GOPHERS OPEN 2023-24 SEASON WITH EXHIBITION GAME AGAINST MACALESTER
The University of Minnesota will face Macalester College in a basketball exhibition game for the first time since 1922. The Gophers have played against Macalester 11 times in their history, with their last meeting predating the construction of Williams Arena in 1928. Minnesota has a 7-4 record against the Scots, all of which were games played between 1896 and 1922.
This is the second consecutive year that the Golden Gophers have played against a MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) team. Last year, they hosted St. Olaf in an exhibition game and emerged victorious with a score of 71-55.
The Gophers are one of 10 Big Ten teams that will play against Division II, III, or NAIA teams during the exhibition period.
ENTRY INTO WILLIAMS ARENA FOR 2023-24
Entry into Williams Arena for both Gopher Men’s and Women’s basketball games will primarily be through the public gates located at the Oak Street entrance (east), University Avenue entrance (south), and Maturi Pavilion main entrance (west). The doors on SE 4th St (north) will not be available for entry, but they can still be used for exiting the arena. In case of event overlaps between Maturi Pavilion and Williams Arena, entry to Williams Arena will be possible through the Oak Street entrance (east), University Avenue entrance (south), and SE 4th St (north).
GARCIA NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN
Dawson Garcia, a standout player for the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team, has been named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. This accolade was announced by the league office on October 6. The Preseason All-Big Ten Team is selected by media members who cover Big Ten institutions. All 10 members of the team received All-Big Ten honors in the previous season. This is Garcia’s first preseason honor in his career.
During the last season with the Golden Gophers, Garcia led the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He ranked 10th in league scoring and 13th overall in rebounding. Garcia started in all 26 games he played, except for five that he missed due to a bone bruise injury. He was Minnesota’s top scorer and rebounder in 10 games and had notable performances like scoring a career-high 28 points against Ohio State and collecting a career-high 15 rebounds against Nebraska. In total, Garcia has scored 893 points and grabbed 440 rebounds throughout his collegiate career.
GARCIA NAMED KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR CENTER OF THE YEAR PRESEASON FINALIST
In addition to being named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team, Dawson Garcia has also been selected as one of the Preseason Top 20 Finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. He is one of four finalists from the Big Ten, alongside Zach Edey from Purdue, Clifford Omoruyi from Rutgers, and Kel’el Ware from Indiana.
Minnesota’s basketball team is returning seven players from last year’s squad, including four who played significant minutes during the 2022-23 season. Braeden Carrington, Dawson Garcia, Joshua Ola-Joseph, and Pharrel Payne all averaged over 20 minutes per game. The team also welcomes back Will Ramberg and Jackson Purcell from the bench. In terms of minutes played and scoring, the Gophers have 45.1 percent and 53 percent, respectively, returning from last year’s team. In the Big Ten, this ranks ninth in returning minutes played and eighth in returning scoring.
Additionally, Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen are returning from season-ending knee injuries. If both players participate, it will be their first appearance under head coach Ben Johnson’s tenure.
BACK FOR YEAR 2
Dawson Garcia is entering his second season in Big Ten play with the Golden Gophers. He is one of the conference’s top returning scorers, averaging 15.3 points per game. Other notable returning sophomores include Pharrel Payne, Joshua Ola-Joseph, and Braeden Carrington, who all played significant minutes as true freshmen last year.
Minnesota’s newcomer class includes Elijah Hawkins and Mike Mitchell Jr., who transferred to the team, as well as freshman Cam Christie. Hawkins and Mitchell Jr. were starters at Howard and Pepperdine, respectively, while Christie was one of the top prospects from Illinois. The team also added Kadyn Betts, who reclassified and joined as a redshirt freshman. Jack Wilson, a transfer from Washington State, joined the team after playing football and basketball at various colleges. The Gophers also welcomed freshmen Kris Keinys and Erick Reader.
DEPTH IN THE LINEUP
For the first time under head coach Ben Johnson, the Gophers have depth in their squad with 15 healthy players on the roster. Among them are eight forwards, including Dawson Garcia, and six guards. The team also has one center, Jack Wilson. Last season, 10 out of the 13 scholarship players played over 22 minutes per game.
DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Compared to last season, the average age of the Gophers’ roster has increased from 20.38 to 21.09. The team has four returning players who played over 20 minutes per game, and they have added Elijah Hawkins and Mike Mitchell Jr., who both averaged over 29 minutes per game as starters for their previous teams.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kris Keinys is the first Gopher player since 1944 to wear the No. 8 jersey. The NCAA previously banned basketball players from wearing numbers 6-9, but the rules have changed, allowing athletes to wear numbers ranging from 0-99. Cam Christie is one of the youngest players in Division I men’s basketball, turning 18 in July and ranking as the seventh youngest player in the sport.
GOPHERS IN THE CLASSROOM
Minnesota’s basketball team has shown improvement in academics as well. In the spring of 2023, the team achieved a program record 3.36 grade point average, the second-highest among men’s programs in Gopher Athletics. In the fall of 2022, they improved their team GPA to 3.23. Twelve individuals on the team had a GPA above 3.0, and six had a GPA above 3.5. Under head coach Ben Johnson, the team has had 12 individuals earn either a master’s or bachelor’s degree in a span of two years.