Minnesota concluded their preseason Monday night at the Barn as new coach Richard Pitino and co. hosted the Golden Bears from Concordia - St. Paul.
As expected from a B1G team, the Golden Gophers easily handled the D2 Golden Bears 101-67. The Gopher's bigs dominated the overmatched and undersized Concordia squad as the new, slim, Mo Walker led with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Eliason was the Gophers scoring leader early in the game and finished in double digits.
Two newcomers stood out for the Gophers as Deandre Mathieu had 7 assists to just 3 turnovers and added 4 steals and some nice drives for layups. While he's only 5' 9" Mathieu is very quick and a perfect fit at the point and a great compliment to Andre Hollins who will still get plenty of touches even when he's at SG instead of PG. The other newcomer to impress was Drake transfer Joey King. While King lacks the size to be an effective rebounder come B1G season, he has great range and good moves in the post to get baskets. He also plays with more energy than anyone else on the roster and is a very good passer. If you were worried about King not being worthy of a scholarship you can rest easy because he's going to be a big part of this team.
While the Gophers dominated, they struggled mightily from beyond the arc. Fortunately the Gophers already showed improvement from the free throw line after a terrible outing Friday night. Hopefully the improved free throw shooting will lead to confidence for the three pointers to start falling.
While one of the supposed three point shooters, Oto Osenieks, was cold from beyond the arc, he got to double digit points and played good defense. FIU transfer, and the only player that has spent significant time in Richard Pitino's system, Malik Smith was largely a non-factor. Another non-factor was redshirt freshman Charles Buggs who is apparently as raw as advertised. If he can figure things out he could be a valuable asset because he's very athletic and has much needed size but it doesn't appear that things are clicking for Buggs just yet. The Gophers should be ok without major contributions from Buggs or Smith in Friday's season opener against Lehigh.
Brice Marich also contributed to this report