***I initially omitted Jarvis Johnson from my list of seniors. This has been corrected.***
The final home game of the regular season in college basketball brings about Senior Night, a time often wrought with emotions and an opportunity to look back at the contributions the respective senior players have made to the program. In the case of the 2018-2019 Minnesota Golden Gophers, it is an interesting dichotomy of two four-year players with a combined (as of this evening) 205 career starts, two graduating transfers we wished had made a bigger impact this season, and one who’s opportunity to play college basketball was unfairly taken from him due to a heart condition. Tonight we will say farewell to Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer, Matz Stockman, Brock Stull, and Jarvis Johnson. Let’s say a little something about each of the departing Gophers.
As the program’s all-time leader in rebounds and double-doubles, Jordan Murphy has left quite an individual mark on the program in his four years here. Despite only measuring 6’ 6”, he has used a combination of strength and determination to out rebound larger and more skilled players in the Big Ten for the last four seasons. He has been durable, reliable, and tenacious on the court and an exemplary member of the University of Minnesota off it. There should be more coming as it pertains to Murphy in another post so I don’t want to get too carried away be he will certainly be missed by the maroon and gold faithful. It’s a shame Jordan had to endure two of the worst years in program history as it was never a reflection on his own skill or commitment but more so a product of difficult extenuating circumstances beyond his sphere of influence. It will be interesting to see the discussion related to his spot in Gopher history in the coming years.
Most Memorable Gopher Moment: There are many to chose from so I’ll just limit it to one that stands out in my mind. It was the uber efficient 23 point, 14 rebound night at Providence in 2017-2018 that Murphy used as a springboard to his 17-straight double-doubles streak to start the season. He was 10-13 from the field and utterly dominated a decent Friar squad on the road.
The term that can be most aptly applied to McBrayer’s tenure in Dinkytown is roller coaster. As a fixture in the lineup since his freshman season, we’ve seen everything from sex tapes to sick stepback jumpers from Dupree. Another challenge came this year when he lost his mother in the middle of the season. Despite the undulating nature of his career, McBrayer was an exciting player to watch when right. The combination of him and Amir Coffey on the fast break has made for some memorable highlights the last three years and during the 2016-2017 season, McBrayer shot an excellent 41.6% from three-point land and was a huge reason the Gophers finished 4th in the Big Ten. While his efficiency dipped his last two years, part because of injury during his junior year, Dupree often played some excellent defense on some challenging back court opponents. With 90+ career starts, McBrayer will be missed.
Most Memorable Gopher Moment: Perhaps recency bias is clouding my judgement, but watching him swipe two possessions away from the Brad Davison to clinch the win in Madison this year was oddly satisfying. It was either that or his hot shooting (3-5 from three, 6-8 from the field) in a hostile College Park environment against Maryland in 2017 during his best season as a Gopher.
There was initially the question of if Stockman would ever actually suit up for the Gophers after sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules after departing Louisville. He wanted a transfer to Cal (which, woof if you have seen what Cal has been like this season) but the process became “too difficult”. Alas, he ended up contributing some minutes as front court depth during this season. While the returns have been less than desirable, Matz has always handled himself on the court with good character. He has shown the fleeting ability to finish at the rim strong with dunks off the pick-and-roll. As the eighth or ninth player, the Gophers could have done far worse this season.
Most Memorable Gopher Moment: His 3 block, 7 rebound effort against Oklahoma State that had Big Ten Network announced Shon Morris acting like he was the second coming of Dikembe Mutombo for one shining 40 minute period.
When news came out the Gophers were getting Stull as a grad transfer from Milwaukee, there was hope he could provide some punch as a sharp shooter. That dream has never really manifested itself. Playing time has been sparse and its pretty evident that the athleticism to cover guards in the Big Ten just wasn’t quite there for the shooting guard. However, when given the rare opportunity to shoot from distance, he has acquitted himself quite well. On the season he is 9-18 from three which makes you wonder what could have been if a set or two had been run to get him some separation from three-point land.
Most Memorable Gopher Moment: The two three-pointers he canned in Madison this season to contribute 10% of the team’s point in a slog of a game. Those three pointers were huge in the Gophers’ best win on their bubbly resume this season.
Oh, what could have been. Local product Jarvis Johnson was an exciting prospect recruited by Coach Pitino early on in his tenure. He committed to the U looking to start a trend of in-state players coming to wear the maroon and gold in front of hometown crowds at the Barn. Unfortunately, and most unfairly, Jarvis never got a chance to play on the big stage in Dinkytown. A heart condition rendered him medically uncleared to play throughout his entire career. Reports from the team have always indicated that Jarvis has been a wonderful teammate and a greatly supportive presence on the bench. I’m sure it pains Johnson to watch from the sidelines, especially this year when the Gophers could use a true point guard like Jarvis. Sports can be cruel sometimes. It’s too bad we never got to see the explosive guard player on the raised floor. Perhaps there will be a cameo appearance in the works tonight for the guard from DeLaSalle High School.
Hats off to the five seniors of the 2018-2019 Golden Gophers. Let’s send them off into the proverbial sunset with a victory against the first place team in the Big Ten in a game with massive NCAA Tournament implications.