STrib: Davonte Fitzgerald's return comes just in time for Gophers

BleedGopher

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per Marcus:

Davonte Fitzgerald’s name often came up last fall when Gophers men’s basketball players and coaches were asked which newcomer impressed them the most.

When the Atlanta native stretched out his arms to block a shot, it was almost like trying to score over a 7-footer. Fitzgerald, who had to sit out the 2015-16 season after transferring from Texas A&M, was just as comfortable pulling up from deep as he was finishing an alley-oop dunk in transition.

Richard Pitino envisioned a year ago being able to play a bigger lineup with the 6-8, 220-pound junior forward. But Fitzgerald’s season quickly ended before it started because of a major left knee injury last October.

He has spent almost a year recovering and eyes a breakout season this fall. But big news this past week complicated matters, creating both sadness and opportunity.

Nearly a year after Fitzgerald went down, Gophers sophomore Eric Curry suffered the same season-ending injury Thursday in a pickup game. Now, the team will need Fitzgerald to be the type of impact player it envisioned a year ago.

“He was out for two years,” Pitino said Monday of Fitzgerald, who turned 23 Saturday. “When he was playing and when he was healthy, he was making a difference. He can block shots. He plays hard. He can rebound. He can play multiple positions. But you just don’t know.”

http://www.startribune.com/davonte-fitzgerald-s-return-comes-just-in-time-for-gophers/442559113/

Go Gophers!!
 

bemidjigopher

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The nice thing is as much as the Curry injury sucks he wasn't a starter. If we can get 15-20 minutes a night of good defense from Fitz and he can drain a three here and there than that's fantastic as far as I am concerned
 

60's Guy

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Sorry, nothing nice, nothing fantastic about Curry's injury. And I know you don't mean that. :) I don't think Curry would have started but I do believe he would have elevated his game maybe to a greater degree than even Dupre was able to last year. The silver lining I see with Curry is that it happened in August. The team has the full season to adapt to his injury. Eric has a full 12 months to heal before the next season begins in earnest. No hurry or stress to the rehab. And yes, if Fitzgerald could contribute it would be somewhat like a trade. But Pitino is guarded in his comments about Fitzgerald and he is often more excited in talking about guys. Hopefully, Pitino is just being careful in protecting the Fitzgerald expectations.
 

Holy Man

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Sorry, nothing nice, nothing fantastic about Curry's injury. And I know you don't mean that. :) I don't think Curry would have started but I do believe he would have elevated his game maybe to a greater degree than even Dupre was able to last year. The silver lining I see with Curry is that it happened in August. The team has the full season to adapt to his injury. Eric has a full 12 months to heal before the next season begins in earnest. No hurry or stress to the rehab. And yes, if Fitzgerald could contribute it would be somewhat like a trade. But Pitino is guarded in his comments about Fitzgerald and he is often more excited in talking about guys. Hopefully, Pitino is just being careful in protecting the Fitzgerald expectations.
I think Pitino is being absolutely realistic about Fitz. There is no doubt everyone in the program believes he is good but he is right in saying he doesn't know. No one knows how a guy will come back from an injury like that especially the second one like Fitz is doing. If he stays healthy it will be great but no one knows for sure. Coach is correct in being guarded in his comments.
 

NotAFanOfBecky

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Curry played valuable minutes and he had his good moments for sure. Fitzgerald needs to provide what Curry provided. Curry was long enough to play bigger than he was and that was nice.
 

Heracles

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That was his second season ending ACL, correct? How long before he goes down again? Does he make it to the B1G season?

He looks good on paper and in practice. But, I'm not going to get any hopes up about this guy contributing when it comes to season-end seeding/tourney crunch time, like Curry did last year.

The biggest thing this year, IMO, will be, in no particular order: Lynch developing to a point where he can play significant minutes at the end of games, Coffey taking a step the next step, and Mason staying healthy (or Jelly's ability to step in and play immediately), and finding someone, anyone that can shoot from outside (will Harris be able to play some? Can Dupree/Coffey be more consistent).

