U: Win tonight, rest tomorrow

by Tim Klobuchar

Just beyond the Gophers men’s basketball team’s game tonight against Penn State at Williams Arena lies a much-needed week away from the rigors of the Big Ten schedule.
The challenge for Minnesota will be not just to win, but to make it through the game without adding to the litany of injuries, sicknesses and other medical problems that have plagued the team.
“I think it’s going to be great,” senior Sam Jacobson said of the Gophers’ upcoming week off. “If everybody pulls together and gives 110 percent tomorrow night and pull out a win, we can relax, get caught up on schoolwork and get our health back. The time off will really help us.”
Jacobson is one of the players who could use it the most. He’s suffering from what he said is a mixture between a cold and the flu, which includes a sore throat and upset stomach. He said the illness has sapped some of his energy.
“I’m just kind of weak and tired,” he said. “I think there’s a few players on our team that are under the weather, but it’s nothing serious. I usually get sick every year, but usually I’m lying in bed for three or four days, so this is something minor.”
Minnesota also sustained two other injuries during its 71-59 loss to Michigan State on Saturday. Junior forward Quincy Lewis, already sporting a soft cast on his left thumb to protect a sprain, suffered a sprained left wrist when he fell on it. Lewis, who shoots right-handed, will either have the wrist taped or wear a soft cast.
Freshman center Kyle Sanden, meanwhile, sprained his right thumb, and might also have to wear a soft cast. The left-handed Sanden played only 17 minutes Saturday, but that was because of fatigue brought on by a fainting condition that is usually controlled with medication.
Gophers coach Clem Haskins and trainer Roger Schipper think Sanden’s relapse might have been caused by the Gophers playing two road games in 48 hours.
The air travel, which can cause some dehydration, combined with the extra exertion, seemed likely culprits, but Sanden said it could happen during any game. Against the Spartans, he said he ignored the warning signs, such as dizziness, and tried to keep playing.
“I think maybe it was just that one game,” Sanden said. “I didn’t really think about the two games in 48 hours part of it. If I start to feel that way and I don’t take myself out, that’s going to happen.”
All three ailing Gophers have practiced this week and will play tonight.
That Minnesota will have its full complement of players, completely healthy or not, is still an improvement from the first time it played the Lions on Jan. 10. The Gophers were missing Jacobson, who was out with a back injury, in their 75-68 loss to Penn State in State College, Pa.
That was one of the few early-season wins for the Lions, who started 3-6 in the Big Ten. They have won three in a row, albeit over Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State, the three worst teams in the Big Ten. The Lions needed to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the Buckeyes on Monday.
It’s doubtful the Gophers will overlook seventh-place Penn State, however, since the Lions, along with Iowa, are two-and-a-half games ahead of them in the Big Ten standings. Eighth-place Minnesota is virtually locked into the No. 8 vs. No. 9 pairing for the first round of the Big Ten tournament, the winner of which plays the No. 1 seed.
Note: The Gophers will hold their annual awards banquet March 9 at the Minneapolis Hilton. Tickets are $40. For more information, call the men’s basketball office at 625-3085 or Neal Johnson at 929-4154.