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.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Dallas 6:00 PM
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Houston 6:30 PM
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Portland 7:30 PM
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 1st Prd 9:26
Montreal 0
NY Islanders 1:00 PM
Arizona 2:00 PM
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Dallas 6:00 PM
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 25 2nd Half 12:14
Clemson 46
Western Mich 43 2nd Half 11:42
Eastern Mich 43
NC State 49 2nd Half 12:00
Georgia Tech 42
Wisconsin 60 2nd Half 7:27
Iowa 49
Stony Brook 35 2nd Half 9:00
New Hampshire 51
Notre Dame 55 2nd Half 11:27
Pittsburgh 52
Providence 43 2nd Half 16:06
St Johns 51
Davidson 44 2nd Half 14:27
Saint Josephs 39
Xavier 52 2nd Half 12:58
Seton Hall 56
Tulane 23 2nd Half 11:27
Temple 39
Auburn 37 2nd Half 16:01
Tennessee 37
Texas Tech 31 2nd Half 17:28
West Virginia 42
Arkansas 15 1st Half 11:41
Florida 14
Penn State 11 1st Half 12:20
Illinois 14
Lipscomb 11 1st Half 11:24
Stetson 18
South Florida 15 1st Half 11:21
Tulsa 11
Bradley 13 1st Half 12:25
Indiana State 7
UMass Lowell 1:00 PM
Green Bay 1:00 PM
Cleveland State
Georgetown 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston 1:00 PM
Villanova 1:00 PM
Arkansas State 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Vermont 1:00 PM
TCU 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Kennesaw St 1:00 PM
Kansas State 1:00 PM
Boston Univ 1:00 PM
Illinois State 1:00 PM
Albany 1:00 PM
Butler 1:00 PM
LSU 1:00 PM
Miss State
Mount St Marys 1:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Richmond 1:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
IUPU-Ft Wayne 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Loyola-Maryland 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman 2:00 PM
Florida A&M
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
UAB 2:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Idaho State 2:00 PM
North Dakota
Evansville 2:05 PM
Rutgers 2:15 PM
Ball State 2:30 PM
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
UNC-Wilmington 3:00 PM
Coastal Carolina 3:00 PM
Morgan State 3:00 PM
William & Mary 3:00 PM
James Madison
North Carolina 3:00 PM
Coppin State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Ole Miss 3:00 PM
Wichita State 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Loyola Marymount 3:00 PM
Winthrop 3:00 PM
George Washington 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Bryant 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fair-Dickinson 3:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Saint Louis
Georgia 3:00 PM
South Carolina
Central Conn St 3:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville 3:15 PM
Eastern Ill
Ohio 3:30 PM
Central Mich
Eastern Ky 3:30 PM
Morehead State
Incarnate Word 3:30 PM
Campbell 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:30 PM
Texas A&M
South Alabama 4:00 PM
Western Carolina 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Detroit 4:00 PM
Idaho 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Marshall 4:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Jackson State 4:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Houston Baptist 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Louisiana 4:30 PM
Texas State
Denver 4:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 4:30 PM
South Dakota
Texas 5:00 PM
Citadel 5:00 PM
Fresno State 5:00 PM
Colorado State
Yale 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:00 PM
Grambling St
Nebraska 5:00 PM
Hampton 5:00 PM
Norfolk State
Purdue 5:00 PM
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Pepperdine 5:00 PM
St Marys-CA
NC A&T 5:00 PM
Savannah State
Delaware State 5:00 PM
SC State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Southern Miss
Nevada 5:00 PM
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
FIU 6:00 PM
Brown 6:00 PM
George Mason 6:00 PM
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Alabama 6:00 PM
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Elon 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Mercer 6:00 PM
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 62 1st OT 1:45
Sacred Heart 67
Texas-El Paso 35 2nd Half 11:54
Middle Tennessee 50
Arkansas State 41 2nd Half 12:40
Georgia State 29
Bethune-Cookman 12:00 PM
Florida A&M
Louisiana Tech 12:00 PM
Bryant 10 1st Half
Robert Morris 17
Central Conn St 27 1st Half 6:44
Wagner 18
Fairleigh Dickinson 20 1st Half 8:48
St Francis-PA 16
Long Island 12 1st Half
St Francis-NY 9
Longwood 11 1st Half
Campbell 11
Charleston Southern 4 1st Half 13:50
Winthrop 10
Ohio U 18 1st Half
Central Michigan 13
Western Mich 0 1st Half 20:00
Miami-Ohio 0
Coppin State 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Incarnate Word 1:00 PM
Samford 1:00 PM
East Tenn St
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Liberty 1:00 PM
High Point
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
Kent State 1:00 PM
Northern Ill 1:00 PM
Ball State
Houston 1:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville 1:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Kentucky 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
American Univ
Army 1:00 PM
Niagara 1:00 PM
Lehigh 1:00 PM
Boston U
Navy 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs 1:00 PM
Duquesne 1:00 PM
George Washington 1:00 PM
George Mason
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
Youngstown St
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Kennesaw St
North Florida 1:00 PM
USC Upstate
Buffalo 1:30 PM
Eastern Michigan
St Marys-CA 2:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist 2:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Mercer 2:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
No Dakota State 2:00 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Southern Miss 2:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
East Carolina 2:00 PM
South Florida 2:00 PM
New Mexico St 2:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Utah Valley U 2:00 PM
Jackson State 2:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Louisiana 2:00 PM
Texas State
South Alabama 2:00 PM
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Cleveland State 2:00 PM
Grand Canyon 2:05 PM
Chicago State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Washington St 2:30 PM
(12) Stanford
Kansas State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
UNLV 3:00 PM
Air Force
UCF 3:00 PM
Delaware State 3:00 PM
SC State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Utah State
Sacramento St 3:00 PM
Portland State 3:00 PM
Montana State
Northern Colorado 3:00 PM
Weber State
Hampton 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
NC A&T 3:00 PM
Savannah State
Alabama A&M 3:00 PM
Prairie View
Toledo 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ark-Pine Bluff 3:00 PM
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Marist 3:00 PM
Bucknell 3:00 PM
North Dakota 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Ark-Little Rock 3:30 PM
Georgia Southern
BYU 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Gonzaga 4:00 PM
Pacific 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
Colorado State 4:00 PM
Fresno State
New Mexico 4:00 PM
San Jose St
UC Davis 4:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 4:00 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 4:00 PM
McNeese State
TX A&M-CC 4:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Old Dominion 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Tenn Tech 4:00 PM
Eastern Washington 4:00 PM
Stetson 4:00 PM
Washington 4:30 PM
USC 4:30 PM
(7) Oregon State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Northwestern St 4:30 PM
SE Louisiana
SE Missouri St 4:30 PM
Austin Peay
Columbia 5:00 PM
Charlotte 5:00 PM
(19) Princeton 5:00 PM
Penn 5:00 PM
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Murray State
Troy 5:00 PM
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Jacksonville St 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM


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