Preparations begin for Big Ten life without Michael Bauer

Sarah Mitchell

Until the Minnesota men’s basketball team tips-off against its next Big Ten foe, Gophers coach Dan Monson said he can’t be sure of how the team will perform without forward Michael Bauer.
But one thing does seem certain: The loss of the six-foot-eight Bauer will have a huge impact.
“It’s going to cost us some games down the road and I’m disappointed for our players because of that,” Monson said. “They’ve worked very hard to put themselves in this position. Right now it’s gotten a lot harder for them.”
Bauer broke his left forearm in Minnesota’s (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten) 83-68 loss at Purdue on Saturday. The redshirt freshman had surgery to insert plates and pins at Fairview-University Medical Center on Sunday and was released from the hospital on Monday.
It will be three months until Bauer will be able to do anything basketball-related. Monson said Bauer faces six weeks of recovery followed by six weeks of rehab.
Gophers forward John-Blair Bickerstaff knows the feeling of being separated from the game.
Last year, a knee injury ended Bickerstaff’s season prematurely.
“The first week dealing with pain is the hardest part,” Bickerstaff said.
“He has to find a way to occupy himself so he’s not sitting there thinking about basketball.”
While Bauer recuperates, the rest of Gophers showed up at Williams Arena in a better emotional state on Monday, ready to prepare for their game at Iowa on Wednesday.
“An injury like that, to see a teammate in pain like that really hurts the rest of the people on the team,” Gophers guard Shane Schilling said. “(Monday) people are little bit more upbeat.”
“We have to rally up and come together more than we were all year and find a way to make up for what we lost with Michael. We still have a chance to achieve our goals.”

Burleson’s return
With the loss of Bauer, the Gophers are down to just eight scholarship players, but only seven of those are healthy.
Gophers guard Kevin Burleson is still battling a sprained left ankle. Burleson suffered the injury in the Gophers 78-74 overtime defeat of Indiana on Jan. 20.
The sophomore did not dress for the Gophers game against Iowa on Jan. 24, but did make the trip to Purdue last Saturday. While Burleson said “it hurt, but it wasn’t too bad” during pre-game warm-ups, Mackey Arena would not be the place for his comeback. Burleson played just two minutes against the Boilermakers.
“When the I went out there I thought the adrenaline would take away some of the pain away, but it didn’t work,” Burleson said. “I can’t really defend nobody.”
“I was a little sore after the game, but they said it was going to be like that after the game. Hopefully I will be ready by Wednesday.”
When the Gophers face Iowa Wednesday, they will be looking to earn their first Big Ten road win this season and to stop a two game conference skid. They will also be hoping for major contribution from Burleson.
“We’re hoping that Kevin is back and has a very good game because we can’t afford not to have him,” Monson said. “He tried it on Saturday and just wasn’t quite ready.”
“He’s not 100 percent, but he’s enough that when you’re down to seven guys without him he’s going to play, unless he reaggravates it, he’s going to play on Wednesday.”
Only through trial-and-error will Burleson learn if he’s ready or not.
“I think I’m going to try every game. Ihave to,” Burleson said. “I want to be out there so bad. I’m going to keep doing this treatment and if Iget out there and can’t defend I’m going to have to come out. I want to be out there.”
Game time change
Minnesota’s game at Northwestern on Feb. 6 has been changed from a 6:30 p.m. start time to an 8:30 p.m. start time. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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