Ben Johnson on losing 10 players: "I don't take things personally."

MennoSota

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Ben Johnson still has work to do to put together a full roster for next season.

With the summer recruiting season right around the corner, though, the first-year Gophers coach feels fortunate to have a full staff in place ready to help him promote his program.

On Thursday, Johnson introduced his final assistant, Marcus Jenkins, to the media. The former Richmond associate head coach and his new boss talked about a variety of topics from losing players to the transfer portal to Jenkins having Minnesota ties, too.

Here are five things you should know from the interview.

Johnson on losing 10players from last season into the portal (Isaiah Ihnen only returning player):

"I think it kind of is what it is. Everybody's fair game to make their own decision, especially when there's a coaching change, to do what they feel is best. And I totally get this, I don't take any of this stuff personal. I don't think anybody should, really. I think anytime there's a major change at the top, and you have a whole new staff, there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of uncertainty from a student-athlete standpoint. They're seeing this portal open up, and they're seeing everybody kind of move around. They've been recruited by people other than me that they have no pre-existing relationships. And I get it. And I think it goes back to getting that comfort blanket in that trust … I think we've done a good job as a staff of replacing, and filling it with people that fit what we're trying to do. So, I was looking it as a positive thing. It's a time for us to really kind of manage the roster from day one, the way we want it."

Johnson on what comes next after Division II All-American transfer Parker Fox's knee surgery:

"You feel for Parker. He's dreamed of this opportunity and this moment. And I know, I've really been looking forward to him contributing this year to this team. And to have that happen. I think that was the first thought that that crossed my mind is, you know, just you feel for the kid. And so, now it's just more trying to build confidence in him and allow him to attack the rehab and not really rushing. You never want to lose a guy. You want to have all bodies on board. But at the same time, we want to be smart with the process and his recovery. He's got a bright future. He's going to have a big-time career for us. So, I think he's just being patient. It's communicating with the training staff and in the medical doctors to make sure that his rehab is progressing the right way. And I'm really in no rush. I'm going to listen to him and his body, and our team physicians. And if he's able to come back and it works, great, we'll figure it out. And if he's not, he'll recover fully. And he'll be ready to go in the spring for next year."

Jenkins on what he brings to the Gophers as a former Richmond assistant and Air Force player:

"I like to think I'm a pretty good leader. Having gone to the Air Force Academy. Leadership is drilled into you, whether you want it to be or not. It's going to be on you to figure out what you are and how you're going to morph that into your own style. So, I think those two things are something that I'll be able to bring right away. At Richmond, I was the offensive coordinator as the associate coach. And so I know Ben's got an idea of exactly how he wants to play. He's explained that to me, and it really fits well with my own idea of what good basketball is. Having the floor space and having guys in in the correct area. Is it sharing the ball? It really fits and having those conversations with him. Him really telling me what he would hope I would bring to this program is what made this this a no brainer for me."

Jenkins on meeting his wife at an Air Force base in Montana. He's from California. She's from Minnesota:

"She did ROTC at Notre Dame, and she shows up at Malmstrom Air Force Base as a lieutenant as well. And she's from here, she's from Eden Prairie. And when we were when we first started dating, I had met her family a few times and loved them. I specifically told her, 'I love your family. But I just can't go for Christmas. I can't, I can't. The summer, I'll be at the lake all the time. But I can't go for Christmas.' And now it's all come full circle. And she and her family, her mom and dad both [graduated from the U]. They're ecstatic to have the grandkids around. And I echo those sentiments really. Really happy to be here."

Johnson on if he'll incorporate the Princeton offense with Jenkins on his staff:

"I have a ton of respect obviously for how they played at Richmond. I don't think we'll go for Princeton by any means. But I'm open. I love offensively what they did. Obviously, Chris Mooney had a ton of success. And so, I think I'm pretty foolish not to pick Marcus's brain on certain actions we can incorporate what we want to do and how we want to play. Because I do want to play more with concepts than actual set plays every single time down the floor. So, you might see a wrinkle or two here and there out of what we run, and try to get some variety. New ideas and new ways to do things is always good."

 

TheBarnyard

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I enjoyed reading this article. I’m ready to give Ben a shot. I’ve been as negative as the next guy and you better believe I’m expecting a stellar 2022 class, but if we do hit on the 2022 class, Ben could be the one to turn this thing around. The staff seems to be very high character and I think they will bring in high character athletes. Character is always a great starting point.

