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Interim President Jeff Ettinger inside Morrill Hall on Sept. 20, 2023. Ettinger gets deep with the Daily: “It’s bittersweet.”
Ettinger reflects on his presidency
Published April 22, 2024

Freshmen settle in for men’s hoops as season nears

The many new faces on Minnesota’s men’s basketball team have provided the Gophers with optimism about the upcoming season. In the month before the Nov. 17 opener against Mercer, however, Minnesota’s newcomers are trying to fit in.

“With every new group of guys that comes in, it’s going to be hard playing with them at first,” said senior forward Dusty Rychart. “Almost half our guys are new, so everything’s kind of rushed because everyone’s trying to impress everybody.”

Rychart said he expects the pace of practices to improve soon:

“When one or two weeks go by, we’re going to settle down and still have that work ethic, but we’ll be more organized and not trying to do everything helter-skelter.”

The Gophers top 10 recruiting class includes McDonald’s All-American forward Rick Rickert, Street & Smith All-American guard Aaron Robinson and Maurice Hargrow, an all-state guard from St. Paul. Those freshmen, along with junior college transfer center Jerry Holman, started practicing with the team last Saturday.

“A lot of it is breaking those guys in,” sophomore forward Michael Bauer said. “Kind of getting them comfortable with the little bit of offense we’re putting in so far and playing with everybody.”

Rickert, who is expected to make the most immediate impact of Minnesota’s newcomers, has focused on his defense during the first week of practice.

He says he is looking to get quicker and more used to physical play.

“I found some things I need to work on and I’m working on them right now to get better,” he said. “I feel I’m fitting in great.”

Team enjoying practices

While the team has been reacquainting itself with systems and fundamentals this week, Bauer said the first few practices of the season have been enjoyable for the Gophers

“Everyday we come to practice everybody’s smiling,” he said. “We’re getting along pretty well and we’re still working hard while we’re laughing and smiling. It’s a pretty fun atmosphere right now.”

Minnesota anxious to begin

The wait from now until Minnesota’s first game is particularly long for the Gophers’ players and coaches.

“It’s a long grind before that first game,” said coach Dan Monson. “I think our players are anxious to begin that and work together to accomplish their goals.”

Minnesota will play its first exhibition game against the Harlem Globetrotters on Nov. 8, and its season opener comes nine days later,

“You kind of look at the schedule and say, `Aw man, we’ve got to wait three weeks to get to the first game,'” Rychart said. “You just want to skip right to it, but realistically, if we played a game right now, we’d probably lose. We’re definitely excited, but I don’t think we’re ready chemistry-wise.”

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