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.

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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.


St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - D. Fister 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Boston - J. Kelly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
NY Yankees - S. Greene 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Oakland - D. Pomeranz 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 8:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 8:40 PM
Arizona - W. Miley
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 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
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 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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