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: Scottie Wilbekin will give Andre Hollins plenty of challenges

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players, The Big Dance Updated: March 24, 2013 - 4:39 PM

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin was nine years old when he first caught the bug.

His AAU coach was very defensive minded, then, and he had the team pressing opponents a lot.

“I just loved getting steals,” he said.

A decade later, the junior’s mindset hasn’t changed. Wilbekin grabs an average of 1.5 steals a game and is a major part of how Florida harasses opponents into turnovers on 21.8 percent of their possessions.

He’s also a big part of why Florida has morphed in the last couple years from a team that was known mainly for its offense, to a balanced squad with a reputation for smothering D.

“I think the addition of Scottie Wilbekin, defensively, has added something to our team.” Gators coach Billy Donovan said. “I think if you would go back and look at last year, we were able to make a run in the NCAA tournament (Florida made it to the Elite Eight before falling to Louisville) because of the way we defended the 3-point line during those three or four games.

“… I think [Wilbekin] has three qualities that enable him to be very, very good [on defense],” Donovan said. “He’s really got good feet. The second thing is, he is a physical defender. He can get through, around and off screens very, very well. And then I would say the third thing is he is a guy that’s a tough-minded defender, maybe more so than any guard I ever coached. He values that. He himself puts a lot of value on defending.”

Tonight, as the 11-seed Gophers go up against the 3-seed Gators, Wilbekin will be trying to stop Andre Hollins – the MVP of the UCLA game in the first round with 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Hollins had five 3-pointers in that one (an NCAA tournament record for Minnesota), which were critical in getting the Gophers over the hump. Can he go off in the same way tonight against Wilbekin? With Austin Hollins battling a cold, the Minnesota point guard’s shot could be even more critical vs. Florida.

“He’s a quick defender,” Andre Hollins said. “He keeps his hands active, he moves his feet well. He’s a solid PG. I have to contain him and I have to protect the ball like any other game.”

Hollins had just a single turnover (the Gophers had 11 overall) against Florida, but the Gophers weren’t exactly pressured by UCLA. Tonight will be a different story, and a different test for the sophomore – one that’s fun for Wilbekin who said he’s embraced his role as defensive stopper.

“I love playing defense,” he said. “And it helps when you got guys that are beside me right now that love playing defense as well.”

Other notes on tonight’s matchup:

  • A Gophers’ team source said Austin Hollins should be good to go tonight. The junior was battling the same cold in Minnesota’s first-round win over UCLA. Hollins, to his credit, didn’t want to acknowledge he was sick at all.
  • While Donovan won his last six games against Tubby Smith, the Gophers’ head coach holds the overall advantage in their lifetime head-to-head, with a 16-10 record in the 26 times they have met as head coaches.
  • If the Gophers win tonight, they will advance to the Sweet Sixteen, where they would play either San Diego State or Florida Gulf Coast. Minnesota hasn’t been to the Sweet Sixteen since 1997, record that was vacated. Officially, the Gophers were last at the Sweet Sixteen in 1990.
  • Didn’t mention this on Friday, but Austin Hollins’ seven assists were a new career high. His previous career high was six. Hollins’ fantastic game – he also had 16 points and four steals was kind of over-shadowed because the “other” Hollins stole the story. But a great peformance.
  • In that game, Minnesota shot 50.8 percent from the field. The Gophers have done so eight times this season (four times in the Big Ten schedule) and are a perfect 8-0 in those games.

Florida thoughts:

Donovan on the Gophers’ rebounding: “They’re a terrific offensive and defensive rebounding team. [Trevor] Mbakwe is as good as there is in the country. But they chase it. They go after it. They do a really good job and this will be, again, not only a challenge for our frontcourt but it will be a challenge for our team to collectively be able to rebound the basketball. Because certainly their misses, they get a large percentage of their misses back.”

Wilbekin on Andre Hollins: “Well, first of all, he’s a great scorer and he can score in a multitude of ways. So I really got to just be ready and I got to count on my guys to help me if I get beat. But I don’t know, just be ready to contain him and don’t let him get any easy shots, always have a hand in his face.”

More Minnesota thoughts:

Trevor Mbakwe on the matchup with Florida: “There’s going to cause problems for most teams just because they’re one of the best teams in the country and they’ve shown it throughout the season. We haven’t played many teams this physical and that defend the ball the way they do, but we’re high on each other. We feel like we can win the game as long as we play with a confidence and don’t get too discombobulated and turn over the ball, we’ll be fine.”

Andre Hollins on the necessity of hitting 3-pointers: “It means the world. You knock down shots, you stop the other team’s transitions, gives you time to set up a defense, like we set up our press – we also pressed a little bit more and I think that worked well. You put the ball in the hole, I mean, that’s the object of the game. Score more points than the other team. Obviously it takes a lot of pressure off of all the other aspects of the game.”

Extra points:

*Today’s game will be on TNT at 5:10 CT.
*Listen to today’s game live on 1500-a.m.
*In today’s Star Tribune: Gopher’s guard play make life a lot easier.
*In today’s Star Tribune: Gophers notes: Florida’s Billy Donovan shows coaching versatility.
*The call: breaking down the matchups.
*On the blog: Ten things you should know about Florida.
*Gophers notes from yesterday’s media access.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
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Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
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