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

aMAILia Bag: What Tubby wants in an offense, Mbakwe's status and a look at Michigan State

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: December 11, 2012 - 11:55 AM

**aMAILia bag is a new installment on this blog where I answer the questions you send me throughout the week. Send your queries to**

Let’s jump right in.

What are your thoughts on Tubby Smith's offensive schemes and plays compared to maybe more pro-style offenses? Does he try to fit the players to his scheme or modify his scheme for the players on his squad?

--Brandon Proctor

Hm. Good question, Brandon. Smith obviously has a distinct vision of what he wants in an offense and a roster – so to skip ahead to the second part of your question, I think he recruits for his system. He’s made it clear that he’s not a fan of running plays specifically geared toward an individual’s talents – rather, he wants them to succeed in the overall scheme. The high-low offense Smith uses … would it transfer directly to the NBA? No, but most NBA offenses wouldn’t be very feasible with this crew. These Gophers are generally not good enough ball handlers for the pick-and-roll, not quite efficient enough from range for a Princeton- type offense, and something like a triangle offense is too complex.

And the fact is, while I’d like to see just a little more movement/screening/cuts away from the ball all around, for this roster, (and when it’s done well) it works. The Gophers have shown some success again with the high-low screens after dumbing down the offense a little to a basic flex during the Big Ten schedule last season (to put their guards – the strength at the time – in better position to penetrate). This season, with Mbakwe back and a deeper, more talented frontcourt, the high-low makes sense again.

Look, it’s not perfect, and at times the Gophers still look stagnant in the half court. But their execution of the offense – along with everything else with this squad – has markedly improved.

Who is going to guard Michigan State's Appling? He is lightning fast. Sparty loves to play fast. Do we play fast too? Bet not.

--Lance Olson

OK, first question first. I would guess that Smith would have Andre Hollins on Appling, or maybe some combination of Hollins and Austin Hollins (the team’s best defender). Don’t forget that there’s freshman Gary Harris too, to be dealt with, who has actually been more efficient shooting-wise and tighter ballhandling wise than Appling has with the minutes he’s gotten. Smith is putting more trust in Andre Hollins to take on tough defensive assignments, and for the most part the sophomore has improved there (of course there are still games like Saturday when he gets into both foul trouble and turnover trouble).

As far as the playing fast bit, obviously that is the Gophers intention in every game, and frankly, they’re a lot better at it than they were a year ago. What it’s going to come down to, once again, is defense. If the Gophers have been effectively defensively on the Spartans, they will be able to get out in transition. If they struggle there, then yes, Minnesota’s uptempo game will be impacted. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the Spartans team of last year. It should be a big challenge for the Gophers, for sure, but Michigan State certainly doesn’t look unbeatable (see Miami game). I’ll go ahead and go on the record here to say the Gophers should be in that game for 40 minutes and should pull out the win. At this time, Minnesota is higher ranked than the Spartans and need two victories in those first two home games before heading out on a tough road trip (Illinois and Indiana).

Do you think Trevor Mbakwe will start once the B1G season starts? I read in your column how he’s not 100 percent yet. Is he not starting now because of his injury or is it more of a punishment for his off-the-court issues last summer?

--Tim Mueller

I’m not sure that he does. You can place me firmly in the camp of those that think he SHOULD -- it’s clear he operates at a higher level when working with the starters. But I also think there are a lot of reasons Smith likes him coming off the bench (“Punishment” is not one of them. I don’t think Smith would arbitrarily hurt the team to teach Mbakwe a lesson). Physically, I think Mbakwe is fine or very close to it. He said on Saturday that he believes he’s 100 percent now. His knee stiffens a little after games, but that’s normal, he said, according to his doctors. The only real remaining step is to get his clunky knee brace taken off, which should happen sometime in the next month.

But as Smith stated the other day, Mbakwe really does bring a pop off the bench when the Gophers have to make a lineup change. And in the last game, the coaching staff played him a lot of minutes with Rodney Williams and the rest of the first group, which worked out pretty nicely. It might be that that is Smith’s idea for the rest of the year. It wouldn’t surprise me all that much because the coach has been very adamant, so far, about keeping things the way they are.

Minnesota or Illinois or Michigan State? Which finishes higher in the conference?

