Trevor Mbakwe Q&A: 'We had every piece you needed to contend for the Final Four'
Trevor Mbakwe has made several stops overseas since the two-time second-team All-Big Ten honoree closed his Minnesota career.
These days, the chiseled power forward finds himself in Russia, playing for Zenit Saint Petersburg and in the starting 5 with former Iowa star Aaron White.
BTN.com recently caught up with Mbakwe for an email Q&A.
BTN.com: Post-Minnesota, you’ve played in Italy, Israel, Germany and Russia. Give us a few must-visit vacation spots.
TM: Orvieto is a little town in Tuscany that my family loved, on top of a hill with great food and vineyards. The Amalfi coast is a must-do, the views from the cliffs are unreal. Jerusalem has so much history and such a mix of cultures that there’s nowhere else like it. St.Petersburg, where I play now, is possibly the most beautiful city Ive been to as far as architecture and just the layout of the city with canals everywhere.
BTN.com: How bad do the locals struggle with your last name? Has it led to some good nicknames?
TM: I’ve had my name butchered pretty bad at times here. For the most part, though, the fans and announcers have done a good job getting it right. Every now and then during introductions I might here a crazy name, and then realize they are talking about me haha.
BTN.com: What’s something you’ve learned to like about former Big Ten rival and current teammate Aaron White?
TM: I was most surprised knowing that someone who played at Iowa could actually have a good personality. I assumed all of those Hawkeyes guys just liked to hang out at the farm cow tipping.
BTN.com: More likely: You winning a 3-point contest or Blake Hoffarber winning a dunk contest?
TM: I’d for sure take my chances in a 3-point contest. Watching Blake attempt dunks during a dunk contest would be hilarious, though!
BTN.com: Other than the fans and its history, what’s the best thing about Williams Arena?
TM: I think playing on a raised court is one of the best homecourt advantages a player can have in college. I think it’s pretty cool when I hear people from across the world ask about playing on this court.
BTN.com: Which Minnesota campus restaurant do you miss the most, and what would you order if you were there today?
TM: Tony’s Diner, for sure. I would order a Denver omelette with a side of chicken wings. Don’t judge me!
BTN.com: I asked your former teammate Damian Johnson for a couple questions to ask you. First one: How far would the 2009-10 Minnesota team have gone if you were able to play?
TM: I think we were a Sweet 16 team, for sure. We had every piece you needed to contend for the Final Four.
BTN.com: No. 2 question from Damian: What was your scariest Tubby Smith moment?
TM: My redshirt year when I saw Coach chew out one of our teammates, Paul Carter, for not boxing out. I didn’t sleep much that night because I was worried about what I got myself into.
BTN.com: Who was your favorite and least favorite Big Ten player to mix it up with in the paint, and why?
TM: Draymond (Green) or (Jared) Sullinger were my favorite players to go against, because I knew it would be a battle and we were going to try and get the best out of each other. Jon Leuer was my least favorite to battle with, though. The refs never let you touch him. I think he had (Ed) Hightower paid off!
BTN.com: Which play or memory during your Minnesota career do you find yourself thinking about the most these days?
TM: Definitely when we beat Indiana when they were No. 1. I still get fans sending me things from that game!
Best Big Ten player you played against? Draymond Green
Favorite Big Ten road trip/venue? Indiana, one of the loudest arenas in College.
Most interesting “Barn” animal you saw? Nothing too crazy; I just think its funny seeing college kids dress up as animals for games. I love the fans, though!
Big Ten coach you most enjoyed talking to? Tom Crean. He was my coach at Marquette, so I always had extra motivation when I played him.
Most you ever bench-pressed? 335 pounds.