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 says team bounced back from Ohio State loss with best practice of year

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: February 24, 2014 - 4:15 PM

Pitino said Joey King was out yesterday with back spasms but was expected to practice today. The coach called it a "non-issue."

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On Saturday, as he headed for the team bus, parked in the underbelly of Ohio State's Value City Arena, Andre Hollins pinpointed the biggest threshhold the Gophers have yet to cross:

Finding mental toughness.

One day later, they took the first steps.

Coach Richard Pitino called Sunday's practice the best of the year "by far" after suffering a brutal 64-46 loss in Columbus.

It was intense. It was physical. It was bloody, apparently.

"DeAndre Mathieu went down with cramps during practice and he could easily have been done for the rest of practice," Pitino said. "It was almost like we were in the Maui Classic. The trainers was on him and he was dying to get back in. Just like the cameras were on him. He was fighting to get back in. Elliott Eliason got elbowed in the nose, I don't know by who, but blood is gushing from him ... He was like hurry up, get me ready to go. So that was really exciting to see."

Pitino said what he planned as an hour and a half practice was stopped at 45 minutes because the players were so intense the coach was concerned about keeping them fresh.

The Gophers will need every bit of that intensity with a home game against No. 20 Iowa on the docket for tomorrow and a road game against No. 16 Michigan looming.

"It was pretty intense," Daquein McNeil said. "Like he said, we were going at it like it was a game. Guys were playing guys from baseline-to-baseline, boxing out really aggressive ... it was pretty fun."

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