Early Sunday morning, Trevor Mbakwe took to Twitter to make an unusual promise. By afternoon on Monday, they were gone.
The initial tweet, before it was deleted, read:
Mbakwe went on to tweet: “Some ppl say I’m cocky but that’s not the case I just know how hard my teammates have worked and I believe in them and our coach #easychoice”
In a prism, the sentiment is a good one: it shows Mbakwe's passion, his faith in the team and his dedication to a successful season. Fans love that stuff.
That said -- if Mbakwe is indeed serious about putting his money where his tweet is -- it’s not always the smartest thing to put such a large sum on the line, especially when there are certain factors that go into paying it back (not getting hurt, and getting drafted in the NBA) that aren’t in his control.
Along the same lines, considering the Gophers have been the focus of significant off-court buzz during the offseason, the added attention might not be welcomed by Minnesota.
With Mbakwe returning, Minnesota is considered on the cusp of the Top 25 heading into the season, and has the talent to compete in the Big Ten. Nonetheless there are plenty of questionmarks for the Gophers.
*My story on Mbakwe's return to games in today's Star Tribune and here.
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From the Gophers’ perspective, any game they can gut out or steal is a big victory.
Through five games, Nebraska Omaha is playing at the third fastest pace in Division I college basketball. (And one of the Mavericks top players is a former Chaska star.)
The Gophers have collected 48 fouls in the last two games, and foul trouble contributed to Minnesota’s 81-68 loss to Texas Tech on Sunday.
The question now is whether Minnesota can move past a bad long weekend and pick up some steam through the rest of this month and next – or whether a not-so-easy slate between now and New Year's will put the Gophers on the path toward the basement.
The Gophers are young and inexperienced and while the future may be bright, the present is tenuous, at best.