The Gophers men's basketball team suffered a "major blow" with co-captain and starting guard Gabe Kalscheur sidelined indefinitely because of a broken finger, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said before Wednesday's game at Indiana.
Kalscheur, who injured his right-shooting hand in Tuesday's practice, had never missed a game in his career with 88 consecutive starts back to his freshman year in 2018-19.
"Just some bad luck with a ball going off his hand the wrong way," Pitino said. "Unfortunately, he's going to be out awhile. So, disappointing for everybody. He just works his butt off. He lives for it. He just loves the game. He pours his heart and soul into it. He leads by example maybe more than any kid I've had."
The 6-4 junior and former DeLaSalle standout averaged 9.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 30.7 minutes this season, but his work ethic and effort more than anything earned him respect from his teammates.
"He brings way more than being able to knock down shots for the team," Gophers leading scorer and point guard Marcus Carr said recently. "That's why he's out there so much, because he makes so many plays that contributes to winning."
Kalscheur's three-point shooting accuracy declined from his freshman year from 41.0% to 24.5%. But he posted career-highs in free throws made (2.3), free throws attempted per game (2.7) and free throw percentage (86.0).
In last week's 71-68 win against No. 24 Purdue, Kalscheur had 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from three-point range, also tying his career-high with eight rebounds.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. replaced Kalscheur in the lineup Wednesday, his first career start.
"Our experience factor goes down," Pitino said. "Opportunities for other guys to step on the team. Hopefully we can get Gabe back sooner than later, healthy."
The injury to Kalscheur comes at difficult time when the Gophers are trying to make a final push to reach the NCAA tournament. Starting center Liam Robbins was dealing with an ankle injury, but he was in the starting lineup against the Hoosiers.
Robbins was hobbled in Sunday's 72-59 loss at Maryland and limited to a season-low two points in 18 minutes. The 7-foot junior struggled to open Wednesday's game vs. Indiana star big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored six of his team's first eight points, including two dunks.
"I would assume an ankle injury would be more difficult to play on when you're bigger," Pitino said. "We're a significantly better team when Liam and Gabe are out there, but we're just getting hit with the injury bug at the wrong time."