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: Could the Gophers miss the tourney? Will the lineup change? And what bigfoot evidence should skeptics not ignore?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers players Updated: February 19, 2013 - 9:06 AM



aMAILia BAG is a weekly installment on this blog where you send me questions (to @AmeliaRayno on Twitter or and I answer them here. Questions below are in bold, while my responses are in regular type.

Greetings from Columbus Ohio, where I arrived last night to do some early work on the Buckeyes. Early impressions of this town are great all around, and it doesn’t hurt that it was 48 degrees upon landing – windows-down, no-coat, t-shirt weather to my Minnesota body right now. Hit me with any great recommendations on Twitter. Much appreciated.

How significant is the Gophers' victory over Wisconsin? Is it a potential turning point for the season?


I feel like there’s a hint of sarcasm here. Yes? Amirite?

Any momentum for Minnesota or any team obviously lasts as long as the next game – therefore, any pulse and good vibes (and locker room celebration) they gained from the Wisconsin victory rapidly evaporated in the epic collapse at Iowa. And I say epic collapse because it truly was that – as Iowa coach Fran McCaffery frankly put it after the game “Rarely are you down 15 and win by 20.” Yikes.

The other thing about the Wisconsin win is that it wasn’t a dominant one for Minnesota. The Gophers still struggled in that game to score, to work the ball inside, to rebound and to defend the perimeter at times. It was far from a perfect – or even much improved – showing. Now, the thing that changes that is the ending. One of the areas where the Gophers had struggled was in closing out games. Yes, they were given a gift in the form of Mike Bruesewitz running the baseline after a turnover, effectively allowing Minnesota one more chance to win it, but the Gophers took that opportunity and ran with it, coming out strong and deliberate in overtime.

But because of the way they played, stooping to the Badgers’ game and managing just 49 points in regulation, they left themselves open to the outside world viewing that game one of two ways:

1 – As a positive start and a momentum boost that could be used as a springboard for better play and future wins.


2 – As a blip on the radar, and not a very meaningful one if they didn’t turn things around. They didn’t play great and they got a HUGE surge of luck right at the end (it very likely would have been a loss had Bruesewitz not turned it over). So it could have easily gone the other way.

After Sunday’s game, I’m going to have to go with No. 2, unfortunately.

I realize there aren't a lot of options as far as lineup changes go, but one scenario I would like to see is to start bringing Coleman off the bench. Joe is a complete liability on the offensive end - he has not shown the ability to hit the 3 and his cutting/slashing has been non existent since his 29 point game earlier this year.
How about starting Welch at the point? I know he hasn't shown much this year, but he was fairly solid last season and has proven he can hit shots. That would free up Dre to put all of his focus on scoring and Joe would be able to anchor a bench unit that has been very underwhelming this season. Thoughts?


I’ve written some about bringing Joe Coleman off the bench and I thought Smith was seriously considering it heading into the Wisconsin game. Yes, the guard has struggled lately, but at his best, Coleman can be a surge of energy and an aggressive scoring force – perfect , perhaps, for coming off the bench, a situation in which he could take over the offense a la his high school years at Hopkins. Maybe the greater point is that in shorter stretches, Coleman’s affinity for turnovers and at times subpar defense wouldn’t be such a liability.

Smith doesn’t seem ready to do that however; he likes that Coleman is a versatile player and can do a lot of different things for the team in theory.

And if he was ready to make a change, I would suggest Elliott Eliason in with a bigger starting group rather than Welch. Eliason probably is, as Smith pointed out in Sunday’s postgame, the Gophers’ best threat against the zone, and he’s the most apt at getting the ball to Trevor Mbakwe in the high-low, too, an area where the Gophers struggle as a team. Plus, with Maverick Ahanmisi’s ball handling struggles, Welch really needs to play backup point for Hollins when he gets into foul trouble or Smith deems he needs a rest.

Here is a question: With the lack of production from he bench and a few guys banged up, will Wally get any minutes against OSU?


Wally Ellenson is still nursing a strained left Achilles tendon, so no.

and... Why burn his redshirt if he's not going to play?


Well, I think Smith anticipated playing Ellenson more than he has, but he might have also not realized how behind the freshman is both offensively and defensively. Remember that Ellenson couldn’t even fully practice for most of the non-conference season with a broken hand. And now, he’s losing more time with this Achilles issue.

Ellenson really wanted to play from the start even though it wasn’t clear what his role would be and he pushed to get the opportunity, so he and his family probably understood that taking away the redshirt wasn’t a guarantee of 10 minutes a game or anything. Had he not pushed for it, I think he would be redshirting this season.

Can Wally Ellenson still get redshirted?


Technically, Ellenson could still get a medical redshirt because he’s been eligible for less than 30 percent of the team’s games (which is the cutoff). But Minnesota would have to convince the NCAA that Ellenson has a season ending-caliber injury, which, unless his strained Achilles has gotten a lot worse than the original diagnosis, it’s not. That said, Smith noted last week that the rehab was progressing slower than he planned.

Could Minnesota miss the big dance?


Sure, but it’s not likely. If the Gophers lose these next two games (at Ohio State and vs. Indiana) but win their final three against Penn State, at Nebraska and at Purdue), they should be a lock. Say they lose at Purdue but still win a Big Ten tournament game – still in I think. If they lose at Purdue and these next two and go one-and-done in the Big Ten tournament (or anything worse than that scenario, like losing either game against Penn State or Nebraska), that’s when we get into the dangerous territory.

