Maurice Walker

Minnesota’s Maurice Walker has lost 40 pounds this offseason

Leave a comment

Maurice Walker began his career at Minnesota weighing 340-pounds. When Richard Pitino was hired in April, he brought with him a face-paced offense from Florida International with him.

For the 6-foot-10 Walker — who got down to 310-pounds this season — he had to adapt if he wanted to stay with the Golden Gophers for next year. And according to a column written by Minnesota Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins, Walker has slimmed down 40-pounds since the end of the 2012-2013 campaign, crediting the Pitino hire as motivation for change.

“Once I heard Pitino, I was really excited,” he said.

And then they met for the first time. Pitino has made Walker’s weight a standard quip in his public speeches, and he didn’t mince words in offering a blunt critique of his 6-10 junior center.

“[He said] it’s going to take a lot of work to get into shape and that I’m a long ways from where I need to be,” Walker said.

He’s still not there yet, but Walker has lost nearly 40 pounds through diet and fitness training. Noticeably slimmer, he hopes to lose an additional 15 to 20 pounds and enter next season around 255.

The column highlights an incredible dedication made by Walker to alter his weight in order to take full advantage of his remaining years in Minnesota uniform. He has removed carbohydrates from his diet, shaved a minute off his mile time and has elected to stay on campus this summer rather than return home to Canada.

“I was dead tired,” Walker told Scoggins about his first workout with his new coach..

It’s not even July and Walker has already seen the improvements, including ending each workout with a dunk.

With Walker pushing himself to trim down pound-by-pound, it makes Pitino’s first year in the Big Ten that much easier. At 310-pounds, Walker averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game this past season. Trevor Mbakwe, who averaged 8.7 boards per game, has graduated and having Walker in better shape gives the Gophers’ frontline a boost.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
1 Comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: