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 do the Gophers need to do to beat Michigan? Will Tubby ever change the use of his bench? Are squatches in a different realm?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: January 14, 2013 - 11:36 AM



aMAILia BAG is a weekly installment on this blog where you send me questions and I answer them here. Send your queries to (make sure you sign your email with how you’d like to be mentioned).

Questions below are in bold while my answer are in regular type.

Good morning everyone. It’s been a long week full of travel and highly uncomfortable benches on press row (OK one – at Indiana – but it stuck with me). I’m not hating being back in good ‘ol Minneapolis, but I did discover that Bloomington, IN is my new favorite Big Ten town, despite the over-the-top sells from Madison lovers (we shall see, Madison – it’s your move). Also, what a week of great basketball. I enjoyed every minute of it, but thankfully for me, it’s not ending here – we’ve got quite the matchup vs. (currently) No. 2 Michigan just right around the corner. On that note, let’s get to the questions:

After a tough loss to IU what do the gophers need to do to beat Michigan? How big of a factor will the crowd be?


I can’t wait for this game. I’m interested in seeing a bunch of things --

  • a) How the Gophers respond to their first conference loss of the year and certainly their most disheartening one (with the only other being Duke, of course) after nearly coming back from a 23-point deficit.
  • b) How Michigan responds to their ONLY loss of the year, and weirdly, a very similar one to the Gophers’ after returning from 21. Both teams will be playing with a new ferocity and a loss for either team would be considered a sudden “slide.”
  • c) The atmosphere at the Barn with the Gophers starting out the conference season so successfully. It got pretty loud against Michigan State and Northwestern. What can the fans do when the big, bad Wolverines come to town?

That they get the No. 2 team (which could be changing today) this week presents both a major opportunity to promptly get back on the right track, and also the threat of falling into a two-game slump. Certainly, losing against the top two teams in the conference isn’t a death sentence – but if Minnesota is going to challenge them for the title, they will need to win some games against this competition.

So what are the keys here?

1—Shove off these slow starts. This is quickly becoming a bad habit, but guess what – it is for the Wolverines as well. If the Gophers come out with some fire power and Michigan starts sluggishly, it will be much more difficult for the Wolverines to come back vs. Minnesota’s stingy D. If the Gophers can make their shots early, it allows them to do a lot more things on defense, press if they want to – and with the way Michigan is capable of scoring in bunches, it might be necessary to start out hot just to keep up.

2 – Get out in transition. The Gophers look so much better when they’re running the floor and scoring on the break. Do this please.

3—Limit turnovers. Turnovers have been KILLING the Gophers and played a big role in Minnesota falling so far behind early in the Indiana game. Fifteen-plus is just not acceptable and it’s going to continue to haunt the Gophers if they don’t figure it out.

4—Be aggressive in the paint. On Saturday, the Hoosiers went to the line 40 times vs the Gophers 15. You can attribute some of this to the refs, but not all of it. That’s just really significant, and tough to overcome (particularly if Indiana had done better with its free throws).

5—Defend like crazy. This is a high-powered offense the Gophers are dealing with. Their defense will be tested. My guess is Minnesota will look a lot more air-tight after getting exposed with Indiana’s 65.6 percent shooting in Saturday’s first half.


Will Tubby consider changing the way he utilizes his bench? 1-2 vs. Wholesale.


Everyone loves to ask this, but I highly doubt it. Smith has been doing this for years. And you almost have to analyze around that fact because you know he’s always going to do it. For example, was a key for the Michigan win (above) that Smith limit the number of reserves he has in at a single time? No … because it just won’t happen. I agree with you, but he really likes to do it because he thinks certain teams operate better together because they’re used to playing together.

Hola Ms. Rayno,

Tubby keeps touting this team's depth. Depth is only good if it is playing quality backup minutes, which is not what I've been seeing the past few games. Is the bench really as bad as it's been recently or are they just in a bad stretch?

