Richard Pitino said in Tuesday morning’s news conference that freshman Dupree McBrayer will play backup point guard with Kevin Dorsey out with a heel injury, but the Minnesota coach said he doesn’t expect to adjust his starting five.
McBrayer has started in place of redshirt junior Charles Buggs in the last two games, and will probably stay in that position despite expanded duties, Pitino said.
“That’s definitely a thought process,” Pitino said. “I think we’ll stick with what we’re doing there but we’ve got to be kind of mindful of those rotations.”
Pitino touted McBrayer’s versatility and said he had been practicing at point for the last two days. The Queens native is probably one of the better ball handlers on the team.
“I think he’s got that under control,” sophomore Nate Mason said with a smile.
Meanwhile, Mason said he’s put some thought into the bigger role he’ll be expected to play with the backcourt depth pinched somewhat.
“This week I’ve just been working on my stamina, just trying to stay in shape, getting in the best conditioning I can possibly get in,” he said. “Because I know I’ll probably have to play a little more minutes. I feel like I need to stay in control the whole, stay out of foul trouble.”
Pitino said he was “relieved” that Dorsey, who landed awkwardly on his left heel in the first half of last Wednesday’s win over Chicago State, wasn’t injured worse. Minnesota is taking two days off for Christmas after Wednesday and then Dorsey will be reevaluated to determine his availability for the Gophers’ Big Ten opener at Ohio State on Dec. 30. The Maryland native is off crutches now, but still in a walking boot.
“Obviously nothing being broken is a good thing,” Pitino said. “He’s a tough kid. When he says he’s hurt, he’s hurt. I’m relieved that it hopefully will only be a game, maybe two. Because we need him. Because we’re not real deep at the guard spot. We can make it work, but it’s hard to do that for a long time.”