The Gophers open scrimmage: What to look for

Jace Frederick

The Gophers will hold a team scrimmage open to the public at 7 p.m. tonight at Williams Arena — gates open at 6 p.m.
 
Here are a few things to look for:
 
Pitino’s pace in action: First-year head coach Richard Pitino talked about the up-tempo offense and high-pressure defense he hopes to bring to Minnesota all summer. Just how fast is Pitino’s style of play? How have the players adjusted to the new tempo? Fans will get a glimpse into those answers tonight.
 
Unleashing Andre Hollins: The junior guard has shown flashes of dominance on the offensive end during his first two years with the maroon and gold, but he was stymied at times in ex-head coach Tubby Smith’s offense. Hollins will have the opportunity to showcase his skills in the open court tonight.
 
Ahanmisi, x2 Hollins lineup?: Pitino hinted at a potential starting lineup featuring Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Maverick Ahanmisi — the Gophers three captains. All three are on the Maroon squad tonight, and should see plenty of time together on the court.
 
Fresh faces: The Gophers feature a plethora of new players on this year’s roster. Transfers Malik Smith, Deandre Mathieu and recently-eligible Joey King all figure to be in the mix for big minutes this year. Also, fans should have an extended look at freshman point guard Daquein McNeil, sophomore wing Wally Ellenson — who saw limited playing time last year and redshirt freshman Charles Buggs, who put on significant weight this summer in an attempt to add strength to be more effective in the front court.
 
Lineup possibilities: Heading into this season, no one outside of the team has any clue who will be playing where on the court for the Gophers in 2013-14. Tonight will at least provide a look at some of the options.
 
Front court depth: No more Trevor Mbakwe or Rodney Williams means a perceived lack of depth down low for Minnesota. Pitino’s front-court options appear to be Buggs, King, a slimmer Mo Walker, Elliot Eliason and Oto Osenieks — though the idea of playing Ellenson at the four has also been talked about. It will be interesting to see if any standouts emerge early in the season from what looks like an open competition for playing time on the interior.