This is Amelia Rayno's second season on the Gophers' 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 Gophers officially have a Minnesotan back on the roster.
As expected, Eagan-native Joey King signed a tender to play for the Gophers, the University of Minnesota officially announced on Tuesday.
King played at Drake last season, averaging 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 19 minutes a game but decided to transfer for family reasons and therefore may be eligible for a waiver to play immediately. No announcement has been made on that yet.
"Joey showed last season tht he is an inside player that can also step out and hit the three-point shot," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said in a release. "We want to play an up-tempo style of basketball so to have a versatile player with his size is going to be a luxury."
King, who played at Eastview High School, shot .428 from the field overall and .347 from three-point range last season. He joins Deandre Mathieu, Daquein McNeil and Malik Smith as part of Pitino's inaugural recruiting class with the Gophers. With Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Ingram leaving after last season, and then Minneapolis native Joe Coleman announcing his intent to transfer, the Gophers were without a Minnesotan before signing King. King also brings much needed help in the Gophers' now-thin frontcourt.
Well, the numbers we have all been predicting have officially been released.
The Academic Progress Rate report was released on Tuesday and as expected, new Gophers' coach Richard Pitino's former school -- Florida International -- failed to meet the NCAA's minimum APR number.
FIU will be penalized by receiving a postseason ban for 2014.
This could affect the Gophers in a couple of ways. First of all, Malik Smith, who has already signed with Minnesota, should be granted a waiver to be eligible immediately. Rakeem Buckles, on the other hand, could have a clear path for following his former teammate to the Gophers. Will we get some Buckles news soon? Very probable if that is the guy. Buckles would need to enroll in a graduate program if that were the case. The Gophers could also be hot in pursuit for Derrick Randall, a transfer from Rutgers.
Minnesota has signed three guards and one power forward for next season already and have a single scholarship remaining (due to Joe Coleman's transfer). If Buckles were to come to Minnesota, he and Smith would open up two more scholarships for 2014 since they each have just one year of eligibility remaining.
For those of you who aren't aware, the University of Minnesota athletic department recently planned a series of tours across the state to connect with fans and fundraise, the most recent stint of which was just completed on Tuesday.
Since everyone can't get out and travel along with the Golden Gophers crew (myself included), I thought I'd help share some of what new coach Richard Pitino had to say on Monday in Byron -- recorded thanks to colleague Joe Christensen, who was in attendance.
Full audio of his short talk is here.
A lot of what was said was predictable. Pitino smartly lauded Minnesota fans as unique, saying:
"These things mean a lot for me because I didn't grow up here and I haven't spent a lot of time in the state. So for me to be able to meet all you people is really really important -- for me to understand how important this whole athletic program and all of these programs are to you guys. That's the unique thing. I tell everybody this everywhere I go -- this place is so unique from where I worked in Louisville or at the University of Florida. And the reason is, there's no division of fan bases in this state."
He called Norwood Teague the "best athletic director in the country," he gave a shout out to his staff, and he pumped his fast-paced, fun-to-watch style.
The most interesting, however, was listening to how he characterized the players in going through the roster.
It's clear by listening to Pitino that he has a very amiable sense of humor. Before delving into comments on the individual players, the coach paused saying "I haven't checked my phone, someone may have transferred or whatever it may be, failed out."
Here's just a little bit of what he said about each player:
Austin Hollins -- "I think he's going to have a great year. I think he had a really good year last year. I'm excited about him. I think he's going to be a very, very good player for us and he'll be a major impact guy for us."
Maverick Ahanmisi -- "I won't try to pronounce his last name. Mav is a guy that will play a couple positions for us. The great thing about Mav is he can shoot the basketball and that's extremely, extremely important for how we want to play."
Malik Smith -- "He's a one-year kid for us who was at FIU, there's these new rules, you can bring in a guy for one year and then you get rid of him -- it's great, I wish we could do that with all of them, but we won't. Malik is a great kid, he knows our system, he knows our style, he's probably as good of shooter in the country from the 3-point line."
Deandre Mathieu -- "Lightning fast. You guys will love watching him. He will probably drive me crazy but he's entertaining."
Elliott Eliason -- Currently studying abroad with Andre Hollins as part of the Carlson Business School. "I have a competition with him that I can do more pushups than him and I'm positive that I can do it right now. We did it the other day, I beat him 5 to 4 (joking) and he's going to continue to improve. I think Elliott is going to be a great player for us, he just has no muscle on him."
Andre Hollins -- "I think Andre is the epitome of a student-athlete. He's not just about basketball. ... He's going to be successful whether or not it's on the court or in the business world at some point in his life. He's a special, special kid and a really good player."
Oto Osenieks -- "He will play a little bit at the forward spot for us, the 4, the 3, whatever it may be."
