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
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.
. 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
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:
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.
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.
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."
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