In our first preview, we talked about the seniors. In this post, we're going to discuss the new guys.
UStreet- Round 2: GopherNation, we have four newcomers this season: Bakary Konate, Nate Mason, Carlos Morris, and Josh Martin. The Gophers should have Gaston Diediou on the team as well except that the admission department denied him entry. This is what happens when the program commits academic fraud; I don't get to make Beauty and the Beast jokes or have to learn French. Zach Lofton transferred in, and would have sat out a year if he had not been kicked off the team. The program also brought on walk on Darin Haugh to supplement Kendal Shell's towel waving game.
Of the four guys who will see the floor this year, who are you most excited about?
GN - Well I have been on the record all along that Nate Mason is the newcomer I am most excited about and the guy I think will have the biggest impact.
But I anticipate the biggest impact player to be Nate Mason. This guy is going to be instant offense off the bench at point or possibly at times as a shooting guard if we can get away with a smaller perimeter lineup. I loved how Matthieu ran the offense last season and how his game of attacking the lane with unique quickness really opened up the offense at times. I anticipate Mason to have similar quickness and attacking mentality but will have a bit more height and will be a better scorer from the perimeter. My vote? Nate Mason all the way.
Then Mason went out and lead his squad in scoring in Sunday's inter squad scrimmage hitting 5/8 from three. Instant offense off the bench, incredibly quick and is going to be a very good point defender.
The guy I am most intrigued by is Konate. So much is unknown about this kid but Pitino continually praises him and says how the sky is the limit. I don't think you will see him having a huge impact on this season but watch for him to make a huge leap in production and contribution at some point and turn into one of our most important players.
I haven't touched on the other two. Ustreet? Who are you most excited about and how will Carlos Morris & Josh Martin fit in this year?
Ust- In terms of actual contribution, I'm most excited for Nate Mason. Quick scoring guards with high IQ are basically basketball heroin in terms of watchability. If Mason turns out to be as good as we hope he'll be then Pitino will also be able to rest the Dres without having to worry about a dearth of scoring. That will be key once Big 10 play starts and games frequently come down to one or two possessions. For that matter, a lineup with Mathieu running the point with Hollins and Mason as off guards could score tons of points quickly. I doubt we will see that line up very often because it'd be awfully small in the back-court, but I like thinking about extending the Louisville/Yukon (typo intentional) two PG model.
Unquestionably Squirrel Morris has the best name on the team, and I expect that he will start over Day-Day McNeil. I would also watch a buddy cop movie where the two protagonists are named Squirrel and Day-Day. Morris looks like a slasher, and has added weight since arriving to be able to handle that role. Whoever the Gophers have at the 3 shouldn't be expected to replace Austin Hollins's production by himself, and I think that this spot will be the most competitive throughout the season. To me there are two big questions here to determine Morris's impact:
- Can he score like he did at the JuCo level?
- How quickly will he adapt on the defensive end of the floor? McNeil was outstanding last year on defense coming off the bench, and I do not expect regression here. If Morris is unable to hold his own on the defensive end of the floor, I think he comes off the bench to be a scoring threat.
He may blow the roof off the Barn. Hopefully he can rebound. GopherNation, if he pulls off one of those in a game, what bourbon do you toast with?
GN - All of them, I toast with all of them. But to be honest I am not expecting a lot from Josh Martin this year. His athleticism will offer a stark contrast to Joey King at power forward and I am excited to see him in games where the pace is running a little higher than usual. But I am willing to be patient as his overall skill set develops. He will be counted on for minutes this year
Before the scrimmage I would have penciled in Morris as the starter at SF but by all accounts Day Day has developed an offensive game over the offseason. I'm starting to wonder if Morris comes off the bench. Either way he will be a key member of the rotation and I expect we'll see some offensive outbursts from him throughout the year.
All four of these guys are going to be key members of the rotation. I think that really speaks to the ability of the he coaching to bring in players who are not only ready to contribute, fit specific need and are closer to the type of athlete we want for the style we want to play. This should be a very exciting year ahead.
Up next...the rest of the roster.