Young guards developing amid losing streak

Nate Mason, Kevin Dorsey and Dupree McBrayer totaled 35 points on Sunday.

Freshman guard Dupree McBrayer drives towards the basket at Williams Arena on Jan. 27.

Daily File Photo

Freshman guard Dupree McBrayer drives towards the basket at Williams Arena on Jan. 27.

by Ryan Falk

The Gophers’ younger guards have played a lot of minutes during a disappointing season, but their growth is one of the team’s only silver linings.
Sophomore Nate Mason and freshmen Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey have provided much of Minnesota’s offense for the last few games in the midst of its extended losing streak.
“Last game, [Mason] had zero points in the first half versus Iowa, and where in the past he may have lost confidence, he got it back in the second half,” Pitino said. “[Dorsey] is getting more stable, tuning the ball over less, and [McBrayer] is showing good gradual improvement.”
Mason leads the Gophers in scoring with 13.7 points per game, assists with 4.52 per game and is tied for steals with .88 per game.
He was held scoreless in the first half of the team’s last game at Iowa but finished with 14 points. He, McBrayer and Dorsey combined for 35 of the Gophers’ 71 points in the game.
The trio also showed potential Jan. 30 at Indiana, combining for 50 points and 10 assists in a 74-68 loss.
Mason and Dorsey each scored 21, while McBrayer added eight.
The two freshmen both have struggled to shoot well this season, but Pitino said he’s seen progress from McBrayer.
“[McBrayer] has shown to be a better shooter than he is,” Pitino said before last week’s game against Michigan. “With strength, it’ll help [his shooting].”
McBrayer is also second on the team in assists with 57 and tied with Mason and freshman forward Jordan Murphy for first in steals with 22. 
McBrayer, who stands 6 feet 4 inches, uses his frame to create turnovers, and Pitino said the freshman started seeing the court more due to his defense.
“He’s a bit of a pest defensively,” Pitino said. “He’s got long arms [and] gets timely deflections. We need length at the guard spot, and that’s why he’s playing more. I think he can be a really good defender.”
Dorsey has also shown promise on the defensive end but still has not started a game this season.
He has 31 assists and 12 steals while averaging 17.5 minutes per game, but he also has 32 turnovers.
The Waldorf, Md., native may play more often with Mason now with senior guard Carlos Morris being dismissed from the team on Wednesday, and the two have the speed to challenge teams running down the court.
“I feel like no one can stay in front of us,” Mason said. “It’s dangerous to have me and him on the court at the same time because we can get past anyone.”