The Preseason All Big Ten team has been announced and Minnesota Gophers Junior Point Guard, Marcus Carr, made the premature list of Big Ten elites. There were two unanimous selections this season: Iowa’s Luke Garza and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu.
Marcus Carr should feel good about this selection, in what is expected to be one of the deepest Big Ten basketball fields in recent memory. Illinois and Iowa were the only two teams to have two players selected. There are six teams that didn’t have anyone picked: Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State, Northwestern and Ohio State.
Illinois junior guard Ayo Dosunmu and Iowa senior center Luka Garza have been named unanimous selections on the 2020-21 #B1GMBBall Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Eight conference programs are represented on the 10-member team: https://t.co/dm9tYt51M6 pic.twitter.com/ArFf4eOxcH— Big Ten Men's Hoops (@B1GMBBall) November 9, 2020
The Good Times
Daniel Oturu is the one who will be drafted later this month but in 2019, the Gophers went as Marcus Carr went and Marcus proved himself more than willing to put the team on his back, when he felt necessary. At times, that was a blessing. He single-handedly beat a ranked Ohio State team twice.
On December 15, the undefeated #3-ranked Buckeyes strutted into Williams Arena on top of the world… but they weren’t ready for what Marcus Carr had planned. He punched them in the face repeatedly, delivering devastating haymakers all night long before finally booting them to the cold Minneapolis curb to wait for their flight home.
Carr was bonkers, posting 35 points on 12/17 from the field, 3/6 from deep and 8/9 from the free throw line. Oturu threw up his patented double-double but nobody else on the team, other than Carr, reached over 15 points. He added 7 dimes, 2 steals and 3 rebounds, willing the Gophers to an 84-71 stunner.
That upset sent the Buckeyes into a season spiral that nobody saw coming. They tumbled out of the top-25 and by the time OSU met Minnesota again on January 23, they were a shell of that overly-confident bunch from December. Their now 12-7 record showed it.
Carr didn’t have quite the night he did in December but he still put up 21 points and 7 rebounds… oh and this game-winner.
The Bad Times
There were other times, however, where Superman’s cape needed to be removed. Right after his huge game vs Ohio State the first time, Carr struggled in a huge win 86-66 over Oklahoma State. He shot 2/12 from the field and committed 6 turnovers. The effort is never in question, though. Carr also distributed 8 assists that night and grabbed 7 rebounds.
He posted similar disappointing, and rather random, performances throughout 2019-20. He had a rough night in a loss to DePaul, managing just 4 points on 2/9 shooting. Then there was a 2-point game in a loss vs Iowa. He was 1/6 that night. How about his 8-points in the loss vs Rutgers or 7-points in a late season loss vs Illinois?
But for the most part, Marcus Carr was absolutely fantastic in his debut season wearing maroon and gold. Pitino leaned on him heavily, too. Carr finished top-10 in the Big Ten in Minutes played (1st), Field Goal Attempts (6th), Free Throw Attempts (7th), FG% (9th), Points Per Game (8th), Assists (2nd), Points (8th), Effective FG% (8th), Assist Percentage (4th), Points Produced (4th) and Offensive Win Shares (8th). When he pulled his name out of the NBA Draft this summer, deciding instead to return to the University of Minnesota for his Junior season, fans across the state breathed a sigh of relief.
|Marcus Carr Stats||MPG||PTS||AST||REB||FG%||3P%||FT%||PER||eFG%||AST%||PProd||OWS|
Unfortunately, Marcus Carr didn’t get a chance to wear his cape during the NCAA Tournament because it was cancelled. That’s extremely unfortunate because the dance is won by elite point guards who have the testicular fortitude to take over games in the biggest of moments.
I expect Marcus Carr to take a massive step forward in 2020-21, mostly because of his new backup and improved wing options. Jamal Mashburn Jr is expected to get plenty of run in his highly anticipated Freshman season and he’s a guy Minnesota Gophers basketball fans should be excited for.
He’ll get his feet wet by backing up Marcus Carr and that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. Pitino didn’t have a legitimate point guard to bring off the bench last season. That’s why Carr lead the Big Ten in minutes played. The Gophers will still go as Marcus does but Mashburn Jr should allow him to play with fresh legs much more often.
I expect Gabe Kalscheur to have a big shooting season and Utah transfer Both Gach, who just received his waiver to play immediately, has already proven himself as a legitimate P5 starting wing.
If Carr can bring these new and talented pieces together, lead them into an unknown season and come out as a top team in a stacked Big Ten… there’s no telling how far he can take Pitino in the NCAA Tournament OR how high his NBA Draft prospect can climb for next summer. He has all of the tools… but life is about opportunities. Can Marcus Carr deliver?
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan