Sophomores Bakary Konate and Nate Mason will both miss time with injuries leading up to the season, University of Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino announced on the Gophers Sports Podcast on Tuesday night.
Mason, who started eight games at point guard a year ago, sustained a bone bruise in a knee during Monday practice, an injury initially feared to be a torn ACL, Pitino said on the podcast.
“Our hearts dropped, bigtime, yesterday,” Pitino said.
Instead, he is only expected to miss a week.
Konate, Minnesota's projected starting center, also has a stress fracture in a foot and is expected to miss around three weeks, Pitino said.
The Gophers' season opener is Nov. 13 vs Missouri-Kansas City at Williams Arena.
Mason and Konate are arguably two of the Gophers' most critical pieces for a 2015-16 season that will be characterized by youth and inexperience. Mason surprised a year ago as a freshman with his poise, court vision and scoring knack.
The 6-11 Konate is raw, having played high school ball in Africa and Europe, but has the kind of size and potential that has excited coach Richard Pitino. Without him the Gophers don't have any clear options in the post.
“Nate Mason has got to become a premier guard in the league if we’re going to get to where we want to get to,” Pitino said. “…And Bakary…needs to take the next step.”