For an athlete, there's nothing worse than suffering an injury serious enough that it is season-ending. No competitor wants to sit idly by and watch his teammates play without being able to do anything more than the frat boys sitting in the front row. What's more difficult, however, is the process of coming back from the injury: getting back into shape, shaking off the rust of going months without playing, teaching a surgically repaired knee how to function, learning to trust that a certain move isn't going to result in a broken foot again.
Here is a list of the notable players coming off of serious injuries this season:
Mbakwe did catch a break, however: The NCAA granted him a sixth-year of eligibility, which is part of the reason that the Gophers are a trendy sleeper pick in the Big Ten. They also return five of their top six scorers from a team that eventually won 23 games and made it to the final of NIT. With a healthy Mbakwe back to anchor a lineup that also includes guards Julian Welch, Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins as well as uber-athletic forward Rodney Williams, Tubby Smith has a team capable of finishing in the top five of a strong Big Ten.