This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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In Trevor Mbakwe's words ...

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers players Updated: January 25, 2012 - 11:08 AM

 

 

 Trevor Mbakwe talked to the media for the first time since he tore his ACL in November. I wrote that he is still deciding whether he will come for a possible sixth year in the Star Tribune today. But as we’ve all been short on the contemplative, eloquent thoughts of Trevor Mbakwe recently, I thought I’d share some leftovers with you here:


On the injury: “It’s still tough watching it. I saw it [on TV] last night. It’s still one of things that’s like unbelievable. When my knee buckled out on me, I kind of knew something was happening. After it happened, I was kind of in denial at first. The trainers were trying to do a [type of] knee test on me and I knew right away it was something with my ACL. It was tough. It was probably one of the hardest moments of my life.”

On being with the team, without playing: “The last couple of months have been challenging. It’s been hard to have to be on the bench and watch my teammates play and not really be able to help them.
I have a great support group – the coaches and staff and my teammates have been great in keeping my spirits up.

“I’m happy for those guys, I think people were kind of counting them out when I got hurt and they’ve been able to show people they are a really good team and I think they didn’t need me quite as much as people thought.”

On his interaction and relationship with the team now: “We have a lot of young guys still and I’m just doing my best to keep everybody’s spirits up when times are hard and we’re down a few points or something, I’ll let them know we’re still in the game and I’m just doing my best to be a senior captain out there.

“Those first couple weeks after surgery I wasn’t able to move around as much but  this last week I’ve been more mobile and been able to come up here a little bit more. I’m still not traveling yet, because it’s still kind of hard being on crutches still. As much as I can, I’ve been around, it’s easy for me to stay around these guys because it keeps my spirits up and keeps me motivated. I love basketball, I love my teammates and I enjoy it.”

On how much he thinks about next year, and what he’ll do: “I think a lot about it. What I do now is going to help impact what happens down the road. I’m just being patient. I want to rush it, I want to get back on the court, but I know that’s not what’s best for me. I still have a long career ahead of me and just doing the best I can to put myself in a position to help me succeed and have a good future whether it’s back here another year or playing pro ball somewhere.”

 
On whether thoughts of loyalty – and how the ‘U’ has stuck by him throughout all he’s gone through – enters into this decision: “Definitely. Coach Smith has been great since I’ve been here, with everything he’s been through with me. Even [Joel] Maturi, after every game he talks to me and tells me to keep my head up. The support group I’ve had here has been so awesome. That is why I wouldn’t’ mind coming back ere and playing another year. I’m very lucky with the position I’m in.”

On the potential difficulty of getting a sixth year of eligibility: “Our compliance director has let me know it’s going to be a tough waiver to get through. I think the biggest question is the year I had to sit out when I first got here. That’s probably going to be the determining factor in whether I’ll be able to get it or not.

“Hopefully I’m blessed with the ability to come back if I want to, or can. It’s going to be a tough process, but all I can do is look forward and hope for the best.”

On his attitude toward rehabbing and his outlook: “I’m really excited with how common ACL injuries are today among pro athletes and seeing how everyone recovers from them. I’m excited to show people I can still play at a high level and I’m still as explosive a player as I was before. I like the motivation.”
 
 
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