Scoggins: No more do-overs for Mbakwe

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2012 - 12:22 PM

As the Gophers begins their season Friday night, this shouldn't be viewed as a second chance or third chance for Mbakwe. This is a last chance.

hide

Trevor Mbakwe

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Trevor Mbakwe tweeted earlier this week that he would repay his athletic scholarship this year if the Gophers basketball team does not make the NCAA tournament.

Mbakwe deleted his remark after media outlets reported it and later offered a "no comment" when asked if his offer still stood. He also apologized if his gesture became a temporary distraction to his team.

"It was just me showing how much confidence I have in my teammates," he said.

No need to apologize for that, but here's something we prefer to see from Mbakwe that would be more meaningful than writing a check to cover his scholarship: Be a good citizen and model teammate. Avoid any drama and use the long, hard recovery from ACL surgery as inspiration.

Be the guy we saw cheering wildly on the bench in street clothes last season, except show that same enthusiasm and leadership on the court. Set a positive tone for this team, like he did this week by diving to save a loose ball in an exhibition game against Southwest Baptist.

This season is a gift. Treat it as such. The NCAA granted Mbakwe a sixth season of eligibility, which doesn't happen every day. And a Miami judge and coach Tubby Smith refused to close the door after his DWI arrest and probation violation.

Mbakwe's off-court problems are well-documented and don't need to be rehashed in full here. His college career has resembled a roller-coaster ride with its peaks and valleys and unpredictability.

He begins a new chapter Friday night in the Gophers' season opener. For Mbakwe, this shouldn't be viewed as a second chance or third chance. This is a last chance. He can't rewrite his story, but he can give it a better ending.

"I have great teammates, great coaching staff, great support," he said. "I know they all want the best for me. They want me to succeed. I just have to stay focused and stay on the right track."

Mbakwe can make a career in basketball if he takes advantage of this opportunity. He was a surefire NBA draft pick at power forward before he wrecked his right knee last November. When healthy, he's an elite rebounder, tough defender and high-energy player. He's a brute presence inside and one of the Big Ten's best players when he's at the top of his game.

He's not quite there right now, though. He doesn't begin the season 100 percent physically. He lacks his usual explosiveness off the floor in rebounding, and his quickness has not fully returned, most noticeably around the basket and on defense.

That's not entirely unexpected because he's still less than a year removed from surgery and needs time to regain confidence in his knee, knock some rust off and refamiliarize himself with game tempo. That's a gradual process. Remember, Adrian Peterson is the exception, not the rule.

"I don't think I'm too far away," Mbakwe said. "I've just got to keep working at it. At some point, I'll feel back to my old self."

Smith seems content to bring Mbakwe along slowly. He'll come off the bench initially and probably won't play major minutes until he's further along. Mbakwe said he hasn't experienced any swelling or pain after workouts and that doctors are pleased with his recovery.

That's encouraging news for a team that is expected to advance to the NCAA tournament, at a minimum. This should be Smith's best team at Minnesota, one that's talented and deep enough to win a few games in the tournament. That's a reasonable expectation, even knowing Mbakwe might not return to form until later in the season.

"I think I can be a big piece to how far we go," Mbakwe said. "We want to play our best basketball at the end of the season, and hopefully by then I'm going to be 100 percent."

Smith said he simply hopes Mbakwe can reach his "full potential." That was in reference to his basketball talent but also applies to Mbakwe's life off the court. Mbakwe admittedly has made some poor choices in the past. But he gets another opportunity to redefine his legacy.

"I was lucky [the NCAA] granted me another year," he said. "I feel blessed and thankful and very grateful. I've just got to make the most of it. I have to make the best of my last year here."

That's our hope, too.

Chip Scoggins ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
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 Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close