There was a lot to takeaway from that Gopher win. Some bad and some good. It would be near impossible to organize all of it so let me show you player by player what I saw firsthand.
Played only six minutes tonight. Like many of the other young players on the roster there were ups and downs. His upside is clear. He demands the ball in the post and his frame may be capable of holding position against any player in the Big 10 or even the nation. He is a very special athlete and at the moment we aren't sure how much more there is than that, but he made me a fan. We will need him this year.
Again, we didn't see much of the big guys tonight. Neither "Gas" (Gaston Diedhou) or Konate played in the second half. My takeaways with Gas were that he hasn't been encouraged strongly enough to box out and body up. There were a lot of offensive rebounds tonight and that had Coach Pitino pretty tense. Diedhou is also an athlete, but Konate and Buggs are far and away the superior athletes.
Lots of turnovers tonight. He plays full speed at all times and he will learn how to better use that to his advantage. He missed some layups early and again you can chalk that up to playing too fast and possibly too anxious. Dorsey has potential, although he is small he is clearly the team's greatest on-ball defender and to no suprise he is also the most gifted athlete at the point guard position. He's not shy to shoot and you may see some Terry Rozier and Al Nolen in him with that tenacity, but he must value the ball more and turn it over less.
It was another 20-point game for King in a Gopher uniform. He ignited the crowd in the second half, but didn't show much at all in the first half. The offense must run through King and Pitino seems to understand that as he has King operating in the high post more often than not. We know who King is, he won't get you 10 boards and he won't block many shots, but he is capable of scoring outbursts like tonight. If King can stay composed on off shooting nights and lead this team we may all be suprised with the results.
Reliable. Smart. We all know Nate's game. He seemed to be talking a lot on defense tonight and I hope we see that continue.
He looks like the prize of the class. He has so much ability in so many areas. He can defend on the perimeter, he can shoot the ball pretty well if open, he is tough, he seems very aware defensively, and probably the greatest thing of all he seems to demand a respect out of the team. There were times where Murphy played center tonight and I can also see him playing some small forward this season.
TBD. Played 20 minutes and he looks good with the ball. Good athlete.
Morris and Buggs played well tonight. Buggs seems to be sure that he can shoot 3s, but I am not privy to that yet. Morris had some great slashes and the hope is that he will stick his nose in and get some tough rebounds this year. The Gophers went into halftime up by 2, but once again they lost the rebound battle. The Gophers recorded 16 rebounds in the 1st half and UMKC recorded 22. BOX OUT.
There were some visible moments of frustration from Pitino tonight. That's to be expected when you only return 6 players from last year's squad. That being said, positivity and enthusiasm may be in short supply this season. This team is extremely young and they haven't spent much time together at this point. While fans and maybe even some coaches get restless over sluggish starts there is a common enemy.