Friday was certainly an interesting day for both the Indiana and Minnesota men’s basketball programs. It isn’t often that you see both teams lose their starting center the day before they are about to play each other. Moreover, while the programs came into the season with different expectations, both are suffering from perceived inconsistent play and at times not living up to what their coaches, players and fans had hoped for.
Aside from from the much more important reasons for the suspension itself, the loss of Lynch is no small loss for the Gophers from a basketball perspective. The Minnesota center was averaging 10.1 points and was leading the conference in blocked shots (4.1), and 7th in the conference in rebounding (8.0). The Gophers had also been dealing with the absence of star guard Nate Mason’s ankle injury, who had missed one game but returned earlier in the week and should be fine for the Indiana game.
With that backdrop, we thought it would be interesting to see what the Minnesota media is saying about the Lynch suspension and the Indiana matchup:
- The Daily Gopher speculates that Jordan Murphy might end up playing most of the game at center as the Gophers go to a smaller lineup. Minnesota has several other big men on their roster, but the speculation here is that they may not be ready for big minutes.
- The Minneapolis Star Tribune believes the impact of losing Lynch will be significant. They include a quote from BTN analyst Jon Crispin who says “I think they went from third in the Big Ten in my opinion to about seventh,” Crispin said. “Of course, they’re not going to compete for a Big Ten title. They might not have anyway. Sorry, but Purdue and Michigan State are so far ahead of the game. When you take Reggie Lynch off the table, it completely changes the dynamic of this team [and] the rotation. Now they’re competing to be in the NCAA tournament. But they’re going to have to do it by playing small ball.”
- gophersports.com (University of Minnesota) provides its preview, and reminds us of Jordan Murphy’s amazing start to the season: “Murphy has posted 16 double-doubles (highest in the country) thus far this season, doing so in each of the first 16 games of the season. His 12 to start the season was a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in 10 years nationwide, when Michael Beasley did so at Kansas State in the 2007-08 season, and his current run is the most since Tim Duncan had 17 at Wake Forest during the 1996-97 season.”
- BTN highlights that Minnesota A.D. Mark Coyle is under fire after being hired in 2016 in part to help address systemic issues such as the Lynch matter.
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Photo credit – JIM MONE • ASSOCIATED PRESS