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.

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Gophers postgame: Osenieks and Eliason step up with thin frontcourt

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players, Richard Pitino Updated: November 21, 2013 - 10:28 PM

Read my game story on the Gophers' 79-57 win over Wofford here.

It could have been easy for the Gophers to space out for tonight's game against Wofford.

After Tuesday's win over Coastal Carolina, there was just one day of turnaround, one practice to prepare for a new team and a game in which the Gophers would be even more shorthanded without forward Joey King, who fractured his jaw after colliding with Andre Hollins.

Looming ahead, was a trip to Hawaii and a first-round matchup against No. 9 Syracuse.

But instead of getting caught up in the past or the future, the Gophers simply buckled down and effectively took care of business (even if admittedly, against a pretty bad team).

"I really believe it’s harder to play these games than it is at Richmond or Syracuse in Maui," coach Richard Pitino said. "Because we don’t have to get them excited for those game. You come out here, earlier start, it was kind of a late-arriving crowd, people coming from work or whatever. You’ve got to get it from within."

The Gophers did, getting momentous performances from the two forwards remaining in the rotation: center Elliott Eliason (11 rebounds, 11 points, 7 blocks) and power forward Oto Osenieks (14 points, five rebounds). Both had a little bit of foul trouble, but thankfully for the Gophers, they had no trouble dealing with it. Osenieks had to play at center at a few points in the first half with Eliason on the bench with a pair of fouls. Then, when Osenieks picked up his third, Austin Hollins (18 points, eight rebounds) took the four-spot in a four-guard lineup.

"Oto and Elliott were tremendous," Pitino said. "[Eliason] continues to grow, continues to get better ... And then Oto was very good offensively. I just love the confidence that he’s playing with right now. I keep telling him don’t worry about anything just play aggressively. He’s showing that. To do that without two guys that are going to play major, major minutes and do it with all the type of odd lineups that we played with tonight. I mean, Oto played the five, and that’s tough to do because he never practices at the five. It’s not like we had three days to prepare. We only had one day to prepare. That shows his basketball IQ."

Pitino said he hopes King will be available on Monday for the Syracuse matchup, but he would have a better idea in Hawaii. The Gophers leave for the island tomorrow.

"I think Saturday I’ll have a much better feel," Pitino said. "He’s such a tough kid. I see him and he’s holding an ice pack to his cheek. I say ‘How are you feeling?’ and he says ‘I’m feeling great.’ He doesn’t look great, but that’s what he does. I’ll have a good gauge on Saturday, we’re going to practice Saturday afternoon. You never know with travel and whatever it may be how that stuff will happen. I hope he’s playing though."

A few other notes from tonight's game:

  • Eliason flirted with a triple double, but settled for his second-career double-double, the first coming against Lehigh in the opener. The seven blocks were a career high. "I kind of knew I was around the area [of a triple-double] and had a chance, but what can you do," he said. Eliason was in the stands for the women Gophers' Amanda Zuhui B. triple-double a night before, when the center finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks. "Big Z, man, I was like ahh, I could have got it," Eliason. "She just barely got that block at the end there, watching them play Kansas. You’ve got to give her all kinds of credit. I was so close to doing it, and that would have been pretty awesome."
  • Pitino liked that he saw the team being very vocal tonight, in timeouts, talking amongst themselves. "They were talking a lot more than I was," he said. "That’s what I want. Certainly, I’ve got to coach the team, but when you start hearing their voices more than me, you know you’re growing as a team."
  • Perhaps tonight was as much a test for the Gophers' coach as it was for the players. "I kept looking at the bench," Pitino said. "And I’m like ‘Well, what position is he going to play, what’s he going to do.’ Normally you have an idea of your rotation. So then your backup four man now because your backup five man. So we had to figure out a couple things. It was a bit of a challenge. I’m happy we got through it. Hopefully we can get back to a healthy Joey King on Monday."
  • Austin Hollins seems at ease in the four-guard lineup these days. "It took a little time to get used to because I’ve never really played the four," he said. "But I think I’m starting to get the hang of it and if we need to go small or want to go small to force matchup problems, then I’m comfortable with doing it."
  • The Gophers won the loose balls battle, 7-3. They had 41 deflections.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60


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