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

aMAILiaBAG: How many wins to dance? Can Gophers finish .500 in B1G without major offense from the center spot? B1G's best hair?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players, Richard Pitino Updated: December 31, 2013 - 1:05 PM

To submit a question for a future aMAILiaBAG, email me at amelia.rayno@startribune.com or tweet me @AmeliaRayno.

Happy New Year's Eve and let's jump in:

Can the Gophers win 20 games without Andre Hollins scoring 15 points a game? If so, how?
@mikelinnemann

That seems like kind of a sadistic question. "Oh, so you say the Gophers are going to struggle huh? Now take away their best player. How are they looking NOW?"

Here's the simple answer: Hollins is currently averaging 16 points a game. He needs to keep that up, and then some, if the Gophers want to win nine games in the Big Ten. 

How many B1G wins will it take for us to make the dance?
@thekula21

I'm going to say nine. The Gophers got in as an 11-seed with eight last year, but they also had the benefit of some really nice ranked wins (against Memphis, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin and No. 1 Indiana). Exactly half of their wins against conference teams were ranked teams. That's kind of crazy, and unlikely to happen again, especially with the league a little more top-heavy this season. 

This is my daughter's new tote bag.  Your thoughts? #aMAILiaBAG
@RandBallsStu

I think your daughter clearly has her priorities straight. Love it.

In your position covering the Gophers, and therefore, the Big Ten, are you expected/forced to use "B1G"?
@Thunderkoep

I am not expected, nor forced by the #B1G nanny to use that hashtag, but it is shorter and takes up fewer characters when I tweet and I don't harbor the same apparent hatred for it that you do.

Will Wally E ever see more than garbage time?
@secondjsinkel

This question is so popular I might have to start a Wally Question Embargo until something changes ... speaking of changes, I wouldn't expect to see many regarding his minutes in this season's Big Ten slate. If coach Richard Pitino was planning to play Ellenson more, he would have started doing so, you know, when the games weren't quite as desperately important and challenging. You don't introduce a new major part of your rotation just when the stakes increase.

Can the Gophers finish at or above .500 in Big Ten play without getting any appreciable offense from Eliason and Walker?
@KraigKuelbs

No, they need to step it up in that regard. Elliott Eliason has shown capability to do so in spurts, and Mo Walker might be the better offensive presence of the two, but he is more of a liability on defense and on the boards. But getting more production from that center spot is going to be incredibly important to whether the Gophers can make a little run in the Big Ten.

Chances Dre Hollins returns next year?
@MNGopher4Life

Ninety-eight percent. Of course, something crazy could always happen, but I would be very, very surprised if he left early. I think Hollins has NBA potential, but as a four-year player. Also think that degree is pretty important to him.

What’s your favorite song to play on guitar?
@MattNorlander

A question from the great Matt Norlander -- how thrilling! 

It's ever-changing for me (I'm still a guitar newbie), but right now, I'm playing a lot of The National's latest album, experimenting with my new favorite band Haim and kind of randomly, some Johnny Cash.

Does Pitino rank in the top 3 of Big Ten coaches for best hair? Izzo is untouchable & Bo Ryan has the gangsta Philly look. 3rd?
@BryantJohnson1

No way, that honor goes to Tom Crean, with all that volume and movement, and the ability to make his "I'm [really][unhappy] with you" face just a little bit more frightening when the top pieces shake out of control. 

On a scale of 1-10, does Oto [Osenieks] look more like Benedict Cumberbatch than Rich Pitino looks like @Alancumming?
@kshea32

I'm not really sure how to scale this, but while I don't see a ton of resemblance between Pitino and Cumming, the Cumberbatch-Osenieks reference is golden. Seriously. Imagine a younger Cumberbatch with flaxen hair and you've got Oto. Great call.

(Also, I just spent way too much time trying to find a photo in which Cumberbatch and Osenieks are doing the same thing with their heads. It doesn't exist. I tried.)

Any chance we get a change in the offensive coaching staff next year?
@phipho

I don't see there being any staff turnover next year -- the staff is a little young to get head coaching offers elsewhere, and I think that Pitino is very happy with the group. But I wouldn't be surprised Dan McHale starts getting offers soon.

#aMAILiaBAG Seemed like you had a great trip [to Denmark and Sweden over Christmas]. Traveling always = great food. What was your favorite meal?
@N0ELTHOMPSON

I did, thanks! I'd have to say my favorite meal was one my sister and I had on the night before Christmas Eve, in Malmo, Sweden: Lobster with mango and spinach in a creamy broth, reindeer (how scandalous) with mushrooms and Grand Marnier ice cream with currents and chocolate shavings for dessert. Yum ...

My son thinks Bigfoot can see in his 2nd story window, by carrying a ladder with him.  Your thoughts on this dilemma?
@JeffJford

Your son is smart and also creative. He must know that Bigfoot is the only animal in the animal kingdom thought to possess the ability to make and use tools. He also must have heard the stories about Bigfoot peeping in on children. My immediate thought is that it's a fair concern, and you should probably set up a string maze rigged with jingle bells outside of his window so that he can be fairly alerted in such an event.

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