The Gophers had a rough season in 2015-16 and things are already off to a difficult start for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
It was announced earlier today that Davonte Fitzgerald, a junior forward for Minnesota, had suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during practice. Fitzgerald also tore his medial and lateral meniscus, furthering complicating his knee injury:
#Gophers junior forward Davonte Fitzgerald will miss the season after tearing his ACL on his left knee in practice, team announced today— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) October 7, 2016
Fitzgerald also tore the medial and lateral meniscus in his left knee in a non-contact situation.— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) October 7, 2016
The injury will cost Fitzgerald the upcoming season, though head coach Richard Pitino believes the forward will be ready to go for 2017-18. Fitzgerald transferred from Texas A&M after his sophomore season and sat out last season. In two years with the Aggies he had averaged 5.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in a backup role, averaging a little bit over 12 minutes a game.
While he was a backup for Texas A&M, Fitzgerald was looking to provide some much needed depth in the frontcourt for Minnesota. Besides being able to help add some talent inside on both sides of the ball, Fitzgerald has shown some potential as an outside shooter (shooting 30.2% his freshman season from three) and could possibly help stretch the floor a bit.
“We are disappointed in the recent injury news as it pertains to Devonte. He had worked extremely hard to get himself ready for this season,” said Pitino. The head coach also mentioned that “we are confident he will be back and ready to go next season.”
Either way this was an unexpected setback and will further complicate things as Minnesota tries to improve from an eight win season and gets thing back on track. There isn’t much room for error for Pitino and the Gophers and losing players to non-contact injuries in October isn’t a great start to the season.