Oct. 13, 2012
Head coach Tubby Smith and Golden Gopher men’s basketball kicked off the 2012-13 season with a team photo and media day Friday afternoon. Mike Grimm and Corbu Stathes of the Gopher Radio Network also hosted “Media Day Live” on the court, which was streamed on GopherSports.com, inviewing Tubby Smith, Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins from the men's team.
The Gophers begin fall practice with high expectations. They return two star seniors in Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. Mbakwe is still working his way back into game shape following ACL surgery. Williams is healthy and ready to go.
“He’s worked hard this summer,” Smith said. “I expect him to be a better leader.”
The Gophers also bring in two athletic freshmen in Wally Ellenson and Charles, and return other young players like sophomore Andre Hollins, who showed great potential at the end of the 2011-12 season.
“Andre Hollins is developing into a good point guard,” Smith said. “He had a tough year, as far as taking care of the basketball. He made some turnovers, but he also did some great things down the stretch once he was healthy. …I think he’s going to be a tremendous player for us once he can do a better job of taking care of the basketball. We know he can score. I like the way he played last year.”
“Austin is a guy that you can count on,” Smith said. “Didn’t miss a practice, didn’t miss a game. He’s probably our most consistent player on and off the court, in every phase. He’s an example of what you want in a student-athlete. …He’s probably our best defender, one-on-one, and our most versatile defender.”
With the quality of the returners, and the promise of the incoming freshman, the Gopher basketball team looks to have an exciting year in 2012-13. Mbakwe and center Maurice Walker’s return from injuries give the team more depth, and all the other returners have another year of added experience.
“We can do a lot,” Smith said of his team. “Hopefully we can be a very competitive team in this league. …If we can keep our guys healthy, then I think we can compete for a Big Ten Championship.”
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