--Paul Kopitz

I love answering questions like these because it’s so early and so much changes and yet everyone will hold me to this single projection I make right here. (*SARCASM ALERT*)

But I’ll step out on a limb (because that’s what I do) and say the Gophers finish higher. That puts the Gophers at No. 4 in the conference by my count: Indiana. Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota. I think the Illini – while obviously more talented than we first reckoned – are playing over their skis a little bit and should bounce back during the conference schedule. Michigan State (see above) is talented, but not the team it was a year ago. The Gophers have the talent to get there – now we’ll see if they do.

If you can only do one B1G venue before you die, it should be _____ ?


I’m assuming you’re talking just hoops here, so I’ll say Assembly Hall in Indiana, which I was able to visit for the first time last year (and thankfully did not die afterward). The history is enough to make you crave a visit, but watching the game there is an impressive experience as well. The bowl seems to stretch almost vertically upward and when the students get going, things get LOUD.

Not counting turnovers, what is the Gophers’ biggest weakness?


Shooting. The Gophers have had their good games in that regard, but it hasn’t been consistent, even from one half to another (for whatever reason, the Gophers often start out shooting well and trail off). But that strength is going to be necessary when the Gophers get to Big Ten play and their defense isn’t as stifling for better conference offenses.


If I travel to any of your former home towns, where should I go for Sasquatch viewing?


Well, first of all, I only have one home town and that is Cary, NC (outside of Raleigh). If you’re around North Carolina, I’d say head up to the mountains. Squatches have been seen all along the Appalachian trail. As for Boston, I have heard of Bigfoots around the Freetown State Forest area and Fall River. Happy viewing!


