NCAA Basketball: 10 coaches who will face the most pressure entering 2024-25 season (Ben Johnson, Minnesota)

BleedGopher

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Per Cole:

Ben Johnson, Minnesota​

After spending two seasons in the bottom of the Big Ten, Ben Johnson and the Minnesota Golden Gophers made serious strides last season. The Gophers improved their win total from nine to 19 and earned a trip to the NIT. However, because of how Minnesota assembled their non-conference slate last season, it was evident that Johnson and his staff were feeling the pressure to get some wins under their belt.

Now entering year four of the Ben Johnson era, the Gophers were hit hard by the transfer portal, losing the steady heartbeat of their offense, Elijah Hawkins, alongside key frontcourt pieces such as Pharrel Payne and Josh Ola-Joseph. They even lost Cam Christie to the 2024 NBA Draft. Yet, Johnson was able to subdue those losses by welcoming an experienced transfer portal core that should keep the Gophers competitive. However, with a new-look roster in the fold, Johnson can hardly afford a step backward this year.


Go Gophers!!
 

Per Cole:

Ben Johnson, Minnesota​

Yet, Johnson was able to subdue those losses by welcoming an experienced transfer portal core that should keep the Gophers competitive. However, with a new-look roster in the fold, Johnson can hardly afford a step backward this year.

I thought he did a pretty fair job of assembling a new team after all of the personnel losses but the challenge is more than "not taking a step back." Considering the likely tougher conference and nonconference schedules, they may have to be better just to achieve the same record. I think they will need at least a slightly better record though. That can be accomplished but it won't be easy.
 

I thought he did a pretty fair job of assembling a new team after all of the personnel losses but the challenge is more than "not taking a step back." Considering the likely tougher conference and nonconference schedules, they may have to be better just to achieve the same record. I think they will need at least a slightly better record though. That can be accomplished but it won't be easy.
I really think after 4 years the NCAA tourney is a must... But I also think this roster will not be able to match even what they did last year.. so I'll go out on a limb right now and say this..

IF Ben can stay out of the bottom in conference and make the B1G tourney; then make an n.i.t. run to the finals I would be okay with him staying for one more year... Because he will have to coach his ass off to do that... Anything less and coyle will have to have a not so pleasant discussion over bfast with CBJ....
 


I really think after 4 years the NCAA tourney is a must... But I also think this roster will not be able to match even what they did last year.. so I'll go out on a limb right now and say this..

IF Ben can stay out of the bottom in conference and make the B1G tourney; then make an n.i.t. run to the finals I would be okay with him staying for one more year... Because he will have to coach his ass off to do that... Anything less and coyle will have to have a not so pleasant discussion over bfast with CBJ....
So we're going to base his retention on whether he wins a game in the second or 3rd round of the NIT? No thanks. As we saw from this year's NIT, making it is now 50% a function of how many teams turn down bids. It doesn't mean much, nor does winning a couple games in it.

NCAA's or you're gone is a reasonable and clean line.
 


I really think after 4 years the NCAA tourney is a must... But I also think this roster will not be able to match even what they did last year.. so I'll go out on a limb right now and say this..

IF Ben can stay out of the bottom in conference and make the B1G tourney; then make an n.i.t. run to the finals I would be okay with him staying for one more year... Because he will have to coach his ass off to do that... Anything less and coyle will have to have a not so pleasant discussion over bfast with CBJ....

I think that's fair although I'm not going to say that making the NCAA tournament is a "must" because deserving teams can be left out of that tournament (See #28 NET Indiana State and #32 NET St. John's who were left out last year). I think they need to have the kind of record that would at least put them among the last teams out though.
 

I think that's fair although I'm not going to say that making the NCAA tournament is a "must" because deserving teams can be left out of that tournament (See #28 NET Indiana State and #32 NET St. John's who were left out last year). I think they need to have the kind of record that would at least put them among the last teams out though.
I want to see him coach.... Adjust... Proper rotations... If it's like last year... No thanks..
And yes that's why I said n.i.t finals... Because good teams do get left out. And last year we only had tie breakers to not be included in w.w this non con will show us a bit more than last year to see what we got to work with..
 

to those saying "good" teams get left out, you can't just decide if the team is "good" or not and use it as a metric to keep a coach with what will be 4 years under his belt. needs to be something objective. you don't sell recruits on being borderline and missing the only tournament that's cared about for 4 straight years. If they can't go .500 in conference and miss the tournament, they're at best the definition of mediocre.
 

