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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Posts about Williams Arena

According to Vivid Seats, Gophers have 11th most expensive ticket in college basketball

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:36 AM

Everyone loves to complain about the rising costs of attending a good old fashioned ballgame.

But it seems Gophers fans are more than willing to pay the price.

A report from Vivid Seats, an online ticket marketplace shows that Minnesota owns the 11th most expensive re-sold NCAA basketball ticket in the nation for their site, with a median price of $84 per ticket.

(Data was compiled in late November.)

Kansas takes the cake at a median of $265 per ticket and Kentucky, Duke, Gonzaga, Indiana, UCLA, VCU, Georgetown, UNC and Wake Forest all fall ahead of the Gophers in terms of more expensive tickets.

Obviously, the Gophers have a monopoly in this state for college basketball, with no other Division I schools around – that should help Minnesota do very well, attendance-wise. But what’s interesting about the Gophers’ placement on this list is that Williams Arena doesn’t consistently sell out.

Since the market is set by sellers, prices for the tickets can be driven up by demand. What that means is that while the venue doesn’t always have a rear in every seat, Gophers fans are very willing to pay for better seats. There aren’t as many who are eager to sit in the nosebleeds though -- Williams’ cache of obstructed view seats might have something to do with that as well.

By contrast Michigan State, according to this report, has a medium ticket price of $55. The Gophers aren’t involved in any of the top-25 most expensive games this season. The priciest? UNC vs. Duke on March 8th, with a median entry cost of $1459. Yikes.

Gophers scrimmage Friday night, open to the public

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: October 17, 2013 - 11:55 AM

As most of you have figured out, there is no Midnight Madness this year for Minnesota.

In its place, however, is a team scrimmage -- the 'Raise the Barn: First Look Scrimmage -- that will be open to the public, held tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 p.m.

The Williams Arena event is free and doors will open at 6 p.m.

Coach Richard Pitino tweeted out the Gold and Maroon teams, which are as follows:

Maroon: Andre Hollins, Maverick Ahanmisi, Austin Hollins, Joey King, Elliott Eliason, Daquein McNeil, Jasen Baranowski (a walk-on guard).

Gold: Deandre Mathieu, Malik Smith, Wally Ellenson, Oto Osenieks, Mo Walker, Charles Buggs, Kendal Shell.

See more details here.


 

Teague: Facilities plan should be finalized by April; thoughts on Tubby Smith

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: February 28, 2013 - 4:15 PM

Minnesota’s new master facilities plan – with a basketball practice facility as one of the priorities -- should be finalized by April, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague said at a press gathering on Thursday.

“I’m very excited for the future,” Teague said. “It’s going to be a fun next five to 10 years.”

A basketball facility is near the top of the list, with Teague again describing the implementation as a “need” and not a “want.”

“I guess it’s been a phenomenon of the last 10 years, and you can say, ‘Are they really needed?’ You do really need them,” Teague said. “Our guys have trouble at times getting into shoot, and our women have trouble at times getting into shoot. There’s a lot of people that use it, our dance team’s in there, or there’s an event that’s in there in the middle of the day, and it limits the availability … I think the money to raise is out there, it’s just a matter of fitting it into plan and moving it forward. So I do feel good about that, but it’s critical.”

Breaking down the total project into costs for individual pieces, like the practice facility, will come down the road. But for now, Teague estimated that the full facilities plan could cost in the $80 million to $125 million range. Teague has said in the past that the full plan could include a basketball practice facility, a new football building, a women's gymnastics facility, a wrestling facility, office enhancements and a center for student-athlete academics and dining.

The university is still looking at exactly where all the money will come from – how much they can feasibly raise privately and where the rest would come from.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and I know with the state budgets and things like that, we want to be very smart about what we do,” Teague said. “If it’s too expensive, we’ll have to cut back in areas. But right now with construction costs being pretty favorable, it’s different than it was five years ago, so you’ve got to go in and evaluate it. We need to get what we need and be smart about that. We don’t want to go crazy and spend in a way that’s going to be unwise.”

In that regard, Teague noted that the facilities don’t have to be extravagant, as seems to be the trend in college athletics – not just building something functional, but something with an overload of “flash” as Teague called it, and luxurious amenities.

“We’ve traveled around to a lot of facilities that maybe are a little over the top, and I don’t know if we need to do that,” Teague said. “I think you need to get what you need and have it done in a first-class way, and then after that, your people make all the difference. And if you have great people, combined with the facilities that you need, I think then you’re rolling.”

Once a blueprint is in place, Teague said a tour around the state is planned to help raise money and drum up excitement for the program and the plans.

“Really go around and shake hands and renew, rejuvenate the pride in Gopher athletics,” he said. “I’ll tell you what because one thing I have learned after being here eight months is that it seems like everybody cares about the U and Gopher athletics. You maybe didn’t go here, but your dad went here or your mom went here or your great uncle went here. And it’s the only Division I school in the state. And I’ve been in four states with Divison I schools and it doesn’t compare. And that’s a positive, but it’s something we have to do a better job of reaching out.”


