After back-to-back road games, Maryland returns to the Xfinity Center to host the Minnesota Golden Gophers. To get insight on Minnesota, we reached out to Jack Warrick of the Minnesota Daily.
Minnesota started the season ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and was as high as No. 12 but is now unranked. Do you think the high expectations going into the season harmed Minnesota compared to last season?
I don’t think that harmed Minnesota all too much. From the start head coach Richard Pitino said that preseason rankings and beginning of the year rankings didn’t carry much weight as they haven’t proved anything yet. I think that if they would have been unranked to start the year, the team would probably have played more or less the same.
How significant has Amir Coffey’s injury been to Minnesota?
It’s been huge. When he is on the court, he makes everyone around him better, it’s just the type of player he is. I would argue that losing Coffey could be more detrimental than losing the starting center Reggie Lynch due to the sexual misconduct allegations. Coffey is expected to come back in the beginning of February, but since he’s been gone the Gophers are 1-4.
Nate Mason has seen a pretty decent improvement in his three-point shooting, going making 36.0 percent of them last season to 42.7 of them this season. Is there anything that has stood out for why he’s improved there?
I would just equate it to another year of experience and more confidence as an older player and a senior captain on the team. I couldn’t explain his 3-point shooting other than just more experience and more practice in the offseason.
Fill in the blank: Maryland wins if…
They shut down Jordan Murphy in the paint and use their big guys to score on the other end. The paint looks a lot different for Minnesota now that Lynch is out as inexperienced centers and Murphy try to keep it together down low.
Fill in the blank: Minnesota wins if…
Their inexperienced bench players step up and figure out a way to score. With two starters out and Eric Curry getting injured in the offseason, Pitino has had to play some young, inexperienced players who elect to pass the ball to the three starters rather than shoot. If they get some confidence and play like starters, the Gophers will win.