Gopher men’s basketball 2022 preview

Gophers basketball tips off Nov. 7 at home against West Michigan.

Williams Arena as seen on Monday, June 17, 2019.

Tony Saunders

Williams Arena as seen on Monday, June 17, 2019.

by Azzan Al Jahwari

The Gophers men’s basketball team is hoping to build upon last season’s 13-17 record.

Minnesota opens the season with games at home against Western Michigan and St. Francis Brooklyn on Nov. 7 and 11 respectively. This bodes well for the team’s hopes to get off to an impressive winning streak, much like last season’s 8-0 start.

After non-conference home games against DePaul and Central Michigan, the Gophers will begin a tricky road schedule. They will travel to San Juan Capistrano, California, for the annual SoCal Challenge in late November, which includes Cal Baptist, UNLV, Southern Illinois, Cal State Northridge, High Point, Tennessee State and Central Michigan.

They will then have tough road tests against Virginia Tech and Purdue. This comes off a 2021-22 season where the Gophers were 3-9 in away games.

Returning to Minnesota in early December, the Gophers will face Michigan and Mississippi State at home before wrapping up their non-conference schedule against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Chicago State and Alcorn State.

“We have more than enough,” Gophers star forward Jamison Battle said at Big Ten media days press conference in October. “As a player in this league, you have to be ready for anything. The ability of players is really key. If coach tells me to do something, I am going to be the first person there to do it. If he tells me something that I don’t like, so be it. The word of coach goes. I don’t think that will ever be a situation that I find myself in because I am willing to do whatever for this team.”

After being picked to finish third to last in the preseason Big Ten media poll, the Gophers will have plenty of challenges in conference play this season.

Some notable games include home contests against Iowa Feb. 12, Penn State Feb. 18 and Wisconsin March 5. These games will prove to be a real test as Penn State notably knocked out the Gophers from the Big Ten tournament last season 60-51.

The challenges continue outside of the schedule, as the Gophers will begin the season without two of their most notable players. Veteran forwards Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen both suffered season ending knee-injuries for the second consecutive year during the offseason.

“We can now give guys opportunities that maybe wouldn’t have had that to step up and really help our program advance in year two,” Gophers head coach Ben Johnson said at the Big Ten media days press conference. “Teaching those guys how to compete every single day and to set that tone. When you have young talent, that’s a good thing. But now, it’s like can you combine that with the work ethic of what it takes to be competitive in the Big Ten.”

With low preseason expectations, injuries to veteran players and the introduction of new young talent, Gophers men’s basketball is in-line for a story field 2022-23 season.