Gophers freshman Amir Coffey is cleared to play Friday against Arkansas State, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said at Thursday’s news conference.
Coffey, the team’s second leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, missed last week’s 76-66 win against LIU-Brooklyn with turf toe, which is a strained ligament on the big toe.
“He’s good to go,” Pitino said. “He practiced (Wednesday). He looks good. He feels good. Said he’s 100 percent.”
The Gophers started Akeem Springs in place of Coffey on Dec. 14 against LIU-Brooklyn. Springs had eight points and five assists in 31 minutes. Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer combined for 40 points and 12 assists in the victory.
Coffey had a turf toe injury that lingered the second half of his senior season at Hopkins, but this is on the opposite foot.
Pitino said it’s important for Coffey to communicate if his toe is bothering him moving forward. The Big Ten season starts Tuesday against Michigan State at home.
“They don’t understand that I’m not a big believer in fight through it,” Pitino said. “I want you healthy. I want you 100 percent. So if you’re dinged up at all, just communicate with us. As long as we’re all on the same page. You need some time off? We’ll give you time off. … Amir has been very mature about it. He’s been good.”
Pitino was asked Thursday about the Gophers football team’s on and off boycott over 10 suspended players in the wake of the Title IX investigation on the alleged sexual assault in September.
The Gophers had four suspended players to end last season after a sexually explicit video was posted on social media.
“Obviously it’s a big story,” Pitino said of football’s suspensions. “I haven’t really gotten into all the details of it. But just getting everybody to understand that every action that you do affects all of us. Obviously, we learned that last year the hard way. And I’m sure football is learning that as well. The biggest thing whenever you go through any of that stuff is you’ve got to stick together and you’ve got to understand that your actions away from everything whatever you do is going to affect everybody. …It’s a challenge. You’ve got to continue to educate your guys as much as possible.”