Jeff (Lino Lakes)

Well, I think one of the main factors here is that Smith is playing his bench much less in general, and with the fewer minutes I think we’re struggling to see players get into the offense at the same level. That said, Smith should not have to play a guy 12 minutes to get some spark out of him – the role of the bench is to be able to come in for short spurts and not allow the lead to crumble and hopefully make a positive effect on the game. Against Indiana, Andre Ingram and Maverick Ahanmisi played a part in one of the Gophers’ first significant runs of the second half. In general, I think those guys have improved individually and as a unit for the most part (particularly Ahanmisi and Oto Osenieks as of late). That said, the “depth” is certainly an area of debate. Those guys have held their own in circumstances, but don’t necessarily validate getting as many minutes as they often do. And if they’re not getting the minutes in chunks, seeing such an overwhelming drop-off in production is a bad sign. Short answer – the bench needs to step it up.

I am surprised you have not mentioned that Ellenson needs to play more, or simply just play. Three reasons for this:

1. He's better than Oto, I know you know this. Oto is supposed to be a good 3pt shooter, maybe he is in practice, but he often looks overwhelmed and frightened to shoot (or do anything) in games, and just airballs like he did today. He played well against MSU, but when proving you have a pulse is the best game of your career to the tune of 4 points and a handful of rebounds I would say he needs to be pushed. Ellenson on the other hand looks fearless, and from the few quotes you have put in the paper he seems pretty desperate to prove himself. Good combination. Ellenson has to be a better shooter (not tough to beat 10 percent) and he is more athletic so at the very least can provide the recent surge of rebounding Oto has decided to provide.

2. We need 3 point shooting. Oto is not providing it, Austin and Andre have been better than expected, but you can never have enough 3 point shooting, and I still think the gophs are missing a pure 3 point shooter that can spot up from anywhere. Ellenson has been advertised as a pure shooter just like Oto was, they need someone to spread things out when the half-court offense gets clogged, which seems to happen a few times a game.

3. I want his brother to come here. I imagine the phone calls home going something like this, "Coach is playing Oto ahead of me, I am a better shooter and more athletic, it makes no sense, but I guess this isn't the first time Tubby has struggled to put the right lineup together." Yikes!

Wow, who are you, Ellenson’s agent? Come on! He’s not only a freshman … he missed almost the entire non-conference schedule. He is, as Smith has constantly reminded us, “way behind” on learning the plays and the system. And he hasn’t proved himself – you don’t get just tossed into the rotation of the nation’s No. 8 team based on one dunk, one free throw and three other makes from the field (compared with 13 attempts, by the way). I do believe that if Ellenson keeps getting minutes and keeps shooting that he’ll figure it out, improve and be a good player for the Gophers. I just don’t think the Big Ten stage is necessarily the place for that sort of experimentation.

That you quickly call him “better than Oto” is baffling to me. Osenieks started out the season slowly, certainly, and the redshirt sophomore isn’t without his limitations, still. But he has improved SIGNIFICANTLY in the past several games (conveniently since Ellenson lost his redshirt). Osenieks waited out his year like Ellenson should have and now Smith trusts him to a degree, based on the experience he’s had the last year and a half. I’m not sure how you “know” that Ellenson is better right now – he certainly was a talented high school player, but this is a different game. And his ceiling isn’t the point; it’s not a matter of who will be a better player in the long run, it’s a matter of who is at the best place right now. That Ellenson is “Fearless and desperate to prove himself“ is not necessarily a great combination. He might be thinking that he wants to prove he belongs in the rotation versus thinking about what is best for the team in that specific play. Ellenson taking shot-after-shot until he finds his touch is NOT in the Gophers’ best interest right now.

