Minnesota Golden Gophers

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Minnesota player won’t face charges

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Minnesota junior Reggie Lynch will not face charges stemming from his May arrest on suspicion of sexual assault.

“We have insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed,’’ Chuck Laszewski, spokesperson for Hennepin (Minn.) County attorney’s office, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lynch was arrested in May for the alleged rape of a 19-year-0ld woman in Minneapolis, but was released without charge as the incident was further investigated. He was suspended indefinitely by the Gophers upon the arrest.

“The investigation is ongoing, and it is important that we allow it to conclude before drawing conclusions,” Minnesota president Eric Kaler said in a May statement. “But let me be clear, the allegations are at odds with what we stand for at the University of Minnesota, within our athletic department and across our campus.”

Lynch sat out last season after transferring to Minnesota from Illinois State, where he averaged 9.5 points per game as a sophomore. The Gophers have not provided an update on his status following prosecutors’ decision not to file charges.

Problems piling up for Pitino in Minnesota

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino reacts as he talks to his players during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

When Minnesota hired Richard Pitino in 2013, he was hailed as a wunderkind with a basketball pedigree and acumen that was far more than just his last name. He was coming off an 18-14 campaign in his first season as a head coach at FIU, but he’d coached for the likes of his father, Rick Pitino, and Billy Donovan. Not to mention he was being hand picked by the man that tabbed Shaka Smart and started the famed Villa 7 consortium.

Three years later, it appears that the Gophers program is unraveling fast.

The latest in a recent string of issues for Pitino is an audit of his travel that found he’d spent triple his budget for private plane use in 2015 among other overspending issues, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

This revelation came just hours after junior Reggie Lynch was released from custody after being arrested on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. Lynch was not charged, but police will continue to investigate and he could face charges at a later date.

Just a few months ago, three Gophers were suspended after an explicit video was posted to social media. One of them, Kevin Dorsey, decided to transfer after the season.

Athletic director Norwood Teague, of course, resigned ignominiously last summer amid a sexual harassment scandal, but not before he negotiated the terms of a contract for Pitino that gave the 33-year-old a $400,000 raise and upped his university-owed buyout to $7.1 million, despite the fact Pitino went just 43-28 overall and 14-22 in the Big Ten in his first two seasons. The Gophers went 8-23 overall and 2-16 this past season. That extension has Minnesota’s Board of Regents moving to gain approval of all high-level contracts for athletic department employees.

Minnesota still has not hired Teague’s replacement, leaving Minnesota with an interim AD.

The audit that was made public Tuesday would also appear to show Teague giving Pitino further favorable financial treatment. Pitino’s contract called for him to be allowed $50,000 for private planes but Teague authorized him to spend $100,000 in 2014 and $150,000 in 2015, according to the Star Tribune. Pitino was also said to have “unreasonable” spending on rental cars and took two “unallowable” flights because the destinations were within 200 miles of campus.

That’s a long way of saying that Pitino will be under tremendous pressure this upcoming season, but he will welcome his best recruiting class yet to the Twin Cities. He’ll likely need to show significant improvement to appease whoever his new boss is once Minnesota hires an athletic director. Putting an immediate end to the off-court issues that have plagued the program in high-profile ways will also be a priority.

The excitement of hiring a young coach with a famous name has faded fast in Minneapolis. What’s left is a program that is piling up problems with regularity and frequency.

Minnesota could opt for big lineup

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino reacts as he talks to his players during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino is experimenting with a potentially big starting lineup this season. In a report from Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press, Pitino believes that since the Big Ten has a lot of naturally big lineups that he might need to adjust.

Pitino said that a starting lineup could include Nate Mason, Carlos Morris, Charles Buggs, Joey King and Bakary Konate. While Mason and Morris present good natural size in the backcourt, the 6-foot-9 Buggs playing at small forward could be a major change.

“In my ideal world, that’s a big lineup, pretty talented,” Pitino said to reporters on Friday. “The one thing you learn is that you make a plan and you know it’s going to change. But I like the size of that lineup. I like the speed. I like the athleticism.

“But again, if guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you have to be willing to change.”

Seeing Pitino looking towards this lineup is intriguing since he has some talented and athletic freshman wings and guards in the mix. If Buggs and the big lineup is used, it means the Golden Gophers could be deep on the perimeter, bringing talented freshmen like Kevin Dorsey, Dupree McBrayer and Jordan Murphy off the bench.

Obviously, injuries and the way certain players respond to these lineups could change a lot before the beginning of the season, but for now, this will be something to monitor in the preseason.

Three-star forward will decide between three

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One of the July evaluation period’s biggest stock risers, Arkansas native Eric Curry, will decide between three schools this week, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Little Rock will pick this week between Arkansas, Iowa State and Minnesota. Playing with the Arkansas Wings in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer, Curry averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game playing on a very balanced team.

Over the summer, Curry showed an improved skill set and he has the capability of being a versatile forward at the next level thanks to his athleticism. While Curry has to improve his perimeter game in order to play on the wing, he has the quickness to be a matchup problem if he can add that to his repertoire.

Currently regarded as the No. 141 overall prospect in the Rivals150, Curry is coming off of a recent official visit to in-state Arkansas and the Razorbacks are hoping to keep Curry home.

Minnesota also hosted Curry for an official visit during the process and the Golden Gophers have some recruiting momentum after adding four-star in-state guard Amir Coffey this week.

Iowa State’s official visit was sandwiched in between the trips to Minnesota and Arkansas and the Cyclones are trying to find a suitable replacement for the versatility of senior forward Georges Niang.

Minnesota keeps four-star wing Amir Coffey at home

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Minnesota got one of its key recruiting targets to stay home as four-star wing Amir Coffey committed to the Golden Gophers during a Monday afternoon press conference. The 6-foot-6 Coffey, who attends Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, is currently regarded as the No. 54 overall prospect in the Class of 2016.

With the addition of Coffey, the Golden Gophers are getting a talented perimeter shooter who can knock down shots from well behind the 3-point line. While Coffey just recently returned from a torn ACL that he suffered in January that forced him to miss the spring and summer grassroots season, he’s now returned to the court and is drawing positive reviews during his comeback.

Coffey follows in the footsteps of his father Richard, who started four years at Minnesota from 1986-1990 before playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 1990-91 season.

The younger Coffey joins another in-state product, three-star small forward Michael Hurt, in Minnesota’s Class of 2016. Both Coffey and Hurt can spread the floor and hit shots and bring some good size on the wing for the future.

Four-star guard to announce college decision Monday

Richard Pitino
Associated Press
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One of the top available perimeter prospects in the Class of 2016 will come off the board Monday afternoon. 6-foot-6 shooting guard Amir Coffey will make his college choice Monday afternoon during a press conference at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Coffey, ranked 54th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, announced this via Twitter.

Coffey’s had to deal with some significant injuries during his high school career, as he suffered a broken leg in the summer of 2013 and tore his ACL last December (he’s back playing). But that hasn’t adversely affected Coffey’s recruitment, withhigh-major programs still vying for a commitment.

Minnesota, which could use the boost of keeping a highly regarded recruit home, is seen by some recruiting experts as the favorite to land Coffey. Richard Pitino and his staff hosted Coffey on an official visit earlier this month, and the guard has also taken multiple unofficial visits to Minnesota (as well as one unofficial to Iowa State).

Among the other programs to have offered Coffey are Alabama, Baylor, Iowa State, Marquette and Texas.