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.

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Trevor Mbakwe is willing to play through the pain, but are the Gophers utilizing him well?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 7, 2013 - 11:38 AM

Trevor Mbakwe did some impressive things in last night’s 61-50 loss at Michigan State. He pulled down 14 rebounds, the second-most he has all season. He was a major part of the Gophers’ initial comeback in the first half. He helped hold Spartans center Derrick Nix to just six points and five rebounds. He played through pain.

But it wasn’t hard to see that it was difficult for the center to get into any real rhythm, and there are several reasons for that.

First, coach Tubby Smith took Mbakwe out less than five minutes into the first half (along with Andre Hollins and Rodney Williams), opting for a lineup of Maverick Ahanmisi, Joe Coleman, Austin Hollins, Andre Ingram and Elliott Eliason. When Mbakwe was in, the Gophers struggled to get the ball to him down low with any continuity. And just when he was starting to get into a flow, Mbakwe was fouled hard and hit the floor. When he came up he was wincing was clutching his right wrist.

Mbakwe has been dealing with a sprained wrist and bone bruise on his right hand for the past two weeks, with Wednesday’s tweak being the third time in five games that he seemed to significantly exacerbate the injury. After the Michigan State foul, Mbakwe taped up his wrist (and played the rest of the game that way) but was able to execute his free throws.

“He's a hard-nosed kid, a real gutsy kid,” Smith said. “It's a strain, so it's going to be sore. When you're out there competing the adrenaline is flowing, he'll get treated and hopefully there's not any serious damage. He'll be fine I imagine.”
Said Mbakwe: “The Big Ten is physical. You get fouled pretty hard, but it’s part of the game and that’s what teams like to do and you’ve got to keep playing through it … It didn’t affect me too much with the adrenaline and the pain medications I was taking. It’s just another nagging injury that I’ve got going on.”

Mbakwe is smart. He knows fans don’t want to hear excuses. He knows the team needs him now, and the Gophers can’t afford for him to ask for any rest. He will continue to play through the pain – but the truth is, the Gophers weren’t getting the most out of Mbakwe even when his wrist was completely healthy.

The center – one of the team’s biggest difference-makers despite the fact that he’s been hobbled off and on all season – has become a more and more diminished aspect of the Gophers’ offense as the season has worn on and the competition has gotten stronger. When faced with zone defenses, the Gophers often all but give up going inside to him, leaving him to create his own shot or score off rebounds. Against Michigan State, the Gophers weren’t faced with that challenge, but the Spartans’ tough man-to-man and post defense was enough to limit the inside play.

“I thought Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix were playing outstanding post defense inside,” Smith said. “That limits your touches when you have that type of size.”

Unfortunately for the Gophers, that size (Payne is 6-10 and Nix is 6-9) is just about everywhere in the Big Ten, and cannot continue to be an excuse for untapped potential down low.

The Gophers badly need Mbakwe, he’s willing to fight through the pain for that, and yet the Gophers are minimizing his effect with a lack of offensive vision.

“I tried to be more aggressive,” Mbakwe said. “Toward the end they started playing us different and we weren’t able to take advantage of some of our inside plays. We were forced to take the long shots and stuff like that.”


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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Gophers Football 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 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




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