CBJ, the non-conference schedule and record (for all the Big Ten teams) is going to be highly scrutinized this next season. In my opinion, there is going to be such a large group of strong teams around .500 in conf. that the MM committee will likely have to consider upwards of 12-13 teams for the tournament. Unlikely to get 13 teams in as some will bubble out, but the conf. is that deep to warrant consideration. If MN can win most non-conf games and hang at .500 in conf. there is no reason we won't be in the mix. The conf champion will probably have 6-7 losses. The new teams USC/UCLA/WASH/ORE will learn to navigate the Big Ten gauntlet of scheduling and probably not meet high projected expectations (3 of those teams in the top 4 according to Torvik!). If Minnesota goes 10-10 in this brutal new league, CBJ will easily secure his position away from the hot seat.
 



I get why people are in the "tourney bid or he's gone" camp. In the era before NIL, there's no question I'd be in it, too.

Everyone knows, however. that there are extenuating circumstances that make that goal a stretch. Unless the NIL/player compensation situation changes - which is possible - this is probably true for the foreseeable future, regardless of who is coaching.

What then is a fair expectation? I don't really know the answer. A tourney bid isn't out of the question, it's just that it's much closer to the ceiling than the floor.

And btw, I'm in the camp who thinks a) the roster turnover is not his fault, AND b) he's not a good coach. Exceed expectations. Reasonable ones. That earns a fifth year.
 

If they can't go .500 in conference and miss the tournament, they're at best the definition of mediocre.

I agree that the team should go at least .500 in conference this season but going .500 in conference certainly is no guarantee of getting in the NCAA tournament. Three Big Ten teams finished .500 in conference last season but only one of them (Michigan State) went to the NCAA tournament. Michigan State really wasn't that great last season but they had a high NET ranking (#24).
 


So we're going to base his retention on whether he wins a game in the second or 3rd round of the NIT? No thanks. As we saw from this year's NIT, making it is now 50% a function of how many teams turn down bids. It doesn't mean much, nor does winning a couple games in it.

NCAA's or you're gone is a reasonable and clean line.
I was just as confused as the rest of you when he was hired I have tho given him my support because I do want the team to be successful But I 100% agree that after four years if you don’t make the tournament you need to move on
 



I am not a huge Johnson fan, but I dont think he is NCAA or bust. If he wins 8-11 games in the B10 and misses the tournament I think he stays. I would like a new, accomplished coach here but not sure where we would get one.
 

I am not a huge Johnson fan, but I dont think he is NCAA or bust. If he wins 8-11 games in the B10 and misses the tournament I think he stays. I would like a new, accomplished coach here but not sure where we would get one.

I mean fairly easy answer. Too many people give CBJ/Coyle/bball program a pass. Sure we aren't Duke, KU, OSU etc in terms of NIL or cache, that's fine I'm not asking for titles every year. But to say woe is us no one will ever want to coach here, we will always be terrible is an awful take. Our athletic program has the money to hire a better coach, and to me better coach = more interest = more NIL = more success and the cycle repeats.

Sure it's not entirely CBJs fault the roster is new, but in 3 years he hasn't exactly don't much to help it, so yes NCAAs or bust for me, don't care what the record is.
 

On game day I could fire a cannon down regent st and not hit anyone. Barry Alvarez said something like that. I was there - full sections of the football stadium were empty. Then it began. Student athletes had a single job regarding academics——Go to class. Don’t worry about exams or anything else.
 


I always thought Ben Johnson was a bad hire that would and should get at least 4 years.

If he doesn’t make another jump in year 4 to a NCAA Tourney bid he shouldn’t be given the chance for a year 5.
 

I always thought Ben Johnson was a bad hire that would and should get at least 4 years.

If he doesn’t make another jump in year 4 to a NCAA Tourney bid he shouldn’t be given the chance for a year 5.
There are enough reasons to keep a coach in perpetuity
 

I get why people are in the "tourney bid or he's gone" camp. In the era before NIL, there's no question I'd be in it, too.

Everyone knows, however. that there are extenuating circumstances that make that goal a stretch. Unless the NIL/player compensation situation changes - which is possible - this is probably true for the foreseeable future, regardless of who is coaching.

What then is a fair expectation? I don't really know the answer. A tourney bid isn't out of the question, it's just that it's much closer to the ceiling than the floor.

And btw, I'm in the camp who thinks a) the roster turnover is not his fault, AND b) he's not a good coach. Exceed expectations. Reasonable ones. That earns a fifth year.
It is never as cut and dried as fans want to make it with these decisions. Easy to put an NCAA tournament bid out there as the minimum acceptable requirement in year 4 but it won't be quite that simple for the powers that be.

