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

Break beneficial for players needing individual work, Smith says

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: December 17, 2012 - 7:08 PM

 Playing one game in 19 days can be looked at two ways: as much needed rest and opportunities for tinkering – or as a chance for a hot, 11-1 team to cool down.

But for this team, I think the break is welcomed: both as a chance to renew themselves and as an opportunity to get more specific in their practices.

Gophers coach Tubby Smith said that during the off-time so far, the team has been mostly working on basic fundamentals and going over offensive plays and defensive schemes. But the staff has been able to work more thoroughly with individual players as well on things that each need help with.

“We’ve played 12 games already, so it was always game preparation and not a whole lot of drill work,” Smith said. “So we’ve spent some time in the last couple days working on individual fundamentals for each player.”

Smith noted in particular that the break so far has been beneficial for Mo Walker – who has only played 16 minutes in the last three games and has struggled to keep up with the up-tempo squad – and freshman Wally Ellenson, who played for the first time a week ago against North Dakota State after having his redshirt pulled.

“He’s been looking good in practice and doing some things,” Smith said. “He didn’t really get any practices in hardly up until he got his cast off and his hand healed. Now he’s playing better.”

Other notes from today’s media access:

  • Ellenson looked nervous – and rightfully so – in his first appearance last Tuesday, but that initial outing was good for him, Smith said. “He’s learning to play,” he said. “He missed all that time so he’s still trying to grasp offense and our defense. He knows it pretty well but he’s just kind of a natural, he’s just a very gifted athlete and he’ll continue to get his strength and get his wind and that just takes getting on the court and getting minutes. But he probably does have a bounce in his step. His legs are alive and he’s playing extremely well in practice.”
  • Austin Hollins pulled a muscle in his groin against USC on Dec. 7th and Smith said the guard has been limited in practices. Hollins downplayed the injury, saying he fine. “He’s a tough kid,” Smith said.
  • Trevor Mbakwe said he hopes to get his brace taken off in the next few week, and that he and the team will be experimenting with how much he can play without it in the meantime. “We’re going to start taking it day by day – some practices going without it and just taking small steps of not playing with it,” he said. “I’m excited to get it over with. I know a lot of people are always concerned when I’m reaching on it and pulling it back during games.”
  • Asked how badly he wanted to start considering his competitive personality, Mbakwe paused a beat, but responded: “I don’t know about starting, I just want the minutes. I’m happy with where I’m at. It’s not something – I don’t care much about starting. Coach always says you want to be the guy that’s in the last five minutes of the game, that’s who you trust and I’d rather be in the last five minutes of the game rather than starting the first five and being that second wave type of guy. That’s more my goal.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT