POSTERIZED: Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy dunks on Rutgers defender

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Sometimes big dunks just sound different than others.

That was the case on Saturday as Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy threw down an emphatic dunk on Rutgers center C.J. Gettys.

This isn’t the first time the 6-foot-6 Murphy has caught a body at the rim this season. Murphy also had a big dunk to open the season against UL-Lafayette.

POSTERIZED: Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy catches a body at the rim

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 9: Jordan Murphy #3 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers looks to the basket while defended by Malcolm Hill #21 and Khalid Lewis #3 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 9, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Minnesota sophomore wing Jordan Murphy put down one of the best poster dunks of the opening night as he caught a body near the rim.

The 6-foot-6 Murphy had a clear path down the middle of the lane and wasn’t afraid to put it down on a UL Lafayette defender. Murphy finished with seven points in the contest as the Golden Gophers won 86-74 at home.

(H/t: Big Ten Network)

Minnesota wing Davonte Fitzgerald to miss the regular season with knee injury

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - FEBRUARY 24:  Davonte Fitzgerald #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies goes to the basket and is guarded by Anthlon Bell #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on February 24, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Minnesota lost a key rotation player this week as the school announced that forward Davonte Fitzgerald would miss the season with a torn ACL.

The 6-foot-8 Fitzgerald is a transfer from Texas A&M who was hoping to contribute for the Golden Gophers after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Fitzgerald injured his left knee during a noncontact drill and will require surgery.

With Fitzgerald missing the season, he’ll have not played in a game in 2 1/2 seasons if he’s healthy enough to see the floor for the 2017-18 season. As a sophomore at Texas A&M during the 2014-15 season, Fitzgerald put up 3.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game as he saw his role diminish that helped lead to his transfer.

Forward Charles Buggs to leave Minnesota program

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 9: Charles Buggs #23 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers drives against Alex Austin #44 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 9, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Illinois defeated Minnesota 85-52. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
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Tuesday afternoon the Minnesota basketball program announced that forward Charles Buggs would be leaving the program, making him the second player to depart since the end of the season. The 6-foot-9 Buggs, the last remaining link to Tubby Smith’s tenure at Minnesota, has graduated and will be eligible immediately at another Division I school as a result.

Buggs started 21 of the 28 games he played in last season, averaging 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24 minutes of action per contest. He joins guard Kevin Dorsey as players who have left Richard Pitino’s program this offseason.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2012-13, Buggs played in 16 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013-14 and for his career averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. With size being at a premium on the transfer market at this point in the spring, it will be interesting to see which schools reach out to Buggs with an eye towards adding another front court option to their rotation for the 2016-17 season.

Under-pressure Pitino: ‘We’ve got to get this right’

Richard Pitino (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Richard Pitino’s fourth year as the coach at Minnesota has come with significant pressure to pull up the floundering men’s basketball program from the bottom of the Big Ten and help put an end to the off-the-court problems.

With the university president publicly expressing concern about Gophers players repeatedly getting in trouble, Pitino has begun a make-or-break season. Minutes after his first meeting with just-hired athletic director Mark Coyle on Thursday, Pitino sat down in his office for an interview with The Associated Press about his status and the state of the team.

“Obviously he’s coming in at a time when I’m not the most popular guy right now, and I understand that,” Pitino said of Coyle, who arrives from Syracuse. “But I’ve got to show him my vision. I’ve got to show him what I believe we’re all about. I’ve got to also show him what we need to do differently and how we can do it and make sure people are proud of the product on the court as well as off the court.”

Not only did the Gophers finish with an 8-23 record, but guards Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were suspended for the final four games after a sex video appeared briefly on Dorsey’s social media accounts. Dorsey has left the program with the intent to transfer. Mason and McBrayer were reinstated.

Then center Reggie Lynch was jailed this week on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. He was released without charges filed, but the investigation is ongoing.

University President Eric Kaler, not yet halfway into his opening remarks at Coyle’s introductory news conference on Wednesday, singled out the team.

“Frankly, this has been a tough week and a tough couple of months for our men’s basketball program. I’m profoundly disappointed in the continuing episodes, poor judgment, alleged crimes, and it simply can’t continue,” Kaler said. “Mark is aware of my concerns and wherever he’s been, Mark’s commitment to integrity is unquestioned. I expect him to set a high bar and make sure this department makes news for winning Big Ten and national titles, and producing admirable and successful student athletes, and not for unacceptable behavior by anyone in the department.”

Pitino said he wasn’t surprised by Kaler’s reaction.

“When you win eight games and you have some off-the-court issues, that responsibility lies on me. It doesn’t lie on anybody else. So we’ve got to get it right,” Pitino said. “I certainly understand where he’s coming from.”

Thanks to an extension and raise granted last year by previous athletic director Norwood Teague, Pitino’s buyout ballooned to $7 million if he were to be fired this offseason. Coyle sounded prepared to play the good cop role in evaluating the coaches he’s now in charge of, including Pitino.

“It’s my job to come in, take a look at it and create accountability,” Coyle said, later adding: “I think I’m patient. No matter what coach you’re looking at or what program you’re looking at, I think it’s important that you understand everything around that program.”

Teague also permitted private jet usage overages for Pitino, who according to a university audit revealed this week spent $325,000 on such travel for recruiting between 2013-16. The coach’s contract only budgeted $150,000 for that period.

“Everything that we did was approved, so we never felt like we were doing anything wrong,” Pitino said. “And if there are things that we need to do differently to get better, we’ll do them.”

Pitino said there has been extra communication between him and his players recently with regard to off-the-court behavior. He said his staff has been making arrangements to advise the team in that area.

“That’s priority number one, making sure our guys are educated properly and understand what’s at stake and what’s expected of them,” Pitino said.

Minnesota lands Milwaukee transfer Akeem Springs

Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (22) and Bronson Koenig, right, trap Milwaukee's Akeem Springs (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
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Minnesota landed an impact graduate transfer on Friday as Milwaukee guard Akeem Springs committed to the Golden Gophers, a source told

The 6-foot-4 Springs averaged 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season for the Panthers, who opted to fire head coach Rob Jeter this offseason. Milwaukee’s very messy offseason helped contribute to Springs looking for a new home during his final season of eligibility. Springs shot 49 percent from the field as a junior.

Springs will have a chance to compete for a starting spot at Minnesota next season as he’s a proven scorer who has averaged double figures the last two seasons. The Golden Gophers are returning point guard Nate Mason and also get a quality in-state recruit in four-star wing Amir Coffey to help bolster their perimeter attack.

With Illinois State big man Reggie Lynch and Texas A&M wing Davonte Fitzgerald also eligible after sitting out a season after transferring, Minnesota is hoping for a much better season after finishing 8-23 and 2-16 in the Big Ten last season.