The Minnesota Gophers have defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions twice in three days to begin the 2020-21 season 3-0.
COVID-19 provides unique scheduling circumstances for college basketball, and the Gophers got a taste of that early in the season with a two-game home series against the Loyola Marymount Lions of the West Coast Conference. Minnesota won Saturday’s initial contest in convincing fashion 88-73, while Monday’s victory was much closer 67-64 off the hands of a Marcus Carr game-winning three.
MARCUS CARR FOR THE LEAD! 🔥
That's a CLUTCH #B1GStandout!
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) December 1, 2020
What we learned:
Marcus Carr might be better than we even thought, if that is possible. Through two games the redshirt-junior was third in the entire country averaging 31.5 points per game. After his worst half of the season most recently against LMU scoring only five points, Carr backed that up with a 21 point second half and a RIDICULOUS game-wining three pointer. This Gophers team’s ceiling will be as high as Marcus Carr takes it.
Utah transfer and Austin, Minnesota native Both Gach continues to impress through three games. The 6-foot-6 guard does it all on both ends of the floor. He is a terrific second option alongside Carr, as he does all of the dirty work, and he can even create his own shot when the Gophers need him.
Drake transfer, Liam Robbins has been a different story. Through three games the 7-foot big man has had at least four fouls in each contest with at three coming in each first half. Robbins has not played poorly when he’s been on the floor, but the best ability is availability and he has not had that thus far.
The big men outside of Robbins have also struggled to produce. Eric Curry, Brandon Johnson, and Jarvis Omersa have all shown flashes of brilliance, but each player has struggled to consistently produce efficient minutes. The overall post defense has struggled, as each player gave up anywhere from two to four inches on some LMU offensive players, but that is no excuse and must improve come conference play.
Gabe Kalscheur has had an up and down start to the season to say the least. After beginning the season shooting 36% from the field and 12.5% from behind the arc through two games. He shot 1 for 11 in the Gophers’ second game against LMU. The DeLaSalle graduate put that all behind him and made a handful of monster plays down the stretch tonight against LMU giving Marcus Carr the chance to knock down the game wining shot. His shooting will need to improve going forward.
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) December 1, 2020
The supporting cast has all had flashed of solid play. Jamaal Mashburn Jr. has certainly shown his potential, but he will need some time before he can be a serious contributor. Tre Williams has shown to be a very effective rotation player, much similar to last season. Lastly, I would like to see Isaiah Ihnen see some more minutes going forward, as the current post situation has not proven to be very effective.
What is next:
Overall, I would say that Gabe Kalschuer’s shooting and consistent post play are the two biggest rooms for improvement, as we inch closer to Big Ten play on on Dec. 15. This team has shown they have what it takes to be great, but they just need to put it all together.
Nonconference play will continue, on Friday as the Gophers host North Dakota at home.