basketball-men-d1 flag

Andy Katz | Correspondent | June 5, 2018

Minnesota's Richard Pitino prepared for bounce-back season

2018 One Shining Moment

Minnesota was supposed to be a Big Ten-title contending team β€” one that could go far in the NCAA tournament last season. But that was before injuries and a suspension derailed its season. Minnesota coach Richard Pitino joined's March Madness 365 podcast and discussed the way the season went sideways and the optimism he has for next season.

Ahead of next season, the Gophers check in at No. 26 in the latest Power 36.

The team could have lost Jordan Murphy to the NBA draft since he’s a double-double machine, but Murphy declined to test the process.

β€œHe’s a very analytical kid,’’ Pitino said. β€œIf he wanted to do it I would have supported it. But he knows he has a little ways to go. He wants to develop that jump shot and finish his senior year with a great year. We had really, really high expectations and to finish the way we did was a tough pill to swallow.’’

The Gophers were ranked in the top 15 in November only to fall completely out of the rankings with injuries to Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason. Minnesota finished 4-14 in the Big Ten and 15-17 overall after starting January at 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten.

Having Murphy, Coffey, McBrayer and Eric Curry (who missed the year with a torn ACL) all healthy and the addition of Milwaukee transfer Brock Stull gives the Gophers plenty of pop and difficult matchups for opponents.

Pitino went over the injury updates on the podcast, saying Coffey, Dupree and Curry are all making great strides in their recovery but they are being limited over the summer as they recover. He fully expects all to be ready to go for the start of the season.

β€œI felt like we had a Big Ten contending team but it fell apart in front of us,’’ said Pitino. β€œIt was difficult to practice (with limited numbers).’’

RELATED: The latest Power 36 | Evolution of Final Four logos

The Gophers will play a challenging schedule, including a game at Boston College in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, hosting Utah in a home-and-home series (with a return game in 2019), Oklahoma State at US Bank Stadium (home of the 2019 Final Four), Texas A&M in Vancouver and a 20-game Big Ten schedule for the first time.

β€œIt will help all of us and I think it will get more teams in the tournament,’’ said Pitino of the new schedule format. β€œIt’s another two games against a high-major opponent. That’s great for the fans and could be another quad one or two opportunity.’’

11 college hockey teams to watch this March

March is here and the Frozen Four is a month away. Here are 11 college hockey teams to keep an eye on as the tournament approaches.

Iowa wins the 2020 Big Ten wrestling tournament

For the first time since 2010, the Iowa Hawkeyes are Big Ten wrestling champions. Here's how Tom Brands and Co. captured the crown. Β 

1980 Miracle on Ice participants from the 1979 Frozen Four

No more than four months before Olympic tryouts, nearly half of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team shared the ice at the 1979 NCAA Frozen Four.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners