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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Updates from Howard Pulley: Williams expecting to see time at 3 and 4; Walker continues to practice with team

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: July 31, 2012 - 10:23 PM

There was not a ton of Gophers action Tuesday night in the Howard Pulley Pro City league end-of-summer tournament, as most Minnesota players were absent, but I was able to chat with Rodney Williams – who had some nice finishes around the basket, but also missed big on a couple dunks -- about some things:

 
·      Williams said he’s spent a lot of his summer working on shooting and ballhandling. He said coach Tubby Smith challenged him to improve his three-point shot and said he’d look for Williams to take the ball off the break himself, rather than looking for a guard.
 
·      Trevor Mbakwe participated in a couple practices with the team this summer, Williams said. “He actually looked pretty good when he was out there,” Williams said. “He wasn’t moving too fast yet, but he didn’t look like he was too nervous out there, he was looking good.”
 
·      Mo Walker has still been working out with the Gophers daily, Williams said, despite the fact that he played in just one Pulley game, during which he slightly re-injured an ankle. Williams said Walker is doing fine.
 
·      Williams said he expected to be playing both at the 3 and the 4 this fall. He said Mbakwe will likely take his natural power forward role a lot of the time, but that the coaches have talked about a possible three-guard lineup again with Williams at power forward and Mbakwe at center.
 
·      On the team having to adjust to playing with Mbakwe again, after excelling in a fast-paced, small-ball style at the end of the season last year: “Maybe just a little bit. Just because we’re going to have to give Trevor the ball a lot more because he’s a big factor in this. So I think just getting him back into the flow of things, I think that will be the hardest thing on the offensive end.”
 
·      On incoming recruits Charles Buggs and Wally Ellenson: “They’re both doing really well. The main thing for them is probably they’ve got to slow down, not rush things; that’s what I see. On offense, they get the ball and they want to make something happen right away, but that’s not coach likes to coach. So we’ve just got to get them used to how coach likes to play and they’ll be good. (Their defense) is something they’ll have to fine-tune, but we’ve been doing a lot of stuff with that this summer and they’re coming along.”
 
·      On this year's team and the high outside expectations: “We all feel like we’ve got the pieces to do something big too. We finished real strong last season and workouts have been going real well for us. Everybody said we’re getting better, well the sky’s the limit as long as everybody’s on the same page.”

 

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