aMAILiaBAG: Will Bucky keep it up? McNeil, Malik and more

  • Blog Post by:
  • January 7, 2014 - 2:50 PM

Greetings from somewhere between Minneapolis and State College the airport at Minneapolis where I am hanging out all day after my flights getting me to State College were all cancelled. I'm looking forward to strongly dreading my over-night drive from Philadelphia. RIP my bag, and everything in it. 

To submit your questions for future aMAILiaBAGS, send me an email at or tweet me @AmeliaRayno.

Hi Amelia,

I am wondering what you think was Pitino's reasoning behind his line up the last 5-10 minutes of the Michigan game. Seems to me Malik spent way too much time on the bench when he had been playing really well and can shoot the three consistently. As awesome as I think Austin and Andre are at basketball the stats were showing it was not their night. Or perhaps he should have gone with the 4 guard lineup. There's always could of-would of-should of in sports, but in any case I think if Malik was in there more in the second half the gophers win the game hands down. 

Thanks for all the hard work you do covering the team!


Thanks to you, Holly. 

I think coach Richard Pitino isn't willing to make the statement that taking out Andre Hollins and/or Austin Hollins would make -- he doesn't need his star players, the ones he's going to rely on all year suddenly believing that he doesn't have trust in them because of one game. In any case, the statistics certainly bear out keeping them in -- you saw what they did the next game against Purdue. 

The other option is the four-guard lineup, and we asked Pitino after the game if he regretted not getting Smith on the court more at the end, considering how hot he was, and what a spark he can bring. But Pitino said he was unwilling to give away the size on the defensive end (which will also be his concern with the four-guard lineup). He's still a little hesitant there, but I think that will be a subject that gets addressed throughout the year.

Who out of Josh Martin, Nate Mason, and Carlos Morris will play the most their first year?
Dj Hagen

I think they'll all get a chance -- but if Martin proves he can rebound, he could start.

How about the 7-footer from Utah State -  would the Gophers want him?
Patrick Thompson

You're talking about Carson Shanks, formerly of Prior Lake HS. I haven't talked to him, but according to Ryan James over at Gopher Illustrated, he's pretty intrigued, and would commit if the Gophers offered.

@lundstoppable: Thoughts on Fran McCaffery's blow up and B10 refs?  Officials were letting them play. Bo Ryan complained and seemed to change how the game was officiated. Gophers/Purdue was the opposite. All touch fouls then refs swallowed the whistle. Seems to be no consistency with officials. Thoughts?

Fran has always been able to, um, entertain with his temper. And that's usually what it is -- entertaining. But the Iowa coach took it a bit far on Sunday, and it seemed to hurt his team, which fell off after McCaffery was ejected. As for the officials, of course consistency is going to be an issue early on with the new fouling rules -- refs, like players and coaches, are still adjusting from how they used to call things, so there is some substantial discrepancy in that right now. That will get better going forward.

@jyoenz: @AmeliaRayno Can we continue to see Daquein McNeil in the rotation during conference play? Been impressed with his play early on.#aMAILiaBAG

Yes, I think the freshman's play is building, Pitino's trust in him is building, and McNeil could continue to be more of an impact role player down the stretch. There is plenty to like, both from his defensive effort and his aggressiveness on offense. He had a couple of really nice drives to the hoop in big moments against Purdue. I expect we'll see some more of the surprise newbie.

 @OleOlafLefse: @AmeliaRayno Can you talk to Gopher security and ask if they have a plan for Iowa head coach if he loses it January 19 here? #aMAILiabag

The Gophers will be in Iowa City on Jan. 19 ... but something tells me McCaffery will be on his best behavior.

@OleOlafLefse: @AmeliaRayno Bucky can't possibly keep this up, right? #aMAILiabag

I don't know ... so far, Wisconsin has looked pretty good. They've been outstanding offensively and defensively, balanced production throughout the lineup (although there's not really a go-to-player), good from three-point range, and one of the best ball handling teams in the country. And after taking down Iowa, the Buckeyes have beaten EIGHT top-100 teams already, which is kind of crazy that they even had the opportunity to do that.

@peekay622: @AmeliaRayno Should there be a suspension for the Iowa Frantrum? Is there a precedent? #aMAILiaBag

You've probably seen by now that McCaffery has been suspended for one game. It's not all that common, but coaches can be suspended for aggressively losing their temper on the court. Bobby Knight was suspended at least once (could it be only once after all of that?). 

@kshea32: @AmeliaRayno Joey King seems to have much high bball IQ and athleticism, he gets less playing time than Oto. Why? Is it his defense? #aMAILiaBAG

Pitino's answer for starting Oto Osenieks is that he is trying to get the most out of both players (he needs them both, of course, given the depth issue on this team). King, Pitino believes, will give him what he's going to give him no matter what, while for Osenieks, the starting opportunity helps boost his confidence, a factor that is simply more meaningful for some players than others. I know it seems baffling that Osenieks is actually averaging about 2.5 more minutes a game, but I think that's just the way it worked out. Especially recently, Osenieks has showed more scrap on the boards than his counterpart -- what Pitino most needs from those PFs -- and maybe the coach is rewarding that.

