Gophers sophomore Eric Curry, the top post player off the bench for a 24-win NCAA tournament team last season, will miss the 2017-18 season after injuring his left knee Thursday.
Curry tore his anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus during a pickup game Thursday, according to coach Richard Pitino.
“Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, and we are certainly disheartened by the news,” Pitino said. “Eric had a tremendous summer, but I am positive he will continue to get better as he recovers from this setback.”
For the second straight year, Pitino has lost one of his potential key contributors to a season-ending knee injury. Last September, Texas A&M junior transfer Davonte Fitzgerald also tore an ACL, MCL and meniscus in a team practice.
Tough news about Eric Curry. He worked his butt off this offseason. He is a terrific kid and will come back better and stronger than ever!— Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) August 31, 2017
As a freshman last season, Curry appeared in all 34 games in a reserve role. The Memphis native averaged 5.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 19.9 minutes per game.
The 6-9, 235-pound Curry was one of the most impressive players on the team this summer, Pitino said earlier this week. He was expecting to have a major role off the bench for a projected top-20 team and Big Ten title contender.
Curry also was looking forward to playing in front of family and friends when the Gophers play at Arkansas on Dec. 9. He played his last two years of high school at Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock.
“I know the expectations are high for the fans and from [Pitino] for me,” Curry said at the State Fair on Monday, three days before the injury. “I want to be able to live up to it.”
The Gophers return All-Big Ten third-team junior forward Jordan Murphy and senior center Reggie Lynch, the Big Ten defensive player of the year. But senior Bakary Konate and Fitzgerald likely will need to replace Curry backing up both frontcourt positions.
Pitino had hoped to be able to stretch defenses with Curry improving as a shooter this summer.
“Everybody talks about what Coach [John] Beilein runs at Michigan,” Pitino said Monday. “The reason why it’s so tough is he’s got five guys on the court who can shoot. The percentage he shot from three [17.2], I know is going to drastically improve. I do think that’s an added dimension that Eric can bring.”