The moment Gophers fans have been waiting for since new head coach Richard Pitino was hired in April has finally arrived. Minnesota kicks off the regular season against Lehigh tonight at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.
Here are my 5 things to watch for:
What’s up Pitino’s sleeve?: Richard Pitino said the team had some things up its sleeve that it wasn’t going to show during the exhibition season, and would be saved for the Lehigh game. Well, the Lehigh game is here. What will the Gophers change? Will we see some zone? Or could it be something even crazier than that.
Are they who we thought they were?: Pitino said the non-question marks include Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Elliot Eliason, because they played last season. While guys like DeAndre Mathieu looked great in the open scrimmage and the team’s two exhibitions, tonight is when the games count.
How many minutes can the stars go?: This is obviously dependent on the score, but if the game is closely contested throughout, it will be interesting to see the number of minutes the man guys play. Can Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins play 30-35 minutes in this up-tempo system?
Replacing Mo Walker: The big man looked dominant at times in the Gophers 101-67 exhibition win over Concordia-St. Paul on Monday -- recording 17 points and 13 rebounds. But he's suspended for the first six games of the season and the Gophers are thin up front. Can the Gophers replace his size?
The pace: We saw how fast Minnesota played against lower-division teams in the exhibition season, but what will the pace be against a solid Patriot squad. If it’s the same speed, at the very least, the Gophers will be fun to watch.