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

The Barn is shaking now more than Rodney Williams has ever seen it

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: January 16, 2013 - 2:42 PM

At some point, Rodney Williams just got tired of the stories. The “Oh the Barn was so great when” and the “Boy, you should have felt the way it shook.”

For all of the senior’s experience, it had been a shell of that former glory, a quirky venue often with more memories than fans, it seemed.

But then, this season happened. With Minnesota fielding its best basketball team in more than a decade, Gophers fans showed up in droves for the Big Ten opener on New Years’ Eve against Michigan State. And when the game tipped, it was a different Barn than the one Williams had gotten to know so well. This version, well, rocked.

“You definitely get sick of hearing stories like that,” Williams said. “And then, when it finally happened, it was a real special moment for me, because I’ve never seen it like that, in all my four years. … When it got loud in there, it definitely sent chills through my body.”

Knowing better than ever what a raucous home crowd can do for a team after losing at Indiana to the soundtrack of the ear-splitting Assembly Hall fan base, the Gophers are hoping that the new Williams Arena vibe will remain through a tough season against an improved Big Ten, including their game against No. 5 Michigan on Thursday.

“I was just careless with the ball, those unforced turnovers,” Andre Hollins said of how the Hoosiers crowd was felt by the Gophers on Saturday. “The atmosphere, it definitely got to me a little bit. That’s what crowds do to you. Crowds are a big factor in games, when they’re loud like that. When they got the ball off the tip, it just erupted … We definitely want some of that home-court advantage.”

Other notes from today’s access:

  • Coach Tubby Smith said one of the big issues for the Gophers on Saturday at Indiana was that with Andre Hollins having a hard time guarding Hoosiers point guard Yogi Ferrell one-one-one, other players would be forced to come off their guys – which Ferrell would promptly dish to for an open jumpshot. Against Michigan’s Trey Burke, the job isn’t going to get any easier considering the wide array of scoring threats the Wolverines have as well. “I’m going to have to contain him, keep him out of the lane because they have a lot of shooters,” Hollins said. “So I’m going to have to make him take tough shots, be on his hip and I’m going to tell everybody – don’t help too much, because they can shoot the ball.”
  • In light of the way the bench has been used in a minimized capacity recently, Rodney Williams said he believes all five starters are conditioned well enough to play 35 minutes, if they needed to, every game. In the last two games, the bench has scored just a total of eight points.
  • A year ago, the Gophers were a little like this Michigan team, just in terms of age and experience. While the Wolverines have talented sophomore Trey Burke at point and veteran Tim Hardaway Jr. bolstering the lineup, they are also relying on major contributions from freshmen – with five altogether that get significant minutes. On Monday, coach John Beilein admitted that the team’s age showed in the Wolverines’ close loss at Ohio State, in which Michigan came back from a large deficit but then played rushed and panicked at the end. Austin Hollins remembers that journey well. “It’s really tough” he said. “You don’t know what to expect when you’re going in there. And when you walk into hostile environment – I would say our arena is a hostile environment – but Michigan State, Indiana, going into places like that when you’ve never been there and trying to play, you know, it’s tough. But it’s a learning experience and you get used to it.”
  • Andre Hollins said he watched Tuesday night’s Wisconsin win at Indiana and felt again as though the Gophers let one slip away at Assembly Hall. “They just defended them,” he said. “They defended Jordan Hulls well, they rebounded well, they made shots, they played a great game, and that’s what it takes to beat a Big Ten team on the road. You have to be focused, don’t let the runs get you.”


Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71


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