The University of Minnesota announced Monday that star basketball player Trevor Mbakwe will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Mbakwe suffered the injury in Sunday's loss to the Dayton Flyers.
Head coach Tubby Smith is now billed with finding a successful way to play without his best player. Smith's first idea is to move Rodney Williams from small forward to power forward, and start redshirt freshman Elliot Eliason at center. Smith says he'll likely make this move Wednesday night when the Gophers host Virginia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
If that doesn't work, the Gophers could start playing "small ball." Redshirt freshman Oto Osenieks hinted that might be the case. If Tubby Smith goes this direction, expect him to start Julian Welch at the point or shooting guard.
Many fans are hoping senior center Ralph Sampson III will take some of the slack left by Mbakwe's injury. However, that's going to be difficult for him because he's still not practicing due to a sprained ankle.
Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan believes Tubby Smith and the Gophers can no longer make excuses. Souhan says Smith can't point directly and Mbakwe's absence as an excuse for future losses.
With so many questions waiting to be answered, we can be sure of one thing. Tubby Smith's job just got a lot more difficult.