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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Talking Shaka: Is Mike Ellis the consigliere? One Richmond radio personality says yes

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 27, 2013 - 2:32 PM

Greg Burton, a radio personality at ESPN 950 in Richmond, Virginia has gotten to know Shaka Smart well enough to say that he “processes his opportunities unlike anybody I’ve ever seen.”

That’s to say that leaving a small school like VCU for a higher-profile, better-paying job, just might not be on Smart’s radar at all.

The wildly popular Rams coach really likes Richmond, Burton said, as does his wife and their daughter. For the most part, he’s happy there.

And this makes VCU fans just giddy.

At the same time, “most of the reasonable thinking sports fans understand that it’s probably going to end at some point,” Burton said.

The question is when. (Is it now?)

And where. (Is it Minnesota?)

Would Minnesota be enough to tempt Smart away?

Burton has a hard time believing the answer is a solid ‘No,’ considering the relationships.

“Would Shaka go to Minnesota? I think he would seriously consider it because he has that much respect and such a bond with Norwood [Teague] and Mike Ellis, too,” said Burton, who got to know those last two pretty well during their time in Richmond as well. “Norwood is the boss, but Mike Ellis, that’s his lieutenant -- I’m Italian, we say consigliere -- his advisor, like from the Godfather, but that’s what Mike Ellis is.”

Currently, VCU is reportedly trying to hammer out an extension with their trendy head coach, but nothing is done yet.

“I’ve learned as you probably have too, I hate the words ‘It’s a done deal’ until I see a press release – I mean, they’re not going to show us a signed contract – but until I see a press release from VCU, I’ve just kind of come to learn that nothing is done,” Burton said.

But even if Minnesota doesn’t get Smart, Burton noted that fans should calm down.

On Monday, Teague said that Minnesota wasn’t planning to hire a search firm because of the contacts they have internally.

“They are a search firm!” Burton said. “I feel bad for Gophers fans because I think they’re so fixated on Shaka. They’re going to get an exceptional basketball coach because Norwood and Mike are so connected. … The schools will never admit it, but they have helped dozens of schools with their vacancies. Mid major schools through this whole Villa 7, but even outside of Villa 7, ADs are calling Mike Ellis, ADs are calling Norwood Teague and saying ‘What do you think?’ So they’ve advised mid majors all over the country to help them with basketball searches.”


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