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.


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 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 76 4th Qtr 10:30
Denver 82
Indiana 89 4th Qtr 7:23
LA Clippers 84
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 3rd Prd 2:17
Vancouver 0
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 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 61 2nd Half 0:56
CS-Northridge 44 2nd Half 10:09
Oregon 59
Grambling St 28 2nd Half 6:28
Washington 74
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 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60


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