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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Pregame: Gophers have plenty to prove at Wisconsin

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 28, 2012 - 5:45 PM

The stops are coming out with this team, and the evidence is in Tubby Smith’s words as this year starts to look more and more like the end of last season. 

As I wrote in today’s Star Tribune, Smith is starting to insinuate that there could more to the Gophers’ recent struggles than what we simply see on the court.

It’s fairly incredible that the team still has an outside shot at a CHANCE at the tournament, but to even try to convert that, the Gophers will need to bond together and get serious about a comeback -- not to mention string together a bunch of wins. Things like that don’t just happen – you have to fight for the privilege. 

With the Gophers, it’s not as much about physical deficiencies as mental ones. The Gophers certainly have physical flaws as well, but the team has shown capable of competing, until their mental weaknesses get in the way.

Three things the Gophers need to see tonight to get their first win in six games:

1.      Mental toughness. The Gophers almost took it to the Badgers when they were in Minneapolis. If they can convince themselves they are able to compete with – and beat – good teams, it will go a long way.

2.      Togetherness. At times the Gophers look as though they’ve all heard different game plans. When you see a point guard scream a guy’s name twice, shake his head and redirect the pass – and you see that multiple times – that’s not a good sign.

3.      Leadership. Someone needs to step up and be the guy. Call for the ball, be vocal on the floor, fight for that last drive, that last shot. The Gophers NEED that.

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