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

aMAILiaBAG: Recruiting, how Josh Martin will fit in and whether the gray wolf resurgance is good for Bigfoot

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players, Recruiting, Richard Pitino Updated: October 16, 2013 - 10:21 AM

What can we expect from Josh Martin? I have heard he is a pretty good athlete, but a little raw in other facets of his game. How do you feel he fits into Pitino's ideal system? 

Joe Kulas

I agree that Josh Martin has some rawness to him – but what current high school senior at his star-level doesn’t? If Martin can do the things he needs to this season, shoring up his fundamentals and his overall skill set (and I do believe he’ll put the work in), I think he could be a productive member of the 2013-14 Pitino squad. The 6-8 power forward is extremely athletic and has developed a pretty good jump shot as well – two prerequisites for Pitino’s uptempo system.


2 possible questions for your mail bag:

Any idea why Josh Martin dropped from a 4-star to a 2-star in the recent ESPN rankings? That seems like kind of an oddly steep drop. 

How does Pitino's approach to recruiting so far compare to Tubby's? Pitino seems to really cast a wide net and be in contact with quite a few players. Was Tubby similar or did he prefer to zero in on specific targets and spend more time with them?



Each are good questions, Aaron, so I’ll answer them both. First, the drop in stars in the ESPN rankings. Yes, a two-star drop is pretty dramatic. Whether it was warranted depends on who you talk to. There was a recent change in the folks who rank players for the ESPN, so it’s possible that those newly looking at Martin didn’t feel he warranted four stars (or three). These rankings are still somewhat subjective, and can vary based on what day the rankers happened to see the kid.

As for your second question – in my experience, Tubby Smith’s staff went after far fewer recruits, usually 3-star kids. As you indicated, Pitino and Co. has casted a much wider net in the first recruiting summer. There’s an argument to be made for that strategy all the time, I think, except that it wears a staff very, very thin. But certainly, I think it made sense with this being the first year. The staff put its feelers out, instigated relationships with coaches and those around the AAU scene (that could be helpful later), and frankly, reached for the stars. Of course, they’ve gotten a lot more rejections. But I think as much as anything, those near misses showed that getting some of the elite crop of recruits to Minnesota – say maybe in a few years, if the Gophers can overachieve a little – isn’t so crazy.

I've been a Gopher season ticket holder since 1980.  I'm wondering the recruiting status of Alex Illikainen and Henry Ellenson?

I enjoy your column.  Keep up the good work.

Jeff Pohland

Thanks, Jeff. The Gophers staff has already started to make inroads with those two 2015 recruits, both of whom were offered by Minnesota quickly. Ellenson, in particular, has been around campus quite a bit with brother, Wally on the current team. Still a long ways to go with these guys, so it’s hard to get any real sense of where they will ultimately go right now – I don’t think either of them have any idea, either.

Any updates on Gueye?  Any new targets the Gophers are looking at?  


Abdoulaye Gueye could still be a possibility for the Gophers, and they still like him very much. To my knowledge, there is still no official visit set up right now. Other focuses for Minnesota right now include Chicago wing Josh Cunningham (visiting next weekend), Carlos Morris and of course, the local Big Three -- Tyus Jones, Reid Travis and Rashad Vaughn. I think with many recruits off the board, the Gophers staff is taking a good look at the field right now. We could see some new targets emerge in the next couple of weeks.


Has a "Midnight Madness" been scheduled for this year? 


Gary Olson

There will be no traditional Midnight Madness event this season. Pitino said he’s looking for some “creative” things to do, but no word on any kind of replacement event at this time.

#aMAILiabag both (Carlos) Morris and (Nate) Mason seem like 2-guards to me. They'd both help, but are the gophers recruiting any point guards?


Mason is really more of a combo guard, but the Gophers have also been contacting Keith Pinckley and Jalyn Patterson as well. Tough to say who’s the favorite here, and the situation is likely evolving quite a bit. I hope to get in touch with these recruits soon to get a better feel.

Could a Yeti play center for Pitino?


Massive and intimidating but incredibly light on his feet? I’d say so … as long as he can learn to hit a jump shot.

Will we see Wally Ellenson play four this season, or a similar small-ball lineup if Buggs and Oto are unimpressive?


