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

Gophers pregame: Senior day at the Barn

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 2, 2013 - 2:30 PM

Today is senior day at Williams Arena. Coach Tubby Smith said on Friday that he plans to start all of his seniors: Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Julian Welch and Andre Ingram.

Trevor Mbakwe has been here before, honored at last year’s senior day in dress clothes because the Gophers didn’t know whether he’d be back. It’s been a long collegiate career for the Gophers’ sixth-year senior, who missed a year first for a suspension due to legal proceedings and then last year to a torn ACL.

For Rodney Williams, it’s gone by quickly, even if the memories amount to a lot.

“It didn’t really hit me yet. I’m sure it will hit me right when they’re bringing our parents out,” the senior said on Friday. “I didn’t think it would come so fast. All the time you hear people say that these are going to be four of the fastest years of your life but you never really believe until it happens to you. They were right.”

At the same time, a lot has happened. Williams came in with a recruiting class that included Royce White, Justin Cobbs and Mbakwe, who was a transfer. Only one – the latter, and the one who wasn’t supposed to be – is still at Minnesota. The Gophers made the NCAA tournament his first season, charged through the NIT last year, brought the fans gleeful moments and bitter disappointments – words that could describe moments of Williams’ career as well.

“For me, it’s been a long four years,” Williams said, his eyes watering just a little. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but it’s always good to be here in front of our home crowd, and I’m going to miss it.”

Williams was the only senior made available at yesterday’s media access. But from Smith and teammates, some other thoughts on the emotional day:

Andre Hollins: “It just shows how quick the season has come. I was thinking about it broader – I’m almost a junior in college. Time is going by fast, and I just want to cherish these last games I have with these guys. They’re a great group of guys, the seniors, and I know they’ve put in a lot of hard work and we don’t want to let all their hard work be a waste.” Hollins said he gave up a lot of the tickets he gets for games so that the seniors could bring more of their friends and family.

Austin Hollins: “We’re definitely going to miss those guys. Rodney has been here since I’ve been here, Trevor as well. It’s going to be a big night. We want to go out and get the win, not just for us as a team, but for the seniors that will be here. It’s going to be special.”

Smith: “It’s good to have three seniors from the area – Andre Ingram, Rodney and Trevor … I hope they can play well. I hope they have a memorable game for them and for the fans. That’s always a bittersweet type thing, when you have senior day. But this has been a good group to coach. Rodney has done a lot of good things here at the University of Minnesota. He should get his degree, Trevor’s working on his master's. That’s what you come to school for, to get an education, and hopefully they’ll leave here better people because of it.”

  • Asked whether he would be giving two-time senior Trevor Mbakwe another senior gift, Smith joked: “I don’t know. He’s been around forever. He should be giving us a gift. Well I guess he has, he’s given us his presence here and another win would be a good gift for us, for Gopher fans and everyone else.”
  • Smith on whether Williams or Mbakwe could play at the next level: “In the right situation –there’s only a few jobs in the NBA or professionally. So we really try to get our guys to understand that – you’ve got to do it academically, you’ve got to be ready for a career after basketball. Nobody realizes that more than Trevor – I hope, having two knee surgeries and what he’s gone through.”
  • Smith complimented Williams for what he has done at the ‘U,’ saying the senior has improved each year, but he also gave a hint of disappointment as well: “He got started early on in his career,” Smith said. “His first few games as a freshman, I remember were outstanding and then he sort of hit the wall. But he’s really developed his game. He’s had to make some sacrifices about playing inside, where, next level, he’s probably going to have to play on the wing.”
  • Smith said he doesn’t spend a lot of time talking with NBA scouts about Mbakwe and Williams, except to try to promote them as individuals. “I just know the kid and I give him perspective about who they are off the court, what they do around campus, how they are in the community – just the type of individual they are and that they can be an asset to their program and not be a high-maintenance type person. I think that’s one thing NBA scouts are looking at – because they can see the skill set and they can see the weaknesses. But I’m hearing good things about both of them.”

Other notes on today’s game:

  • Rodney Williams will likely be wearing the sleeve over his left shoulder again, but he said the tweaked shoulder is feeling good.
  • Williams will be playing in his 128th career game, tied with Jamal Abu-Shamala for third most.
  • Penn State’s win over No. 4 Michigan on Wednesday was the highest ranked opponent the Nittany Lions have ever beaten at home.
  • The Gophers will want to focus on perimeter D today. Penn State has connected on 43.2 percent of their attempts from 3-point range in three of their last four games. They’ve made 32 threes in that time.
  • Expect a shorter bench and lots of Maverick Ahanmisi at point guard today – two changes Smith made in Tuesday’s game and seemed to like.

