The 2018-19 season is in the books for Gopher hoops. It was a successful season of making the NCAA Tournament and winning a game as an underdog.
But it is time to look ahead to next year. ESPN already has an early bracketology, The Athletic makes their Big Ten predictions and we are going to look ahead to next season as well. Here are the key things you need to know...
Amir Coffey is the key
Coffey had a really strong finish to his junior season and while that finish may have been the catalyst to testing the NBA Draft waters it also gives us all a glimpse of what he is going to do for the Gophers as a senior.
Whether Coffey comes back or ends up going pro will determine everything for next year’s Gopher squad.
All is not lost if Coffey turns pro, but expectations are very different than if he decides to come back.
The roster will look very different
Gone are Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer, Isaiah Washington, Brock Stull and Matz Stockman. Insert Marcus Carr, Peyton Willis, Tre Williams, Sam Freeman, Isaiah Ihnen and likely one or two graduate transfers.
Graduating two starters and then losing 3 role players who really never turned into consistent roles are going to be replaced by a couple of transfers who were sitting out last year, a few incoming freshmen and possibly a graduate transfer or two.
Adding 7 names to replace the 5 gone sounds nice, but the real problem is that one of the names to be replaced is Jordan Murphy. His production the attention he demanded from Big Ten defenses will not be replaced. And while McBrayer struggled for his senior season, he was still a starter for basically 3 1⁄2 years. That experience is not easily replaceable.
But there are a lot of unknowns with the new faces, the only thing certain is that this rotation will look different.
The Sophomore Core
Next year’s sophomore’s are going to form a core that Gopher fans are going to really appreciate over the next few years. Adding talent to this core could make this team really dangerous, but this core is rather exciting.
Carr is a true point guard who can shoot. Gabe Kalscheur is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten who also may end up being one of the best shooters in the Big Ten. And Daniel Oturu led all Big Ten freshmen in rebounding and blocked shots last year, we know he’s going to be a great big man over the next three years. And while Jarvis Omersa was not much of a factor as a freshman, he has a skill set that could become incredibly valuable.
This sophomore core is going to be very good.
As we know things today below is a likely projected lineup for the 2019-20 Gophers
- PG - Marcus Carr
- SG - Gabe Kalscheur
- SF - Amir Coffey
- PF - Eric Curry
- C - Daniel Oturu
- Bench - Peyton Willis
- Bench - Jarvis Omersa
- Bench - Michael Hurt
- Bench - Tre Williams (FR)
- Bench - Isaiah Ihnen (FR)
- Bench - Sam Freeman (FR)
Which of the incoming freshmen will actually contribute is a mystery
Honestly it all depends on what Coffey decides. With the senior and this team should be a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament who could realistically be a top 4 or 5 team in the Big Ten. Without him, this team is one competing to get into the Tournament and will likely be in the bubble discussion. Getting into that NCAA Tournament would make it three appearances in four seasons, a feat never accomplished by the Gopher program.
So many unknowns in regards to the new faces and potentially a couple more new faces yet to commit. Does one of the freshman have an immediate impact that nobody was anticipating? Perhaps.
This should be a good team next year with a chance to be very good if Coffey returns and the rest of the roster develops nicely around him.