Gophers men’s basketball coach Ben Johnson wrote three words on the board during a team meeting Wednesday: “Competitor” and “human nature.” It set up a long talk.

Minnesota has stared 3-0 in Johnson’s first season and won the Asheville Championship with victories over Western Kentucky and Princeton last weekend. While no one is claiming a banner should be raised at Williams Arena over the early achievement, it could be an opportunity to get a little complacent.

Johnson wanted to keep his team from feeling too good about themselves this week.

“It can go two ways,” he said in a news conference Thursday. “You can fall in the human nature trap of being happy, being content, being satisfied. Or, you can be a true competitor and you want more.”

After the earning the Gophers' first tournament title since the Vancouver Showcase in 2018, Johnson wants his team to come out hungry for more when Minnesota (3-0) faces Purdue Fort Wayne (2-0) at 6 p.m. Friday at The Barn. So, in the team meeting, Johnson asked players to name the biggest competitors they knew of. Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry and Simone Biles were some of the names that came up.

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“I thought it was a great point to bring up for us on our situation right now,” said guard Luke Loewe, who has 10 assist and one turnover in three games. “It’s easy sometimes to get complacent when things are going well, and that is what we have to try to stay away from. (It’s about) just having the will to win and get better every day and continue to compete.”

Johnson is working to establish his standards, and brining home a trophy helps underscore the messages he’s trying to send.

“You want guys to have confidence in what we are doing, and (have) that early buy-in with me, with my staff, with our system, with each other,” he said. “When you can have early success and they can feel that it’s working, that they can feel themselves getting better, it’s always a good thing.”

Each of the three wins got close in the second half — Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 9; Western Kentucky last Friday and Princeton on Sunday — but Minnesota overcame adversity to grind out wins. That included an 87-80, double-overtime victory over Princeton.

Payton Willis and Jamison Battle have been the early go-to scorers; each is averaging 20 points a game. Johnson said one of his primary takeaways from the season’s start was the players’ defense, especially in preparing for the varying styles of Western Kentucky and Princeton with only one day in between games.

“We had two different scouting reports and they were able to, with our coverages, do both on a quick prep — and that is something that is not easy to do,” Johnson said “So, our mental aptitude to be retain information and go be able to execute, it was really high. So, we are now able to do different things defensively that I didn’t know if we would be able to do. Now we are going to hold them to that.”

Guard Sean Sutherlin, who has provided 22 of Minnesota's 25 bench points this season, said his early impression has been how a new team has been able to move the ball on offense and play good team defense.

“Just playing together as a team,” he said.

While there were primary messages about famous competitors and fighting human nature, Johnson also stressed something else: He doesn’t believe the Gophers are close to playing their best basketball.