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.


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
UNLV 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
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
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
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
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
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pm
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




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