Rayno: Looking ahead to Friday's Gophers basketball game

  • Blog Post by:
  • November 7, 2013 - 4:31 PM

Not a lot of news out of today's Gophers access. This is the point of the season where there has been a lot of talk (from coaches, players, the media) but not a ton of action (games that matter).

So everyone (myself included) is likely looking forward to tomorrow -- actual results, and a tangible forward step in the season. The Gophers play Lehigh at 7 p.m. at the Barn.

"It all changes tomorrow," coach Richard Pitino said. "They’ve been good in exhibition games, they’ve been good in practice. How is that going to be tomorrow in front of however many people we have ... will they change? Will they be the same guys? Those are probably the unknowns that you find out early in the season.

Just a few notes from today's interviews:

  • Expect the same lineup tomorrow as we've seen in the two exhibitions so far. Pitino said it probably wouldn't change from the Deandre Mathieu, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Oto Osenieks, Elliott Eliason combination he's been using.
  • Of the small lineup we've seen a modest sampling of during the exhibition slate, Pitino made it clear that it's a contingency plan, not a goal. "I wouldn’t ideally like to go small," he said. "I’d like to have great size. But it just is what it is and we’ve got to make it work. The biggest concern when we go small is are we rebounding the basketball – just because we’re small. So we’ve got to build some toughness and get scrappier when we go smaller, and block out guys, get more fundamental. That’s the concern that we have to watch throughout the course of a game."
  • Will Pitino be nervous? "I’m nervous for every game. You know, it’s funny. When I was at FIU, we didn’t play exhibition games. We did closed scrimmages. And I walked out first game at Boston College and I was a nervous wreck, I didn’t know what I was doing. So exhibition games are good for our players, but also good for me." Pitino said his mother, uncle, and brother, Chris were all flying in for the game.
  • The coach noted that the biggest distinction for him so far, between coaching at FIU and coaching at Minnesota, is Williams Arena's distinctive raised court. "The only real difference is the raised court – that’s the only major difference," Pitino said. "I did coach 30-something games last year. Everybody thinks this is my first job, but I was a head coach last year … it’s a big adjustment because your staff feels so far away. Which I’m sure my staff loves, being far away from me during the games. I wish I could have had that with my dad, that would have been great." The elder Pitino, Rick, has a reputation of letting the phlegm fly -- with his assistants often being the victims -- during intense moments.
  • Maverick Ahanmisi noted that one of the things the team needs to continue to work on is practicing restraint when it comes to fouling, even if they've been decent in that regard through two exhibitions, fouling 11 times against Cardinal Stritch and 22 times against Concordia-St. Paul. "They’re really hammering down on touch calls and stuff like that," Ahanmisi said of the referees. "We did a good job in the past two exhibition games, but those teams weren’t really driving teams and Lehigh is going to be more of an attack team so we’ve got to play really hard without fouling."
  • Austin Hollins said he's been occasionally going up against Osenieks in practices to get somewhat comfortable with a four-guard lineup. He also pointed out that Pitino wouldn't use him as the 4 in matchups with bigger frontcourts. Joking, Hollins shrugged that if the coaching staff did, he could handle it. "I usually post up Elliott once or twice in practice," he said, dead-panning.
  • On the other hand, he smiled about the situation. "I never thought I’d be playing power forward in college," he said.

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