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: Why is Buggs always called 'raw'? What does Ellenson have to do to get on the court? Is Bigfoot a hipster?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players, Recruiting, Richard Pitino Updated: November 16, 2013 - 11:43 AM

Hello from charming Richmond, Va., where my weather is better than yours. Thanks for all your questions ahead of today’s game at the Robins Center (tipoff at 6:30 CT). To submit for future aMAILiaBAGs, email me at or reply to me on Twitter @AmeliaRayno. Here we go.

Your questions below in bold; my answers in regular type.

Most recent recruiting class graded an F. What grade would the 3 '14 signees get? #aMAILiaBAG


That’s a good question. You’re referring, I think, to the Sporting News’ grades of the incoming 2013 classes well before the season started. Again, it’s tough to judge players before you really see how they make the next jump, but as it currently stands, I would give the 2014 class (currently Josh Martin, Nate Mason and Carlos Morris) a C+. There are no game-changing recruits, but the Gophers got three underrated types that should fit well into coach Richard Pitino’s system. It’s all about the fit, not the stars (all three are 3-star recruits), as we are getting a glimpse of with JUCO point guard DeAndre Mathieu right now. Currently, I wouldn’t rank the Gophers’ 2014 higher because again, it’s not really addressing their most pressing needs, which are big men. Josh Martin should help Minnesota fill that need, but he is more of a Joey King signee and less of a sizeable, punishing big.

But remember, the Gophers’ 2014 class is not necessarily complete. Minnesota still has one scholarship remaining, and they could sign someone in the late period.

Mailbag question. Complete this sentence. For Wally to get playing minutes in Big 10 he must ???


I think the most general answer to that is that Wally Ellenson must prove himself to Pitino in practice. We don’t get to see practices (they’re closed to the media), but it’s pretty clear that the Gophers’ coach is still waiting to see something from Ellenson. The wing barely played last season, so it’s possible that Pitino still thinks he’s too raw. The problem for Ellenson is that there is a lot of depth in front of him. However, he could be an interesting experiment in the four-guard lineup the Gophers have been toying with, given his size and athleticism. So if Ellenson comes in off the bench and gets all over the boards – if he can get four rebounds or so off the bench – that’s only going to help his chances.

Why are the gophers getting little credit? Other than losing Mbakwe, we're better than last year. #MOinit2winit


Why? Because they’re essentially a new team and haven’t proven anything yet. I think Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins get a lot of respect around the league, but who else can you pout about not getting their due? Elliott Eliason has played modest minutes over the last two years, but he’s never been relied on in such a major role, and he’s been largely up and down since arriving. Mo Walker has barely played since he stepped foot on campus. Joey King was a marginal player at Drake. And the bulk of the bench is largely unknowns as well. There is Ellenson, who had spare minutes a year ago, Charles Buggs, who didn’t play at all and three other new players that no one knew much about (one of those, Mathieu, is of course in the starting five). Oto Osenieks struggled mightily with shooting, and Maverick Ahanmisi has been turnover prone.

You would expect differently?

In general, I’m not sure why fans get so huffed and puffed about preseason rankings or how much “credit” a team gets before they’ve played any games. If anything, that’s an opportunity. It takes the pressure off and creates a situation in which a modest finish – even if it doesn’t satisfy you personally – ye with lofty sights – could be viewed as a success. The team will have every chance to surprise folks on the court, and those are the best stories after all. Plus you’ll get to tell all your buddies ‘I told you so’ (and me, for that matter) if they do better than others are predicting.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Not much Buggs action so far. Was he Tubby specific recruit with no fit in Pitino regime or just work in progress? #aMAILiaBag


People are obsessed with Charles Buggs. You know why? Because he’s the backup quarterback. He’s the guy who doesn’t get time, so fans don’t have a chance to see him struggle. Which in their minds, means he must be great.

I don’t think Buggs was a specific Tubby recruit – Tubby elected to redshirt him, after all – and I think that Pitino sees a lot of potential in the forward. But he’s just not ready yet. Maybe you’ve heard this before: he’s still awfully raw.

#aMAILiaBAG Percantage chance Andre makes 1st team B1G? Is this his last year here?


Hollins has been picked by a few people to wind up a first team All-Big Ten, I’ve noticed. Personally, I picked him third team (which is where the media as a whole picked him as well), partly because I think he still needs to add some things to his game still and partly because I think there are a lot of other really, really good players in the Big Ten.

Landing on the first team would be quite an accomplishment for Hollins, and though there are outliers predicting it, would be safe to call a surprise. The potential, though, is there I think. So ... 20 percent chance?

And I think Hollins will be a four-year player -- and I believe the degree is meaningful to him.

Offer for delshon strikland soon?


Possibly, but likely not until next year, closer to the spring signing period. The Gophers have recruited the Minnetonka guard, but still seem not quite sure about him.

Do you know of any good Gopher basketball blog/twitters to follow? #aMAILiaBAG


Ahh, very cute, sir. Everyone go check out From the Barn’s DELIGHTFUL content.

Is issue between Pitino and Ellenson related to high jump? Is Ellenson still doing track and field after season?


I don’t envision Ellenson changing his mind about track and field or basketball – he’s extremely passionate about both. And no, the disagreement has nothing to do with his duel-sport status. Pitino is totally on board with that.

Hi, 2 questions from Nor Cal.

1. How many games in do you think it will be before we can judge how good this team is?

2. Buggs must be sick of being described as "raw." What does that really mean? What's needed... time? practice? physical conditioning? studying the game?

Great work...


1 – I think by the end of the Maui Invite, we will have a pretty good idea. The Gophers will have gone on the road against Richmond and competed against Syracuse and two other potentially tough challengers on a neutral court. How close can they keep it against Jim Boeheim and Co., ranked No. 8 in the nation? That might give us an idea of how well they’ll manage against the Big Ten’s brass.

2 – You caught me! I laughed when I read this because that’s the No. 1 word I use to describe Buggs (see above) every time people ask me. He probably is tired of it. But really, I think it’s all of those things you mentioned. Buggs has a great frame and has packed on some muscle already, but he could use to gain some more. Studying the game is a big one, because I think one of the concerns with him is that he needs to better see the big picture in game situations. Of course, more practice will only help. Like I said above, Pitino and the staff sees a lot of potential for him, but he’s not there yet.

When Joey King is actually inside the three point line on offense, do the Gophers get any extra points added on to their team score for every completed ball fake that he does...even if he doesn't score?


Not technically, but if has been pretty valuable!

You've sort of established your brand, but are there any young girl or guys out there covering the Gophers of note that we should pay attention to?


Why is everyone out there trying to leave me??!

(Also, currently bristling at the indication that I, ahem, am not young.)


Bigfoot is alleged to really like bacon…. Are you concerned that it might be a hipster? #aMAILiaBAG


Hmmm, let’s see. Bigfoot likes bacon, wears massive shaggy coat that’s almost too ridiculous to be real, is so underground that only a select few have even seen him  [ and he’s managed to stay out of the mainstream animal kingdom for centuries], is surrounded by what he must only think can be considered [sigh] posers (bears, blobsquatches, idiots running around in recycled Halloween costumes) … Good God, Bigfoot is a hipster.

If we find out it also likes sriracha and The National "before they got big," we'll have our answer. #hipsterbigfoot


Unjustified jump, Stu. Everybody likes sriracha.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 85 4th Qtr 5:07
LA Lakers 92
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd 1:10
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 75 1st OT
Cal State Fullerton 75
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 47 2nd Half 10:41
BYU 54
California 56 2nd Half 12:05
Washington St 46
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 13 1st Half 8:05
Hawaii 24


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