Advertisement

Will core of Gophers men’s basketball roster return next season? Ben Johnson hopes so.

The Gophers men’s basketball team is much improved this season, and that trajectory can remain upward if the U roster stays mostly intact for next year.

Continuity in college sports now comes with big contingencies, primarily the NCAA transfer portal and name, image and likeness (NIL) compensation.

Head coach Ben Johnson is hopeful his current roster won’t have a major makeover for a fourth straight offseason.

But first, the Gophers (18-11, 9-9 Big Ten) will play its penultimate conference game against Indiana (16-13, 8-10) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Williams Arena.

The regular-season finale against Northwestern comes Saturday night, followed by the Big Ten Tournament at Target Center next week and an increasingly likely NIT Tournament berth after that. Then Johnson will conduct season-ending meetings with players.

“Guys have different decisions they have to make,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I’m hoping. I think this is a really good group. I think it’s a fun group. I think it’s a group, again, still with an offseason can get better and be more consistent and has a chance to really be improved next year.”

The Gophers’ Senior Day last year included the surprise addition of Jamison Battle, who ended up transferring to Ohio State.

This year’s Senior Day, however, didn’t have any shocks.

Spark-plug forward Parker Fox participated in the Senior Day festivities surrounding the 75-70 win over Penn State at Williams Arena. The sixth-year forward does have one more year of eligibility left, but it doesn’t appear he will use it.

Other than that, the Gophers rotation could remain intact for 2024-25 season. Johnson said there have been positive signs about their level of buy-in to finish the season strong.

“All that stuff will probably come to a head at the end of the year, but I give a lot of our guys credit,” the coach said. “They have been so focused on just the task at hand. We haven’t had any distractions. That is hard to have in today’s day and age, but we’ve had great practices because everybody is in it.

“We haven’t had a guy that’s been moody or been a pain or been pouting,” Johnson continued. “Everybody has truly been engaged, and I think they are really focused on making sure we finish the season the right way.”

Two of the Gophers’ best players — Dawson Garcia and Elijah Hawkins — were noncommittal about their futures on Tuesday.

“Naw, truthfully I haven’t” made a decision, Garcia said. “I’ve just been focused on the season. I do have an extra year left of eligibility, so it’s definitely a possibility that I could use that. It’s really going to be a decision. I will make it quick in the spring because whatever I want to do, I want to be fully committed.”

“Same,” Hawkins added. “Just trying to focus on the rest of the season. That will take place when it’s time.”

That could mean as much as they want to make their own news on social media.

No more games at The Barn

If the Gophers advance to the NIT tournament, they will go on the road. The U said that’s because the boys basketball state tournament has been moved to Williams Arena with the Big Ten tournament taking over Target Center this weeks and next.

The NIT first-round games are March 19-20 and second-round matchups are March 23-24.

Briefly

Braeden Carrington (concussion) has been progressing through the protocol, Johnson said Tuesday. The guard missed the Penn State game with his injury. … Gophers guards had a poor showing night in the 74-62 loss at Indiana on Jan. 12. Hawkins, Mike Mitchell and Cam Christie combined to shoot 4 of 28 from the field.

Related Articles