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

Both the Gophers and the Buckeyes are desperate for a win. But are both feeling the same desperation?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: February 20, 2013 - 9:12 AM

 

 

On the day after Ohio State’s 71-49 loss at Wisconsin, the Buckeyes had a great practice, Lenzelle Smith said.

They gutted it out on the floor, they saw a glimpse of who they know they can be, had a “clicker” moment, the junior guard noted. So when the Ohio State came out for practice on Tuesday, the day before the Gophers come to Value City Arena every bit as desperate, the Buckeyes were feeling pretty good.

But that cannot be in Ohio State basketball, where finishing fifth in the Big Ten – where they are currently after losing three of their last four – is unacceptable.

“Coach [Thad] Matta immediately said ‘I don’t know what you guys are feeling good about, you just lost,’” Smith said. “[He said] ‘It’s embarrassing. We’re not going to let this go, we’re going to beat this drum until you guys realize that this can never happen again ever in history.’”

Sound like shocking words from the Ohio State skipper? That’s what this Buckeyes team feeds on.

“I walked in yesterday, made some big plays for our team and I was feeling kind of good you know, going toward this game,” Smith said. “But he grounded me, brought me back and he kind of gave me that extra edge and hunger today and that’s what kept me having a good practice today because I was angry at what happened to us and I didn’t like that feeling.”

Watch out Gophers, this Buckeyes team is angry.

A team that expected to fight with the best, contend for the league title and head into the NCAA tournament on a strong note has suddenly hit a major pothole.

Sound familiar? It should – the Gophers, after dropping seven of their last ten, are every bit as desperate as the Buckeyes.

But are they feeling the same desperation?

Gophers coach Tubby Smith see-saws between being tough on his players and protecting them, and he can’t seem to figure out which way – if at all -- best motivates his bunch. The players, while admitting they need to perform better, often fall to complimenting the other teams while calling themselves “still one of the best in the country,” as Trevor Mbakwe did after Sunday’s loss at Iowa.

Joe Coleman likes to say “that’s just the way it goes” in basketball sometimes. Austin Hollins, after the Gophers’ major breakdown against Iowa’s zone, said the team was prepared but “a few things didn’t go our way.”

On Tuesday, Mbakwe reiterated that the team was “disappointed” and “embarrassed” after such a let down from the Wisconsin game to the Iowa game. But the mood is certainly different than the one that will embody the Scarlet and Gray.

“We’re just looking at it as getting wins – we don’t try to put extra pressure on ourselves,” Andre Hollins said. “There’s always pressure to win, but we don’t put extra pressure to say ‘You’ve got to get it right away’ or something like that … We have to stay mentally tough. We have to stay poistive, because just thinking about the negatives is just going to worsen things, it’s not going to help you at all. So we have to look at it as another opportunity, it’s another day, another day to play basketball, another day to get out to Columbus and have fun.”

And certainly, there’s something to be said for showing up to practice with a light heart and a positive mind after a loss – and looking ahead to a new day. But in Columbus, the new day doesn’t come until the bad day is avenged.

Asked whether Matta seemed angry after the poor stretch, Lenzelle Smith fired back. “Absolutely he’s angry,” he said. ‘I think any winner would be angry at the type of loss that we suffered this past weekend … and if you’re not angry, I question those people that are here and part of this program. If you’re not angry about a loss than you should not be here.

“We not only embarrassed ourselves, we embarrassed our coaching staff, our university, our school president, our university and our fans – we embarrassed everybody. We didn’t answer the call, we didn’t do anything that we’re known to do, we kind of abandoned our principles, offensively, defensively. “

Hearing Smith rattle off a list of people and institutions the Buckeyes embarrassed – the university makes it twice and he falls just short of apologizing to the mascot -- is a little bit of an overkill.

But there’s also something really impressive about accepting such a huge chunk of the blame, not even attempting to make any excuses and acknowledging that these players who are there on scholarship dollars have a responsibility to work to improve their struggling craft.

Their fire to win, to turn things around is obvious. It practically seared through OSU's practice jerseys on Tuesday. The Gophers may need to fight that with a fire of their own, else they get burned.

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 48 3rd Qtr 11:44
Chicago 38
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 34 2nd Half 17:39
Georgia Tech 26
Virginia 33 2nd Half 17:04
Virginia Tech 34
Indiana 25 1st Half 4:00
Ohio State 30
Stony Brook 4 1st Half 15:57
Binghamton 6
Cincinnati 3 1st Half 18:14
UCF 2
Maine 7 1st Half 15:23
Hartford 2
Monmouth 7 1st Half 13:33
Manhattan 11
Fairfield 10 1st Half 15:06
Marist 8
Rowan 8 1st Half 13:20
Princeton 8
St Bonaventure 6 1st Half 16:18
Rhode Island 4
Duke 2 1st Half 18:28
St Johns 3
Saint Peters 13 1st Half 13:07
Siena 10
Drake 2 1st Half 16:17
Wichita State 9
Vermont 8 1st Half 14:02
UMass Lowell 7
Seton Hall 2:00 PM
Butler
NJIT 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
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 34 2nd Half 14:11
UMBC 24
Vanderbilt 37 2nd Half 14:42
Alabama 31
Lafayette 32 2nd Half 15:59
Lehigh 34
Delaware 1:00 PM
Drexel
Towson 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Iona 1:00 PM
Canisius
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Monmouth
UCF 2 1st Half 19:25
SMU 0
Utah 2 1st Half 15:18
Washington 14
James Madison 5 1st Half 17:03
Coll of Charleston 1
Hofstra 6 1st Half 15:10
William & Mary 15
Hartford 3 1st Half 16:23
Albany 4
Binghamton 8 1st Half 16:06
Stony Brook 8
Wake Forest 8 1st Half 16:05
(17) Florida State 13
Georgia Tech 6 1st Half 15:41
Virginia 6
(22) Georgia 2 1st Half 14:38
(5) Tennessee 2
Drake 18 1st Half 12:53
Evansville 12
Northwestern 10 1st Half 14:16
Penn State 8
Wisconsin 10 1st Half 12:57
Michigan State 12
Ohio State 7 1st Half 15:59
Purdue 8
Northern Iowa 2 1st Half 16:05
Indiana State 5
Butler 1:30 PM
Xavier
Creighton 2:00 PM
Marquette
Providence 2:00 PM
DePaul
Northeastern 2:00 PM
Elon
(2) Connecticut 2:00 PM
Cincinnati
Oregon 2:00 PM
Arizona
Bradley 2:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
NC State 2:00 PM
(23) Syracuse
(7) Maryland 2:00 PM
Indiana
Illinois State 2:05 PM
Missouri State
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
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
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
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