Pitino Let’s Us in on MAJOR Offensive Changes + an Evaluation on His Very New Roster

In this Feb. 16, 2019, file photo, Minnesota coach Rick Pitino watches the team play Indiana in an NCAA college basketball game in Minneapolis. Pitino has agreed to a two-year contract extension, coming off his first NCAA Tournament win in six seasons with the Gophers. The university announced the deal, subject to approval by the board of regents, on Sunday, April 7. Pitino will now be under contract until 2024. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
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Want to get queasy for a second?  We ranked 300 out of 353 in 3-point shooting percentage last season.  Ranked 64 of the 68 teams in the tournament.  Pretty remarkable.  That has to improve moving forward and it will.  As I said before, we are making some big changes to the offense.  Feel free to tweet me your thoughts during the season.  Especially after losses!

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There are a lot of things I like about Richard Pitino. His regularly updated blog is definitely near the top of my list (so is his Twitter). It’s a good mix of his impressive writing ability, up-front and honest nature, and dry humor. I’m sure he’d love if you called him a good blogger.

In his most recent post earlier this afternoon, Richard brought his best yesterday, when writing his thoughts on the status of his basketball team in all aspects, as they enter the bulk of their summer program which includes a trip to Italy this week, to play some against some international competition. 

It looks like we should expect a pretty major change, offensively… drastic even. That is a major trend in this blog post and that’s good to see. He thinks he will have 4-5 guys on the floor at all times who will have the green light to shoot from distance. It also sounds like he has changed the schematics of his offense to reflect the additional launching from the deep line. The 3-point shooting is literally the first thing he talks about, basketball-wise:

We have had six practices and this team feels totally different.  The goal from an offensive stand point is to have at least four if not five players who can shoot the 3 on the court all the time.  I think this roster has that.  Our three point shooting will be substantially improved.  I have really tinkered with the offense and think it’s been looking good.  It will be fun to see how it all evolves. 

After a few paragraphs, Pitino quickly gets into his roster. Again, he is very open and honest about his evaluations and I have to appreciate that. Here are some of the evals that stuck out to me:

Alihan Demir

Alihan Demir – Has been terrific this summer.  Perfect in our offensive system.  So fundamental.  Great pickup for us by our staff.

Demir is a grad-transfer from Drexel and he’ll be a starter in 2019-20. When he committed to Minnesota for his final season of eligibility, I did some research on his game and quickly found out why Pitino wanted him so badly. He fits Pitino’s offense perfectly. He’s a true point-forward in the half-court and passes like a Divac-style European big man down low. His passing highlights in the lane are impressive.

It’s not just passing that he does well offensively, though. Don’t forget about Pitino’s 3-pt blog theme because Alihan can do that too. I’d imagine that a big part of the offensive change coming, involves that power-forward spot. Last year, Jordan Murphy caught the ball a lot around the 3-pt line in pick-and-pop’s on the wing and at the top of the key, as the swing-man in the regular offense. He didn’t shoot from deep often (or very successfully) so teams were giving him 5-8 ft. of space to launch (which he rarely did), clogging up the lane for Pitino’s high/low post offense. They won’t be giving Demir that room.

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Marcus Carr | Payton Willis

Marcus Carr – Tough!  Has terrific leadership qualities for a sophomore.  Should be a major factor on our roster this year.  Doesn’t care where he plays.  Just wants to win!

Payton Willis – Has been so solid across the board this summer.  Multi-positional.  Can really shoot!  Lives in the gym.  Love his work ethic. 

These two combo guards will also be MAJOR factors in the offense this season. You can tell that Pitino is excited about both of these two and a lot of things that they will bring both on and off the floor. Both can play different positions and both look like they have great work ethics. I haven’t watched practice or spoken with anyone but, going into this offseason, I thought we would see Carr starting and Willis coming off of the bench. We’ll see…

Tre Williams

Tre’ Williams – Very impressive summer so far.  Makes tough shots!  Can’t believe how underrated he was in high school.  Plays with great confidence.  Good size and skill. 

Tre is another kid who can play multiple positions and has good size. That will be apparent this season too. The Gophers are going to be pretty lengthy from top to bottom, comparatively speaking to positions. Guards will definitely be able to matchup size-wise with the biggest in the Big Ten.

Beyond more size and athleticism, you can tell that Pitino thinks he might have gotten a bit of a steal with Williams. That’s interesting because it’s not Tre was a walk-on. He was ranked as a very high 3-star prospect by 247 Sports. So, either Pitino is forgetting what kind of prospect Tre was, or he is really seeing something special early-on, with the Freshman.

Final Notes:

Alright, I have a lot more that excited me about this offseason update by Pitino but I’ve already written too many words in this blog so I’ll just end with some quick notes. DO NOT forget about Gabe Kalscheur. Pitino mentions more good things about his game, his offseason, and his improvements. Daniel Oturu‘s main focus has been expanding his game without the ball. They’ve been experimenting with his 3-pt shooting but Pitino seems worried about him liking it too much.

And, Jarvis Omersa…. I’m not worried about Jarvis, but Pitino’s blip about him made me slightly nervous AND made me feel more solid about Pitino’s honesty about the rest of his evaluations…

Jarvis Omersa – Needs to make a huge jump this summer and fall.  Got a lot out of that Michigan State game at the end of the year.  Sky’s the limit if he lives in the gym.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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