Other notes from today’s press conference:

  • Teague reiterated that he would not evaluate Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith’s performance until the season was over, saying that he wanted to make that a university policy in general with all coaches. He did however, remark on a couple of aspects concerning Smith.
  • Teague said he talks with Smith often about the ups and downs of the season, and said he has been handling the wear like “a pro.” “All coaches take it hard when they lose,” Teague said. “No matter who they are. I don’t think we can ever understand the amount of anguish they go thorugh. Weight loss. Stress on the face. He’s not immune to that … He’s done this a long time, and he rolls with the punches.”
  • Teague on the buyouts the university is still paying off (Glen Mason, Dan Monson, Tim Brewster): “It’s a part of the whole financial equation of everything we do, not just a specific sport. It always plays into your budget decisions. But for us, the buyouts that we’re paying now have been budgeted, so it’s not like it’s new. So it is what it is.”
  • On Smith’s poor record in February: “I’m aware of it. But I’m also aware of a lot of other places it happens. Greg Paulus at Ohio State is a good friend. We went to breakfast the morning of the Ohio State game and Greg said, ‘Norwood, you have to understand. These are the two toughest weeks in college basketball for players.’ They’re in the heart of the regular season. Christmas is long in the rearview mirror, and they can’t see March yet. Teams do erratic things during that time period. I look at it for every program, that February is tough. It’s a grind.”
  • Teague said he gave Smith a hug in the locker room after the Indiana game on Tuesday. His general thoughts on the atmosphere: “The Barn was as good as I’ve seen it, and obviously, I’ve been here a short period period of time. I get a lot of e-mails and comments about bring the Barn back to where it used to be, and I hear everybody loud and clear, but it shows that that place is as good as any place in college basketball. I know it is older, but it’s classic. We need to get that thing back to where it’s consistent like that on a regular basis because it was absolutely fantastic. My ears were ringing all day yesterday after being in there.
  • To that point, Teague reiterated that he doesn’t have any plans to tear down Williams Arena and rebuild. Instead, he wants to add amenities and do a few touch-ups. Overall, he’s happy with the state of the inner bowl, including the number of seats, he said. “I just think it’s too classic,” he said. “It’s too historical; it’s too much a part of the state. I’ve seen when you move arenas and leave your classic place, it hurts in many ways. It hurts your crowd atmosphere and feel of your arena. And we’ll do some things, some touchups on Williams, but I don’t think we need to blow up the inner bowl. There’s a lot of great things that are there.”

More notes and clicks from Tubby Smith and last night's win

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: February 27, 2013 - 5:19 PM

Games like last night don’t come around very often, either for fans or for a beat writer like myself.

So let’s stay wrapped up in it for just a little longer.

Clicks:

  • Above: in the last few weeks, I have been slammed in the face with a passed ball in shootaround, and now nearly trampled in a court-rushing (although I will say, I prefer the second). The footage I have from that moment is priceless. Notice at the end, as I pan across the court with the camera, a fist enter out of nowhere to my left, and then me hitting the deck. What a job.
  • My game story from last night (with a pic gallery).
  • Watch full highlights of last night’s 77-73 Gophers win over No. 1 Indiana here.
  • I recorded another CineSport video from the finally-emptied arena last night, discussing the win and its impact. Watch that here.
  • Just Mbakwe’s brutal block of Cody Zeller at one point last night. It’s worth watching three or four times.
  • Look back through USA today’s other No. 1 dethronings this season and decide if the Gophers win over the Hoosiers was best.
  • Plus the best rushes of the season.
  • Other videos of the Barn’s rush.
  • When was the last court storming at Williams Arena? It came in 2002, against -- of course -- Indiana. From Twitter follower, @RandallRyder, supposedly the second-most recent rush was back in 1998.

Other notes:

  • Coach Tubby Smith spoke with the media today to wrap up some thoughts on last night’s win.

Some quotes from Smith’s press conference:

“Every victory is a plus for the program, but getting a victory like last night is significant, probably a milestone for us.”

On what it can do for the team and the program: “It helps in a lot of ways – the morale of the team, for me, the belief that hey, we can do it fellas. I never really lost belief but it’s encouraging for our fanbase as well as other things. It helps in recruiting when kids see a positive – see the fans and see the floors being rushed like that.”

On the rushing: “I was really concerned that people jumping up on the court that might hurt themselves, like I have a couple times.”

On keeping the team balanced: “With this team, we had a good win against Wisconsin and we didn’t respond very well. So I’m just concerned. As I’ve said before – never get too high, never get too low, never get too discouraged, just make sure you keep balance in your life, and that’s what we try to preach to our players. When you get too high, you want to create that false sense of accomplishment, and when you get too low, you try to find ways to build yourself back up, and that can give you a false sense as well. So you can’t lie to yourself about what’s going on.”