Obviously, everyone wants to get Henry Ellenson at the U, and I think that played a big role in Smith agreeing to not redshirt Wally. But he can only work with that family so much. No one should expect him to throw an unseasoned freshman into a team that is cruising so smoothly.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Ellenson has plenty of talent, and will grow into a good player for the Gophers. But you don’t get to miss the non-conference season and pop into the No. 8 team’s rotation in the middle of the toughest stretch of the season unless you’re a game-changing four-or-five-star recruit. And Ellenson is not yet that.

Why are the #gophers so much better in the second half? Outscored NU, Msu, UI, and now IU after halftime


That the Gophers have done that shows two things: Firstly, it’s a trend and not a good one. Secondly, they have been able to adapt, even if it’s not as quickly as desired. That’s another one of those differences between this year’s squad and last year’s. However, taking that long to adjust to defenses (particularly zones) has caused the Gophers some unnecessary stress this season, and certainly the game on Saturday. Why they’re taking so long to get to that point (they attacked the zone pretty well against Indiana in the second half) is hard to say, other than that you hope the neurons fire quicker and quicker as the year goes on. But Minnesota isn’t necessarily unique in that. They have a lot of young guards that are still learning the game. Michigan (see above) has done this in several games this year as well.

How does losing to No. 5 team affect their national standings? #Gophers


Well, it’s not just the Gophers here – you’ve got to look at the teams surrounding them. No. 3 Arizona, No. 1 Duke, No. 12 Illinois and No. 14 (?) Mizzou all lost this week as well. The Gophers might be dropped a spot or two, but it would surprise me if it were more than that. After all, the only two teams Minnesota has lost to this season are the only two teams who have been at No. 1. As far as losses go, those are as strong as you get.

Hi Amelia,

I have a recruiting question I would like your opinion about. There is so much talk about getting players like Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis to enroll at Minnesota. They are very good players, but is it better to recruit kids who will stay in school or kids that will stay a year or two and then turn pro? Isn’t it harder to build a consistent program when your team turns over ever couple years?

Thanks, Mark

That’s never been much of an issue at Minnesota because the Gophers just aren’t getting the caliber of players that would turn over the roster in any dramatic way. So worrying about that with one set of players is silly – if the Gophers can get any/all of those guys, they should jump up and down on a couch like Tom Cruise did when Katie Holmes agreed to marry him. They like me! They like me! They want to ACTUALLY be with me! That would be the mentality. All getting superb, NBA-bound players does is turn the pressure up to continue to recruit well (and that’s a pretty good tool for that, by the way) … but that’s a conversation not worth having until the Gophers actually have a player leave early, you know, this century.


What is a group of squatches called? Herd?


… You’ve got me there. A happy family? Big but invisible? Frightening as hell? Other than that, I don’t know.

Have you heard of this theory before?

One fringe theory, supported by paranormal investigator Jon-Erik Beckjord, theorizes that the lack of hard evidence supporting Bigfoot's existence may be due to the creature being an interdimensional being that slips in and out of dimensions.

Casey O’Rourke

I have heard all about that theory, and there were some Native American tribes who subscribed to that thinking as well (to explain their elusiveness), but I’m not buying it. I want a real, solid, huge animal in this dimension. Squatches aren't magic – they’re smart.


