Johnson cites an example to spur better Gophers rebounding: Jordan Murphy

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

Ben Johnson recruited and coached the school's all-time leading rebounder Jordan Murphy while he was a Gophers assistant. Johnson saw firsthand what elite rebounding looks like.

The Gophers, who rank last in the Big Ten in rebounding margin (minus-1.3), were far from elite on the glass in Monday's 69-53 loss against DePaul. They were outrebounded 48-22 while allowing 18 second-chance points on 20 offensive rebounds.

"We showed them clips of DePaul getting another and another," Johnson said. "Two or three on one possession. You can't do that at this level and expect to have success and beat a good team, especially defensively."

More rebounding drills and watching video weren't enough this week to get the Gophers to understand how to rebound. Johnson also talked to his players about Murphy, who led the Big Ten in 2017-18 and 2019-19. The 6-foot-6 forward's 1,305 career boards are No. 1 in Gophers history and No. 2 in Big Ten history.

"I talked about Jordan Murphy a little bit," Johnson said in preparation for Thursday's game against Central Michigan. "It was a skill, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't like he did a whole bunch of rebounding drills. He had a knack to go get it. He was driven to go get it. … You got to go get the ball. You've got to hit a body and not be scared of contact, and you've got to pursue the ball."

The Chippewas have their version of Murphy in 6-foot-6 guard Brian Taylor, who ranks second in the Mid-American Conference with 11.0 rebounds this season. Central Michigan tied Marquette 35-35 in rebounding in the season opening loss.

Transfer Dawson Garcia leads the Gophers with 7.0 rebounds per game, followed by former walk-on Will Ramberg (5.3) and transfer Ta'Lon Cooper (4.3).

GAME INFO

Time: 8 p.m. CT, Thursday. Where: Williams Arena. Line: Gophers 11.5-point favorite. Series: Gophers lead the series 4-0, including last meeting in an 82-57 win on Nov. 21, 2019 at Williams Arena. TV: Big Ten Network. Online/Live video: BTN-plus. Radio: KTLK 1130-AM

PROJECTED STARTERS

MINNESOTA GOPHERS (2-1)

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G – Ta'Lon Cooper 6-4 195 Jr. 11.7

G – Jaden Henley 6-7 200 Fr. 8.0

G – Will Ramberg 6-5 205 Jr. 3.0

F – Dawson Garcia 6-11 230 So. 17.7

C – Treyton Thompson 7-0 210 So. 1.7

Key reserves– Taurus Samuels, G, 6-1, Sr., 3.0 ppg; Joshua Ola-Joseph, F, 6-7, Fr., 8.0 ppg; Pharrel Payne, F/C, 6-9, Fr., 8.0 ppg; Braeden Carrington, G, 6-4, Fr., 0.0 ppg.

Coach: Ben Johnson 15-18 career (2nd season)

Notable: The Gophers announced 6-8 freshman forward Kadyn Betts will redshirt the 2022-23 season after reclassifying and joining the team early this year. Betts will play with a highly touted 2023 class that was signed Wednesday with five-star center Dennis Evans and four-star guard Cameron Christie. … Freshman guard Braeden Carrington, who won Minnesota Mr. Basketball and a state title last season at Park Center, made his season debut Monday against DePaul after being out with an ankle sprain.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS (1-1)

Pos.-Player Ht. Yr. PPG

G – Kevin Miller 6-0 165 Sr. 18.5

G – Reggie Bass 6-4 185 Fr. 7.5

G – Brian Taylor 6-6 205 Sr. 11.5

F – Markus Harding 6-10 So. 11.0

F – Nicolas Pavrette 6-11 210 So. 1.5

Reserves – Jesse Zarzuela, G, 6-3, Jr., 13.0 ppg; Carrington McCaskill, F, 6-8, Jr., 5.0 ppg; Max Majerle, G, 6-4, Fr., 3.0 ppg.

Coach: Tony Barbee 139-151 (9th season)

Notable: The Chippewas finished 7-23 overall and 6-12 in the Mid-American Conference in Tony Barbee's first season in 2021-22. They returned four starters, including All-MAC preseason guard Kevin Miller. Senior Brian Taylor is one of six guards in Division I to average 11.0 rebounds or better. Max Majerle is the son of former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle, Central Michigan's No. 2 all-time scorer.

Fuller's score prediction (prediction record 2-1): Gophers 76, Central Michigan 70.