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: Who is most important to the Gophers? Early prediction for Big Ten POY? Difference between Yeti and Sasquatch?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: January 1, 2013 - 1:41 PM



aMAILia BAG is a weekly installment on this blog in which you send me questions, and I answer them here. Send your queries for next week to Sign your email however you want to be referred to in the post (ie: first name, full name, home town, Twitter handle, etc.). As always, thanks for all your great questions!

Happy New Year’s everyone. I hope everyone had a fun (and safe) night last night after the Gophers win over Michigan State. Your loyal Gophers beat reporter over here has been toiling over your questions on New Year’s Day. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. Hopefully everyone is awake and in want of some stimulating reading material now.

Let’s jump to the questions (in bold; my responses in normal type):

Injuries are inevitable. Who's the most important piece for our Big10 run?


Hmm, that’s a tough one because this year’s team has so much balance – anyone can take over the game on any given night, so in that way NO ONE is any too important. At the same time, in order for that unselfish dynamic to work, EVERY man is important. The starting rotation has so much parity, and that keeps defenses spread thin and honest. Just look at last night in the win over Michigan State – Dre Hollins notched 22, Rodney Williams 15, Austin Hollins, 12, Trevor Mbakwe 11. Even Joe Coleman, who had eight points, was a big contributor with three assists to one turnover, with two blocks and three steals – but that’s another story.

In any case, if I HAVE to pick one player, I’m going to go with Andre Hollins, for the simple fact that he’s your point guard now. He’s embraced his role and impresses me more and more each game this season with the way he’s starting to “click” in that regard. Last night was especially encouraging, both from a floor general perspective and, of course, as a scoring threat (which he’s harnessed much better this season also).

If something happened to Hollins (knock on wood, Gophers fans) this season, Maverick Ahanmisi would likely be the one to step in and replace him in the starting lineup. And while I really like the improvements Ahanmisi has made this year, he’s perfect for the role he’s currently in – he’s a little too limited, defense-wise, to be THE point guard, and while he can really shoot some 3s, he wouldn’t have the same scoring potential in that spot. Moving him to the starting lineup would also force Julian Welch into the role of main backup point, and I like him better as a shooting guard.

Tubby played 11, but no Ellenson. Do you think he will have a chance to crack the rotation as the year progresses?


I was a little surprised that Ellenson didn’t play at all last night, considering the good work the freshman did in the final minutes of the Gophers’ win over Lafayette. The fact of the matter is, Ellenson is still far behind in terms of knowing the plays and executing on defense. Tubby Smith is quick to state that about the guard, and on Saturday he reiterated that he isn’t sure how many minutes Ellenson will get this season.

It’s only been one game since Ellenson has been officially eligible that he hasn’t played, so of course there’s a chance he can break into the rotation. Smith used a shorter bench than usual Monday anyway, and frankly, he was probably a little more concerned about winning the game than getting Ellenson comfortable. The wing will play if he proves himself. Problem is, the timing to prove yourself at the start of the Big Ten schedule, when every game is going to be a battle, just isn’t good. This was part of why I was surprised Smith took away the redshirt.

Mailbag: why no time for [Oto] after excellent first half especially winemaker MSU making big run?


Winemaker MSU? Is this an auto correct? A New Year's Eve joke? Some term I’m not familiar with? An indictment of the Spartans’ habits?

My guess is the first. Anyway. As I said above, Smith didn’t play a long bench at all yesterday, particularly in the second half when only four players – Elliott Eliason (1), Julian Welch (5), Maverick Ahanmisi (2) and Andre Ingram (2) – got any minutes at all. I really liked that move, with the starters cruising and the second group, while providing a spark against MSU’s reserves in the first, not doing a good job of hanging with the Spartans’ starting lineup. As for why Osenieks didn’t get more second half minutes in place of, say, Welch, I couldn’t tell you other than I think Smith really believes in Welch and wants to get him going. Osenieks – and the rest of the crew – played their part in the first half. The starting five was clearly exhausted (Williams actually appeared to signal that he wanted a reserve at one point) and the second group was great in relief. They simply weren’t needed as much in the second. In the past, it’s been frustrating to watch Smith make a line change at seemingly unnecessary times, so I had no complaints over his use of the bench in the second.

