Gophers coach Richard Pitino said Saturday junior guard Dupree McBrayer’s status for Sunday’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers is uncertain.
McBrayer missed Wednesday’s 86-81 loss to No. 10 Miami with a right leg infection. Pitino said he would have him in non-contact practice drills Saturday to see how he performs.
“It’s still kind of day-to-day,” Pitino said. “I think he’s feeling much better, but he’s lost a lot of weight. It’s just kind of getting that strength back and everything.”
The Gophers beat Alabama on Saturday at the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn. Pitino said McBrayer played through pain in his leg. It got worse Sunday. McBrayer didn’t attend Wednesday’s game because he was on medication and missed practice Friday as well.
“We’ll see how he is (Saturday) in practice,” Pitino said. “I don’t know. I hope he plays.”
In McBrayer’s absence, freshman Isaiah Washington made his first career start in the loss against Miami. Washington tied his season-high with 14 points, but he was 6-for-17 from the field with five turnovers.
“It’s not Isaiah’s fault,” Pitino said. “We just didn’t have great chemistry. It’s not meaning like guys were at each other’s throat or anything like that. It’s just you’re used to playing with one lineup. And there’s just uncertainty where Dupree was at and the whole thing.”
Pitino said senior point guard Nate Mason had some difficulty adjusting to playing the shooting guard spot. Washington isn’t capable of playing off guard right now.
“It was hard to coach,” Pitino said. “Nate’s better at the point and I couldn’t put Isaiah there at (shooting guard), because he doesn’t know the plays. We’ve got a little more time under our belt there, so we’ll be able to move some guys around.”
The Gophers lack of chemistry defensively was exposed on Miami’s pick-and-rolls, but Pitino said it was the worst he has seen his players defend those plays in four years.
“Dupree injury took us out of the flow,” he said. “But it was no excuse for our defense.”