U's Mbakwe eager to return

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 9:46 PM

The Gophers power forward, with his knee injury nearly rehabilitated, expects to be fully practicing in September.

hide

Trevor Mbakwe (32) said he felt a little regret while watching the NBA draft, but now he knows returning to the Gophers was the right choice. “I wouldn’t have been ready to play to prepare for the draft or anything,” he said. “I’m looking forward to … being able to play with these guys.”

Photo: Tom Olmscheid, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Trevor Mbakwe stood up and smacked his hands together. "Block him out, Rodney!" he shouted at Gophers basketball teammate Rodney Williams. "Get that one!"

Mbakwe clapped for summer league players wearing faded blue Howard Pulley Pro City league jerseys instead of maroon and gold. Otherwise, the scene was something Gophers fans grudgingly got used to last season, after Mbakwe tore his right ACL in November.

"I became a top-of-the-top, first-class cheerleader these last nine months, so add that to my rsum," Mbakwe said, grinning. "It was fun watching Rodney [Williams] and those guys, they feel like my brothers. ... But hopefully I won't spend too much time on the bench in the future."

Mbakwe can joke now. After the game Thursday, Mbakwe -- who has not been made available to the media since announcing in mid-April that he had accepted a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA -- talked about his rehabilitation, his decision to come back and how he thinks the Gophers will fare this season.

•On his injury: Mbakwe said he is in the final stage of a rehab process that started with a December surgery. Right now, he is able to do "pretty much everything," he said, including cutting, jumping, pivoting and running. Right now, he's playing at "medium contact" and is little bit ahead of schedule, according to his trainer. "We've been pretty smart about it the last few months," said Mbakwe, who is aiming to be back on the court when school starts in early September.

"Obviously, I kind of want to push it some, but we would just do as much as we could and then react to how my knee was feeling the next day," Mbakwe said. "If it was feeling pretty good and not sore, we'd kind of ramp it up a little."

The next steps are to continue heavy conditioning, progress to full contact and to master lateral movements -- the area that still gives him a little bit of trouble. Overall, putting full confidence in the knee again is the biggest challenge, something Mbakwe is gaining.

•On his decision to play a sixth year: When Mbakwe watched the NBA draft in late June, he said he felt a twinge of regret. "It was hard ... wishing that was me," he said, "after working so hard last summer and getting into a position where I could get myself in the draft." But now he knows returning to the Gophers was the right thing to do, he said. After discussing his options with coach Tubby Smith and his family, Mbakwe decided he wanted to give the team another season.

"Just being in this spot now, I wouldn't have been ready to play to prepare for the draft or anything," Mbakwe said. "I'm looking forward to the season, being able to play with these guys, actually, for a full year."

•On this year's team, and where he fits in: "I don't know if it's going to change as drastically as some people might think," Mbakwe said. Many of the things the Gophers found to be successful late last season should carry over, he said. The team still wants to run. Williams will probably still play some power forward.

"There will probably be times when I'll have to play [center] and times when I'll play [power forward] -- a lot of our positions are interchangeable in Coach Smith's system," he said. "I was always the type, I like to get up and down, I was never a jogger. ... Once I get back to my old self, I'll be able to sprint. That was one of my advantages, being at [power forward]. I was able to beat my man down the court a lot of times."

And, Mbakwe said, he believes the team would be very good even without him.

"People say they only think of me, but I'm just the backbone," he said. "Rodney and [guard] Andre Hollins, we only go as far as those guys take us."

  • related content

  • Tubby Smith's new deal has new details

    Friday August 3, 2012

    Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith will get a small boost in supplemental income, and his buyout increased to $2.5 million.

  • GOPHERS BASKETBALL

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close