If you’re a Gopher Basketball fan, at 9:42pm when Darren “Doogie” Wolfson tweeted this:
"Sounds like there could be some troubling news involving the #Gophers hoops team. More info. coming."
You probably checked out of the very close National Championship Football game, and checked into Twitter, GopherHole.com, or where ever you go for the latest Gopher news. Let’s be honest, losing Trevor Mbakwe would impact Gopher fans a whole lot more than if Cam Newton threw another touchdown (which he did). When I first heard the report that a Gopher basketball player was in trouble, Mbakwe was the last player that came to my mind. Well, actually, Blake Hoffarber would be the last one, but Trevor was the second to last one. He just seemed to really be focused on the season, had a hunger for winning, and even when others may have not showed up to play. Trevor has been our most passionate and consistent player, leading the Big 10 in rebounds (10.4), field goal percentage (.597), as well as adding 10.4 points per game, and 1.63 blocks per game.
I remember thinking that this season had to be drama free, after all we endured last year with suspensions, academic issues, and team problems. It’s been anything but; so far, Devoe Joseph was suspended at the beginning of the season for violating team rules, then Al Nolen incurred an injury leaving him unable to play for a few games, then Mo Walker who was emerging as a top freshman, faced a season ending injury, then Devoe Joseph announced he was leaving the team, and transferred to Oregon, and now this? It’s almost as if the Gopher basketball program is cursed, as we just can’t seem to have a problem-free season.
The good news is, I was able to contact a source very close to Trevor, and found out what the issue was, regarding his arrest. The details are here in my article on GopherHole.com.
It turns out, he sent a message to an ex-girlfriend on Facebook that he had a no-contact order with. I was relieved when I discovered this. To me, it sounds a move that’s not very smart, but it’s a mistake, not necessarily something that should be punishable by Coach Tubby Smith and the Gopher basketball team. Or is it? That’s up to Athletic Direct Joel Maturi, and Coach Smith – and Mbakwe didn’t have much luck with their disciplinary decisions last season.
All I know is, without Trevor, we can kiss a successful season goodbye. Many players on the team can be replaced, he is not one of them. He is, by far, our best player and by all accounts, the heart of the team. We have no one else that will pound the boards like him, put up double-doubles virtually every game, and bring intangibles and aggression to the game.
Now we just have to wait on the edge of our seats and see what transpires. So far, the only statement the U issued was:
“We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Trevor,” said Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi. “Until we know all of the facts surrounding the charges it would be premature for us to have any further comment.”
If everything my source told me is true (and I have no reason to believe they were not) – I say let Trevor play. I am certainly not one of those people that would be in favor of letting a guy play if they had done some severe wrong-doing, but I don’t feel like this is a violation of team policy. If you don’t, it will be a complete double standard from the punishments the football players received under Tim Brewster. For example, Gary Tinsley was first charged with two felony counts of fleeing police, on a motor vehicle and on foot, and misdemeanors of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. He ended up pleading guilty to a DWI and fleeing the police. He also never missed a football game. I know it’s difficult to compare apples to oranges, but I hardly think that sending a 5 word Facebook message, that was not threatening, and merely checking in, is hardly as serious as pleading guilty to misdemeanors.
I think we will all be on the edge of our seats to see if the punishment does fit the crime in this case. The Gophers take on #8 ranked Purdue at Williams Arena on Thursday, we need Mbakwe on this roster more than ever.