U’s Broxsie ready for role

Murali Balaji

Gophers forward/center Antoine Broxsie wants to go home. And if Minnesota makes it to the Final Four in St. Petersburg, Fla., he’ll get his wish.
The 6-foot-10, 232-pound sophomore is looking to become a factor in the post for the Gophers men’s basketball team after spending most of last season learning and adjusting to his role on the team.
For Broxsie, a Tampa, Fla., native, spending time on the bench shielded him from the pressures of immediate production as a first-year player but aided his development on and off the court.
“Developing meant getting stronger and maturing a lot from last year,” Broxsie said. “I think I’m more mature now.”
But beyond the mental maturation, Broxsie is slowly growing into his lanky body. As a freshman, he weighed a rail-thin 220 pounds and was often overmatched in the paint against the bigger and more physical players in the conference.
“At 220 (pounds), you can’t play with a lot of players in the Big Ten,” Broxsie said. “Size and strength win in the post.”
Broxsie’s added strength and confidence haven’t gone unnoticed by coach Clem Haskins.
“He’s coming along,” Haskins said. “But he’s not where he’s going to be at in one year or 18 months.”
Last season, Broxsie carved a niche on the team as a defensive stopper, averaging 1.2 blocks in just 10.1 minutes per game. This past summer, he stayed in Twin Cities, playing in the Howard Pulley league and working on his conditioning in the weight room.
The results seemed to show in the preseason, when Broxsie showed aggressiveness and an ability to attack the basket on the offensive end, as well.
“(Coach Haskins) tells me that when I have a shot, I should take it,” Broxsie said.
But don’t expect to find Broxsie firing long-range jumpers or pulling up for shots beyond the post. He’ll likely earn his playing time throwing elbows around in the paint, battling for rebounds, swatting shots and following up his teammates’ misses.
And for that matter, don’t expect Broxsie to complain about not seeing more action. He thinks it’s just fine if he shares the grunt work with centers Kyle Sanden and Joel Przybilla, along with power forward Miles Tarver.
“It kind of balances out,” he said. “It puts Coach in an easy position, where he can experiment with different combinations on the court.”
So far, Broxsie has been utilized mostly as a center, giving the Gophers a shot-blocking presence on the court to complement scorers Quincy Lewis and Kevin Clark. Broxsie will also share time at the power forward spot with Tarver, whom he credits with his development into a more effective post player.
“The guy we get better playing against is Miles Tarver,” he said. “Miles has been around, and he has a lot to show us.” Tarver, who specializes in beating up opponents beneath the basket, likes what he sees in Broxsie.
“His presence on the inside will bring us new dimensions we’ve never had,” Tarver said.
Aside from his continued physical maturation, Broxsie says he is aware of what he must do to become a bigger presence on both ends of the court.
“I’ve got to play with more consistency,” he said. “I know I’m not the most consistent player, so I think I need to work on that.”
Broxsie said he wants to put his personal goals for one main objective, something he has been waiting for since he arrived at the University last summer.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team take me home.”