Extra points:

*Watch today’s game on Big Ten Network.
*Listen to today’s game live on 1500-a.m.
*In today’s Star Tribune: After an up-and-down season, Gophers are looking for smooth sailing.
*This week’s college basketball insider: Giving out the major awards.
*On the blog: Player/Smith notes
*On the blog: Can the Gophers keep up the changes they made Tuesday against Indiana?
*More on the matchup here.
 

 

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Minnesota 17 3rd Qtr 2:30
Miami 14
Baltimore 7 3rd Qtr 11:10
Houston 16
Detroit 10 4th Qtr
Chicago 14
Cleveland 6 3rd Qtr 1:30
Carolina 10
Atlanta 20 3rd Qtr 0:35
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 13 4th Qtr 10:19
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 6 3rd Qtr 0:34
Pittsburgh 17
New England 10 4th Qtr 14:06
NY Jets 13
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 66 1st OT 0:56
Army 68
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 64 1st OT 0:31
Cleveland State 66
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 68 2nd Half 1:52
Central Arkansas 51
Holy Cross 23 2nd Half 15:01
Canisius 33
Southern Miss 35 2nd Half 12:42
Georgia State 44
Western Carolina 29 2nd Half 17:05
UNC-Asheville 38
Creighton 24 2nd Half 15:56
North Texas 46
Maryland 47 2nd Half 15:27
Oklahoma State 34
Cornell 38 2nd Half 16:47
Radford 43
Vermont 34 2nd Half 12:05
Saint Louis 35
Loyola-Maryland 35 2nd Half 14:46
Stony Brook 37
Reinhardt 38 2nd Half 17:44
Winthrop 52
Ark-Little Rock 34 2nd Half 11:55
Green Bay 48
TX-Pan American 35 2nd Half 16:36
Nebraska Omaha 49
Alabama State 49 2nd Half 20:00
Evansville 47
FIU 31 2nd Half
Hartford 42
Goshen 22 1st Half 2:07
Valparaiso 32
Bryant 2 1st Half 15:32
Denver 4
Austin Peay 4 1st Half 14:22
Lipscomb 9
Tennessee St 0 1st Half 16:00
Middle Tennessee 11
South Dakota 4 1st Half 18:10
Montana 4
ULM 2:25 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
Duquesne 56 2nd Half 0:47
Providence 63
(3) Texas 53 2nd Half 7:45
(4) Texas A&M 57
Rhode Island 56 2nd Half 2:02
Bryant 51
South Florida 37 2nd Half
Penn State 34
Sam Houston St 28 2nd Half 16:01
TCU 48
Evansville 29 2nd Half 16:30
IUPUI 39
(14) Maryland 66 2nd Half 16:48
Coppin State 27
Mercer 37 2nd Half 13:57
Coll of Charleston 49
NC A&T 17 2nd Half
Chattanooga 32
Princeton 52 2nd Half 15:21
Monmouth 32
Eastern Illinois 56 2nd Half 12:06
Lehigh 50
Rider 41 2nd Half 14:36
Binghamton 37
SC State 24 2nd Half 15:34
Clemson 35
Fairfield 39 2nd Half 14:46
Iowa State 45
Richmond 58 2nd Half 11:18
Eastern Kentucky 37
Cleveland State 52 2nd Half 10:56
Morehead St 52
Kent State 35 2nd Half 15:43
Colgate 33
South Alabama 21 2nd Half 10:33
UAB 60
Saint Peters 22 2nd Half 14:27
Navy 46
Youngstown St 31 2nd Half 13:10
Pittsburgh 48
NJIT 28 2nd Half
Lafayette 34
Davidson 15 2nd Half 16:04
Charlotte 47
Indiana State 19 1st Half 8:06
St Johns 17
Southern U 16 1st Half 3:33
Florida 36
Wright State 16 2nd Half
Purdue 31
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
(19) Oklahoma St 4 1st Half 13:39
USC 11
Houston 7 1st Half 12:25
Texas Tech 7
Ark-Little Rock 6 1st Half 15:55
Tulsa 5
Dayton 5 1st Half 15:07
Vanderbilt 10
Northern Ariz 5 1st Half 16:18
New Mexico 2
UNC-Asheville 8 1st Half 15:28
USC Upstate 4
North Dakota 4 1st Half 15:53
South Dakota 10
Western Ill 11 1st Half 14:02
Marquette 8
Ball State 3 1st Half 18:53
Western Ky 2
(8) Kentucky 4 1st Half 15:25
(13) Duke 13
New Orleans 6 1st Half 14:45
Alabama 14
Chicago State 6 1st Half 14:36
Milwaukee 11
Bowling Green 7 1st Half 16:07
Bradley 2
Northern Ill 4 1st Half 15:38
Northern Iowa 7
(23) Iowa 0 1st Half 20:00
Drake 0
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion

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