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Previewing the 2016-17 season player by player, continuing with Gaston Diedhiou

A team needs depth inside in the form of a hard working battler and that is the role that Minnesota needs junior Gaston Diedhiou to play this year.

Statistically Speaking

The Good

Gaston does fight on the glass grabbing a rebound every four minutes and forty seconds played.  He’s also started a pair of games and played in 37 so there is experience.  Made five of his eight foul shots last year and did grab nine offensive rebounds in 57 minutes played on the offensive end.

The Not so Good

The Gophers were left with five or six scholarship guys for the last five games of the year and even with very limited numbers Gaston only played 25 minutes in those five games combined with half of the minutes coming against Rutgers.  The Gophers played a center and all forwards as it was guards they were short on but it’s still not a good that his time was still limited despite short numbers.

Focus on 16-17

On the good side Coach Richard Pitino always talks about how hard Gaston works and how great of a young man he is and that is always great to have in your program.  On the other side of things Coach Pitino also has mentioned this off-season that Gaston is still making the same mistakes he has for two years which is not a good sign.

The Gophers need depth up front and they need battlers.  Reggie Lynch is the starting center, Bakary Kontae is the clear experienced back-up and it seems that Coach Pitino is willing to play Jordan Murphy and Eric Curry together up front as well.  Minutes for Gaston don’t look like they will be much but wait….

Remember that Reggie Lynch has been injured twice in the last year with two surgeries.  And remember that Bakary Konate has been on campus for 29 months and would have had about seven stints on the 12 month injury list if there was such a thing.  Finally, Reggie and Jordan Murphy and have had major foul trouble issues in their combined three years of college basketball.

Gaston will have a chance to play.  And if injuries come along he will likely be in the rotation in a similar way to last year (he played in 24 of the 31 games).  The Gophers first and foremost need Gaston to do the big man basics: defensively battle against opposing bigs keeping them out of the paint, set strong screens, be active without the ball, rebound with all out effort, rotating defensively with intelligence that should be there not that he’s a junior. 

Gaston needs to be that junkyard dog worker.  He needs to be that guy that fights off the bench playing hard and playing smart getting his teammates excited and in return getting his fans excited.  He needs to have a Rob Shoenrock like energy off the bench (1997-98 6-foot-8 walk-on after being a 1996-97 student manager) getting under the skin of the opposition with his effort.

The Stat Line.  How about nine minutes per game, 1.8 points on 45 percent shooting, 1.8 rebounds, 14 blocks, 16 steals for the year!  Why that specific?  That was the stat line of Andre Ingram in 2012-13 and his energy and effort off the bench while wearing the Gopher uniform proudly is exactly what the Gophs need from Gaston as a reserve big.

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