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

Mass lineup substitutions got messy in exhibitions

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: November 9, 2012 - 11:03 AM

You're not the only one that noticed it.

In the two exhibitions games, things got hairy when the Gophers threw in a major lineup switch -- and coach Tubby Smith knows it.

Smith has long played very deep into his roster, and commonly makes 4-for-4 or 5-for-5 switches at a time. Say what you will about that strategy, but Smith did it so often last year that the second team had a very tangible chemistry, and often brought some pop when the starters weren't getting it done.

In the last two games, however, when Smith has authored big changes, there has been an evident drop in play.

On Monday, when Mo Walker, Andre Ingram, Oto Osenieks, Julian Welch and Maverick Ahanmisi took over for Elliott Eliason, Rodney Williams, Austin Hollins, Joe Coleman and Andre Hollins -- all at once -- the Gophers had a 9-0 lead.

But then there were five turnovers in just over three minutes, as Southwest Baptist nailed three 3-pointers and a layup. By the time the regulars (minus Eliason and plus Mbakwe) returned, the Gophers were clinging to a 19-17 lead.

"We had some issues when we subbed in and we've got to plan better," Smith said.

That's not to say that it was the players themselves that were awful; indeed, some good things happened during that time too. Osenieks hit one of just two 3-pointers for the Gophers, Ingram dunked and Ahanmisi and Welch contributed to a pair of steals.

But there's no denying that mental mistakes abounded and the chemistry simply looked ... off.

"I don't think it's a chemistry issue, they just haven't played," Smith said. "Trevor and Mo hadn't played it two years so it's getting used to being on the court. Not that it was them it was just the fluidity of it. So when you talk about chemistry, it's more in practice [because] we have a lot of different combinations."

What's the solution? Many fans might be reading this and screaming "NO MORE MASS SUBSTIUTIONS!!"

And Thursday, Smith agreed.

"Tomorrow night, we'll be subbing guys in one at a time, two at a time, maybe not mass substitutions," he said.

Of course, that substitution patter is one he's long used and vocalized his faith in the benefits of keeping players fresh. So why the sudden turn of heart?

"I say that but it may change," Smith said.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

 

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