If those questions can be answered, it's a top 10 team.

I could just as easily see none, or 1 or 2 of those questions answered, and the team takes a step back from last year.
 

Gopherbbdude

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The back up 4 and 5 is going to be the big questions. 1, 2, and 3 we have plenty of players to fill in. Konate will have to play5-10 minutes. Fitz will need to play 15+. Hurt may need to step in from time to time. Murphy and Lynch need to stay on the court....Period.

the biggest thing we will miss from Curry is his rebounding and energy off the bench.
 

balds

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Hopefully the reports about his shooting ability are correct. In no way do I think having Fitzgerald on the court will be equal to or better than having Curry, however, 4 people who can shoot on the floor has it's positives.
 
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Hopefully the reports about his shooting ability are correct. In no way do I think having Fitzgerald on the court will be equal to or better than having Curry, however, 4 people who can shoot on the floor has it's positives.
It seems to me that the reason everyone is counting on Fitzgerald is because we have no other legitimate options at the present time. Because Curry is out, we have to look for positives, and Fitzgerald is the elephant in the room. Only time will tell, but I for one hope that he contributes immediately off the bench. If he doesn't, it has to be Hurt. I've seen enough of Konate to know that any incremental progression will not be good enough for this team. Here's to hoping that Fitz is ready to go and can stay healthy. My bigger fear with this is that Lynch or Murphy gets hurt. I can't even imagine how bad things would get if either player gets sidelined.
 

WindyCityGopher

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I'm hoping for a good level of contribution from Davonte, but the reality is when the Gophers play their first exhibition game on Nov. 2 it will be 955 days since he played in a real game. That's a significant gap to overcome, so I'm tempering my expectations.
 

die hard gopher

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We could have had both guys playing together at the 3 and 4.

Fitzgerald would have gotten plenty of run without the Curry injury. Hurt is the one who really will get more of an opportunity due to Curry's injury. Hopefully he is much improved.
 

Otis

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I wish folks would quit downplaying Fitzgerald's ability to contribute because of his layoff. He practiced with the Gophers for a full year before blowing out his knee. That's decent competition right there. If he can move fluidly, with his reach he will be a defensive asset and if he shoots as well as people say (in games) he will be quite an asset.

We always are asking for a shooter who can play defense.
 

bemidjigopher

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My take has always been we don't need him to be a star, don't need to be as good as Curry if he really has a 7' wing span and can block shots, just need him to defend. Any offense is a bonus IMO
 

60's Guy

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We have 5 guards who will contribute in IW, Mason, Dupre, Harris and Coffey. We have 3 guys we can count on the inside in Lynch, Murphy and Konate. If anyone one of them gets hurt or in foul trouble we need an opponent who has limited bigs themselves over an extended period. I don't think we know if Fitzgerald can defend bigs if necessary or if defense is a strength? After that the only candidates on the roster to defend bigs are Gas and Coffey. Sorry, just don't see Hurt helping there.
We will almost have to play a small lineup and force them to defend us, if our bigs need a rest or are absent. How well we shoot from 3, will determine if we can spread the floor and attack the rim. The 3 bigs healthy is a pretty huge factor in our versatility. Fitzgerald is going to play giving us 9 solid guys. How do they all fit together? What can Fitzgerald contribute? What are his strengths? Maybe he sees himself as a perimeter guy?
955 days is a long time. Hopefully, he gets his opportunity and seizes the moment.
Maybe the forgotten man Gas becomes a solid big man defender...I like the chances of Coffey holding the fort if necessary but not for an entire game.
 

60's Guy

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My take has always been we don't need him to be a star, don't need to be as good as Curry if he really has a 7' wing span and can block shots, just need him to defend. Any offense is a bonus IMO
yup
 
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