Redshirt Bauer gives Gophers hope

Sarah Mitchell

Motivated by brotherly taunts as a youngster, Gophers men’s basketball redshirt freshman Mike Bauer quickly improved his game.
Playing basketball in their Hastings, Minn., backyard, Mike was often beaten by his older brother David. One day David crossed the line, and Mike got even.
“(Mike) just got mad because David told him he played like a girl,” said Patricia Bauer, mother of the two. “After that they became very competitive. They were so competitive, they weren’t allowed to play when we weren’t home. Fights would break out.”
Being pushed by his older brother probably molded Mike into the all-out hustle player he showed flashes of in his first year at Minnesota.
The forward’s never-quit work ethic has earned the respect of Gophers coaches and players. And at the same time, Bauer’s explosiveness to the basket and outside shooting presence has built a foundation for the program’s future.
Gophers men’s basketball coach Dan Monson describes Bauer as “a great person, good student and good basketball player.”
“This has been a year of silver linings, and I think Mike Bauer headlines that silver lining for this season,” Monson said.
In a year of bad luck for the Gophers, Bauer only provides support for the team.
Due to a prolonged injury, Bauer was medically redshirted this season. The freshman dislocated his left ankle three days before Minnesota’s exhibition opener.
He did play in five games this year, posting impressive numbers along the way. The 6-foot-8 forward saw time against Oregon, Furman, Georgia, Nebraska and Michigan, picking up 27 points and 18 rebounds.
The ability Bauerhas shown, and the growing amount of available minutes for Minnesota’s bench, have left Monson with mixed emotions.
“It is tough for the immediate, but you also have that sense of solace that you know he’s also going to be here five years from now,” Monson said. “That is very comforting, too.”
Despite his talent, college coaches didn’t consider Bauer a college prospect until later in his high school career.
He kept a low profile for most of his high school years. Growing up in a small town, Bauer didn’t attract many college recruiters — even though he was the first freshman to start a varsity basketball game at Hastings.
“People really never noticed me in Hastings because I’m in Hastings,” Bauer said.
Realizing the lack of exposure, Bauer began playing summer ball to pull away from his shadow of anonymity.
Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan and Stanford were among the schools vying for Bauer’s services. But his decision to stay close to home made his parents very happy.
“He told his father in a birthday card,” Patricia said. “Normally, the kids get a gift and sign one card, but last year Mike said he wanted to get his own card because he wanted to write a message.”
In the message, Bauer thanked his parents for all they had done for him and said he was going to wear the maroon and gold in college to give something back to them.
Bauer’s decision also gave something to the Gophers program. The freshman hopes to be the first step in the turnaround and is emerging as a future team leader.
“To turn this team back into a super powerhouse, it will probably take a couple of years,” Bauer said. “But I think we will be a very good team in the next couple of years.”
To get there, Bauer is using something he learned while competing against his brother years ago.
“We’ve just got to play hard, play physical and everything else will come out,” Bauer said.

Sarah Mitchell covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]