Hm, Wally would be an awfully small 4, but it seems obvious that Pitino will have to do some experimenting and some things that are not ideal. Joey King, I think, will be a good bet for that job IF HE’S AVAILABLE, which, considering the NCAA’s delay in decision is far from certain. But since the bulk of the talent on this team is in the back court, I think in general we could see a lot of small ball.

@FromTheBarn [a local blogger] says that point guard is not an immediate recruiting need for the Gophers, what do you think?


I disagree. While the Gophers have a lot of immediate guard options, they still don’t really have a point guard of the future on their roster. They don’t need to seek another PG for the sake of it – if they’re not pumped about someone, for example, it would obviously make sense to wait. But even though Pitino has said all the guards are kind of interchangeable in his system, I think he would change his tune on that if he had a true, elite floor general. The right guy will make the new offense as productive as possible.

Any word on whether Milik Yarbrough will visit this week? 247 has visit listed.


That’s false. I don’t actually think Minnesota is even interested in Yarbrough.

What does Josh Martin’s commitment mean in regards to Reid Travis #Gophers


Not much. The Gophers would certainly sign both, and Travis is more of a traditional power forward, while Martin could play the wing if they needed him too. That said, I don’t think Travis to Minnesota is looking very likely at this stage.


Is resurgence of grey wolf good or bad for Bigfoot and his already limited habitat?


I’m going to say good. Bigfoots are often found in areas with a high wolf density, as they mooch off them quite a bit. Sasquatches’ main meat source is believed to be organs – which means they can dive in after a wolf kill and make off with the scraps.

Lots of other Bigfoot items in the news this week. These two were seen in Pennsylvania and ... the long awaited Erickson Project will be available soon!


Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 88 4th Qtr 10:15
Detroit 75
Utah 76 3rd Qtr 0:49
Miami 59
Orlando 84 4th Qtr 7:59
Boston 91
Brooklyn 52 3rd Qtr
Toronto 53
Memphis 46 2nd Qtr 4:55
San Antonio 31
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Houston 9:30 PM
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd 3:18
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 2nd Prd 8:48
Minnesota 1
Dallas 9:00 PM
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 65 2nd Half 0:26
UCF 68
Liberty 53 2nd Half 1:21
UNC-Wilmington 57
TX A&M-CC 37 2nd Half 11:30
Denver 51
Ark-Pine Bluff 27 2nd Half
Houston 16
UT Martin 41 2nd Half 11:20
Illinois State 37
Milligan 58 2nd Half 10:56
Louisiana 88
Abilene Christian 37 2nd Half 13:07
Loyola-Chicago 53
USC Upstate 29 2nd Half
Memphis 42
Alcorn State 37 2nd Half 12:05
Murray State 63
Central Mich 56 2nd Half 10:33
Northwestern 45
Georgia State 39 2nd Half 11:32
Old Dominion 42
TX-Pan American 37 2nd Half 14:57
Saint Louis 46
Ill-Chicago 30 2nd Half 13:35
SMU 36
Texas State 30 2nd Half
Stephen F Austin 27
SC State 23 2nd Half 14:50
Texas Tech 65
Missouri State 51 2nd Half 9:12
Tulsa 55
Chicago State 43 2nd Half 12:16
Western Ky 52
Morehead State 31 2nd Half 15:06
Green Bay 44
Northern Colorado 46 2nd Half 12:57
Nebraska Omaha 61
Winthrop 9 1st Half 14:22
Auburn 16
New Mexico St 14 1st Half 11:00
Baylor 15
San Diego St 13 1st Half 10:40
Cincinnati 10
Eastern Mich 10 1st Half 11:09
Michigan State 11
Loyola Marymount 22 1st Half 8:30
Stanford 15
Incarnate Word 19 1st Half 11:38
Grand Canyon 21
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Portland 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
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
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 57 2nd Half 3:34
Sam Houston St 44
McNeese State 19 2nd Half 20:00
(3) Texas 44
Yale 61 2nd Half 10:08
Wagner 47
Oakland 44 2nd Half 11:59
TX A&M-CC 35
Eastern Kentucky 49 2nd Half 11:34
Alabama A&M 32
SIU-Edwardsville 17 2nd Half 20:00
Northern Ill 36
McMurry 21 2nd Half 9:22
TX-Arlington 72
Portland 21 1st Half 9:35
Eastern Washington 14
North Texas 9:00 PM
San Francisco


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