@HargoFett: Hey #amailiabag, do you see three wins for Gophers in January? @AmeliaRayno

Maybe, but it's going to be tough. The Gophers now have one after pulling out what wound up being a close game against Purdue at the end. To get three, they'll need two more in a six-game stretch -- the middle four of which can only be described as a meat grinder. Take a look:

at Penn State tomorrow
at Michigan State on Saturday
1-16 vs. Ohio State
1-19 at Iowa
1-22 vs. Wisconsin
1-26 at Nebraska

The Gophers should be able to win against the Nittany Lions and the Huskers on the road (although neither will be easy), but it would do them good to take one more as well,  and they'll probably need at least a couple of ranked wins come March if they have any hope of getting into the Big Dance.

@CurseofPunto: @AmeliaRayno What have players said publicly about differences between Tubby and Pitino's coaching styles?

That Pitino is less of a yeller. That could also be because Pitino is very aware of the state of the program (ie., a rebuilding situation) and isn't going to flip out on guys who aren't capable of doing more than they are. Tubby Smith had a different situation in some years with talented teams that underperformed.

@GopherBBallFan: @AmeliaRayno #aMAILiaBAG Why does the student section call Elliott "Goose?"

I'm glad you asked.

One early morning, not so long ago, Elliott Eliason and Maverick Ahanmisi were heading to Williams Arena to take some early free-throw practice. It was an especially tundra-like morning, as anyone currently living in Minnesota can easily imagine, and Eliason shivered, and then gasped as he walked through the Barn doors. Was the heat off? Or had the chill simply permanently entered his bones? Before Maverick could respond to all of these pressing life questions (and inform him that yes, the heat seemed to be broken), Eliason's momentary pondering was interrupted by a loud yet pathetic squawking noise. "What is that?" Maverick wondered, but when he turned around to look at Eliason, the big man was already gone, having sprinting up the arena stands and into the rafters, where the noise seemed to be originating. 

Behold, it was a sullied goose, its little webbed feet frozen to one of Williams Arena's roof supports. What an unfortunate twist for the poor goose, who had been seeking warmth in the first place. 

With impressive footwork and the same aggressiveness Eliason had shown many times in playing rim protector on the floor below, the Nebraska native leapt off his feet and pried the goose off the pillar, taking three stairs at a time on his way back down to where Maverick awaited. 

"Talk to me Goose, talk to me Goose," Maverick whispered as the unlikely pair arrived. The goose did, squawking his thanks. Eliason mimicked him as he proudly held the goose aloft, forever connected in spirit and now in name.

**None of the above has any truth to it whatsoever. I have no idea why Eliason is called "Goose."

@RandBallsStu: @ameliarayno this seems sketchy, but as always, I defer to your expert judgment. #aMAILiaBAG

That's more than a little sketchy and here is why:

Bigfoots never travel alone. If he had shot a bigfoot, he would not be around to tell the tale.
"Tests" would never prove that anything is "100 percent bigfoot." Since, you know, most labs don't have bigfoot catalogued as a species to begin with. Maybe if he had said the tests came back and proved it was an unknown species ...
A traveling tour to charge people to see the body? Is it going to be in a cardboard box in the back of his truck? And just what has he put all over this carcass so it's not rotting. Ladies and Gentlemen, the circus is coming to town.

@mattprivratsky: @AmeliaRayno McNeil didn't play significant minutes til Purdue, does that bode well for Wally/Buggs, who have to earn min's in practice too?

Probably not, since it looks like McNeil is now getting the minutes those two could have earned. But anything is possible.

@GopherBBallFan: @AmeliaRayno #aMAILiaBag Can we expect to see other teams pressuring us more after the relative success Purdue enjoyed at the end?

It's possible. I expect Iowa would, particularly since the Hawkeyes had such success with it a year ago. But I also expect the Gophers to be better against the press in general this year, since they do go against it every day in practice. 

@ajm6792: For the mailbag, @AmeliaRayno , are there stats on what the new officiating emphasis has done to pace of play?

Yep. Like it or not, the tempo is actually at a 10-year high right now, according to (and last year was a ten-year low). The last time teams were playing faster as a whole was in 2003. Here's a look:

Adjusted tempo national average for the seasons ending in the year listed:

2014: 67.9
2013: 65.9
2012: 66.1
2011: 66.7
2010: 67.3
2009: 66.5
2008: 67
2007: 66.9
2006: 67
2005: 67.3
2004: 67.7
2003: 68.5

@KraigKuelbs: @AmeliaRayno Scotch is the only way one can put on an internal (thoracic) sweater. I chose an Oban 14 sweater today. What's your favorite??

Internal sweater indeed. Personally, I'm inclined to put on a Glenfiddich sweater, or for special occasions, a Lagavulin 16 sweater. 

© 2018 Star Tribune