MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The injury bug hits more than football teams. Just ask University of Minnesota men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino.
He saw a once promising season last year go up in smoke with a series of injuries. That’s why as they opened practice on their new court in the Athletes Village, Pitino was all smiles. He has his full complement of players and, some promising freshmen as well in Daniel Oturu, Gabe Kalscheur and Jarvis Omersa.
Two of the key players who are back and ready to roll are Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer. Coffey missed 14 of their final 16 games because of a shoulder injury to his right, non-shooting shoulder, and he was one of the most promising players in the league.
McBrayer gutted through most of the season with a leg injury that’s now healed, and he’s 100 percent in practice.
They also have the presence of Jordan Murphy back in the middle. They have a solid month of workouts before their first game and yes, Pitino is excited.
“I like our guys. I think that they’re really good kids first and foremost. They’re fun to be around on a daily basis,” Pitino said. “They care about, and our freshman class cares about the name on the front of the jersey. We’ve got guys in this locker room who have won a lot of games. We’ve got guys who have got a bad taste in their mouth from last year with all those injuries. So I think they’re hungry, I think they’re excited, and it’s our first full season in this building as well so that’s special.”
The Gophers open the regular season Nov. 6 against Nebraska-Omaha.