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

Is next year a rebuilding year for the Gophers?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: May 21, 2013 - 11:10 AM

There’s been quite a bit of buzz in Minneapolis this spring.

First Tubby Smith was fired, a move that was criticized by some, but largely supported across a fan base that had very loudly become dissatisfied with the former coach’s six years of mediocrity in the Big Ten (and had stuffed my inbox with thoughts of that nature). Then, after an anxiety-inducing coaching search, along came Richard Pitino, who has made himself quickly popular with the masses with his smooth talk and promises of bringing an exciting style to the often slow-paced Gophers. Three recruits have already signed. By all accounts, it’s been more of an exciting spring than usual for Gophers basketball, which is usually pret-tay slow this time of year.

So it’s not surprising, then, that it seems as though optimism abounds. With a new coach, a new system and a handful of new players (and untapped players from a year ago), why couldn’t Minnesota make a big leap right away?

Well, just hold onto your “Big Ten champion” screen prints and blank T-shirts. Despite all the positive developments, there are other major hints that next year might not be all glory and Ws. Though the Big Ten as a whole is losing a lot of stars, for the most part, the top still looks incredibly strong, as I wrote recently. Other teams -- such as Illinois, which has the 17th ranked freshman class in the nation and Purdue, whose freshman class lands at No. 23, nationwide – will improve around the Gophers. Meanwhile, Minnesota itself is dealing with a very thin frontcourt and a sudden scoring deficit after the losses of Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams.

I don’t want to be the Negative Nancy here (I also heard Rayno-on-my-parade and Rayno Ruiner last season, if you’d like to give either of those a spin), but it’s important not to forget that though the Gophers might have a better foundation to build on for the future, the now could still be a little shaky. Pitino can be a good coach and still have a losing record in the Big Ten next year.

So is it a rebuilding year? That seems to be the popular thought. The Gophers are not on the cusp of any of the super early Top 25 rankings coming out, and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi didn’t even put them in with the seven Big Ten teams that made his ridiculously early preseason NCAA tournament bracket. Big Ten Network’s Brent Yarina actually put the Gophers DEAD LAST in his power rankings for next year, if you can believe it (Yes, even Rayno Ruiner thinks that’s a little harsh). Both national experts I recently spoke with – CBS Sports’ Jeff Borzello and NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster – concur that the Gophers will land safely in the bottom half of the league.

Alls I’m saying is that too high of expectations lead to a much more dramatic “thump” than do realistic ones.

Could the Gophers surprise? Certainly. They still have a solid backcourt, rooted by the promising Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins. And who knows what Pitino will be able to get out of other current players with a new approach. Minnesota still has the chance to sign a big man or two, and improve the depth of the forward corps.

I do think that the firing/search/hiring/signings put the Gophers in a better position for eventual growth. But things – in the Big Ten, certainly – don’t happen overnight. If the Gophers do turn some heads, one should sufficiently understand (and appreciate) that reality for the surprise that it would be.


Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Los Angeles 10 FINAL
Milwaukee 1
San Francisco 12 FINAL
Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
San Diego 5
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 7 FINAL
Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 2 Top 4th Inning
NY Yankees 0
Chicago 42 3rd Qtr
Indiana 45
Sacramento 57 3rd Qtr
Orlando 68
Utah 41 3rd Qtr
Philadelphia 42
Miami 39 3rd Qtr
Washington 67
Toronto 49 3rd Qtr 9:29
Charlotte 57
Cleveland 30 2nd Qtr 8:46
Atlanta 42
Boston 12 1st Qtr 5:49
New Orleans 12
Detroit 12 1st Qtr 6:22
Houston 13
LA Lakers 8 1st Qtr 5:40
Memphis 12
Phoenix 13 1st Qtr 7:28
Brooklyn 6
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 2 2nd Prd 10:55
New Jersey 1
Minnesota 1 2nd Prd 9:33
Carolina 0
Buffalo 2 2nd Prd
Ottawa 0
Calgary 1 2nd Prd
Detroit 2
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 67 FINAL
Illinois State 71
Towson 69 FINAL
Elon 74
Gardner-Webb 72 FINAL
High Point 71
Samford 76 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Northern Ill 26 2nd Half 17:38
Ball State 27
Bowling Green 42 2nd Half 15:25
Buffalo 42
Brown 43 2nd Half 15:54
Dartmouth 24
Toledo 35 2nd Half 12:56
Eastern Mich 49
Akron 48 2nd Half 12:11
Kent State 49
Ill-Chicago 40 2nd Half 13:47
Oakland 40
Miami-Ohio 39 2nd Half 12:39
Ohio 66
Columbia 17 2nd Half 15:22
Penn 29
Cornell 33 2nd Half 15:03
Princeton 41
Central Mich 26 2nd Half 17:26
Western Mich 41
Bradley 32 2nd Half 16:02
Northern Iowa 36
Morehead State 29 1st Half 1:38
Murray State 40
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7 1st Half 13:56
Harvard 5
Furman 7:30 PM
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
San Diego 51
Virginia Tech 43 FINAL
(7) Florida State 82
Memphis 71
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Rhode Island 34 2nd Half 12:56
Duquesne 38
North Florida 19 2nd Half 14:30
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 41
Kennesaw St 34 2nd Half 15:12
Jacksonville 35
USC Upstate 21 2nd Half 14:57
Northern Ky 25
Lipscomb 37 2nd Half 15:00
Stetson 59
Nebraska 38 2nd Half 13:56
(14) Iowa 53
Saint Peters 40 2nd Half 10:21
Marist 38
Navy 39 2nd Half 11:05
Bucknell 32
Lafayette 31 2nd Half 14:10
American Univ 52
Colgate 21 2nd Half 14:18
Army 23
Georgia 16 2nd Half 13:12
(5) Tennessee 43
Dartmouth 52 2nd Half 11:08
Brown 39
Penn 33 2nd Half 11:53
Columbia 22
(13) Princeton 62 2nd Half 7:59
Cornell 27
Kansas 28 2nd Half 12:42
Kansas State 35
Harvard 55 2nd Half 6:37
Yale 54
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
Houston 7:00 PM
San Jose St 18 1st Half 15:43
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Niagara 8:30 PM
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM


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