Bauer is slowly getting it done for men’s hoops

After offseason ankle surgery, Gophers senior Michael Bauer is off to a slow start, averaging nine points per game.

Adam Fink

Minnesota men’s basketball forward Michael Bauer does not judge himself on numbers.

But even he isn’t happy with Sunday’s game against Furman.

Bauer scored six points, tallied six rebounds and had two steals in 32 minutes of action. The Gophers won 91-84 in overtime.

“I haven’t had a great performance yet,” the senior said. “It will come along. I help this team in other ways.”

Bauer, in his fifth year at Minnesota, can remain optimistic. He has been through injuries, slumps and offensive explosions during his tenure. But this year, Bauer’s impact on the scoreboard isn’t felt as much as in the past.

Known for his three-point shooting, Bauer is averaging nine points per game after an 11.4 average last season.

And at times, Bauer has disappeared offensively. Against Utah, the 6-foot-8-inch forward scored only three points in the first half, and the Gophers faced a double-digit deficit at the break.

Against Furman, Bauer scored four of his six points in the final 15 seconds of regulation play and overtime.

Bauer’s slow offensive emergence can be traced to his off season ankle surgery.

“Everyone else had the whole summer to improve,” Bauer said. “I sat around for two months.”

Gophers coach Dan Monson believes this injury helped Bauer become more patient on offense.

In the past, Monson noticed that Bauer forced shots, especially while fatigued.

“He is more selective,” Monson said. “He knows his game. Just because he isn’t scoring doesn’t mean he isn’t helping the offense. He is a threat to open up a game with a couple of threes.”

Bauer, who estimated himself to be about 90 percent healthy, said he is not disappointed because of his other contributions to the team.

And his confidence has not slipped either.

“I try and rebound, block shots and, of course, bring energy,” Bauer said.

In addition, teammates look to Bauer for leadership and guidance.

Through it all, Bauer has kept his head up in practice and in games. He is one of the first people to give encouragement and also one of the first to recognize when changes need to be made.

As the season goes on, Bauer knows he will be counted on more. He also will be ready to step it up.

As evidence, Bauer points to teammates Ben Johnson and Adam Boone’s performances against Furman.

Johnson scored 32 points and added nine rebounds.

Boone tallied 17 points and four assists.

“They had a tough start to the season,” Bauer said. “But look at what they did. They are in the flow now.

“It seems when I am doing well, the team does well.”

And then, regardless of his statistics, Bauer can critique himself.

Five undefeated

The Big Ten has five undefeated teams.

Purdue leads the list at 4-0, after defeating then-No. 2 Duke in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout on Saturday.

Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin are also undefeated.

Michigan State is the highest ranked Big Ten team in the latest poll, released Monday. The

Spartans are ranked fifth in the country.