Kansas City 20 FINAL
Oakland 24
Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Miami 93
Chicago 88 FINAL
Sacramento 103
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Toronto 5
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Nashville 2 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Arizona 1 FINAL
Dallas 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Colorado 2
Chicago 4 FINAL
Calgary 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Florida 3 FINAL(SO)
San Jose 2
Texas A&M 53 FINAL
Dayton 55
Akron 66
Coll of Charleston 57 FINAL
Connecticut 65
Drexel 46 FINAL
Miami-Florida 66
New Mexico 65 FINAL
Boston College 69
Penn State 97 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Detroit 62 FINAL
Michigan 71
Eckerd 59 FINAL
UCF 76
VU of Lynchburg 51 FINAL
East Carolina 92
Texas 71 FINAL
Iowa 57
Jacksonville 43 FINAL
NC State 79
Navy 51 FINAL
Providence 88
Grambling St 30 FINAL
Purdue 82
UMass Lowell 57 FINAL
Sacred Heart 54
Keystone 69 FINAL
St Francis-PA 102
Niagara 61 FINAL
Saint Peters 59
Palm Beach Atlantic 85 FINAL
Stetson 96
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Tennessee 70
MD-Eastern Shore 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 106
SUNY-Westbury 49 FINAL
Wagner 83
Bluefield (VA) 57 FINAL
William & Mary 100
Bob Jones Univ 41 FINAL
USC Upstate 107
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Bryant 72
Fordham 50 FINAL
Maryland 66
Howard 52 FINAL
Radford 61
Champions Bapt 29 FINAL
UT Martin 115
George Mason 65 FINAL
West Virginia 91
South Florida 73 FINAL
UAB 71
UC Davis 63 FINAL
Eastern Ill 61
Fla Atlantic 49 FINAL
Harvard 71
Indiana 74
Franklin Pierce 57 FINAL
Minnesota 109
Brescia 56 FINAL
Murray State 89
North Florida 67 FINAL
Northwestern 69
Fisk 60 FINAL
Tennessee St 75
New Orleans 71 FINAL
TCU 86
Miss Valley St 61 FINAL
Tulane 100
Bucknell 65 FINAL
Villanova 72
Northwestern St 89 FINAL
LSU-Alexandria 79
Winthrop 58 FINAL
Savannah State 59
Southern U 38 FINAL
Ole Miss 69
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Northern Iowa 73
Cornell 45 FINAL
South Carolina 69
Southern Miss 67 FINAL
Alabama 81
Loyola Marymount 44 FINAL
Arizona State 68
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Vanderbilt 72
Texas-Arlington 66 FINAL
Grand Canyon 64
Syracuse 59 FINAL
California 73
Idaho 67 FINAL
Northern Ill 78
Fresno State 52 FINAL
Northern Ariz 73
Pacific Union 56 FINAL
Pacific 81
Denver 62 FINAL
St Marys-CA 78
CS-Bakersfield 27 FINAL
San Diego St 51
Nicholls 74 FINAL
UCLA 107
Bowling Green 20 FINAL
Toledo 27
Kent State 0 Postponed
Buffalo 0
(12) Kansas State 26 FINAL
West Virginia 20
North Carolina 45 FINAL
(25) Duke 20
Arkansas State 27 FINAL
Texas State 45
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Air Force 8:30 PM
San Diego St
San Jose St 8:30 PM
Utah State
Char Southern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
South Alabama 11/22/14 11:00 AM
So Carolina
Rutgers 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(10) Michigan State
Minnesota 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(21) Nebraska
Northwestern 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Kansas 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(23) Oklahoma
Indiana 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Penn State 11/22/14 11:00 AM
(14) Eastern Ky 11/22/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
SMU 11/22/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech 11/22/14 11:30 AM
Wake Forest
Washington St 11/22/14 12:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Louisiana Tech 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Old Dominion
Western Mich 11/22/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich
New Mexico 11/22/14 12:30 PM
(22) Colorado State
Eastern Mich 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Appalachian St 11/22/14 1:00 PM
Tulsa 11/22/14 2:00 PM
(15) Arizona 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(20) Utah
FIU 11/22/14 2:30 PM
North Texas
(8) Ole Miss 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Louisville 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Notre Dame
Maryland 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Iowa State
(14) Wisconsin 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Syracuse 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Boston College 11/22/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Georgia State 11/22/14 2:30 PM
Tulane 11/22/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Stanford 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Western Carolina 11/22/14 3:00 PM
(2) Alabama
ULM 11/22/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
So Florida 11/22/14 3:00 PM
Colorado 11/22/14 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 11/22/14 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 11/22/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 11/22/14 6:30 PM
Oklahoma State 11/22/14 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 11/22/14 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 11/22/14 7:00 PM
Boise State 11/22/14 9:15 PM
Oregon State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
Fresno State 11/22/14 9:30 PM
UNLV 11/22/14 10:00 PM
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
TBA 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Webber International 41 FINAL
Florida A&M 52
San Jose St 80 FINAL
UC-Riverside 100
Norfolk State 65 FINAL
Radford 74
Washington Adventist 44 FINAL
Morgan State 66
Alabama State 62 FINAL
Savannah State 71
VA Commonwealth 72 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Southern U 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 91
Monmouth 78 FINAL
Long Island 57
Bethune-Cookman 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 64
St Thomas (TX) 49 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Boston U 56 FINAL
Boston College 73
Clemson 41 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 99
(7) Duke 82 FINAL
Old Dominion 66
Belmont 35 FINAL
(12) Louisville 95
Fla Gulf Coast 69 FINAL
Auburn 72
Florida 66 FINAL
St Johns 72
James Madison 69 FINAL
American Univ 65
Philander Smith 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 76
Tougaloo 59 FINAL
Grambling 98
Virginia 71 FINAL
Xavier 62
Murray State 68 FINAL
Wright State 75
Providence 54 FINAL
Hartford 57
Holy Cross 53 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Northern Ill 50
Detroit 57 FINAL
Ohio U 60
St Bonaventure 58 FINAL
Toledo 64
Mary Washington 59 FINAL
Navy 79
Michigan 64 FINAL
Pittsburgh 85
Davidson 68 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 67
Longwood 50 FINAL
Richmond 80
USC Upstate 69 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 60
(17) West Virginia 61 FINAL
Miss State 74
Concordia-Austin 31 FINAL
TX-Pan American 72
Western Ill 90 FINAL
Chicago State 55
Albany 54 FINAL
Western Ky 63
Drake 60 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 74
Memphis 58 FINAL
Illinois 60
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 51
LSU-Alexandria 70 FINAL
McNeese State 79
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Wisconsin 58
Utah 56 FINAL
Creighton 64
Weber State 71 FINAL
Air Force 53
(10) Texas 87 FINAL
(6) Stanford 81
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Utah State 79
New Mexico St 85 FINAL
Sacramento St 93
South Dakota 82 FINAL
Washington 96
Santa Clara 47 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 33
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 am
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm




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