Who is your Big Ten player of the year prediction? Not now, but by the end of the year!


One thing about this mail bag that I didn’t anticipate – I’m finding that I get on the hook for many more official predictions … maybe you guys will forget when I’m wrong? Anyway, I suppose I can always count on you guys to make me think on the day after New Year’s Eve (yes, that is also known as New Year’s Day).

If your hopes are up that I’m going to name a Minnesota player, I should squash that now. With the Gophers, it’s such a team thing, so I don’t think that any one of them will win it, unless Minnesota wins the conference. In general, I like to look at the POY as the one who meant the most to his team; the one that would hurt a team the most if he was gone.

Therefore, if Ohio State were to have a great Big Ten season, it would have to be Deshaun Thomas, who is the thing keeping the Buckeyes afloat right now. If Illinois continued its success, I’d name Brandon Paul. But I’m not sure those two are going to be the top exciting teams going forward, so I digress.

If I had to pick a POY to this point, I’d name Trey Burke, who has just been stellar, as has Michigan. And considering I don’t see Burke (or Michigan) flopping anytime soon, that’s probably a safe pick for POY too – but it’s also kind of a boring pick, and no one likes a boring pick.

So I’m going to go out on a limb here, and name Iowa’s Aaron White as my prediction for end-of-the-year POY. The Hawkeyes are one of the teams I think will finish much better than they were expected to this season, and if that happens, White will be a big part of that. The sophomore has improved in nearly every category from a year ago, and I think he’s only getting started. He can impact the game on both ends of the court and has shown he can be a dominant scorer. In big games so far, he’s produced big. Yesterday, the forward was key in keeping the Hawkeyes in the game with Indiana and while he didn’t score in the game’s final 13 minutes, he did get some critical rebounds (but Iowa couldn’t pull it out). So there it is, folks.

Perhaps I missed it, but I'd love to see your prediction for our BT record... Official, and on the record! Ha.


Again with this way-ahead stuff? Well, I’ve actually put this out there already, and it doesn’t feel so tough repeating it after last night’s win. I predict the Gophers to reverse last year’s totals and go 12-6 in the league.

Does the Gophers' high ranking have anything to do with the B1G's national reputation, or are voters really that high on them?


I think it’s a combination of both, but yes, I think voters really like what they’ve seen from the Gophers early on. They’ve played really solid basketball, even when not playing against top competition – anchored by tough defense and a balanced offense.

What is the Gophers biggest weakness? 3-point shooting?


Three point shooting is one. But after yesterday afternoon, I might go back to turnovers. What an egregious show that was for a little while there, particularly at the start of the second half. Turnovers (the Gophers almost had one miscue a minute for the first eight minutes, which the Spartans returned for seven points) were the bulk of the reason Minnesota let Michigan State take its first lead. It was ugly basketball for a little while there. Ultimately, the Gophers defense (and converting when they did hold onto the ball long enough to get to the basket) kept them in the game during that period, and they didn’t have any turnovers in the final 11:55 of the second. But whoa, 16 turnovers again? This cannot continue if the Gophers are going to keep up this success in the Big Ten.


What’s the difference between a Sasquatch and a Yeti? Not a Gophers hoops question, but important nonetheless!


You’re right, Julie – very important. The differences between Sasquatch and Yeti are basically the name -- each given by the original natives who saw them -- and the region. Sasquatch is the North American version and Yeti is the name for the similar creatures in mountainous Asia (mostly throughout the Himalayan range). Some say Yeti have mostly white fur (which would make sense given their surroundings) while American sasquatch are typically black or cinnamon-colored.


Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 10 2nd Qtr 5:52
Pittsburgh 17
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 90 4th Qtr 9:24
Dallas 87
New York 22 2nd Qtr
Portland 31
Toronto 22 1st Qtr 1:06
Denver 21
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 2nd Prd 3:19
Anaheim 0
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 42 2nd Half 7:22
Washington 53
Buffalo 44 2nd Half 7:13
Wisconsin 58
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 24 2nd Half
Memphis 28


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