Nate Mason, Nigel Hayes

Minnesota guard Nate Mason (2) drives against Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Minneapolis, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Wisconsin won 76-63. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Ann Heisenfelt

Husker Extra's Brian Rosenthal takes a quick look at the Big Ten leading into the start of the season. Today, a peek at Minnesota.

MINNESOTA

Coach: Richard Pitino (third season, 43-28)

Last year: 18-15 (6-12, T-10th)

Postseason: none

Top returner: Point guard Nate Mason had a strong close to his sophomore season, when he averaged 9.8 points with a 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Pitino calls Mason one of the hardest workers in the gym, a prototypical gym rat.

Newcomer to watch: Guard Kevin Dorsey is among six newcomers, and he’s the highest regarded of the freshmen. A four-star recruit from Maryland, the 6-foot Dorsey is expected to contribute major minutes.

Outlook: Much like Nebraska, the Gophers will feature a young, new-look team that not many figure will emerge from the bottom third of the Big Ten Conference. Minnesota loses four seniors, including Mo Walker, and has five freshmen and a junior college transfer joining the fold. Guard Carlos Morris, at 11.1 points per game, is the team’s top returning scorer.

Quote from Pitino: “We’ve got a long of young guys. We had an ‘old team’ last year, and I didn’t think it was easy, either. I think it’s just difficult regardless of what you’re doing. They’re going to have to grow on the fly.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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