Hartman: Mutual admiration between Indiana's Crean, U's Mbakwe

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 11, 2013 - 11:53 AM

Indiana coach Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers face the Gophers on Saturday, was Trevor Mbakwe's coach at Marquette his freshman year and has a lot of respect for the Gophers center.

Indiana coach Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers face the Gophers on Saturday, was Trevor Mbakwe's coach at Marquette his freshman year and has a lot of respect for the Gophers center. Crean calls the 6-8 senior, known by some as "the Beast," one of the country's best players because of his versatility.

"[Mbakwe] has a great ability to rebound and score and is an excellent defender," said Crean about the Gophers star, who contributed 19 points and 14 rebounds in Wednesday's 84-67 victory at Illinois. "He's a tough, physical, imposing player, the way he can rebound and the way he can defend the other end.

"He was already one of the hardest matchups in college basketball, and now he might have become the hardest matchup."

Crean talked about how Mbakwe left Marquette after his coach took the Indiana job.

"[Mbakwe] chose not to stay there, and there have been some ups and downs with it, but he's back home," Crean said. "He's a proud father, and getting his [master's] degree, and I think he is going to have a very successful career at the next level after his senior year."

Mbakwe signed a national letter of intent with Marquette in 2006 as an All-Metro standout at St. Bernard's in St. Paul, where he averaged 21.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks as a senior.

When Mbakwe signed, Crean said: "Trevor was a focus and priority of ours the last three years, and we are incredibly excited to have him join the program. He has great strength, speed and quickness, but most importantly loves the game of basketball."

Mbakwe played in just 11 games as a freshman after suffering a strained fibular collateral ligament early in the season. He averaged 1.5 points and 2.1 rebounds. Then when Crean left for Indiana, Mbakwe transferred to Miami Dade Junior College before joining the Gophers.

Mbakwe, who said his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent healthy, talked about his great relationship with Crean and how he is looking forward to seeing his former coach and competing against fifth-ranked Indiana on Saturday.

"He was the first coach that I started with out of high school, and obviously it was tough when he left, but he did what was best for him and his family," said Mbakwe. "We've kept up a pretty good relationship over the last few years."

Mbakwe said Crean taught him a lot about "how to be a college player: play with intensity, play hard at all times.

"He taught me a lot coming in as a freshman, and that helped carry me on for the rest of my career," said Mbakwe.

Asked if he would have remained at Marquette if Crean had stayed, Mbakwe said: "That's tough to say right now, but I probably, I definitely would have stayed longer. We had a good relationship. Actually I think I probably would have still been there if he was still there.

"[Crean is] a hard worker. He never gives up. You can tell how he has changed Indiana's program since he's been there. He got there when there were a lot of sanctions, and now they were the preseason No. 1 this year. He's just a hard-working coach."

Now Mbakwe will try to use some of what he learned from Crean to knock Indiana off its perch.

Morris hopeful

Jack Morris, the great Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays pitcher who has been denied a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame 14 consecutive times, said he isn't giving up even though he is only on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballet for one more year.

Morris finished just 42 votes shy of getting inducted this year.

"Yeah, well, I'm not surprised [no one got in]. I kind of suspected that this year because of the situation," said Morris, citing many newly eligible players who were involved with steroids.

"I have to remain [positive]," he said. "The sun came up this morning, and I have a lot of support and a lot of friends who are still pulling for me. I'm not giving up. I've never done that in my life."

Jottings

• Graduating Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray has received an invitation to the NFL combine in Indianapolis in April. He has hired an agent and has begun training to get ready to make a good impression at the combine as a quarterback and wide receiver.

• Reid Travis, the outstanding DeLaSalle power forward who is ranked by ESPN as the 29th-best prospect in the 2014 class, was quoted in GopherHole saying that "it would definitely be nice to play in front of my family."

• There are reports that pitcher Francisco Liriano, whom the Twins were interested in signing, might be available because the two-year, $14 million contract he agreed to with the Pirates has fallen apart after Liriano hurt his non-throwing arm in December.

• The Vikings will be host of the 2013 "Honoring Legends-Inspiring Leaders" awards event April 28, nt Sept. 28.

• With Penn State selecting John Butler to replace Ted Roof as its defensive coordinator, the Nittany Lions will have back-to-back defensive coordinators who worked for the Gophers under Tim Brewster. Butler was the special teams coach at Penn State after serving as special teams and linebackers coach for the Gophers under Roof. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said in a statement Wednesday, "John quickly developed a great relationship with all our players on defense and special teams, and his ability to teach and relate to the players on and off the field will greatly assist in making this an easy transition."

• Former Eden Prairie High School standout Ethan Wragge scored a career-high 22 points in No. 13 Creighton's 91-61 victory over Drake on Tuesday. Wragge, a 6-7, 225-pound forward, is averaging 9.8 points. Interestingly he has gone 47-for-100 from the field, with only seven of those attempts from inside the three-point line. On three pointers, he is 43-of-93 (46.2 percent).

• Gophers point guard Andre Hollins was named one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award last week. Hollins is 12th in the Big Ten in scoring and 10th in assists.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 83 4th Qtr 6:31
LA Lakers 88
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 2 3rd Prd 3:28
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
ULM 58 FINAL
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
UAB 69 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
UMKC 57 FINAL
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 97 3rd OT 0:05
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UCLA 69
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 73 2nd Half 1:00
Cal State Fullerton 75
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 47 2nd Half 12:06
BYU 54
California 48 2nd Half 14:58
Washington St 44
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
IUPUI 62 FINAL
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 59
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
BYU 68 FINAL
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 11 1st Half 9:56
Hawaii 22
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 of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close