Gophers notes: players conditioning, schedule still in flux

by Jack Satzinger

Last summer, rising redshirt senior Mo Walker lost nearly 60 pounds after new head coach Richard Pitino took him through workouts. The Gophers haven’t seen any bodily transformations that drastic leading into Pitino’s second season at Minnesota, but this summer still has seen an emphasis on conditioning.


Pitino said junior college transfer Carlos Morris has put on about 17 pounds since coming to campus, Deandre Mathieu has added 13 pounds of muscle and Pitino said incoming freshman guard Nate Mason has “looked good” and also put on weight.


“Year two is much more enjoyable than year one, just because I don’t have to get to know these guys as much,” Pitino said. “Now they understand the way that we want to play, now they understand the terminology.”


Pitino said they’ve only had one team practice and everything else has been individual workouts. Pound for pound, Pitino added that Joey King and Mathieu are probably the strongest players on the team right now.


Incoming freshmen Gaston Diedhiou and Bakary Konate are still not on campus, but Pitino said they have been cleared to play by the NCAA.


“We feel confident that they will both be here in the fall,” he said.


Charles Buggs has been sidelined for much of the summer after undergoing knee surgery and Pitino said he could be ready to go by September.


Minnesota’s non-conference schedule has yet to be finalized and Pitino said the team will release it soon. The Gophers are supposed to be part of the NIT Season Tip-Off in November, but the scheduling has hit a snag.


“We are all hoping it works out. It’s a little bit in flux right now,” Pitino said of the tournament.


Pitino vs. Pitino game closed to the public

After Pitino found out the location of the upcoming non-conference game, he texted Timberwolves guard and Puerto Rico native J.J. Barea to figure out where it is located.


“It’s very remote,” Pitino said. “I believe it’s on a coast guard base and it’s not a ship.”


Pitino said each school only gets about 55-60 tickets each and his father, Rick Pitino, has already tried to steal some of his tickets.


“It will be a lot of fun, it will be great for our program to be on that stage,” Richard Pitino said. “It’s really for the troops. It’s not open to the public.”