The Gophers had no problem dispensing Division II Minnesota-Crookston on Sunday night (at least, after overcoming a sluggish first half), but bigger, better competition looms later this month.
Minnesota will need starting center Bakary Konate, and although Richard Pitino says he'll hold him out of Friday's final scrimmage, the coach is optimistic the Gophers will have their big man at the start of the regular season, he said on Sunday after the 74-57 win.
"Hopefully after Friday we can gear him up for next week and get him in shape because we need him," Pitino said. "I think you can get away with it early, playing small, but you can’t get away with that in the Big Ten obviously."
Asked whether he expects him to play in the opener, which comes vs. Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 13, Pitino said "I hope so, yeah. I think all signs point to that."
Konate said the boot was taken off his left foot on Thursday and since then he's been allowed to ride the stationery bike and shoot without jumping. This week he will begin some dribbling work, he said, moving his feet more on the court.
"No pain, but the doctor says I have to be patient," Konate said. "This kind of stuff can come back quick."
Transfer Davonte Fitzgerald said he sprained his right ankle a couple of weeks ago and it's been bothering him a little bit. The redshirt was seen limping on the court in last week's scrimmage.
"It’s just a little small injury," he said. "They told me just to keep playing through it."
Fitzgerald has to sit out this season due to NCAA rules.