Do you think its a mentality to 'let off the gas' by the gophers instead of putting the pedal to the metal and not letting off?


I think that can be a certain concern for the Gophers. There are times in games where they get down or lose momentum and the entire team’s body language changes – the half court offense loses organization, the passes get sloppier and everything seems more rushed. At the same time, players hold up their hands at each other as if to say “Why aren’t you on the same page as me?” They react to calls and slump their shoulders all the way through the next possession.

Against Iowa, I think we certainly saw an attitude that reflected the score – both from the players and from Smith, who withdrew his starters, stopped calling timeouts and sat down in his chair, seemingly waiting for the end.

The team can refute that impression all they want – because certainly it is an impression and neither you nor I are in their heads – but they have to be aware that perceptions matter, especially when the team is in a stretch like this one. More than ever, they need to go out of their way to show they have some fight left in them.

Why didn’t tubby call a TO in the 2nd half during the epic collapse??? Maybe he could have explained the zone?


It’s hard to look at the team’s performance against the zone this season and think they’ll be able to figure it out anytime soon. It’s mid February. They’ve gotten killed by this thing twice – their two bad losses – and bruised by it a few other times. It’s a staple of the Big Ten. They play a zone themselves at time. They practice it, try to simulate other zones, and yet they seem helpless against it.

It’s hard to blame either the coach or the players fully for that complete failure – the responsibility has got to fall to both. Smith has got to do a better job getting these concepts across in meaningful ways to the players – because any functional strategy has clearly not sunk in. The players, on the other hand, need to execute. You can’t force them to space or snap the ball around or penetrate or make off-ball screens once they are in the game. They’ve got to do that.

At some point, the loss looked inevitable – Smith’s mantra of getting the ball inside in earlier timeouts hadn’t worked. So then he has to make a decision: either he finds something new to say, finds a new way to say it – or he stop saying anything.

How does R-Williams get zero shots in the first half? Is it on Tubby? Does Williams not demand the ball?


The fact that Williams didn’t even attempt a shot in the first half – even when the Gophers were cruising as you’ll remember -- makes me think it’s not just his shoulder we’re talking about. I haven’t gone back to look at the tape yet (it’s in Minneapolis and I am not), but his lack of aggression was obvious early. I think Williams does need to demand the ball more, but it would also help if Smith ran plays for him more often. Sometimes I think Williams has a hard time getting involved right away – particularly if the Gophers aren’t moving and screening well – and when he doesn’t, his aggressiveness tapers a little. We saw the Gophers do some things to kickstart Williams in the Nebraska game, and with good results. With Williams’ athletic ability, he’s really the kind of player that can benefit from that type of thing. At the same time, Smith seems to kind of think he shouldn’t have to do that – and he’s right. Williams is a senior, and one of the team’s captains. He needs to take charge, demand the ball and get himself involved if it doesn’t happen automatically.


What is the single strongest piece of evidence that skeptics shouldn't ignore? #bigfoot #aMAILiaBAG


Can I give you a list?

There’s actually a ton of really intriguing evidence out there that gets washed away by the scientific community as a whole as inconclusive.

However, there is a much smaller group of scientists that is out there actually systematically reviewing and analyzing some very interesting stuff. For example, there is a wide sample of independently collected hairs from purported sasquatches that have come back that defies identification (sasquatch hair will always defy identification until we pull one straight from the beast’s back) but display notably uniform characteristics suggesting they came from an uncatalogued animal with flowing black, brown and red hair (which I have read thoroughly about in the book of Jeff Meldrum, one of the most respected scientists looking into this stuff). There is also a large cache of independently collected footprints, some of which display pressure ridges and a midfoot flexion consistent with great apes. Some castings have even shown skin ridges and healed scars on the bottom of the feet, which experts (that were not looking for bigfoot) have looked at and noted can’t be faked. That the footprints have been so consistent in their their detailed characteristics (such as where the foot flexes, proportion of toes to foot, heel to foot, ratio of width to length) over time and distance seems quite too remarkable to be a coincidence, and even more impressively, when catalogued, the footprint lengths align themselves into a bell curve with a clear peak and a bevy of outliers on either side, just as a cataloging of the prints of any animal would.

I could go on and on but I’ll spare you (it's possible I may have already gone on and on).


Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 25 2nd Qtr 8:10
Portland 25
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 0 3rd Prd 8:21
Arizona 2
Montreal 0 2nd Prd
Los Angeles 2
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 70 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 40 2nd Half 2:46
Drake 43
Cal State Fullerton 29 2nd Half 13:15
UC Irvine 37
CS-Northridge 31 2nd Half 15:03
Long Beach State 39
UC Riverside 39 2nd Half 13:47
UC Davis 33
Stanford 0 1st Half 18:53
Arizona State 0
Utah 2 1st Half 15:43
Washington St 7
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 67 2nd Half 2:27
Minnesota 72
Cal-Irvine 40 2nd Half 11:06
Cal State Fullerton 44
Long Beach St 38 2nd Half 14:30
CS-Northridge 56
Hawaii 40 2nd Half 12:42
UC Santa Barbara 28
UC Davis 39 2nd Half 12:04
UC-Riverside 44
Northern Ariz 60 2nd Half 10:37
Portland State 42
Southern Utah 37 2nd Half 16:01
Sacramento St 68
Utah 10:30 PM
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA


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