Minnesota men’s basketball reportedly found its new head coach after splitting up with Richard Pitino earlier this month. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, the Golden Gophers are expected Hire Xavier assistant Ben Johnson as the program’s next head coach.
Johnson, 39, joined Xavier Basketball in 2018 after serving as an assistant in Minnesota for the last five seasons from 2013-18. He played for the Golden Gophers in the early 2000s and was a two-time Minnesota captain en route to graduation with 533 points in 59 games.
Minnesota lost eleven of its last fourteen games to end the 2020-21 season after looking like a team that could make some noise earlier in the season at the Big Ten and possibly the NCAA tournament.
The Pitino era in Minnesota ended with Richard holding an overall record of 141-123 (53.4% profit share). Pitino’s Big Ten record in Minnesota is 54-97 (35.9% profit share) which is one of the worst gopher basketball stories ever. Minnesota’s season ended last week with a loss to Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. In Pitino’s eight-year run in Minnesota, the Gophers only made it to the NCAA twice and won a tournament.
On January 16th the Gophers gave Michigan No. 3 their first of two losses that season. Minnesota had spent part of the first half of the season in the top 25 and was looking forward to a road win in Nebraska.
However, the game in Nebraska was postponed. Then, a week after beating Michigan 75-57, Minnesota was embarrassed at home 63-49 against Maryland. This was the start of four losses in six games. The Gophers continued to fight hard on the streets and their offenses always had little rhythm. Then it became popular in Indiana Gift of Kalscheur broke his finger. Likewise, Liam Robbins had an ankle injury that seemed to be getting worse.
Since the Gophers were already fighting on the pitch with Kalscheur and Robbins, they now had to play without them. The Gophers lost six of eight, including an embarrassing home game against Illinois, where they lost 94-63.
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The Gophers fought at 13-10, but they had already taken wins over five ranked teams, including wins over three teams that were in the top ten (Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan). They then had a series of games against three of the Big Ten’s worst teams: Northwestern, Nebraska, and Penn State. They lost all three, followed by a regular season home loss to Rutgers. That led to her fall in the Big Ten tournament against the state of Ohio.