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.

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Tubby Smith: Gophers might be better suited for tournament play because 'you just go in and play'

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:51 PM

There are plenty of pertinent examples Gophers coach Tubby Smith can point out to give his limping squad some hope in the Big Ten tournament that starts Thursday and the NCAA tournament that starts the following week.

The bulk of this Minnesota team – sans just Trevor Mbakwe and Wally Ellenson – was also part of the team that plowed through the NIT tournament last season after a disappointing regular-season slate. They won two of three in last year’s Old Spice Classic in Orlando, and notched wins in the Bahamas against then-No. 19 Memphis and Stanford. Three of the starting five – Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Austin Hollins – were part of the team that beat then-No. 8 North Carolina in Puerto Rico.

They’ve performed pretty well in neutral court situations overall, and have done so partly because of the same reason that the Gophers often struggle, Smith said on Monday’s teleconference: the mental aspect.

“I think a lot of it has to do with how you just play,” Smith said. “There’s not a lot of preparation time, you just go in and play. There’s not a whole lot of thinking, or a whole lot of game preparation, and that may be better suited for us, to be honest with you.”

Smith noted that the psyche of this players is still somewhat delicate after two consecutive “bad” losses to end the regular season.

After enduring season-ending injuries to Mbakwe last year and Al Nolen the year before that, Smith is entering tournament time with one of his physically healthiest teams. But the scrapes, bruises and tweaks are not what the coach is concerned about with this particular version.

“We’re OK physically,” he said. “Mentally is where we’re hurting, where we’ve got to do a lot of work, a lot of healing.”

If the team can take steps in that regard, they could make a run, Smith said.

“I know we’re capable of stepping up and raising our level of play,” he said. “We have talent on our tam and we need to have those guys step up and really have that presence. … With Rodney and Trevor, two seniors that have a lot to play for. I would expect them to step up and have a great tournament.”

Other notes from today’s media teleconference:

  • Smith said he thinks the Gophers are going to have to “fight” for their spot in the NCAA tournament in the league tournament this week, starting Thursday against Illinois, even though they have notched some impressive wins for the resume. “I think we’ve got to be fighting for it all the time,” he said. “The only guaranteed spot is the Big Ten tournamnt champion. So that’s what we’re shooting for now that we didn’t win the regular season and now that we’re 8-10 in the league play, under .500, there’s a lot of things that we’re suspect. But our full body of work is probably as good as anybody else’s around, so we’re at least in the top 20 or 30 I would think as far as RPI and things like that and the good wins, the quality of wins that we’ve had. But again, they look at what you’ve done lately, too, and so that’s where we’ve got to step up in this tournament.”
  • Smith said Andre Ingram is fine after tweaking his ankle in Saturday’s game at Purude. Ingram will practice today, he said.
  • Julian Welch didn’t play on Saturday because he was still under the weather, Smith said. “He was very weak,” Smith said. “I didn’t think he would be very effective to be honest with you. He sat out practice the day before. He was coughing and I didn’t think it was appropriate to put him in that type of situation.”
  • Michigan State’s Tom Izzo said this morning that he expects the Big Ten tournament to be “one of the greatest conference tournaments of all time,” based on how exciting and close the season has been up until this point. I have to concur, and I can’t wait.



Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
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Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 1st OT 3:48
Vancouver 5
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
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Massachusetts 78
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VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
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Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60


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