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

Gophers postgame: Minnesota starts off NIT with a win at Williams over High Point and John Brown

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 18, 2014 - 11:52 PM

Before tonight's game, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino sent his old pal and former assistant coach a text.

The Gophers were about to take the floor against High Point and center John Brown, who Mike Balado had recruited back when he was at the school before joining Pitino at Florida International. 

Did he declare for the [NBA] draft or is he playing? Pitino joked with him.

Balado had gushed about Brown constantly after taking the FIU job. He called him a pro. Pitino and the rest of the coaches just laughed.

That all changed when the super athletic player hit the court.

If it weren't for foul trouble limiting him to 21 minutes, there might have been very little laughing postgame as well.

Brown was absolutely dynamite when he was on the floor, finishing with 19 points and five rebounds before fouling out.

"Thank goodness!" Pitino said. "They got a good one there. It is funny, I'm telling you, when I was at FIU my assistant coach Mike Balado used to brag about this kid like he was Kevin Garnett ... John Brown, he's a monster, he plays hard."

The Gophers were fortunate to be able to get Brown into quick foul trouble with their size matchup. The center sat out for half of the first after picking up two fouls and had to take a seat several times throughout the second.

"I don't know if you got to see him enough tonight to really understand his abilities," High Point coach Scott Cherry said.

But you'd better believe Pitino will be getting a text from Balado reminding him of someone who has.

Other notes:

*DeAndre Mathieu left the game early in the first half after re-aggravating a bruise on his left hip. Originally, he was hurt in the Wisconsin game, falling on his hip after making a layup. Tuesday, when he was fouled hard going in for another layup, Adam Weary fell on him as he crashed into the bastion, landing on the same spot. He will receive some medical treatment tomorrow, but is expected to play on Sunday, when the Gophers face the winner of St. Mary's - Utah at the Barn. "It's been bothering me ever since [Wisconsin] but I didn't tell anybody," Mathieu said. "It's my whole back side. It's just so painful, but I'll be fine."

*Pitino on Ahanmisi, who finished with a career-high 21 points: "He's playing well. I'm happy for him. I've said all along, one of my biggest regrets decision-wise .... I just wanted to find him more minutes. It takes a lot of substance to come into practice every single day when you're not playing."

 

 

*The Gophers had just six turnovers tonight, but none in the first half. "I looked at the stat sheet and I was like 'This has got to be wrong,'" Pitino said.

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