How I yearn for the barn to be electric again. There’s just nothing like it. I would love to watch a great 2022 class grow into their own and by junior or senior year, have that place rolling and one of the toughest venues in the country again. It would be special to be a part of the ride. My passion for gopher basketball will never die but man I want to see it rocking again.
 

umn99

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… I think we've done a good job as a staff of replacing, and filling it with people that fit what we're trying to do. So, I was looking it as a positive thing. It's a time for us to really kind of manage the roster from day one, the way we want it."
I like all this.
 





John Galt

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Wow. So dumb.
He’s the head coach. It’s his responsibility to field the best team possible each year. Part of that responsibility for the upcoming season should have included “recruiting” guys that were already on the team so we aren’t the worst P5 team in the history of basketball. He could have used a lesson from PJ, who was able to keep Winfield, Coughlin, Martin, Johnson and other key players on the team to set them up for an amazing 2019 season.
 

MennoSota

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He’s the head coach. It’s his responsibility to field the best team possible each year. Part of that responsibility for the upcoming season should have included “recruiting” guys that were already on the team so we aren’t the worst P5 team in the history of basketball. He could have used a lesson from PJ, who was able to keep Winfield, Coughlin, Martin, Johnson and other key players on the team to set them up for an amazing 2019 season.
John, this year is absolutely unique. Everyone got a free pass to go anywhere without sitting out a season. You are comparing apples to oranges.
 




bfriedrichs10

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He lost 10 players. Everyone except Ihnen. That’s unacceptable any year.
Unacceptable by who? You? I don't think you have any choice but to accept it. Unless you're planning on changing it somehow?
 

Ozzy&Ray

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They wer
He’s the head coach. It’s his responsibility to field the best team possible each year. Part of that responsibility for the upcoming season should have included “recruiting” guys that were already on the team so we aren’t the worst P5 team in the history of basketball. He could have used a lesson from PJ, who was able to keep Winfield, Coughlin, Martin, Johnson and other key players on the team to set them up for an amazing 2019 season.
They were all worth keeping - NFL talents. Look at where our players from last year ended up. Not worth keeping or fighting for
 

Johnnyboy18

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He’s the head coach. It’s his responsibility to field the best team possible each year. Part of that responsibility for the upcoming season should have included “recruiting” guys that were already on the team so we aren’t the worst P5 team in the history of basketball. He could have used a lesson from PJ, who was able to keep Winfield, Coughlin, Martin, Johnson and other key players on the team to set them up for an amazing 2019 season.
This is quite the take, do you want to bet on it?
 

MennoSota

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He lost 10 players. Everyone except Ihnen. That’s unacceptable any year.
Meh! He didn't lose anyone. They all had free agency and they chose to go elsewhere. Why cry over a woman that doesn't want to be with you. Go find one who wants to be with you. I am not going to cry over what happened.
 





UpAndUnder43

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Not taking losses personally is a good trait for a coach (This is a joke. Do not get angry. You know who you are)
 

60's Guy

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You guys are moronic. If we had no players worth keeping, then Pitino should have been National Coach of the Year. We were a Top 25 team that made Michigan State cry and #1 in the country Michigan left the Barn sad and forlorn.
Only if we had good players can Pitino have any legitimate criticism to poor coaching. Just ignore all the Top 150 guys Pitino recruited.
Instead Ben will win with Top 500 talent.

How can a head coach lead and not be accountable?? If it is not his fault everybody left, whose is it?
The fact we are out recruiting Tennessee Martin for very unorthodox shooters is not an endorsement to evaluation skills.
It’s all good, not Ben’s fault if those numbers are no where near last year from three. Take comfort...Ben won’t take it personal.
Never mind that’s his job.
 

PhiloVance

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A number of people have written how they like a player with a chip on his shoulder whose out to prove he is the best. That's because he takes things personally and not shrugging his shoulders and saying it is what it is. Hopefully BJ doesn't actually mean what he said.
 

Bayfieldgopher

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"Everybody's fair game to make their own decision, especially when there's a coaching change, to do what they feel is best. And I totally get this, I don't take any of this stuff personal."

So this is what the departed did, each for their own reason, and the reason is probably different for each player. So why did so many move on?

1. They did not want to be a part of a program that is starting over with a new coach with no track record, history of success and preparing players for the NBA.

2. They want to go to a program where their skills would best fit based on the needs of that coach and team rather than wondering how they would fit with BJ's style.

3. They did not mesh with Johnson's culture and his personality.

4. They want a fresh start away from the negativity that surrounded the program.

5. They want to get the the NCAA tourney.

6. They want to follow their uncle or be closer to home.

7. They want to get away from home.

8. Their girlfriend graduated.

9. They hated Minnesota Winter's.

10. They did not like Ihnen. :>(
 



Spaulding!No!

