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The Minnesota Golden Gophers Freshmen Trio

Take any moment of any Gopher game and it's more than likely Minnesota has three freshmen and a sophomore on the floor. So how have the freshmen been playing?

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Much is made of Minnesota's youth and inexperience. But it's true, the Gophers are extremely young at critical positions. Richard Pitino's asking a lot of his roster because he has to. While the young talent has made mistakes, it has also flashed potential and perhaps what the future could hold should they continue on that trajectory.

Much is also made of next year's team. The Gophers should be more talented with Amir Coffey, Eric Curry and Michael Hurt. Pitino will also have two transfers available in Davonte Fitzgerald and Reggie Lynch, proving even more weapons for 2016-17. So the team could look a bit different next season with five possible difference-makers.

That being said, this year's team has talent that will not be, nor should be, cast aside. Let's take a look at the three freshmen having the biggest impact.

Jordan Murphy

Murphy has flashed a ton of potential. His development allows Minnesota to play with their best lineup because they can go small when he's on the floor. He defends and rebounds bigger than his size (6'6", 230), he can also score among taller defenders, using his body to shield shot blockers.

His athletic ability is not up for debate. Murphy gets off the floor quickly and really elevates for rebounds (and to finish around the basket). Largely, his skill as an athlete has made him effective right away, but he's a bit more polished offensively and not just a great athlete. Murphy's dynamic is in the pick-and-roll when he slips screens when appropriate and uses his quickness against bigger defenders. He's scored in double-figures 13 times this season and has six double-doubles (points/rebounds).

However, Murphy has struggled a bit with foul trouble. Occasionally, he'll pick up a cheap foul going for an offensive rebound or steal in the backcourt. Although Murphy's only fouled out in three games, he has reached four fouls seven other times.

Dupree McBrayer

To outsiders, McBrayer's playing time has been surprising, but Pitino likes him. He's played second-most among all the freshman (21 MPG) and is on the court at crunch time. This season, when at his best, McBrayer is attacking and feeding open perimeter shooters. In fact that's when Minnesota's shooting improves because he generates inside-out open jumpers. His driving also helps his own shooting percentage because he gets to the line more often. Unfortunately, his shooting has been the weakest part of his game. McBrayer's shooting just 28 percent from the field and 15 percent form three. He's not taking a ton of shots from deep (less than two per game), but it hasn't been pretty when he does either.

Shooting ought to be a huge part of his offseason regimen. If he has a credible jumper that'll make him more dynamic offensively and he'll be more dangerous off the dribble moving forward.

Kevin Dorsey

Not to be forgotten, Dorsey has played some important minutes for Pitino this season. Statistically, he doesn't jump off the page like Murphy and while he's a good athlete, he doesn't have the size, length and athleticism like McBrayer. Dorsey is a more-than-capable point guard, though. It's rare that a freshman can bring such a steady hand. Dorsey's not shooting much better than McBrayer at this point, actually he's shooting only slightly better from three (16 percent). But Dorsey recently had a huge game against Indiana 21 points (10-for-19 from the field).

With Nate Mason, the Gophers are set at point guard for a couple years. However, Pitino wants multiple ballhandlers on the floor, so Dorsey will get his opportunities. He'll need to become a better shooter and with more experience and practice, he'll become an even more reliable offensive playmaker for the Gophers.


Gopher fans would probably rather forget this season, but in doing so they shouldn't forget the budding talent on the roster. Gophers fans would probably rather just get next season underway and welcome in the talented newcomers, but there's talent on this roster too.

Whatever's in store the rest of the year, or however many (or few) wins are left, the freshmen have been thrust into a larger role than desired, but they've responded well. Their attitude and effort has not changed despite setbacks and losing.