Gophers notes: UCLA's Wear not backing down from Mbakwe

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2013 - 12:06 AM

– The Gophers’ rebounding prowess, led by senior forward Trevor Mbakwe, has been widely discussed as a potential problem for UCLA. The Bruins’ interior is weaker, and they rank only 228th in the nation in rebounding, while the Gophers sit at No. 8 (and No. 1 on the offensive boards).

But UCLA 6-10 junior forward Travis Wear, the player who will be in charge of stopping the 6-8, 245-pound Mbakwe, doesn’t sound concerned.

“We have some pretty good bigs that we have played against in this league, some big teams,” Wear said. “Mbakwe, he’s big, he’s going to be a challenge, but if I force him off the block, I don’t think it will pose that big of a problem compared to some of the other guys I played against in the Pac-12.”

Told about the comments afterward in the locker room, Mbakwe just shook his head.

“I don’t need any extra motivation,” he said. “Whatever he has to say, it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s a good chance for me to go out and play against him and his brother. I’m not really putting that much into it. I could care less. Hopefully they don’t trap — that will be the real test to see how they feel about me.”

Wear’s comment about Mbakwe was one of two slightly salty statements he directed at the Gophers.

When discussing how to beat Minnesota, Wear said: “They don’t shoot the ball particularly well, which means it’s going to be a lot of misses. We need to box them out.”

Who’s the favorite?

The odds in Las Vegas — where the 11th-seeded Gophers are three-point favorites over No. 6 UCLA — and all of the media that has responded to the inverted underdog pretense have rung loud and clear in the Bruins locker room. Coach Ben Howland started digging up examples and posting them in the UCLA locker room, hoping to keep his players hungry.

“Coach obviously feels — well, he’s noticed it and he definitely wants that to motivate us,” point guard Larry Drew II said. “So we got the word that people are kind of counting us out.”

Coachspeak

Gophers coach Tubby Smith said he hadn’t found a preference between using a longer bench and a shorter one.

“I’ve tried a little bit of everything, haven’t I?” Smith said. “I mean, it’s been up and down. We’ve tried to go with a deep bench, we haven’t been productive. We have gone with a short bench and haven’t been productive.

“… So maybe if I would answer your questions, ‘Have I found it?’ No. A hell of a thing to be saying right now, isn’t it?”

Etc.

• Florida — the Gophers’ next opponent, should both teams win Friday — is 0-6 in games decided by six points or fewer. Said Gators coach Billy Donovan: “We have beaten teams on our schedule by 20 or more points twice as many times as we have lost close games. So I think in those situations to me, the more experiences you have, the more opportunities I think you have to handle those better.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - K. Gausman 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Houston - B. Peacock 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
San Francisco - T. Hudson 6:05 PM
Washington - D. Fister
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
Atlanta - M. Minor 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:10 PM
Boston - J. Kelly
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo
Detroit - R. Ray 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Miami - H. Alvarez 7:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
San Diego - O. Despaigne 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
LA Angels - H. Santiago 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
NY Mets - J. Niese 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Pittsburgh 21 FINAL
Philadelphia 31
Carolina 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(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
Real Salt Lake 8:00 PM
FC Dallas
Montreal 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 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
Chicago 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Phoenix
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