Richard Pitino's time in Minneapolis hasn't exactly gone as planned, with the young coach seeing his number of wins drop each season since the 25 wins he posted in 2013-14. This past season the Gophers only managed to muster out eight wins, the fewest wins since the 1967-68, and now things are getting a bit restless in Minneapolis.
While the Gophers looked to hit rock bottom, especially when the team suspended several of their top players after their actions online, things got even worse after the season with the news that freshman guard Kevin Dorsey was transferring from the program. As bad as the season was for the Gophers, Dorsey had finally started to hit the ground running for Minnesota and looked like a potential building block for the future, only for the guard to depart and leave the backcourt with an additional hole to fill.
The loss of Dorsey is problematic for Minnesota, but there's at least some hope in the addition of graduate transfer Akeem Springs, who will make Minnesota his third home after spending time at Milwaukee and Northern Illinois. Springs is a part of the Panther exodus, with several players departing as Milwaukee's program is seemingly in disarray, and recently committed to the Gophers. The news of Dorsey's transfer may have been a blow, but the addition of Springs was a nice way to make up for the team's loss.
Minnesota may have been bad in 2015-16, but there is some potential in Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer, who will provide a solid base to build on heading forward. Mix in some experience with Springs and the addition of four-star shooting guard Amir Coffey, who's ranked 53rd in the 2016 recruiting class per Rivals, and Minnesota now has a young and exciting backcourt that could make some waves next season. That could become even more true when you realize a laundry list of Big Ten programs will be dealing with a considerable amount of roster turnover, as well as the fact that Minnesota was close in numerous conference losses last season before injuries and suspensions ultimately derailed their season.
The addition of Springs will add some much needed experience, as he'll be a senior, and will be an improvement from the perimeter. While Springs struggled from outside prior to last season, he hit a career high in three pointers last season (35.1%) and hit almost 50% of his field goals. His ability to score and shoot the ball will be much appreciated in Minneapolis, with the Gophers shooting 31% from three (312th) and 40.6% from the field (320th) last season. Not only can Springs help contribute immediately on the offensive front, his ability to run the point could allow Springs to spell Mason and help with the ball-handling for Pitino's squad. With Minnesota committing 354 turnovers (32nd in the nation), they'll need to take better care of the ball if they want to win some of these close games next season and Springs could help clean up some of these turnover issues.
As bad as things were for Minnesota this past season, fans should remember that the team was highly inexperienced this past season and still came close to knocking off pretty much every top Big Ten program. If Pitino can work on developing his young talent and fix a horrible frontcourt, Minnesota could make a massive leap in 2016-17. With an experienced combo guard in Akeem Springs set to join the fold, Minnesota will now field a relatively talented backcourt that Pitino can build on.