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.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Playing "recklessly," it looked like the old Mbakwe last night

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: November 10, 2012 - 12:17 PM



If on Friday Trevor Mbakwe was trying to convince us he feels fine, it worked.


After a first half in which the sixth-year senior didn’t get much action – playing just six minutes and leaving without a point or a rebound – Mbakwe came out with a new energy in the second half.

Late in the game (when of course the score was um, not close, in the eventual blowout against American) Mbakwe dove on the floor for a loose ball, his momentum sending him crashing into several media members on press row (I survived by a mere chair-length).

Moments later, he hurled himself at the end line to try to snag a ball on its way out of bounds and literally jumped off the raised court backwards and into the stands – before jumping right back up and getting back into his defensive stance.

In case he hadn’t made his point, in the same five-minute game-ending stretch, Mbakwe finished with a vicious alley-oop dunk off a nice toss by Chris Halvorsen.

“I think he’s back,” coach Tubby Smith said. “I thought he looked good out there I thought he played extremely well and he didn’t seem to be playing with any hesitancy.”

That’s for sure.

After the game, Mbakwe seemed full of energy. He looked down at his knee --out of that huge, awkward-looking brace he’s still wearing -- and said it felt great.

“I know some fans, they always get nervous when I hit the ground or something, but hopefully now [they won’t],” he said.

I’ll admit, I another one of those people that grimaced when he hit the floor hard, then again when he violently leapt off the court.

But after he popped back up each time, without a trace of pain in his expression, and went right back to what he was doing, I think everyone in the stadium had a collective moment of:

“Oh. Well, I guess he’s good then.”

And maybe that happened within Mbakwe’s mind too. He’s been saying all the right things and I do believe that he feels his knee is healed and his doctors aren’t lying to him. But sometimes, one of those games – where you just crash the heck out of it, and it’s still fine – goes further than any step of the rehab. Because as Mbakwe has said all along, the mental return is the hardest part about it.

By the time Mbakwe was swinging from the rim after his dunk, it felt certain that no one was grimacing, instead the Barn erupting with the loudest cheers of the night.

“It felt great, just having that confidence,” Mbakwe said. “Probably two months ago I wouldn’t be able to do some of the stuff I did tonight, but I just have to give credit to my training staff and my strength guy, getting back to that point where you’re just playing reckless and I’m not thinking about my knee.”

Mbakwe finished with four points, two assists, three rebounds, two steals and a turnover in 11 minutes.


Texas - WP: N. Martinez 5 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 4
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 3 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 4
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 9 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 5
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 8 FINAL
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 5
Atlanta - LP: D. Carpenter 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: M. Melancon 3
Houston 5 Bottom 8th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Arizona 2 Top 9th Inning
Washington 2
LA Angels 7 Bottom 7th Inning
Boston 3
Detroit - WP: R. Porcello 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0
Cincinnati 0 Delayed
St. Louis 5
San Francisco 8 Bottom 6th Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Baltimore 4 Bottom 7th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Cleveland 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 0
Kansas City 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Colorado 1
San Diego - E. Stults 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Pittsburgh 8/21/14 6:30 PM
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 1 2nd Half
Colorado 3
San Jose 0 1st Half 44:55
Seattle 0
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

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

Weekly Question