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 postgame: Keeping intensity from Indiana win was key in making it two vs. Penn State

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 4, 2013 - 10:18 AM

Check out my game story here. And notebook here.

In many ways, the Gophers’ game today vs. lowly Penn State was every bit as important as Tuesday’s win over No. 1 Indiana.

One could argue even more important.

For the win over the Hoosiers to mean anything, it has to be a part of something larger – Minnesota picking up the pieces and actually improving. They’ll likely get into the NCAA tournament regardless, but keeping the momentum heading there is another story.

No, Saturday’s matinee wasn’t exactly the most exciting game the Gophers have had all year, but it was critical in several ways:

They showed continuity after an emotional win: The Gophers didn’t come out flat. They didn’t take Penn State for granted. They focused on the fact that they would be veryVERY embarrassed if they had let this one slip. And in a game where both teams were subject to an emotional letdown, that role was all Penn State’s. Coach Tubby Smith had been vocal about his team’s propensity to get too high and too low with the year’s fluctuations – that the Gophers maintained their focus shows a real awareness on their part.

They kept their intensity, even after beating Penn State down quickly: I won’t make too much of this because the Nittany Lions actually played quite poorly. But the Gophers’ defense did have something to do with Penn State’s cold shooting. And after taking a 16-0 lead to start, it would have been easy to relax a little. The Gophers didn’t do that, keeping their own game at a high level throughout, even though they could have easily gotten away with a sloppier performance.

They gave the first hint that they may have actually improved in the turnover realm: Minnesota has held turnovers to ten in each of the last two games – not a easily dismissed statistic for a crew that has struggled with ball handling all year. The Gophers have had consecutive “good” turnover games before – against Wisconsin and Nebraska. Is this destined, like that streak to end or has something finally clicked with this team? Smith says he thinks the flex offense the Gophers are using is helping with that.

Trevor Mbakwe seems to have hit a new stride: Two games, two big performances, and the aggressiveness doesn’t seem to be fading. The sixth-year senior muscled in the paint for 13 points and 13 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the year. Again, yes, it’s Penn State, but considering that Mbakwe hadn’t had consecutive games scoring in double digits since mid January, it’s a good sign.

Shooting is going in an upward direction: After five consecutive games with shooting percentages in the 30s and 20s, the Gophers shots are finally falling. They still have plenty of room to improve from the outside (Minnesota shot just 29 percent from 3-point range, but 50 percent from the field), but the trend is still positive.

Other notes tonight’s 73-44 win:

  • Smith has been dealing with a sore throat for the past couple of days, and had a hoarse voice on Saturday. “I’m just a little bit under the weather today,” he said. “I need to go home and go to bed.”
  • Smith started all four seniors (Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Andre Ingram and Julian Welch) today to acknowledge senior day and got solid production from each. Welch hit a season highs in both points (10) and assists (7) and Andre Ingram scored more points (4) than he has since the Gophers third game of the Big Ten schedule, against Northwestern.
  • Said Smith on Welch: “It’s always tough when you’re a senior and a junior college transfer and the expectations were to play a lot more. But he showed a lot of character in stepping up today. I’ve got a lot more confidence in him now.”
  • Rodney Williams had a highlight-worthy dunk in the first half, taking a poorly tossed lob from Welch and snagging it with his left hand to throw it in the basket. The amount of time he stayed aloft to do so is just somewhat insane. Watch the replay of his alley-oop here.
  • Smith often doesn’t acknowledge dunks when we ask him about them afterwards, but the coach wouldn’t deny seeing this one. “I think he caught it with his left hand which was amazing, because he was going this way and reaching back,” Smith said, noting Williams was coming from the right, and the pass came to the left of the basket. “But Rodney, he’s spectacular when it comes to that stuff. He just has another gear that most athletes don’t have.”
  • Smith on senior day: “I tell them all the time about the relationships you build with your teammates, it’s not about the bricks and mortar all that, but the things that will sustain you for the rest of your life. I know I still talk to former players. They have a chance to leave a good legacy, 20 wins, they’ve been ranked high before, toughest schedule in the country. We’ll get into the playoffs and we’ll see how it goes.”
  • The student section started chanting “One more year” to Mbakwe in the last minutes of the game. The sixth-year senior laughed afterward. “I don’t know – I guess I’d have to sprain an ankle or something to get another year by the NCAA,” he said.
  • Mbakwe on his final appearance at the Barn: “It’s crazy looking back, thinking I started this at Marquette and I was able to finish off here in my hometown. It’s been special. I think everything happens for a reason. Obviously I had some tough things that happened, but I was able to bounce back and hopefully I’ll be able to finish the season and my career out on a high note.”



Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - A. Webster 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Washington - D. Fister 6:10 PM
Miami - T. Koehler
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent 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.
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




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question