Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/28/11

Thus far into the young college basketball season, prospects haven’t looked exceptional for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tubby Smith‘s squad barely escaped versus Big East weakling DePaul over the holiday weekend, and plenty of holes in their game have been exposed.

Now this- losing their most talented player by far for the entire season. Senior forward Trevor Mbakwe suffered an ACL tear to his right knee. Surgery to repair the injury will be scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

Mbakwe, named to the Preseason All-Big Ten First Team and to the John R. Wooden award watch list, is currently leading the Gophers in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg) through seven games.

The leading rebounder for Team USA at the World University Games this summer, Mbakwe made an impact in his first season in Gold Country, finishing with a Big Ten Conference-best 10.5 rebounds per game as a junior. It was expected that he would lead the conference in rebounding again…I guess the Gophs will be severely hurting on the boards now this year.

Unless Ralph Sampson III steps up and becomes the type of player his NBA lineage suggests?

The transfer from Marquette collected 327 total rebounds, third-most in a single-season at Minnesota and the most since Jim Brewer (not to be confused with Jim Breuer, the hilarious SNL stoner/drunk frat biy comedian famous for his “Goat Boy” and Joe Pesci routines) collected 331 rebounds during the 1970-71 season. Mbakwe also averaged a team-high 13.9 points per game to become the first Gopher player to average a double-double since Kris Humphries did so during the 2003-4 season.

Like the Minnesota sports fan needs more bad news- aren’t the plight of the Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves enough?

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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