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Focus 17-18: Bakary Konate

Bakary Konate is Minnesota’s 6-foot-11, 235 pound back-up center. He will be an experienced senior next year giving the Gophers a rare item, two senior centers in their rotation.

Statistically Speaking

The Good.  Bakary played in all but one game this year giving the Gophers ten minutes of back-up center minutes a night.  Konate is a decent foul shooter for a big making 68 percent of his 56 attempts as a sophomore and five of every eight on average as a junior.

Konate has always rebounded with effort.  Grabbed over five a game playing 22 minutes as a sophomore and grabbed three a game as a junior despite playing a fourth of the contest.  Blocked 25 shots this year in 320 minutes which is a block every 12 or 13 minutes.

The Not so Good.  Bakary played in 33 of 34 games but his minutes were cut by more than half from the year before (673 to 320).  Konate started as a sophomore but came off the bench and played 9.7 minutes a game as a junior which is what was expected to happen.  He turns the ball over too much inside with 70 turnovers in his career versus 21 assists (I’ll bet you illegal screens count for half of those 70).

Konate’s field goal percentage went from 51 percent as a sophomore to 46 percent as a junior which is a tough decline.  He only took 41 shots all season but part of that was his inability to finish contested shots so he didn’t get the ball as much as a junior.

Focus on 17-18

What Minnesota did with Bakary for most of the year is what I expect to continue next season for the most part.  The Gophers tried to use Eric Curry as the back-up five early in the year which was fine, and they will likely try that more as they need to get Curry on the court, but when the centers got bigger it was too tough for Curry at 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds to deal with guys much bigger.  Therefore Konate at 6-foot-11 and extremely long was on the floor making those players go over his length.

Bakary’s low post defense was the number one reason he was on the court and he does that very well.  Good shot blocker, battles for low post position, makes guys go over the top, and does a decent job moving his feet on defense while working body on body.  However, Bakary has a lot of trouble moving his feet on ball screens away from the basket and his defensive rotations from block to block, and from high post to short corner simply aren’t consistent. 

As a post on the offensive end Bakary’s job is simple: finish dump-offs, cuts, and putbacks, set good screens without the foul per game setting them, and be active.  His low post game just hasn’t made the strides to get many low post touches on post entries but Bakary does work hard to get position so maybe he will make a job his senior year.

The good thing with Bakary Konate is that if there is any type of injury or issue with Reggie Lynch the Gophers have an experienced five to play part of the game. Fans are on Bakary’s case a lot because of his hands and he struggles to move away from the basket but Bakary is a solid back-up center who works hard defensively in the deep post.

Projected State Line.  Play 7-8 minutes a game (the hope is Reggie Lynch plays more and is in less foul trouble), score once or twice a contest, grab three boards, block a shot, and shoot 56 percent from the field and 68 percent from the foul line.  Cut the turnovers down (many of them are offensive fouls for illegal screens) by setting screens without moving his feet.

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