This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

aMAILia BAG 2: Whether this fast Gophers start is affecting recruiting, whether Ellenson chose his own destiny

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: December 19, 2012 - 11:28 AM

 

 

aMAILia BAG is a new installment on this blog where you ask questions and I answer them here. Send your queries to amelia.rayno@startribune.com. Sign your email exactly how you want to be referenced or else I will take your full name attached to your email. Thanks for all your great questions!

Questions below will be in bold while my responses will be in regular type. 

Hi Amelia, it's Stu from the RandBall blog at startribune.com. Perhaps you're familiar with my work. Thank you, you're very kind.

ANYWAY: you need questions for your mailbag, according to the internet. Here you go: have you heard from your sources if the Gophers' hot start and relatively high national profile have helped in any way with recruiting? Or is that something that isn't even on the radar at this point?

Have your kind of day!

RandBall's Stu


Yes, yes, yes, RBS, I’m aware of who you are. You trying to wiggle your way into being a contributor on Gold in the Barn now too? How’s that ego doing? Boy.

As for your question, I think that a start like this certainly can’t hurt the Gophers other than the fact that any interested recruits might not have actually been able to WATCH THE GAMES. However, I don’t think 12 games are going to be the difference-maker with any big-name recruits. If the Gophers can perpetually sustain success like this year-in and year-out, that’s when it makes a difference. Right now, it’s nice, but the only recruit it could really be affecting would be Gavin Schilling – the guy at the top of the Gophers’ wishlist for next year. But he’s said he’s not going to make a decision until the spring (and he doesn’t seem like the guy to glance at the AP standings, gulp dramatically, and pick up the phone to call coach Tubby Smith RightNowBecauseHeNeedsToBeAPartOfThisThing). By the spring, whatever the Gophers are doing now will be long forgotten. It will be whatever they are doing in March. That is so far and so many tough games away. And as for guys like Tyus Jones, well, all other seven teams on his list are doing versions the same thing, and most of them are doing it every year.

How does the Gophers guard play stack up against other Big Ten teams in terms of ballhandling, passing, 3 point shooting, and defense?

-Michael Soderlind


To get to the point:

BALLHANDLING/PASSING:
In turnover margin, the Gophers are 7th in the Big Ten with +1.5, meaning that opponents turn the ball over an average of 1.5 more times per game than the Gophers. Wisconsin (+4.55), Ohio State (+4.33), Indiana (+3.60), Illinois (+2.67), Michigan (+2.0) and Northwestern (+1.82) are all better in that regard. Three teams (Penn State, Michigan State and Purdue) have negative margins.
In assist-to-turnover ratio, the Gophers are also 7th, barely keeping a positive ratio with 1.1 assists to 1 turnover. Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern (all 1.5/1), Indiana (1.4/1) and Iowa (1.2/1) lead them.
However, the team ranks third in assists per game, notching an average of 16.5 (behind only Northwestern, with 17.1 and Indiana, with 17).

3-POINT SHOOTING:
Is there a trend? In 3-point percentage, the Gophers are 7th in the conference, making 32.6 of their shots. Michigan (40.1). Ohio State (39.9), Indiana (39.4), Illinois (38.6), Northwestern (37) and Wisconsin (34.1) are all better in that regard. As far as the average number of 3-pointers made per game, the Gophers land all the way down at No. 10 in the conference, with 5.1. Only Michigan State and Purdue are averaging fewer.

DEFENSE:
In scoring defense, the Gophers are 7th, with an average of 60.3 points a game allowed. But when it comes to field goal percentage defense, the Gophers are third (behind Michigan State and Indiana), holding opponents to 37.1 percent of their attempts. In 3-pointer defense, the Gophers are fifth (behind Purdue, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio State), holding opponents to 30.6 percent of their shots from that range, and they rank first in blocked shots (an average of 6.9 a game) and steals (9.9).

Hi Amelia, My question: with B1G season coming up, are there any things Gophers need to do differently in order to keep winning in rugged conference play?

Hugh


Well – the above answer should be a hint. Right now, the Gophers’ shooting just isn’t where it needs to be to hang with the competition in the Big Ten. Offensively, the Gophers have cruised by their cupcake competition, but even with plenty of blowouts, the team is ranked just fifth in scoring offense and field goal percentage. And turnovers, of course, remain a problem. While the Gophers have certainly looked better in that category in the last few games, consistently turning over in the teens is a problem.

While I'm sure a popular question this week, is it not preposterous that Wally Ellenson was "allowed" to determine his own fate for a redshirt year? It should be the coaches decision and that's final, seems like a ploy to stay in good graces for the youngest Ellenson who is projected to go big.

Alex
St. Paul


Yep, popular question, Alex. When it comes down to it, players are not “allowed” to choose their redshirting fate. While I got a LOT of reactions this week along the lines of “Ellenson never planned to redshirt and why let this injury get in the way further” and “A kid should be able to determine what he wants to do with his bball career and whether he wants to graduate in four years” – that, frankly, is all nonsense. Sure, a player can graduate in four years if he so chooses and is so motivated. It’s up to the coach whether he’ll be playing all of that time. You can call it a redshirt or you can call it “not playing.” OF COURSE that is up to the coach. Ultimately in this case, coach Tubby Smith decided it was best for the team if Ellenson plays this season. Does the best thing for the team include wooing brother Henry Ellenson for 2015, and keeping the family happy in the meantime? Yes it does. And it’s pretty clear that went into the decision. At the same time, Smith likely wouldn’t have decided to make that decision if he thought the addition of Ellenson would actually hurt the team now. Bottom line is, Ellenson can get his feet wet, probably benefit from the experience next year and maybe help out the team where Oto Osenieks is struggling. The one who is really missing out is Ellenson, who won’t get his full four years of eligibility. But if that’s what he wants, hey, fine. I’ve tried to be clear that while the decision is a strange one, it’s not a BAD one. I’m not sure why so many people have gotten so upset about it. Do they Gophers need Ellenson? No. Can they use him? Sure. At the same time, if the wing didn’t have a brother named Henry, I think he’d have a “did not play” on his stat line for this season.

Checking out our Big Ten schedule, and playing the magic 8-ball. What do you predict for a Big Ten record?

@ALuvsTwins


I’m calling for a reversal of last year’s record. 11 or 12 conference wins for the Gophers. That’s my prediction.

BONUS BIGFOOT QUESTION:

Since I promised I’d pick the first one off Twitter, here tis:

Have you ever seen the Sasquatch Gang? It's a really stupid comedy that has some moments of hilarity. You might like it.

@MlicariEsq


No, I haven’t.

Now here’s one I picked:

Loch Ness Monster vs Bigfoot: who ya got? http://liquidtelevision.com/video/celebrity-deathmatch-loch-ness-monster-vs-bigfoot/ …

@fasolamatt

What’s the turf? Squatches aren’t strong swimmers, but I’m not sure Nessie could survive outside the lake. Neutral, imaginary turf – I’ll take Bigfoot if he can avoid getting stepped on.

To read Tuesday's aMailia bag, go here.

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