Eric Curry appears closer than he’s ever been to making his season debut for the Gophers, who are hoping that he will play Sunday afternoon against Mount St. Mary’s.
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said Saturday that Curry had been making progress since the Dec. 21 win against North Carolina A&T.
The 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore has missed the first 12 games this season after surgery in the fall to deal with swelling from his previously repaired left knee.
For the first time this season, Curry was listed among the reserves under the probable starting lineup for Sunday’s game. His status is still a game-day decision.
“He’s progressing nicely in practice,” Pitino said. “He’s definitely progressing, so we’re hopeful for tomorrow. But I think the big thing is he’s progressing well in practice, which is important.”
Curry practiced for an hour with full contact before the last game. He was able to finish some moves offensively in the post and run the floor, but he still looked a bit uncomfortable wearing a big knee brace.
“Eric likes to be pushed,” Pitino said. “He will really, really when he does get back and obviously when he’s healthy, he does so many little things. Our defense and our activity is so much better when he’s on the court. I think our younger guys see it, learn from it and it motivates them to get a little bit better and a little bit scrappier.”
Curry's replacement as the U's starting center this season has been freshman Daniel Oturu, who was named Big Ten Conference freshman of the week Monday after scoring a season-best 20 points, to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks in his last game.
-- In the North Carolina A&T win, junior Amir Coffey, who ranks second on the team with 15.3 points per game, had a season-low seven points in 23 minutes, the fewest minutes he's played this year. Pitino said he tried to rest Coffey because of a hip pointer injury, which he appears to be recovered from.
“That rest helped him,” Pitino said. “He kind of labored through that last game. I was trying to limit his minutes as much as I could, but he looks good now.”