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.
Jarvis Johnson, an incoming freshman point guard, was not cleared to play at Minnesota in June, but the university will honor his scholarship. If Johnson, the Minneapolis native, were to seek a playing career elsewhere, Minnesota would grant him a release.
“He knows that and the family knows that,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino told Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune on Tuesday evening.
Johnson committed to Minnesota in September 2014 over offers from Baylor, UNLV, Wichita State and Wisconsin. It was revealed on June 15 that Johnson was not cleared to play for the Golden Gophers because of a internal defibrillator implanted in his chest in 2010. As an eighth grader, Johnson was diagnosed with hydropathic cardiomyopathy (HCM) after he collapsed during a practice. His heart stopped beating for roughly 10 minutes.
Johnson said last month that he hopes to play college ball at some point in his career despite the diagnosis.
A member of a five-man recruiting class, the 6-foot-1 Johnson was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.
Last month Minnesota freshman guard Jarvis Johnson received some news that both stunned and saddened him: the school would not clear him medically to suit up for Richard Pitino due to a heart ailment that led to him collapsing during a game as an eighth grader. While there was some controversy regarding the decision to sideline Johnson, he’s begun the process of getting acclimated to college life while also coming to grips with the fact that he won’t be able to play basketball.
In an interview with Marcus R. Fuller of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Johnson discussed how he’s dealt with the change to his life while also touching on his hope to one day be able to return to the court.
Q: There are players who played college basketball with your condition, so is that your hope to play one day?
A: Most definitely. Anything is possible. Hearing about guys who have had the experience of having the defibrillator and playing is like a plus for me. To still play is my hope.
As noted in the question there have been players who have transferred from a school that did not clear them to play because of a heart ailment to another, including Emmanuel Negedu (Tennessee to New Mexico) and Allan Chaney (Virginia Tech to High Point). However that’s a big risk for a school to take, given the fact that there’s no way to guarantee that there won’t be issues down the line (both Negedu and Chaney saw their playing careers end prematurely).
The positive in this for Johnson is that Minnesota is honoring his scholarship and keeping him involved with the program. If he can one day return to the court that would be great, but what’s most important (obviously) is his health.