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

The Tip Off: First edition of a new blog feature

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: February 18, 2014 - 8:46 AM

The Tip Off is a new feature to Gold in the Barn, with the goal being to share five nuggets -- mostly Gophers or Big Ten related but occasionally not -- every morning between 8 and 10. Dig it? Hate it? Want to see something specific in it? Send me feedback at amelia.rayno@startribune.com or tweet me @AmeliaRayno.

Five tidbits as I'm settling into my cave for some serious feature-writing.

1. Joe Lunardi has a new bracket out for everyone to obsess over. In this one, he has the Gophers in the last four byes -- teams that aren't on the immediate cut line but are on the bubble for avoiding the First Four.

2. Pitino is young -- one of the youngest coaches in college basketball -- but that doesn't mean he's embracing Twitter like every Instagram-snapping emo out there. (Yes, I am describing myself. Leave me alone.) In fact, he's not a huge fan as he explained to the media on Sunday night. 

"I think it's changed our whole game in all of sports," he said. "For a lot of wrong reasons. It's not good for us. It's not good for any of them. When you're building a team, you're talking about team ego all the time. It's not healthy to have one player with 5,000 followers and another one with 800 followers. It's not healthy. It's not healthy that they go to their phones all the time looking for their mentions and all those things ... I don't like it one bit. I understand it but I don't like it. I think it creates a feeling that one guy is a celebrity, and Twitter is anti-team in my opinion."

Pitino said he doesn't have restrictions, per se, on his players' Twitter feeds -- and obviously a lot of them are on the social media giant -- but he basically tells them not to be self-absorbed. "Don't tweet about what you had for dinner -- nobody cares. Don't tweet about where you are. Nobody cares. We're not interested in what restaurants you're going to and what movie you're watching. Just don't do that."

[Aside: I am kind of interested in all that stuff, actually.]

3. Now that we're well into February, it's time to start getting excited about the late signing period. The Gophers still have one scholarship available for 2014, and they're making a push to give it to the 7-1 Anas Osama Mahmoud, who is visiting Minnesota starting tomorrow per a source. Here's more from Rivals' Ryan James. 

4. It seems that everyone has strong feelings about Minnesota's defense. I do. Pitino does. I know you guys do. But as long as I'm dealing out the criticism, I'll fork over the pats on the back when they're due. And I suppose one is with the Gophers making a significant defensive push in the last few games. Now, that doesn't mean Minnesota's defense is GOOD now -- let's not get crazy -- but it does mean the Gophers picked each other up by their boot straps and gotten themselves not only out of the Big Ten basement, but into tenth place in the league after Sunday's game, via kenpom.com. Let's see if they can keep it up.

5. Top five whiskey-drinking spots of the Big Ten season so far: 1) Delilah's in Chicago; 2) Merchant in Madison; 3) Clinton St. Social Club in Iowa City;  Berry & Rye in Omaha (I know that's not really the Big Ten, but that's where I stayed); 5) The Local Whiskey in State College.

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