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

Posts about Williams Arena

First step for eventual practice facility is happening now

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: September 19, 2012 - 2:06 PM


Most would agree the basketball facilities are in need of some upgrades at Minnesota

Most would agree the basketball facilities are in need of some upgrades at Minnesota


New AD Norwood Teague came to the University of Minnesota with a reputation for fundraising and getting things done, and he’s quickly working to make that credit stick with the Gophers. Teague said in a phone conversation on Wednesday that he and the ‘U’ are shopping for master planning firms to get the basics in place for an overall facilities layout and timeline. Right now, Minnesota is “down to the 11th hour” in determining the right company, and will choose one next week, Teague said.

A major part of that eventual plan will include a basketball practice facility, something Teague calls “a need, not a want” at Minnesota, and a project that he believes has adequate financial support to be realistic.
Here’s what’s going on:
  • A master planning firm is the first step in realizing any new facilities. Since Teague came to Minnesota, he has talked about a master facilities plan on paper to give donors a clear vision of what they want and how they would go about it. “I’ve learned over the years that you really need to get a plan in place,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to do too many run-offs that don’t make any sense in an overall plan. If you have an overall plan, it’s a lot easier to sell to donors that you have a very well-thought out plan using an outside consultant that does this around the country (and) that does this at other college athletic departments.”
  • This firm would: Look at space issues and needs as far as facilities -- What needs to happen now? What can wait? Teague said they will evaluate needs over up to a 15-year span. The firm would conduct interviews with coaches, the athletic department, and non-sports personnel such as people in the President’s office. Teague talked about the challenges the public often doesn’t realize. “We’ve got to get everybody to feel good about it on campus,” he said.
  • The firm would also come up with specific cost estimates “so we can get an idea of what kind of budget we’re looking at, what are our thresholds on what can you build for what amount of money,” Teague said.
  • The master facilities plan would revolve around two initial aspects: A practice facility for the women’s and men’s basketball programs and a football support facility. “Those two are going to be at the heart,” Teague said.
  • Teague has talked with Gopher alum T. Denny Sanford as a potential main donor for the football facility. Sanford had at one point planned to donate $35 million to the new football stadium (which would have been named for him), but an agreement was never reached.
  • There have been several individuals highly interested in funding a potential basketball practice facility, Teague said. “We feel like there is a good amount of resources there and people that are interested in knowing that we need it.”
  • Teague on the practice facility: “It is a need, more than a want here right now. We’ve got limitations on court space that are just not adequate, much less all the other amenities that would go into it.”
  • Some of the things Teague said he would want the facility to include are:

.         o   Two separate courts (one for men, one for women) that would be housed on either ends of the buildings (to prevent distractions that would come from the courts sitting side-by-side).

·         o   A weight room

·         o   A sports medicine center
·         o   Meetings rooms equipped for film work
·         o   Players’ lounges
·         o   Offices? This piece is up for debate, Teague said.
  • NEXT: Once the ‘U’ chooses a firm, they will begin working with them a week later, Teague said. The entire process should take about three months. From that, he said he hopes to move straight into a design stage, which would require hiring an architectural firm for specifics.
“It’s a massive recruiting tool and we know that full well,” Teague said. “We’re the only school in the Big Ten besides Northwestern that doesn’t have one. Coaches around the coach will tell you that it’s a program changer and really provides separation from other programs. That combined on top of the fact that it’s a need I think will motivate our donor base to be involved.”

Tubby looking for more toughness; says new arena is in order

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: January 27, 2012 - 4:21 PM



Gophers coach Tubby Smith said that after the Michigan State loss on Wednesday, one of the things he told his players was that they needed to get a lot tougher between then and Saturday.

Rodney Williams said that process had already begun, that the Gophers had a more-physical-than-usual practice yesterday and that they were excited about the second chance against Illinois, a team the Gophers brought to double overtime on the road in their first game of the season.

Just a few notes from practice:

  • Smith said Williams rolled his ankle slightly in the MSU game and it was still a little tender. But Williams downplayed the injury, saying “I’ll be fine.”
  • After Williams hit three three-pointers in the Michigan State game, Smith suggested that perhaps he should take more shots in the future. Asked whether Williams felt he was building Smith’s trust he said “I definitely hope so now.”
  • Smith has been vocal about wanting a practice facility for the Gophers, but Friday he was asked about whether he thought a new arena was in order as well. “I would think so,” he said. “You can only play so long in any building. I’m sure Joel [Maturi] is starting to realize that and I’m sure anybody who has a love for this building knows that is going to happen eventually … It’s like buying a new home. Do you build a new home or do you try to fix up the one you have. If it’s 80-years old then you have to decide.”



Big Ten admits officiating error near end of Gophers/Virginia Tech game

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: December 2, 2011 - 2:01 PM

The Big Ten just sent out the following release:

The Big Ten Conference announced today that it has disciplined a men's basketball official for misapplying a rule in the final seconds of the Virginia Tech-Minnesota game played on Wednesday evening.  The misapplication of Rule 4 Section 3, back court/front court, occurred with 9.9 seconds remaining in regulation. We regret that the error occurred.