Minnesota 17 3rd Qtr 2:30
Miami 14
Baltimore 7 3rd Qtr 11:10
Houston 16
Detroit 10 4th Qtr
Chicago 14
Cleveland 6 3rd Qtr 1:30
Carolina 10
Atlanta 20 3rd Qtr 0:35
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 13 4th Qtr 10:19
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 6 3rd Qtr 0:34
Pittsburgh 17
New England 10 4th Qtr 14:06
NY Jets 13
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Seattle 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 2:30 PM
Memphis 3:30 PM
Boston 5:00 PM
Detroit 5:00 PM
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Indiana 6:00 PM
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Dallas 5:00 PM
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 66 1st OT 0:56
Army 68
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 64 1st OT 0:31
Cleveland State 66
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 68 2nd Half 1:52
Central Arkansas 51
Holy Cross 23 2nd Half 15:01
Canisius 33
Southern Miss 35 2nd Half 12:42
Georgia State 44
Western Carolina 29 2nd Half 17:05
UNC-Asheville 38
Creighton 24 2nd Half 15:56
North Texas 46
Maryland 47 2nd Half 15:27
Oklahoma State 34
Cornell 38 2nd Half 16:47
Radford 43
Vermont 34 2nd Half 12:05
Saint Louis 35
Loyola-Maryland 35 2nd Half 14:46
Stony Brook 37
Reinhardt 38 2nd Half 17:44
Winthrop 52
Ark-Little Rock 34 2nd Half 11:55
Green Bay 48
TX-Pan American 35 2nd Half 16:36
Nebraska Omaha 49
Alabama State 49 2nd Half 20:00
Evansville 47
FIU 31 2nd Half
Hartford 42
Goshen 22 1st Half 2:07
Valparaiso 32
Bryant 2 1st Half 15:32
Denver 4
Austin Peay 4 1st Half 14:22
Lipscomb 9
Tennessee St 0 1st Half 16:00
Middle Tennessee 11
South Dakota 4 1st Half 18:10
Montana 4
ULM 2:25 PM
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Troy 3:30 PM
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
Duquesne 56 2nd Half 0:47
Providence 63
(3) Texas 53 2nd Half 7:45
(4) Texas A&M 57
Rhode Island 56 2nd Half 2:02
Bryant 51
South Florida 37 2nd Half
Penn State 34
Sam Houston St 28 2nd Half 16:01
TCU 48
Evansville 29 2nd Half 16:30
(14) Maryland 66 2nd Half 16:48
Coppin State 27
Mercer 37 2nd Half 13:57
Coll of Charleston 49
NC A&T 17 2nd Half
Chattanooga 32
Princeton 52 2nd Half 15:21
Monmouth 32
Eastern Illinois 56 2nd Half 12:06
Lehigh 50
Rider 41 2nd Half 14:36
Binghamton 37
SC State 24 2nd Half 15:34
Clemson 35
Fairfield 39 2nd Half 14:46
Iowa State 45
Richmond 58 2nd Half 11:18
Eastern Kentucky 37
Cleveland State 52 2nd Half 10:56
Morehead St 52
Kent State 35 2nd Half 15:43
Colgate 33
South Alabama 21 2nd Half 10:33
UAB 60
Saint Peters 22 2nd Half 14:27
Navy 46
Youngstown St 31 2nd Half 13:10
Pittsburgh 48
NJIT 28 2nd Half
Lafayette 34
Davidson 15 2nd Half 16:04
Charlotte 47
Indiana State 19 1st Half 8:06
St Johns 17
Southern U 16 1st Half 3:33
Florida 36
Wright State 16 2nd Half
Purdue 31
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
(19) Oklahoma St 4 1st Half 13:39
USC 11
Houston 7 1st Half 12:25
Texas Tech 7
Ark-Little Rock 6 1st Half 15:55
Tulsa 5
Dayton 5 1st Half 15:07
Vanderbilt 10
Northern Ariz 5 1st Half 16:18
New Mexico 2
UNC-Asheville 8 1st Half 15:28
USC Upstate 4
North Dakota 4 1st Half 15:53
South Dakota 10
Western Ill 11 1st Half 14:02
Marquette 8
Ball State 3 1st Half 18:53
Western Ky 2
(8) Kentucky 4 1st Half 15:25
(13) Duke 13
New Orleans 6 1st Half 14:45
Alabama 14
Chicago State 6 1st Half 14:36
Milwaukee 11
Bowling Green 7 1st Half 16:07
Bradley 2
Northern Ill 4 1st Half 15:38
Northern Iowa 7
(23) Iowa 0 1st Half 20:00
Drake 0
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Idaho State 3:00 PM
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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Gophers Football 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 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




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