When Lindsay Whalen and Ben Johnson played college basketball with the Gophers two decades ago, players were mostly on their own to train — or to just relax — during the summer.
Now, Whalen said, almost all players take summer classes and coaches get an early chance to work with newcomers starting Monday.
As recently as four years ago, when Whalen took the Gophers women's head coaching job and Johnson was transitioning from being a Gophers assistant to a Xavier assistant before returning a year ago as the U's men's head job, there might have been at least a little down time once the season ended.
But in 2022? With the transfer portal changing team dynamics and with competition as fierce as ever, slowing down and reflecting aren't really part of the jam-packed calendar.
"Gone are the days of after the season taking a few days to catch your breath and collect your thoughts," Whalen said on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast, a joint appearance with Johnson. "You have a meeting the next day because you're re-recruiting your team, you're recruiting high school kids, recruiting the portal, and then you are trying at some point to analyze what just happened this year and try to get better. You have to be really good at multi-tasking."
Said Johnson, when asked if he has had time to think about the impact of the transfer portal on college basketball: I don't know if you have time to sit back … We're all learning as this process goes, and every year you get more comfortable. To say you have time to sit back and reflect, I don't know if you do. There are no breaks. You are right into the portal. It is what it is. Part of the game now."
Both Whalen and Johnson were chatting with me at Monday's Gophers Coaches Caravan stop in Stillwater, where they mingled with fans and expressed optimism that their recruiting work would pay off with results this season.
Whalen's team lost a lot of players to transfer after last season's 15-18 finish but welcomes in a big-time four-player recruiting class along with four transfers.
Johnson had to recruit almost an entire roster a year ago after taking the job following Richard Pitino's departure but has several talented newcomers and transfers in the mix after last year's 13-17 finish.
The relative youth of both coaches — Whalen is 40, Johnson is 41, and both played at the U at the same time — should help both of them stay nimble during changing times.
"The benefit for both of us being younger coaches is our ability to adjust," Johnson said. "As you get older it might be harder to see the game and how recruiting changes. We're able to be adjustable and adapt more."