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Rayno: Joey King will start for Gophers vs. Indiana on Saturday

  • Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
  • February 7, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Following three consecutive losses, coach Richard Pitino will make his first lineup change of the season, he said on Friday.

Joey King will start in place of Oto Osenieks at power forward against Indiana on Saturday. 

Pitino cited King's aggressive play in the last couple of games -- particularly in the loss at Purdue on Wednesday -- as the reason for the switch.

"He is showing great enthusiasm," Pitino said. "He's playing confidently offensively. He is battling. In that Purdue game, he was probably the only guy who matched their physicality, took their hits and was strong with the ball. I just think something that's needed, a little change. We've lost three in a row, why not switch something up."

The move has been one that's been speculated about from the outside all season, but Pitino -- who hadn't yet informed Osenieks of the change -- said he didn't think King's play warranted the flip until now. 

King finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, and fought aggressively for loose balls in a game where the Gophers ultimately fell because of not grabbing enough rebounds or loose balls. Pitino, it seems, it rewarding the player who had the strongest efforts in those regards.

"Joey plays hard every day in practice," Mo Walker said. "Every day, he just goes all out pretty much, and I think that's what coach really likes about him. He does a lot of the little things, and coach stresses all the little things, like diving for loose balls and just going hard for rebounds. Last game, he had nine rebounds, so he was really going after it on the glass and coach really likes that."

Osenieks went scoreless on Wednesday and finished with three points and two rebounds in last weekend's game against Northwestern.

"When stuff's not working, you've got to change something, right?" Walker said. "I'm not opposed to it. I'm coming off the bench and I feel great coming off the bench. I bring a little energy, a little scoring. Oto just needs to keep his head off and keep playing hard and not take it as a personal shot or a blow to his confidence, but just contribute as much as he can off the bench and hopefully he'll keep playing well and we'll keep winning games."

Other notes:

DRE HOLLINS DIDN'T HAVE ILL EFFECTS FROM WED

*Andre Hollins practiced only about 20 minutes yesterday after the team -- which had a light workout overall -- returned from the triple overtime loss. But Pitino said the junior guard didn't show any ill effects of the 36 minutes he played on Wednesday, although Hollins did say he was a bit sore. Hollins is expected to start again on Saturday vs. Indiana. "He didn't look affected at all until the overtime," Pitino said. "That's when I noticed OK he's on his last legs a little bit. So we had to go offense- defense that game. It was difficult. We need a healthy Andre Hollins."

SMITH NEEDS TO IMPROVE DEFENSIVELY AND PITINO IS STILL MAD AT AMELIA

*Malik Smith played just 16 minutes on Wednesday, and went 0-for-3 from the field Pitino made it clear he didn't expect Smith's minutes to decrease from how he was being used before Hollins got injured. Part of the reason for the meager minutes on Wednesday was physicality and defense -- two aspects he felt were important in the context of the matchup and both of which are not Smith's strong suits, Pitino said. He had a little fun with that last bit, still harping about my blog on the Gophers' defense from last week. "I'm trying to shut up our beat writer from saying that we have atrocious defense," he said dryly. "So I'm just doing everything possible."

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