It’s Gophers basketball season and here’s everything you need to know about it

Jack Satzinger

 

The college basketball season officially begins tonight — and Minnesota is on center stage in a prime-time ESPN matchup against No. 8 Louisville. Stop pinching yourselves, Gophers fans. 

Here are links to all the coverage you need to prepare for the game and the Gophers season, from yours truly. 

Those watching the contest will see the ins and outs of The Pitino System: an approach to basketball Rick Pitino proved is successful and his son, Richard, has put his own twist on

The two teams pride themselves on defensive pressure up top that forces turnovers and spurs fast breaks. Minnesota heated its practice gym leading up to Friday's contest so it's prepared to play with that kind of energy in a humid air force hangar in Puerto Rico. The Gophers' exhibition win over Minnesota-Duluth last Thursday showed how sound they could be defensively, with time.  

Even if Minnesota does fly around on the defensive end a win will be hard to come by — unless junior forward Joey King finds a way to stop the force that is Montrezl Harrell

Speaking of the Gophers big men… after they drastically improved last season, expect redshirt senior centers Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason to get more touches inside this year. Eliason is one of the Big Ten's best low-post defenders and Walker is one of the conference's most dangerous low-post scorers, but they both have complementing flaws. 

Sophomore guard Daquein McNeil still isn't as confident as his coach would like, but he's feeling a bit better about himself and it's showing on the court. Despite McNeil's emergence, junior college transfer Carlos Morris will fill the void left by Austin Hollins and start.

Minnesota signed 2015 recruits Jarvis Johnson, Kevin Dorsey, Dupree McBrayer and Jonathan Nwankwo to their national letter of intents on Wednesday. 

Here's what Pitino said about each player in a press release:

"Kevin Dorsey has the ability to be one of the best on-ball defenders in the country."

"Jarvis Johnson has grown up a Gopher fan his whole life, and will certainly be a valuable addition to our backcourt."

"Dupree McBrayer is one of the most versatile guards we saw in this class… He has the ability to score in a variety of ways, and he has tremendous upside and potential."

"Jonathan Nwankwo has a college-ready body and will bring a lot to our team on day one when he steps on campus."

Minnesota's 2015 recruiting class could grow by one with Zach Lofton's dismissal from the program last month. 

After going after and failing to nab elite recruits like Tyus Jones, Allonzo Trier and Isaiah Whitehead, Richard Pitino is building stronger ties with prospective players.

And, just hours before the younger Pitino kicks off his second season as head coach at Minnesota and women's head coach Marlene Stollings coaches her first game at Williams Arena, here's a profile on the man who was able to use his connections to bring the energetic coaches to Minneapolis

I'll be live-tweeting the game from my personal account @JackSatzinger and Minnesota Daily basketball account @DailyintheBarn.

Follow along, put your tray table in the upright and locked position, and buckle up for what should be a turbulent season that begins tonight in an air force hangar and might end at the NCAA tournament sometime in March.