I think Reggie Lynch might be my favorite player on the team. The blocks are awesome, yes, but it’s just incredible to me how much one player can change the game. When he’s on the court, it’s almost like the other team can’t score. Every single one of their shots is altered, there’s no penetration and bad things just happen to them. It’s great. But, what does that mean for Lynch this year?
Lynch is just a straight-up big dude. At 6-10 and 260 he’s often the tallest guy on the court, and his seven-foot-plus wingspan helps him cover even more ground. He’s one of the most adept shot blockers in the nation, and even had more blocks himself than 197 D-I teams last year.
REVIEW OF 2016-2017
Welcome back to Minnesota, Reggie. After sitting out year due to transfer rules, the Edina native made the jump from Illinois State to Big Ten starter and didn’t miss a beat. In fact, he did the opposite of missing a beat, transforming into one of the most fearsome defenders in the nation. He racked up 114 blocks, good for third in the nation, and ended up at second in the nation in blocks per game. He had five or more blocks in 11 games and maxed out with 11 (!) against Penn State. It was quite a sight.
He didn’t do as much scoring compared to his time at Illinois State, but he didn’t need to. Still, he averaged more than eight points per game and nabbed a career high six rebounds per game, en route to being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
As much as you’d like to say he was superhuman, there was just one tiny thing that kept him from reaching his full potential. Foul trouble.
Lynch was his own worst enemy often racking up quick fouls early in the game and regularly accruing four fouls or fouling out completely. In fact, Lynch was called four four or more fouls 17 times last year in 34 games. That’s a lot of fouls. And a lot of time off the court.
His absences meant that he would only average a little more than 20 minutes per game, and as the most influential player on the court, not having him available for HALF the game is problematic. And teams often took advantage.
Fouls aside, it was amazing season for Lynch, who paired with Jordan Murphy to form one of the best frontcourts in the conference.
OUTLOOK FOR 2017-2018
Lynch is one of the senior leaders on the team and looking to take his game even further in 2017-18. His season averages have stayed pretty consistent throughout his career, so what you see is what you get. Which is a lot.
But Lynch has GOT to stay out of foul trouble and on the court. With the loss of Eric Curry, the Gophers now have an even thinner frontcourt, and it was thin to begin with. That means for every 20 minutes that Lynch has to stay on the bench, that’s 20 minutes that needs to be filled by Bakary Konate or a combination of other, largely unproven bench players.
Lynch can do a lot by reducing his susceptibility to fouling, but it could come at the cost of aggressiveness. Do you want a less intense Lynch who stays on the court longer or one that continues to go all out and perform and rack up fouls? Maybe they’re not mutually exclusive. At the very least, it’s a clear area where he can improve and become even more impactful.
We got a major taste of what Lynch is capable of last year, and it was a thrilling experience. The guy is a serious game changer, and most of that is on the defensive end, which hopefully means it’s something he recreate this season. Even in only 23 minutes on the court he was one of the best defenders in the nation. Just imagine what he could do with 30 minutes on the court? It’s largely up to him and the ability to crack down on dumb fouls. Too often we saw him take a seat within the first 5-10 minutes of the game and be on the bench for the first half. That’s frustrating, not an ideal avenue to fulfilling this team’s expectations this year. You want Lynch to be aggressive, but at what cost? That’s one of the big questions this year.