Found November 06, 2012 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS The regular season starts Friday for the University of Minnesota men's basketball team. After two exhibition games, what do we know about Tubby Smith's 2012-13 squad? Not a ton, really. It's always hard to gauge a team, regardless of the sport, after playing games that don't count in the wins and losses columns. The Gophers have now easily taken care of Minnesota State and Southwest Baptist and scored a total of 167 points in a pair of exhibition games at Williams Arena as they gear up for the regular-season opener this Friday against American. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from these two preseason games is that sophomore guard Joe Coleman has taken a step forward from his freshman year. Coleman was Minnesota's leading scorer in each of the two exhibition games, scoring 21 against Minnesota State and 15 on Monday against Southwest Baptist. Coleman looks like a much more confident player and has been aggressive in going to the basket, something his game lack a bit last year. "We all knew that Joe's a scorer," said senior forward Rodney Williams. "It was just a matter of time when he really felt comfortable." Gophers fans got a chance to see forwardcenter Maurice Walker in these two preseason games. Walker was sidelined all of last season as he recovered from a knee injury suffered during his freshman year. What Walker brings to the court is a big body that the Gophers didn't have last year. At 6-10, 290 pounds, Walker is a force in the paint and he also moves surprisingly well for a player his size. In the rough and tumble Big Ten, Minnesota will need Walker to give that inside presence against some of the bigger centers in the conference. Walker played just 19 combined minutes between the two games, but scored 12 points and had a pair of blocks to give some optimism about what he can bring to the floor. The biggest question mark entering this season is how senior forward Trevor Mbakwe would look after recovering from a torn ACL he suffered early last season. The Gophers are hoping Mbakwe can return to his old form and play near the level he did as a junior when he led the Big Ten in rebounding and led Minnesota in scoring. But in these two exhibition games, we haven't seen that explosiveness from Mbakwe just yet. He still appears a bit hesitant on his surgically repaired knee. That comfort level may take a while to return after such a major injury. "I hope he reaches his full potential," Smith said of Mbakwe. "I thought it was just really sad that he (got hurt) last year because I thought he'd be a first-round draft pick. If he does those things that he did previously, he'll be fine. He doesn't have to do anything else, just do what he did, play his best and he'll be fine." Along with Mbakwe, the Gophers will need another one of the seniors, Williams, to elevate his game another notch. Williams is easily the most athletic player on Minnesota's roster and led the team in scoring (12.2 points per game) and rebounding (5.6 rebounds per game) in Mbakwe's absence last year. The potential is there for Williams to put up even bigger numbers. One thing is certain about the Gophers this year: the expectations are high. Minnesota advanced to the NIT Championship game last year without Mbakwe, and the Gophers return all but one player from that team. With a healthy Mbakwe and a more experienced roster, there's no reason Minnesota shouldn't be an NCAA Tournament team this year. Mbakwe certainly believes they should be. He posted on Twitter that he'd repay his scholarship if the Gophers aren't a tournament team this year. Whether or not he was joking (he later backtracked a bit), it was a sign of his confidence in his teammates and what they are capable of together. "That's our goal. We don't want to just settle for going to the NCAA Tournament. We want to go farther," Mbakwe said. "We have the talent and depth to do it this year. Barring injuries and any unfortunate accidents, I think we definitely can make a run this year with this team." Follow Tyler Mason onTwitter.

Gophers hope Coleman can lead way early

MINNEAPOLIS At times last year, Gophers freshman Joe Coleman played like, well, a freshman. Coleman, a standout guard at Hopkins High School, averaged 5.8 points per game along with 1.1 assists and 1.4 turnovers per game in his first year at Minnesota last season. He showed glimpses that he could be a scoring threat dropping 23 points against Penn State, for example but wasn...

Mbakwe to repay Gophers scholarship?

MINNEAPOLIS Trevor Mbakwe is prepared to put his money (or his scholarship) where his mouth is. Mbakwe, a senior forward on the University of Minnesota men's basketball team, tweeted on Sunday that he will repay his scholarship if the Gophers don't make the NCAA Tournament this season. "I love my teammates. They have always been there for me. If we don't make...

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MINNEAPOLIS Trevor Mbakwe is prepared to put his money (or his scholarship) where his mouth is. Mbakwe, a senior forward on the University of Minnesota men's basketball team, tweeted on Sunday that he will repay his scholarship if the Gophers don't make the NCAA Tournament this season. "I love my teammates. They have always been there for me. If we don't make...

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Talented University of Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe has a lot of confidence in his teammates who reached the NIT final last season without him.  Mbakwe tore his ACL just before the conference season started.  This year, Mbakwe is healthy and is expecting large things for the Golden Gophers. On Sunday, he tweeted that he would refund the school of his four-year scholarship (approximately...

Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe pledges to refund scholarship if team doesn't make tournament

It may cost Minnesota Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe a pretty penny if his team doesn't qualify for the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season. The fifth-year senior made the following pledge via Twitter on Saturday night in which he guarantees the Gophers will make the Big Dance or else he will refund his scholarship:That's a rather risky bet considering Minnesota missed the...

Gophers looking forward to seeing Alaska

MINNEAPOLIS A move to the Big Ten Conference next season will mean the University of Minnesota men's hockey team will have fewer games against in-state opponents in upcoming years.It also means fewer six-hour flights to Alaska for series against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. That's where the Gophers are headed this weekend, though, for perhaps the last time in a while...

Barker likely out for second straight week

MINNEAPOLIS For the second straight game, it appears as if the University of Minnesota football team will be without top wide receiver A.J. Barker, who is hampered by an ankle injury. Coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday it would take a "miracle" for Barker to be on the field Saturday against Illinois. It will be a big loss for the Gophers if Barker can't go. Through nine...

Gophers wrap up exhibitions by stomping SW Baptist

Shaking off more rust and giving Kendal Shell some actual playing time were two of the takeaways from the Gophers domination of Southwest Baptist University on Monday night. Much like the first game against Minnesota State-Mankato, it was difficult to really come to any conclusion about what we saw, since they were playing a directional [...]
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