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

Pregame: Mbakwe should be coming off the bench for Gophers, but he's OK with that

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: November 22, 2012 - 2:08 PM

Unless coach Tubby Smith has a big surprise up his sleeve for today’s game against Duke in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, Trevor Mbakwe will be coming off the bench once more, despite playing a season-high 27 minutes in the Gophers’ most recent game against Richmond.

“The lineup is going to stay the way it is,” Smith said on Monday. “It’s just going to stay the way it is until I decide differently. Elliott [Eliason] has been giving us everything he has, just like everybody else has. So I’ve been impressed with Elliott and the way he’s been playing. I like Trevor coming off the bench.”

And if Smith’s comments from the past couple of weeks are any indication, it might be that way for a while – well into the season anyway.

But Mbakwe said he’s fine with this role if that’s what the team needs. Minutes and contributions matter more. It’s a new perspective that his odd situation this season has helped him embrace.

“In high school, everyone’s like, 'Oh, I start,’ and obviously it’s always good when you’re a starter,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I think most of us, we’d rather be one of those guys who are making plays down the stretch (rather than) on the bench cheering your teammates on. I feel more of a role when I’m actually out there, diving on the floor, getting a key rebound or making the key shot. That’s more important to me than starting the game at this point.”

To his credit, Eliason has been giving his usual gutty, intense performance for the Gophers, and while the center isn’t super productive on the stat sheet all the time, he does the little things – the effort things – really well. Mbakwe, off the bench, has made the best of the minutes he does get. The sixth- year senior is averaging six points and six rebounds in 16.3 minutes a game (a number that shot up after Sunday).

Other notes on today’s game:

  • Mbakwe said he feels like his knee is 90 percent, with the only hang up being the clunky brace he still wears during games. “It’s just a reminder, every time I have to play around with it,” he said. Mbakwe said after games his knee can get stiff, but there hasn’t been any swelling.
  • Quinn Cook is expected to start at point for the Blue Devils for the second time today. Cook started against Florida Gulf Coast and scored eight points and added four rebounds and nine assists.
  • Seth Curry should be set to play today, as Coach K said yesterday. Curry has been dealing with pain in his right shin, and his status is undetermined for the rest of the tournament.
  • Tubby said earlier this week that he planned to “tweak” the offense a bit in this game against Duke to try to minimize turnovers, which have been a big problem for the Gophers. Essentially, Smith wants to limit the ball-handling of the big men at the top of the post in the high-low, which has contributed to more than a few blunders.


Where to watch the Gophers tonight:

· If you have Direct TV: channel 340
· If you have Dish Network: channel 362
· If you have Comcast: channel 420 and 875 (Mpls); 268 and 875 (St. Paul)
· Listen to the game on 1500-a.m.

Check out:

  • My notebook from yesterday’s media access: contains everything from VCU coach Shaka Smart’s relationship with his “mentor,” Gophers assistant Ron Jirsa to why Memphis coach Josh Pastner’s wife is banned from road trips (she’s not here).
  • The Gophers have plenty of thoughts of their own on the Blue Devils. Here they are. 

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St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee 2 Top 10th Inning
San Diego 2
Los Angeles 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Arizona 1
Miami 1 Top 8th Inning
LA Angels 5
Colorado 1 Top 8th Inning
San Francisco 2
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
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Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
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Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
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Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
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New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
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Tennessee
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Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
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Oklahoma State
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South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
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Louisville
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2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
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