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"Everybody's fair game to make their own decision, especially when there's a coaching change, to do what they feel is best. And I totally get this, I don't take any of this stuff personal."

So this is what the departed did, each for their own reason, and the reason is probably different for each player. So why did so many move on?

1. They did not want to be a part of a program that is starting over with a new coach with no track record, history of success and preparing players for the NBA.

2. They want to go to a program where their skills would best fit based on the needs of that coach and team rather than wondering how they would fit with BJ's style.

3. They did not mesh with Johnson's culture and his personality.

4. They want a fresh start away from the negativity that surrounded the program.

5. They want to get the the NCAA tourney.

6. They want to follow their uncle or be closer to home.

7. They want to get away from home.

8. Their girlfriend graduated.

9. They hated Minnesota Winter's.

10. They did not like Ihnen.
The new hc didn’t reach out to the players on the roster so the players left.
 

cjbfbp

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We were a Top 25 team that made Michigan State cry and #1 in the country Michigan left the Barn sad and forlorn.

Let me explain this to you in simple terms. Coaches don't get credit for having a good half season. It's where you finish that matters and the Gophers finished at #13 in the conference.
 

cjbfbp

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"Everybody's fair game to make their own decision, especially when there's a coaching change, to do what they feel is best. And I totally get this, I don't take any of this stuff personal."

So this is what the departed did, each for their own reason, and the reason is probably different for each player. So why did so many move on?

1. They did not want to be a part of a program that is starting over with a new coach with no track record, history of success and preparing players for the NBA.

2. They want to go to a program where their skills would best fit based on the needs of that coach and team rather than wondering how they would fit with BJ's style.

3. They did not mesh with Johnson's culture and his personality.

4. They want a fresh start away from the negativity that surrounded the program.

5. They want to get the the NCAA tourney.

6. They want to follow their uncle or be closer to home.

7. They want to get away from home.

8. Their girlfriend graduated.

9. They hated Minnesota Winter's.

10. They did not like Ihnen. :>(

This is a good list. If we interviewed the players and they spoke honestly, we probably could come up with a few more. The important thing you highlighted here is that there are all sorts of possible reasons that can vary among players and those reasons aren't all centered on basketball. For example, there are other possible versions of #8 like bad breakup and would like to get away from the ex.
 

Johnnyboy18

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You guys are moronic. If we had no players worth keeping, then Pitino should have been National Coach of the Year. We were a Top 25 team that made Michigan State cry and #1 in the country Michigan left the Barn sad and forlorn.
Only if we had good players can Pitino have any legitimate criticism to poor coaching. Just ignore all the Top 150 guys Pitino recruited.
Instead Ben will win with Top 500 talent.

How can a head coach lead and not be accountable?? If it is not his fault everybody left, whose is it?
The fact we are out recruiting Tennessee Martin for very unorthodox shooters is not an endorsement to evaluation skills.
It’s all good, not Ben’s fault if those numbers are no where near last year from three. Take comfort...Ben won’t take it personal.
Never mind that’s his job.
Beating Michigan (finished 13th) is going to quickly become what 9 wins was on the football board. Ben will finish higher than 13th next year but you will keep posting about how he didn't beat Michigan like Pitino did.
 

PMWinSTP

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He should change his best and take it personally.
He is changing his best, and guys that don't fit left with the help of an expanded portal. Great approach and mindset during a time of great change. The more I hear and learn about the staff, the better I feel.
 

builtbadgers

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He is changing his best, and guys that don't fit left with the help of an expanded portal. Great approach and mindset during a time of great change. The more I hear and learn about the staff, the better I feel.
Same. So many players are choosing to go closer home after a tough year for everyone during covid. None of them got a college experience, very isolated, not even team meals. Many are leaving to play for coaches they already had relationships with, better chance at playing time, better chance to win. So many factors for all kids in every program.
 

60's Guy

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Beating Michigan (finished 13th) is going to quickly become what 9 wins was on the football board. Ben will finish higher than 13th next year but you will keep posting about how he didn't beat Michigan like Pitino did.
If we are picking 13’s ... that is the number of wins we had at home last year. 2nd among Big Ten teams. How close will the Gophers come to that standard?
About as relevant to the discussion...
 


SanDiegoGopherFan

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You guys are moronic. If we had no players worth keeping, then Pitino should have been National Coach of the Year. We were a Top 25 team that made Michigan State cry and #1 in the country Michigan left the Barn sad and forlorn.
Anyone defending Ben that our players sucked and were better off now care to argue this point? It's quite good.
 




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