Mo Walker -- "He's lost 20 pounds since I took the job and he's probably got to lose about 30 more. And we don't start until October, so we're going to get there eventually."
Wally Ellenson -- "He is in the nationals for the high jump -- that's top-15 in the country. ... I had no idea he was even good at it, and he's shown he's as good as anyone out there. So you never know, he could surprise somebody and win it all. He's surprised us to this day, so hopefully he can surprise me on the court as well."
Daquein McNeil -- "He is a guy that I think is a guy I think is going to be very good down the road. He's got potential, he can play multiple positions, fit really well with our style.
Charles Buggs -- "Another guy that I think you're really going to see some good things out of, he's just got to put on some weight."
Overall: "I like our roster -- it could change. We've got another scholarship, who knows where that will go or what we'll do with it. The key with every coaching change is to bring in the right fit. You can't just give away a scholarship just to fill a spot."
*Pitino wouldn't go into roles specifically because he said the team hasn't done any 5-of-5 scrimmages yet.
*Pitino elaborated on his style of play, comparing it to his dad's system at Louisville: "We're going to put a premium on conditioning, we're going to put a premium on playing a lot of guys. My practices will be not very long because if you go that fast, you can't go really long. We'll shoot a lot of threes, certainly, and I told somebody the other day, the reason you shoot a lot of threes is because there are no fours, if there were, we'd shoot fours. It's more than two."
Things are moving very quickly for Sandy Cohen. The Wisconsin native has piled on offers in the last month, going from an obscure name to a player that is gaining some real steam in the recruiting world. The Gophers are on board, offering the 6-5, 180-pound versatile guard from the Class of 2014 last month. I caught up with Cohen at the Nike EYBL event in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, to see where things stand now:
I know the Gophers offered you recently. What was your reaction to that? I like coach Pitino. I like that new style of play he’s trying to bring to the Big Ten, that kind of up-tempo pace. I really like coach Pitino. He’s a cool guy.
When did he reach out to you? A couple weeks ago, right after [the] Virginia [EYBL session in late April].
And did he offer then? Yeah, he offered right away.
How much have you been talking to them since? They kind of contact me every day, a text here, a text there. I talk to assistants, too, sometimes.
A month ago you didn’t have any of this craziness right? Only a couple of schools had offered you scholarships? Yeah, before EYBL I only had two offers, now I’ve got up to 10.
That’s got to feel pretty good. Yeah, it does. It’s kind of like all the hard work is finally paying off. It’s nice.
How are you handling all of the new attention? It’s crazy. I’m on the phone a couple hours a night. Sometimes it’s a hassle, but it’s a good thing. It means it’s all working. It means it’s all paying off.
Now you have a lot more to the decision you’ll have to make. Any kind of timeline? I think I’m going to start taking visits as soon as school is over, so probably in June.
Have you thought about stopping by Minnesota campus while you’re in town [last weekend?] I was going to but coach Pitino said that he wanted to do it right, so maybe that means an official visit.
What are the other schools that are interested? Marquette, Memphis, LaSalle, Providence, Wake Forest, I can’t really think of them all off the top of my head. [Also George Washington, Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Creigton].
Are any of those schools going at you the hardest? Probably Marquette. Marquette probably the strongest.
Does playing close to home matter for you? It’s not really that big of a deal. I kind of just want to find a place where I feel comfortable.
Had you heard at all from previous staff, from Tubby Smith and those guys? No.
What is it about Minnesota that you like? I think that’s a good fit. I like up-tempo pace, I really like that, so I think I would be a really good fit in his offense.
I know you play a little bit of everything. Which position do you like the best? 2-guard
Is that what you play most often? Yeah. But I don’t mind if I play the point. I’m kind of versatile with the 1 and the 3.
UPDATE: A source tells the Star Tribune that Goodson will remain at the university for two weeks, after which he is leaving for a new college basketball job, out of conference.
Richard Pitino will soon be on his third director of basketball operations since accepting the Gophers' head basketball job a little less than two months ago.
Steve Goodson plans to leave the Unversity of Minnesota, a team source tells the Star Tribune.
Goodson was previously on former coach Tubby Smith's staff as special assistant to the head coach before being hired by Pitino in April.
Pitino had originally hired Mike Balado, an assistant of his at Florida International in that role, but Balado left after getting an offer from FIU's new head coach, Anthony Evans. Balado eventually took a job at Louisville.
There is no news yet about who will replace Goodson or where he is headed.
|Sports (2)||Basketball (8)|
|College basketball (665)||Gophers coaches (76)|
|Gophers players (618)||Tubby Smith (37)|
|Williams Arena (8)||Gophers game day (43)|
|Gophers postgame (6)||NCAA (2)|
|The Big Dance (8)||Gophers awards and honors (1)|
|Gophers post season (4)||Gophers roster moves (5)|
|Minnesota colleges (1)|