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

Gophers pregame: Smith wants Coleman, his most versatile player, on the floor

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 17, 2013 - 11:36 AM



Here’s a stat for you, one that you may have heard if you were watching ESPN’s broadcast of the Gophers-Wisconsin game:

Minnesota is 10-1 when Joe Coleman scores in double digits.

Part of that is because Coleman excelled in the non-conference schedule, scoring in double digits in eight of those games.

But it’s no coincidence that Minnesota’s struggles have aligned with Coleman’s – the Gophers miss his scoring, especially with the bench seemingly unable to do much more than tread water against Big Ten competition.

As I wrote in today’s Star Tribune, Coleman is averaging just 6.5 points a game in the last eight, with the notable exception being the Gophers’ last game against Iowa, at home, when Coleman scored 12 (and the Gophers winning).

After the loss against Illinois, coach Tubby Smith briefly toyed with the idea of taking Coleman out of the starting lineup as he contemplated keeping Elliott Eliason – who filled in with Rodney Williams taking a seat with shoulder problems.

Ultimately, he decided to stick with Coleman, who broke into the lineup last season and has been there ever since.

“It was just searching to see what was available and how we could respond or how we could change,” Smith said. “But in that situation, Joe was probably our most versatile player on the court … That’s why I like Joe, he can make things happen for us, just like he did in the game the other day against Wisconsin.”

Coleman didn’t even hit his average on Thursday, but the guard did some other things that indicated he could be turning things around. Coleman grabbed seven rebounds, the most he’s gotten in six games, and his shot selection was more deliberate – shooting 1-for-2 from the field and driving inside to get the foul three times.

In all, Coleman was in the paint – where he does his best work -- with the ball four times (he got to the line three of those times) in the Wisconsin game, a significant upgrade from the previous three games, when he got there a total of just three games.

But Smith made it clear that he wants his guard to be more than a cutter and driver.

“He’s got to shoot that shot because he’s got to take pressure off of the inside,” Smith said. “When people (are on) Mbakwe, [Coleman]’s just got to have the confidence to shoot it. I’m always just telling him just shoot it and just stay out there. He can beat most people off the dribble because he’s usually being guarded by a bigger guy that he’s quicker than, but he just needs to pick the times that he’s going to take the ball off the dribble … I like what he did in the game – attacked the basket, drew the fouls, took the free throws, he made the free throws that was huge to get us into overtime.”

Can Coleman be the guy the Gophers need to notch two in a row?

Other notes from today’s matchup with Iowa:

  • As a reminder: Austin Hollins was the guy to win the first Iowa game, at Williams Arena. The Gophers were tied with the Hawkeyes with 13 seconds remaining and coming out of a timeout with the ball. Hollins quickly got the ball and shot a 3-pointer for the win.
  • Rodney Williams has been dealing with a shoulder injury, and was fouled hard in Thursday’s win over Wisconsin, but is expected to start again tonight.
  • Five of Iowa’s seven Big Ten losses have been by four points or fewer, including the game at Minnesota this season, where they fell, 62-59 on Feb 3.
  • Roy Devyn Marble can be hot or cold, but in the last two games he has been hot. After totaling just two points in the Hawkeyes’ previous two games , Marble has scored 43 in the last two (albeit against Northwestern and Penn State).
  • Aaron White is one of just three Big Ten players to average at least 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. The other two are Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State) and Cody Zeller (Indiana).
  • Free pizza slices will be distributed to the first 1,200 UI students! Now I think that’s just the kind of promotion that could help get the Barn rocking.

Extra points:

*Watch today’s game on Big Ten Network
*Listen to today’s game live on 1500-a.m.
*In today’s Star Tribune: Gophers will need Coleman to finish strong.
*On the blog: Reid Travis recruiting update.
*Gophers notes: Locker room breakdown by Smith was just a spontaneous thing.
*Smith wants the Gophers to simplify things, have fun.
*National notebook: plenty of teams going through mid-season slump.


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 49 3rd Qtr
Cleveland 57
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 43 2nd Half 6:45
Butler 65
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 24 2nd Half
Illinois State 24
Louisville 40 2nd Half
Pittsburgh 30
UMBC 3:40 PM
Niagara 4:00 PM
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 60 FINAL
Xavier 54
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Creighton 84 2nd Half 4:54
Marquette 69
Providence 38 2nd Half 3:00
DePaul 83
Northeastern 60 2nd Half 4:54
Elon 63
Oregon 68 2nd Half 0:33
Arizona 69
Bradley 46 2nd Half 1:14
Loyola-Chicago 41
NC State 41 2nd Half 5:21
(23) Syracuse 57
(7) Maryland 70 2nd Half 5:44
Indiana 56
Illinois State 33 2nd Half 4:50
Missouri State 45
Colorado 29 1st Half 4:15
Washington St 23
Tulane 17 2nd Half
South Florida 33
(14) Kentucky 39 1st Half 1:50
Missouri 34
(9) Oregon State 27 2nd Half
(13) Arizona State 22
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
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