  • Smith said Greg Coleman and Christian Ponder both spoke to the team before the game. Ponder -- whose wife, ESPN’s Samantha Steele, was working the game – just showed up, Smith said, and made some comparisons to this year’s Vikings season end, and what the Gophers could do. My guess is that he conveniently left out the first-round exit in the playoffs.
  • Smith reiterated that he’s used a sports psychologist (as the team did leading up to the Indiana game) every year that he’s been at Minnesota – and that it wasn’t a desperation move. At the same time, the coach recognized that it wasn’t same-old, same-old. “We do a test on the guys, and it’s a yearly thing,” he said. “But at that point in time, we were actually talking about something else … it was very beneficial.”
  • Trevor Mbakwe playing possessed wasn’t the only Gophers change last night. Smith made some significant offensive adjustments as well, utilizing a flex offense – which the Gophers succeeded with last season in their NIT run – a little more, and effectively. The Gophers also took Andre Hollins off the ball some, handing Austin Hollins a bigger responsibility in the ball handling department. “He does have our best assist-to-turnover ratio,” Smith said of Austin. “We did do some strategic things, some back screening that we hadn’t done. We had some time to work on some offense that we hadn’t used in a while and I think that helped us, as well as getting Andre out in transition a little more, that was something we’d worked on.”
  • Both Smith and the assistants are out hitting the recruiting trail today, attempting to capitalize on the big win. Unfortunately for the Gophers, no recruits were at last night's game.
  • Smith noted that his shorter bench (he played only Elliott Eliason, Maverick Ahanmisi, Andre Ingram and a little bit of Mo Walker) was beneficial. "We kind of limited our rotation and that helped us some," he said. The bench combined for 16 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a block, four assists and zero turnovers.
     

 

Facilities update: Hoops practice facility could go at the Bierman building

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: December 6, 2012 - 2:57 PM

Minnesota’s master planning project is coming to a close, but the biggest pieces of the process are still ahead, Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague told me over the phone on Thursday.

At this point, POPULOUS – the firm the university hired to create a master facilites blueprint – has completed all of the interviews (with staff, coaches and others involved with the U) that are necessary when considering such major projects and moves like these, and the two biggest pieces remaining are the spacing issues and the financial estimates, which should wrap up in the next couple of months.

As for the coveted basketball practice facility, that remains one of the main priorities of the plan. In terms of securing funding, Teague says he feels very confident.

“I think we’ll be in good shape as it relates to hoops,” Teague said. “In our case, as I’ve said before, it’s just a real need. Many things are wants – that’s a need for us. That’s something we have to have for a number of different reasons.”

  • The entire planning process should be fully completed in mid January to February, Teague said. At that point, the university will have a solid concept of how much everything will cost and where different facilities will go.
  • At this point, the university has no total estimate for how much the entire project will cost.
  • Teague said he feels good about the fundraising possibilities for a hoops facility, although he wouldn’t single out any donors that could lead the fundraising for the project. At this point, the university has mostly just strategized about who to contact and where the interest is, and any contact has been extremely preliminary in nature.
  • Teague’s No. 1 choice for the location of the practice facility would be at the Bierman Athletic Complex, which is being strongly considered. That scenario might require some re-shuffling of what is currently there. Those specifics will be determined soon.
  • Said Teague of the Bierman choice: “If we do that, it will make us much more efficient as an organization, much more student-athlete friendly and that will keep as many of their activities in one location and that is huge. I’ve been in other departments where things are very spread out and that gets challenging. Some departments have to do that, but it just forces the student athlete to cart themselves all over campus for training table, for practice, for games. If you put as much as you can in one place, that really helps.”
  • If the practice facility DOESN’T go at Bierman, the lot behind Williams Arena would be the other consideration, Teague said.
  • Donor T. Denny Sanford – the name that always comes up – is more likely to be heavily involved in the football side, not the basketball side.
  • Other items that will be involved in the master plan include: a football building (offices, weight room, training room), a new indoor football facility (“Because our current indoor facility is just maxed out” with many sports using it, Teague said), a women’s gymnastics facility, a wrestling facility of its own (or an area within Bierman) and an Academic Center for the players that would also include a training table and dining area.
  • The university hopes to execute the entire plan over five to seven years, with dictated priorities obviously happening sooner.
  • After the master planning process is completed, Teague will move into full fundraising mode, a process that will continuous through the five to seven years, he said.
  • Before Teague came to Minnesota, the university hired a consultant to look into the fundraising potential of the area. The results, Teague said, came back “very positive” at that time. That, of course, makes us wonder why this hasn’t happened sooner -- but maybe Teague will prove to be the key to unlocking support.

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