On the play, a Virginia Tech inbounds pass caromed off a Hokies player in the front court -- without touching a Minnesota player -- and went into the back court. A backcourt violation was called, giving the Gophers the ball. They held a 56-55 lead at the time and went on to win 58-55. The call deprived Virginia Tech its best chance at winning at the buzzer.

The misapplication appears to refer specifically to this part of Rule 4, Section 3 of the NCAA rulebook:

Art. 5. Regardless of where the throw-in spot is located, the throw-in team may cause the ball to go into the back court.
Art. 6. After the throw-in ends, an inbounds player in the front court, who is not in control of the ball, may cause the ball to go into the back court

Pre-game: Sampson on sidelines during warmups

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated: November 21, 2011 - 7:04 PM


As Amelia Rayno reported earlier, it appears as though Ralph Sampson III is going to miss tonight's Gophers game vs. Mount St. Mary's. He never shed his warm-up gear as the Gophers shot around; instead, Sampson -- who turned his ankle in Thursday's victory over Fairfield -- stood on the sideline next to fellow injured big man Mo Walker. Sampson has been replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Elliott Eliason.


Sampson's injury is not believed to be serious; I'll hope to have an update postgame on his status for this week's Old Spice Classic, which starts Thursday in Orlando.

As Amelia also mentioned, I'm your beat writer for the week, including the Old Spice Classic (though Amelia will still blog occasionally from Hawaii because she's JUST THAT DEDICATED). Follow me on Twitter via @RandBall. Come for the in-game updates. After the week is over, stay for the witty banter.

If I was in the prediction game, I'd say the Gophers win big tonight even though they haven't had a blowout yet. Mount St. Mary's has a ton of key players missing for various reasons, so let's just say that if this isn't a blowout, it could be telling.

Weekend Notebook: Jayhawks willing to face Minnesota at The Barn

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: September 18, 2009 - 4:25 PM

Throughout Minnesota's recent history, it's been suggested that the reason major schools don't come to Williams Arena is because they don't want to risk a loss in such a unique and hostile environment.

Earlier this week, Joe Esposito, Minnesota's director of basketball operations who handles scheduling, sent out this tweet: 

"Noone will play us.... Louisville just said no, Marquette no, Florida no, Iowa State no..... I'll keep trying."

Athletic director Joel Maturi said recently that the school turned down numerous top-level opponents for the upcoming season because they weren't willing to play at Williams Arena.

But Kansas' Larry Keating, the school's associate athletic director and head of scheduling, said earlier this week that the Jayhawks don't have a problem playing the Gophers at The Barn.

Kansas was reportedly interested in a series with the Gophers, following its trip to Minneapolis during the NCAA tournament in March. But it never happened.

A source close to the team told me that one of the problems was that the Jayhawks wanted to play at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, not Williams Arena.

Keating said that's not the case and added that he expects a series between the two schools to be solidified once they can find open dates.

"We’ve never had any discussion about playing anywhere else," Keating said. "Tubby [Smith] and Bill [Self] have talked on a couple of occasions about trying to work out a series. The dates haven’t worked out yet. I’m sure at some point in the future, they’ll probably play. There's never been anything about playing anywhere else but Williams Arena."

-Now that the Gophers have a verbal commitment from Nebraska center Elliott Eliason, they're hoping to get another one after this weekend, when Tennessee prep standout Austin Hollins, son of Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, travels to Minneapolis for his official visit. 

Hollins, a 6-4, 170-pound wing has narrowed his list down to Arkansas, Memphis and Minnesota. He told me a few hours before he left for Minneapolis Friday that the Gophers are the favorites right now.

"I’ve only talked to three of the coaches on the [Minnesota] staff," Hollins said Friday. "I like all three of them. They’re all personable. They’re all classy and everything. They push for the best. I’m excited to come up there this weekend and see what it looks like and meet the players."

Hollins described himself as a team player. He averaged nearly 16 points per game for Germantown High School in Germantown, Tenn. His AAU coach, Alex Waddey, said Hollins runs the floor well, rebounds of both ends of the court and plays stronger than he looks.

"He’s a great shooter; he shoots it well from beyond the arc and shoots it well in the midrange," Waddey said. "He’s very long. ... He can get a shot off against shorter players, he can shoot over the top of people. He’s also an asset because he actually rebounds, being a big guard."

Hollins' father said he's known Tubby Smith since the latter's days at Georgia. Despite his pedigree and knowledge of the game, Lionel Hollins said his son will make his own choice.

"I think [Minnesota] has a lot of positives," said Lionel Hollins. "They play in a big conference. Nice fan base, fans are rabid. ... My son is the one that’s going to be making a decision."

The younger Hollins said he doesn't think he'll make a decision in the near future but expects to commit prior to the early signing period.

Remember, Gophers fans. Eliason said the same thing a week ago.

Here's a look at Hollins: 


-Tubby Smith's Friday tweet: "We are looking forward to another great weekend on campus. Best of luck to Coach Brewster and the Gophers as they take on a tough Cal team."






Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters