MINNEAPOLIS For the first time in almost a year, Trevor Mbakwe was back on the basketball court.
Mbakwe missed most of last season after tearing his ACL in the Gophers' game against Dayton on Nov. 27. As a junior, Mbakwe was the Big Ten's leading rebounder. He was Minnesota's top scoring threat as well. Without Mbakwe, the Gophers still managed to advance to the NIT Championship before losing to Stanford.
Mbakwe also had to deal with legal issues since his injury, including an arrest this summer for driving under the influence. But Smith did not suspend Mbakwe for any games this season, as the sixth-year senior played Thursday in the Gophers' 81-56 exhibition win over Minnesota State.
When Mbakwe entered the game with 8:48 left in the first half, he was greeted by a warm ovation from the Williams Arena crowd. They know how important Mbakwe is to this year's team, and they also know how much Mbakwe has been through over the last few years.
"That was very heartwarming," Mbakwe sa...