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.”


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
Minnesota 2
New York 37 2nd Qtr 2:27
Indiana 56
Phoenix 40 2nd Qtr 0:32
Orlando 52
Cleveland 28 1st Qtr 0:04
Toronto 25
Utah 19 2nd Qtr
Boston 18
Charlotte 35 1st Qtr 0:34
Brooklyn 15
Denver 7:00 PM
Detroit 7:00 PM
New Orleans
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Memphis 7:00 PM
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 1st Prd 10:22
Winnipeg 0
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Montreal 9:00 PM
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 63 2nd Half 1:03
UNC-Asheville 73
Ohio State 70 2nd Half 2:11
Penn State 60
Maine 25 2nd Half 20:00
Albany 46
Duquesne 38 2nd Half
Fordham 35
George Washington 29 2nd Half
George Mason 32
Tennessee 38 2nd Half 16:53
LSU 38
Notre Dame 42 2nd Half 17:55
Louisville 35
SE Missouri St 42 2nd Half 16:16
Morehead State 42
St Francis-PA 29 2nd Half
Mount St Marys 24
Hartford 23 2nd Half
New Hampshire 32
Wagner 28 2nd Half
Robert Morris 39
Long Island 27 2nd Half 18:10
St Francis-NY 38
La Salle 23 2nd Half
Saint Josephs 24
Providence 29 2nd Half
Seton Hall 37
UCF 23 2nd Half
South Florida 43
Binghamton 25 2nd Half 18:43
Stony Brook 25
UMBC 16 2nd Half
Vermont 32
Sacred Heart 38 2nd Half
Bryant 30
Richmond 27 1st Half 4:55
Massachusetts 21
Wake Forest 7:00 PM
Purdue 7:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
St Bonaventure 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
New Mexico St 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Houston 2 1st Half 18:25
Tulane 0
Howard 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville 8:00 PM
Eastern Ill
St Johns 8:00 PM
TCU 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cincinnati 8:00 PM
USC 8:00 PM
Miss State 8:00 PM
Utah State 8:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nebraska 9:00 PM
Colorado State 9:00 PM
Boise State 9:00 PM
San Jose St
San Diego St 10:00 PM
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 44 2nd Half 8:32
Georgia Tech 59
Davidson 35 2nd Half 15:15
La Salle 44
Loyola-Maryland 25 2nd Half 19:22
Lafayette 29
Boston U 28 2nd Half 16:18
Colgate 32
Coll of Charleston 32 2nd Half
James Madison 58
Delaware 37 2nd Half
Elon 32
Drexel 29 2nd Half 16:39
Northeastern 22
Hofstra 36 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 38
Towson 28 2nd Half 18:13
William & Mary 40
Miami-Ohio 30 2nd Half 20:00
Akron 36
Ball State 37 2nd Half
Central Michigan 32
Buffalo 22 2nd Half
Bowling Green 22
Western Mich 27 2nd Half
Eastern Michigan 32
Ohio U 34 2nd Half 19:37
Kent State 24
Youngstown St 42 2nd Half 19:08
Cleveland State 34
Illinois-Chicago 15 2nd Half 20:00
Wright State 44
Alabama 11 1st Half 10:00
Vanderbilt 22
Detroit 7:00 PM
Purdue 7:25 PM


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