In all likelihood if the team fails to make the tournament Johnson is gone after this season. But how the season plays out could certainly change things.

That said, if the team does fall short of the tournament again and looks poised for another full roster overhaul in the off season there will have to be some really compelling reasons to keep Johnson around because it will be really impossible to sell any sort of positivity to the fanbase.
 

It is never as cut and dried as fans want to make it with these decisions. Easy to put an NCAA tournament bid out there as the minimum acceptable requirement in year 4 but it won't be quite that simple for the powers that be.

In all likelihood if the team fails to make the tournament Johnson is gone after this season. But how the season plays out could certainly change things.

That said, if the team does fall short of the tournament again and looks poised for another full roster overhaul in the off season there will have to be some really compelling reasons to keep Johnson around because it will be really impossible to sell any sort of positivity to the fanbase.
It is guaranteed to be a near full roster overhaul due to eligibility being exhausted for most of the players.
 


I am pretty much tourney or bust as well.

I guess there could be a scenario where they miss and I might reconsider, but it would need to be something more than just being close (...such as we absolutely were an NCAA caliber team but multiple key injuries derailed it down the stretch, or the newcomers come on late and we roll to an NIT title...)

The 'miss but retain' scenarios are more plentiful for Coyle, I presume.
 

It is never as cut and dried as fans want to make it with these decisions. Easy to put an NCAA tournament bid out there as the minimum acceptable requirement in year 4 but it won't be quite that simple for the powers that be.

In all likelihood if the team fails to make the tournament Johnson is gone after this season. But how the season plays out could certainly change things.

That said, if the team does fall short of the tournament again and looks poised for another full roster overhaul in the off season there will have to be some really compelling reasons to keep Johnson around because it will be really impossible to sell any sort of positivity to the fanbase.
Who comes back after this season... Not much... It's basically a full roster redo regardless of what happens
 

It is really strange. Usually fan boards error on the side of expecting too much. On this site there is a large contingent that doesn't seem to think that in year 4 that even 1 tournament appearance is required. This has kind of turned into a high school program with a really big gym.
 


Based on the progression, in my opinion the goal should be NCAA bubble team for this coming season.
The issue is that the majority of this team will be graduating. If they are only on the bubble this year, do they actually stand to progress further in year 5? Will we be able to get any player capable of replacing Garcia's production once he's gone? This will be Ben's best chance for a tourney appearance. If it doesn't happen now, it's likely another "rebuild" season like year 1 or 2 the following season. This fanbase already hanging on by a thread, so you can't look at the upcoming season in isolation. Maybe that isn't 100% fair to Ben, but it is what it is.
 

I think people should brace themselves for the likelihood that the preseason prognostications will put the gophers somewhere around 15th - perhaps even lower - in the conference.

Maybe I'm wrong. But, for the sake of argument, let's say I'm not.

Do you believe CBJ would be solely responsible for those low expectations? If you're not taking into account the things outside his control, you're not being fair and/or honest. The tourney is just not a realistic *expectation* this year - it's in the realm of possibilities, but that would be *above* expectation, given their starting spot in the pecking order.
 

I think people should brace themselves for the likelihood that the preseason prognostications will put the gophers somewhere around 15th - perhaps even lower - in the conference.

Maybe I'm wrong. But, for the sake of argument, let's say I'm not.

Do you believe CBJ would be solely responsible for those low expectations? If you're not taking into account the things outside his control, you're not being fair and/or honest. The tourney is just not a realistic *expectation* this year - it's in the realm of possibilities, but that would be *above* expectation, given their starting spot in the pecking order.
If an NCAA appearance doesn't happen in 2025, there is little to no chance it will happen in 2026 as he will be mostly starting over with a new roster. How long should he be given to meet this goal?
 

I am not a huge Johnson fan, but I dont think he is NCAA or bust. If he wins 8-11 games in the B10 and misses the tournament I think he stays. I would like a new, accomplished coach here but not sure where we would get one.

I think that's the central question. Would the U hire an accomplished coach and pay accordingly? Maybe, but they didn't do that with the last two hires.

I don't think the uncertainty about whether Johnson would be replaced with someone better lets him off the hook. I agree with the .500 or better in conference target mentioned by Coyle but people should have some uncertainty about how well this program can do in the new and improved Big Ten under the current NIL environment. I don't expect to see 12 or 13 conference wins anytime soon with or without Ben Johnson.
 




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