It might be football season, but if you know a thing or two about Gopher basketball you know that the offseasons are hardly devoid of news, and are something to be feared. But hey, guess what? This summer has been largely drama free, though I say that while desperately trying to find a piece of wood to knock on.
Since last year’s nightmare wrapped up in
January March, we’ve had some happenings. including attrition and addition, and the team has added a few fresh faces that will play a part this season and beyond. Oh, and there are a couple other things that have happened. Let’s take a look:
Brock Stull transferred from Milwaukee
The biggest personnel news was that the Gophers landed Stull, a grad transfer from Milwaukee, who will push to start right away. Stull, a 6-4, 195 lbs. SG, fills an immediate need with the departure of Nate Mason, and is known for his shooting prowess and versatility, in addition to being a savvy vet. Think Akeem Springs, who was also a grad transfer from Milwaukee.
Stull led the Panthers in assists last year and was second on the team in scoring, averaging about 13 ppg. He’ll likely compete with Dupree McBrayer for the starting SG spot, but will see plenty of minutes regardless.
Marcus Carr transferred from Pitt; will seek waiver to play immediately
The Gophers added some backcourt depth in early May when Pittsburgh sophomore guard Marcus Carr announced his intent to transfer to Minnesota, citing the firing of coach Kevin Stallings as the driving factor to make a change. It was an exciting prospect, considering that Carr averaged 10 ppg and a team-high four assists, while starting all but five games for the Panthers as a freshman.
However, the plot thickened recently when Minnesota announced it would seek a waiver from the NCAA to make Carr eligible to play immediately, instead of sitting out an entire year. Carr’s addition this year would add much-needed PG depth behind Isaiah Washington, and soften the blow of missing out on Geno Crandall earlier this summer.
For what it’s worth, Carr had interest from Michigan, Ohio State and Marquette, though his only visit was to Minnesota.
The floor at The Barn got a facelift
Williams Arena’s floor got a midseason makeover, trading in the yellowing hardwood for something a little sleeker.
The team dumped the maroon sidelines, lightened the court to something of a white/gray color, and added a much more minimalist font on the “Minnesota” on the sideline and “Golden Gophers” on the baselines. My favorite touch is the script font writing out “The Barn” on the wings outside the three-point line. Oh, and don’t worry, I have it on good authority that the maroon on the floor actually does match the seats.
I think it’s an improvement, but honestly, after what happened last season they could play on black carpet as long as it meant some victories.
Amir Coffey is healthy and ready to go
How about some more good news? Coffey has been fully cleared for all basketball related activities, per Richard Pitino. That means his shoulder is healthy enough to withstand the grind, though he’s been practicing all summer. Daniel Oturu and Eric Curry are technically still injured, or at least haven’t been officially cleared yet, but Pitino indicated that they are on track to start the season completely healthy.
It’s big news for the Gophers, who suffered mightily without Coffey and desperately need him contributing at full strength this year to bounce back. As a refresher, Coffey missed 14 games with a right shoulder injury last season, sidelined for the last nine games after surgery.
Matz Stockman was gone, until he wasn’t
Remember Stockman? The 7-foot center transfer from Louisville who sat out all of last year? He was the trendy-looking Scandinavian guy on the bench. Well, at one point in June it was reported that he would be grad transferring to Cal, presumably to improve his basketball prospects. That was all well and good, because the Gophers were after Geno Crandall at the time and needed the scholarship.
Of course, the Gophers didn’t land Crandall, leaving an extra scholarship open. And just as luck would have it, Stockman decided not to enroll at Cal at all, and instead return to Minnesota. So, no harm no foul I guess? The whole thing is really wonky. Depending on which conspiracy theory you want to believe, he was either pushed out to make room for a Crandall signing that never happened, couldn’t quite accrue the credits necessary to graduate from the U and couldn’t technically enroll as a grad student at Cal, or didn’t actually get accepted into a grad program at Cal in the first place.
We may never know the truth, but at the end of the day he left and came back and is the same lovable 7-footer we hardly know, and who will provide some much needed front court depth.
Payton Willis transferred from Vanderbilt
The Gophers added depth in the frontcourt by adding Willis, a sophomore PG who averaged 5.1 points and 18.5 minutes for the Commodores. He’ll have to sit out a year per transfer rules, but will have two years of eligibility remaining after that. It remains to be seen how much he’ll bring to the team, but at the very least he can serve as backcourt depth when Dupree McBrayer graduates and behind Isaiah Washington.
Willis’ numbers aren’t super exciting on the surface, but he was an AAU teammate of Eric Curry’s and a national top-150 player during his recruitment. We’ll see.