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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Despite recent lull, Eliason has been among Big Ten's best in many ways

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 7, 2014 - 1:28 PM

Much has been made of Elliott Eliason's drop off in offensive production from the start of the year.

And for the most part, that's fair.

The big man went from averaging 9.8 points and 8.8 rebounds through the first 18 games to just 4.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in the 11 games since then.

But regardless of the decrease in numbers, no one should overlook just how much good Eliason has done this season.

*Even in spite of the recent lull, Eliason lands at fourth in the conference in rebounding (7.1 per game on the season) behind Indiana's Noah Vonleh, Michigan State's Adreian Payne and Purdue's A.J. Hammons

*He is third in the league in blocked shots (2.1 per game) behind Hammons and Illinois' Nnanna Egwu, and 27th in block percentage in the nation, according to kenpom.com.

*He is 43rd in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage.

*He is tied (three-way) for second most double-doubles in the Big Ten with six. Vonleh has the most with 10 and Hammons and Payne each also have six.

Considering the Gophers didn't think they had a "frontcourt" to speak of before the season began, that kind output is extremely impressive, and speaks volumes about the improvement Eliason has experienced since first donning Maroon and Gold.

Of course all of this barely touches on his defensive prowess, which has been the biggest gain for Minnesota, in a year where otherwise their defense has struggled mightily.

Without him, the Gophers would likely be so far off the bubble, we would probably be talking about the NIT right now. 

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