Gophers men’s basketball benefitting from Parker Fox’s savvy, spark off the bench

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Like one of those confetti cannons, Gophers men’s basketball coach Ben Johnson is trying to bottle up Parker Fox and uncork him in the right moments.

Fox has come off the bench in all 11 games this season and will likely do so again Thursday when Minnesota (8-3) plays host to Ball State (8-3) at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Johnson likes the spark and savvy Fox has provided for the U in his 12 minutes per game.

“I love whenever you can bring experience off the bench and you know exactly what they are bringing,” Johnson said. “I know with Parker, if things are dull, at least you’ve got a guy who is going to bring juice, that’s going to bring an older presence and bring some grit off the bench, and you can rely off that.”

Johnson also has to gauge when Fox, a sixth-year player, will benefit from a lighter load in practices due to two consecutive season-ending knee injuries.

“There are times, without a doubt, I know it’s bothering him,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Fox’s situation is better than two years ago when Eric Curry couldn’t practice at all.

Fox, a Mahtomedi native, has worked to put in more time rehabbing in order to be ready when he’s called on most, while also being cognizant to call audibles when rest will be beneficial.

Fox has a team-high 12 dunks and is averaging 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He also has six blocks and has helped be the glue that doesn’t show up in the box score.

“I just want to bring energy; that’s who I’ve been as a player,” said the former Division II All-American during his time at Northern State. “… I play at one gear and it’s full-out, full pace.”

Johnson wants to make sure that pace and influence will still be there when the Big Ten season hits its dog days in February.


Forward Dawson Garcia (ankle) is day-to-day and will be a game-time decision against Ball State, Johnson said.

Johnson said the swelling in Garcia’s ankle improved a few days ago. There will be a desire for him to play, but after Thursday’s game, a week-long break follows until the final nonconference game against Maine on Dec. 29.

The Big Ten schedule restart is Jan. 4 at Michigan.

“When he’s back, you want him back and you don’t want to risk another tweak and a setback with what we’ve got coming,” Johnson said. “He will test it out (Wednesday and Thursday), give our medical staff feedback and we’ll make a decision.”

Guard Braeden Carrington (mental health leave) will miss his second game Thursday.

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