New players impress in Gopher hoops 'First Look Scrimmage'


Where is time going? The NFL season has reached its midway point, Ron Gardenhire hasn't had a job for nearly a month, the Timberwolves open the season in three days, the Wild are in midseason form and believe it or not, the college basketball season starts in a couple of weeks.

That's right. Nov. 14, the Golden Gophers men's basketball team opens the regular season with a game in Puerto Rico against the Louisville Cardinals. Naturally, most of the attention will be on Richard Pitino, in his second year with the Gophers, coaching against his old man, Rick Pitino.

But on Sunday, it was the younger Pitino's team showing off its potential in a Maroon versus Gold scrimmage. According to the U's athletics department, the Maroon beat the Gold by a final score of 59-58.

The leading scorer was sophomore swingman Daquein McNeil, who led the Maroon team with 20 points. True freshman Nate Mason led the Gold team with 17 points. He finished 5 of 7 on 3-point attempts.

Amelia Rayno, Gophers beat writer for the Star Tribune, raved about the group of new players.

"Not since I've been on this beat has an incoming class been so intriguing. Carlos Morris started the firestorm. Nate Mason looked like a legitimate star. Bakary Konate showed enough promise for Gophers fans to dream about. Zach Lofton, though redshirting, flashed his pro potential. Josh Martin nearly jumped through the rafters. It could be a fun year to watch."

Rayno noted that freshman center Konate looked more polished than advertised, athletic freshman Josh Martin threw down a pair of exciting dunks and junior college transfer Carlos Morris showed why he could be the starting small forward.

"Our newcomers needed to play in front of people," Pitino said after the scrimmage, according to the Pioneer Press. "And you saw some really good things from Nate. You saw some flashes of good stuff from Carlos Morris. Those new guys now have to understand how to play. They've got the talent. Now we just have to coach that."

Among the veteran players, big man Elliot Eliason finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Andre Hollins shot just 1 of 9 while DeAndre Mathieu committed seven turnovers. Pitino said he isn't worried about the Hollins. They simply had a bad scrimmage.

The Gophers first game against outside competition is Nov. 6 when they host Minnesota-Duluth in an exhibition game at Williams Arena.

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