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

Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson 12:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Detroit - B. Farmer 12:10 PM
Minnesota - Y. Pino
Seattle - C. Young 12:35 PM
Boston - B. Workman
Baltimore - B. Norris 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:05 PM
Washington - J. Zimmermann
Houston - C. McHugh 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
St. Louis - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
San Diego - A. Cashner 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Miami - T. Koehler 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:25 PM
Texas - N. Tepesch
LA Angels - C. Wilson 8:05 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
NY Mets - J. deGrom 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Chicago 6:00 PM
Toronto FC
Montreal 6:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Chivas USA 6:30 PM
New England
Houston 6:30 PM
Columbus
D.C. 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver FC 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 4:00 PM
Washington
Minnesota 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which football team will have the best record in 2014?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close