mason’s lob. “I just missed it. I guess I was too anxious. But I’m going to get one.”
Gophers dunk leaders after 12 games in 2016-17
Reggie Lynch 13
Jordan Murphy 12
Amir Coffey 7
Bakary Konate 6
Eric Curry 5
Dupree McBrayer 3