After a disastrous 2015-16 season, Gopher basketball was back in action Friday night at Williams Arena against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. I was there. Here's a look at some of the players looked, new and old.
Of all of the new players, Lynch impressed me the most. He looked comfortable in the post, scoring several of his ten points there. But what impressed me the most was how he protected the rim. He only had one block but affected at least five other shots throughout the game. Rim protection was something the Gophers were badly lacking last year with their top frontcourt player, Jordan Murphy, standing at only 6'6". If Minnesota makes drastic improvements this year, Lynch will be a big part of it.
The top recruit out of Hopkins looked solid but unspectacular in his debut. What stood out to me the most was 1) his size, standing at 6'8" and playing guard, and 2) despite that, his face makes him appear to be about 15 years old. He scored 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting including 2-for-3 on threes. He was also aggressive, getting to the line eight times.
Springs looked intriguing, standing out for a couple reasons, including his hair, which I can't find a good picture to link to but it doesn't matter because you have to see it in person to fully appreciate its beauty. He looks like he has the potential to be a energy guy off the bench, who can make a real difference if he's hot, which he was in and first half and not in the second. In his 23 minutes he managed to jack up ten shots including eight threes, making three of those plus two free throws for 11 points on the night.
He only played 12 minutes and didn't do anything particularly noteworthy. I just bring him up to say that he'll take Joey King's old spot as the team's awkward looking local white guy.
Last season, Murphy's inconsistency was one of the most frustrating and perplexing parts of the team, which is really saying something. He's excellent in the post despite his size but his biggest weakness was staying on the court because of foul trouble. The aforementioned small stature for a frontcourt player made it tough for him to guard taller players, so his troubles on defense would often take one of the Gophers' top offensive players off the court. Both of those qualities were on display Friday, as he looked good, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds, but four fouls limited him to just 18 minutes.
The Gophers' most reliable player from last year had his usual solid game scoring 15 points and dishing out seven assists. For the team to make any improvements this year, he needs to make the leap from solid starter to potential all Big Ten.