The Gophers had a lot to smile about on Tuesday night after defeating North Dakota State, 70-57. In a poor shooting night overall for Minnesota, Rodney Williams had a season-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals.
Yet, there was something more prevalent from the victory.
Against the Bison, freshman Wally Ellenson took off his warm-ups for the first time late in the second half. After shedding his Gopher gear, he stood at half court, anticipating his entrance into the game.
Finally, he walked onto the court, burning any chance of redshirting this season.
Is this the right thing to do?
It all started a few weeks before the basketball season when Ellenson injured his wrist. Minnesota soon announced that the freshman from Wisconsin would miss two months with the injury.
Even though he was a touted prospect out of Wisconsin, it was not expected that Ellenson would accumulate a ton of minutes this season. Coach Tubby Smith already had a large rotation in place this season for the Gophers. With the size and position, the freshman would compete for minutes with Oto Osenieks.
Now, Minnesota has 12 men to rotate.
The freshman could have continued to sit out this season along with fellow freshman Charles Buggs. Buggs sat down with his family and the coaching staff a few weeks ago coming in agreement that redshirting him was the best option because of the depth of the team.
When Ellenson sat down with the coaching staff this week, Ellenson was adamant that he wanted to play this season. In four minutes, he made one free throw.
Time will tell if the freshman cracks the rotation, but evidence has shown that Tubby likes playing his players that know the system.