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 in the starting lineup vs. Lafayette

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: December 22, 2012 - 3:32 PM

Tonight’s game is really kind of a tease, isn’t it?

Gophers fans have suffered through an 11-day break, only to get treated to just one game (against Lafayette) before another extended layoff.

Will the Big Ten season ever be here?

But the fact is, while Lafayette shouldn’t give the 11-1 Gophers much competition, there could in fact be something very exciting to see tonight, and that is Trevor Mbakwe in the starting lineup.

Coach Tubby Smith said yesterday that he was considering inserting the sixth-year senior (finally) into the starting five in the near future, but he wouldn’t say whether he meant tonight vs. Lafayette or for the start of Big Ten play, against Michigan State on New Years Eve. But logic would have it that Smith would want to see his conference lineup in action before the league schedule starts. Tonight’s game could be a good test run for the lineup of the future without as much pressure as a first go-round against, say, Michigan State would carry.

If Mbakwe is in the starting lineup tonight, he would most likely play at center, replacing Elliott Eliason, who has struggled offensively for most of the season. That would keep Rodney Williams at power forward, where he has excelled this season.

We’ll have to see whether it actually happens come game time.

Other notes on tonight’s game:

  • Smith said yesterday that he anticipates Wally Ellenson getting another chance to get his feet wet against Lafayette, but the coach isn’t jumping to insert the freshman into a concrete spot in the rotation just yet. In fact, he seemed to somewhat belie the idea of taking away his redshirt in the first place. “Wally has a lot to learn,” he said. “He’s missed 11 games, he’s way behind in that regard as far as knowing the plays and once you get out there now, it’s got to become instinct, you’ve got to know it so well, because other guys have had such a head start on him, it’s just been tough. And he’s had tough practices because of it. But we’ve been playing him with the first group some because those guys know it pretty well – but everybody knows the plays really well. But again, he hasn’t been on the court and hasn’t been doing much. So hopefully he gets a chance to play. That’s something we said from the beginning, we knew it was going to be tough getting minutes.”
  • Lafayette has played against some good competition this season (Kentucky, Maryland), but has also lost to some really bad competition as well. The Leopards are on a two-game winning streak, but are 5-8 overall.
  • Head coach Fran O’Hanlon has used five different starting lineups this year, most often going with Tony Johnson, Joey Ptasinski, Seth Hinrichs, Levi Giese and Dan Trist.
  • The Leopards have three players scoring between 11 and 15 points, including leader Trist, who is averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 rebounds a game.

Extra points:

*Tonight’s game is on Big Ten Network.
*You can listen to tonight’s game live on 1500-a.m.
*From today’s Star Tribune: a report card for the Gophers through this point in the year.
*On the blog: Is Mbakwe starting tonight?
*Check out a matchup preview here.


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
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