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

Pitino is the engine for the Gophers' intensity

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: December 7, 2013 - 1:37 PM

The Gophers’ activity on the court isn’t the only thing that’s undergone a massive change from a year ago.

This year, the sideline is getting some good exercise as well.

Watching new coach Richard Pitino’s personal coaching style couldn’t be more different from that of Tubby Smith, who stayed mostly reserved, a year ago.

Smith made use of the stool each coach has available on the raised court just in front of their benches, often taking a seat and not getting up for much, especially if the Gophers weren’t playing very well.

For Pitino, the stool is more like an obstacle on an ever changing course – something not to trip over. (After the first exhibition game, Pitino noted it was something he had to get used to – “That stool, it was like everywhere I turned, it was in my way, it was like following me,” he said with a laugh.)

Instead, PItino strolls the floor so much that at times he threatens to get in the game himself. On Tuesday, after some interesting calls by the officials, the Minnesota coach flung his jacket and tie at the bench in a fit of rage. When the Gophers are not playing well, Pitino is living and dying with every defensive possession on the sideline. When the Gophers are playing well, Pitino is still living and dying with every defensive possession. From tip-off to final buzzer, the coach doesn’t stop moving.

“He’s fiery man, I love playing for him,” DeAndre Mathieu said after the Gophers win on Tuesday. “His style of play and his intensity just keeps you going, makes you want to play hard … He’s fiery all the time. Even with the jacket on, the tie on, he’s a competitor.”

A coaching change usually brings a lot of adjustments for a team. There are new plays, a new system and new in-game allowances (how tight a script vs. how much freedom to improvise). But the first adjustment for a team is a new personal coaching style – how that new person teaches, how he communicates, what he expects.

With Pitino, the Gophers have found a lot of changes. Unlike Smith, Pitino is very vocal about exactly which things his players need to work on – and even outlines them in a blog he writes for the Gophers’ website. He doesn’t pull punches with them, or with the media. At the same time, through nine games that have already featured some pretty significant ups and downs, the coach has maintained a steady message about his players. He never takes a dig at someone, and many times will defend them after the media thinks they’ve had a bad night (often saying that he doesn’t worry about shots falling or offensive production all the time if a player is working hard on defense and doing the little things).

“We love it,” Austin Hollins said. “He’s real interactive in practice. When we’re doing good he praises us and when we’re doing bad, he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s going to come in and tell you you need to fix it and in the end it makes us better as players.

“I think [my teammates] don’t mind bluntness because he balances it out when they’re doing the right thing. So they appreciate him telling him what they need to hear. He doesn’t sugarcoat it, so you know exactly what you’re doing wrong and you know how to fix it, and when you do it right, he’ll tell you good job.”

With the Gophers apparently crystal clear about their roles, many of them have looked surprisingly more confident and efficient and aggressive than a year ago. Perhaps part of the intensity carries over from the sideline, where Pitino starts the engine.

“We know what he wants from us from us, and that’s good, we have a good mutual relationship,” Andre Hollins said. “This is fun.”

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Seattle
Detroit 59 4th Qtr 8:19
Philadelphia 70
Portland 79 4th Qtr 8:06
Cleveland 83
Sacramento 59 3rd Qtr 10:16
Toronto 57
Boston 41 2nd Qtr 2:45
Minnesota 46
Dallas 39 2nd Qtr 4:53
Houston 39
Denver 45 2nd Qtr 3:45
New Orleans 33
Brooklyn 44 2nd Qtr 5:45
Atlanta 48
Oklahoma City 32 2nd Qtr 4:36
New York 29
Charlotte 15 1st Qtr 4:05
San Antonio 15
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 8:31
New Jersey 0
Pittsburgh 0 2nd Prd
Washington 1
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 72 2nd Half 0:21
Coastal Carolina 65
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 51 2nd Half 0:45
Drexel 55
Wake Forest 60 2nd Half 1:53
Florida State 63
Rhode Island 53 2nd Half 5:15
Fordham 56
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 2nd Half 0:28
LSU 59
New Hampshire 55 2nd Half 1:06
Maine 47
Seton Hall 75 2nd Half 1:28
Marquette 62
Binghamton 60 2nd Half 1:20
UMBC 48
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 55 2nd Half 3:51
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 59 2nd Half 0:43
Oakland 59
Minnesota 56 2nd Half 1:05
Penn State 60
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 57 2nd Half 2:31
South Florida 50
Hartford 58 2nd Half 1:45
Stony Brook 62
Albany 44 2nd Half 0:28
Vermont 42
Hofstra 70 2nd Half 2:41
William & Mary 88
UNC-Asheville 69 2nd Half 3:58
Longwood 56
Radford 61 2nd Half 12:48
Char Southern 46
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 63 2nd Half 11:41
Notre Dame 53
Texas Tech 21 2nd Half 11:42
Oklahoma 61
Oregon State 23 2nd Half
Arizona State 40
Morehead State 33 2nd Half
Austin Peay 33
Drake 41 2nd Half
Bradley 31
Lehigh 26 2nd Half
Bucknell 23
Rice 20 2nd Half
Houston 22
Missouri State 25 2nd Half
Illinois State 28
Loyola-Chicago 23 2nd Half
Wichita State 29
Nebraska Omaha 31 2nd Half
South Dakota St 41
Northern Iowa 23 2nd Half
Southern Ill 26
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
UMBC 61 2nd Half 3:39
Binghamton 51
Akron 55 2nd Half 1:33
Ohio U 70
East Carolina 29 2nd Half 4:35
(2) Connecticut 76
George Mason 61 2nd Half 0:48
VA Commonwealth 68
Detroit 59 2nd Half 0:02
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 29 2nd Half
Tulsa 31
Oklahoma St 20 2nd Half 20:00
Kansas State 22
West Virginia 27 2nd Half
Texas Tech 29
Denver 37 1st Half 0:01
South Dakota 42
Northwestern St 23 2nd Half
Central Arkansas 26
Austin Peay 30 2nd Half
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Kansas 22 2nd Half
Iowa State 24
Bowling Green 21 2nd Half
Northern Ill 36
Penn State 29 2nd Half
Minnesota 34
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
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