The Good. Reggie set the Gopher single season shot blocking record with 114 this year and was second in the nation with 3.5 blocks per game. He averaged 2.8 blocks per game as an underclassmen at the mid-major level and at the high major level Lynch was even more impressive blocking shots. Reggie played just over 23 minutes a game this season which is short of where he needs to be but it’s an improvement on his minutes per game as an underclassmen.
Lynch made 54.3 percent of his attempts this winter which was an improvement from 50.9 percent as a sophomore. He scored 8.4 points per game in 2016-17 and made 64 percent of his foul shots (an okay total for a center). Lynch averaged six plus rebounds a night for the first time in his career.
The Not so Good. The minutes per game. The total was an improvement on previous year but the Gophers need Lynch on the court more than 23 minutes a night. His 112 fouls for the year and eight disqualifications left his team in a tough situation regularly. Lynch’s free throw shooting at 64 percent was okay, but it was lower than his 68.3 percent as a sophomore at Illinois State.
Focus on 17-18
If Lynch played 30 minutes a game and produced at the same rate he did as a junior his numbers would be 11 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks a contest. Now add on a year of maturity and think of what Lynch could do if he could avoid a silly foul a night every night as a senior.
Let’s start defensively and what Lynch means to this team. He erases several high percentage makes for opponents every night and forces opponents into tougher shots (at the rim or pulling up to avoid him) regularly. When Lynch is off the floor the Gophers had to go to an undersized Eric Curry or not as talented Bakary Konate inside. Curry on the floor is great as long as he doesn’t have to defend players that are taller and 30 or more pounds bigger. Konate is fine in short stretches. But when the Gophers get stuck with Reggie in foul trouble for long periods of time they are a different team.
Lynch is also a solid defensive rebounder and does a better job moving his feet and keeping his arms up and active after ball screens that his frontcourt teammates. What Reggie does is what this team needs. What they need to change is Reggie taking less bad chances on defense. Too many silly fouls grabbing or smacking hurt Minnesota’s chances at winning the game. They also need him to occasionally decide against a block or shot contest when his teammate is in a great defensive spot because when he does that he leaves the opposing center unchecked under the basket forcing a smaller Gopher to have to try and block that center out.
Offensively Lynch was much better getting position, catching, and making a productive post move going at the rim than I ever expected. Reggie does a great job using his pivot and core strength to release a deep post attempt that falls. With an off-season of work inside he will be even better scoring inside.
What does he need to work on? Getting his foul shot numbers back to his sophomore year total is a start (64 to 68 percent). That’s hours in the gym improving muscle memory. Adding to his low post arsenal is of course something else he will do. Another way to help this team would be Reggie’s ability to pass out of the post as well as recognizing the double team and quickly moving the ball out of the troubling situation.
Minnesota has a special talent in Reggie Lynch. Reggie gives the Gophers the best defensive weapon in all of the league where as many Big Ten teams have lost, or may lose key weapons inside (NBA draft). He’s a game changer and will continue to be a game changer. And if Reggie can cut down on silly fouls he can lead Minnesota to a special season.
Projected Statline. Asking for 30 minutes a game may be a bit much as history says that won’t happen. But asking for 26-27 minutes a game is quite realistic. With that would come ten, possibly close to 11 points a game, 7-8 boards, and four blocks a contest. Numbers that would be huge for this team. Add in about 67-68 percent foul shooting, about 58 percent shooting from the field, and a few more lost post assists, and Reggie will not only be Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year again, but All Big Ten would be likely.