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: Trying to keep the good things going at Nebraska

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 6, 2013 - 5:24 PM

There aren’t many games left before the Big Dance, so tweaking and gaining momentum is as important as anything.

Winning, of course, is at the top of the list, but considering the competition the Gophers will have for the next three games (two in the regular season, one in the Big Ten tourney), three more consecutive wins are probable.

Other things the Gophers need to work on until then:

Get the ideal lineup set in stone: Coach Tubby Smith has hinted that he’ll start the same lineup from senior day against Penn State (Austin Hollins, Julian Welch, Rodney Williams, Andre Ingram, Trevor Mbakwe) again tonight vs. Nebraska because he liked its size and effectiveness. I think in the least, he’ll start Julian Welch in place of Joe Coleman. But now is the time when the Gophers need to get a solid feel for whatever their tournament lineup is going to be. I agree that some change is probably good, but I don’t think Ingram – however good he’s played in the last couple games – belongs there with Andre Hollins sitting on the bench. Whatever direction Minnesota wants to go, however, they need to start using it and getting comfortable with it now.

Making the good ball-handling a trend: The Gophers have had consecutive games with just a few turnovers before – when they played Wisconsin on the road (9) and Nebraska at home (6), but they didn’t keep that trend alive past that. Smith has said he thinks the turnover issue has become a mental thing toward the end of the year, with guys almost expecting to lose the ball. Now that the Gophers have limited their miscues to just 10 in each of the last two games, both victories, making it a longer trend would really be a confidence boost going forward.

Solidify the rotation: Who is coming off the bench when? What are the Gophers’ best combinations? The Gophers’ substitutions in the Indiana game were methodical and effective and used only a portion of the bench. In a blowout against Penn State, Smith was able to use a long bench and spread the minutes around. But heading down the stretch, a return to some order could only give the team some much-needed continuity.

Trevor Mbakwe establishing himself as THE leader: This is it. We’ve been waiting for this all season, and talking about leadership as some vague, missing fact on this team. We’ve talked about Andre Hollins as a leader, Rodney Williams and Mbakwe, all in that role. But it’s the end of the year now, and it’s still someone unclear who is the one to motivate the team, to holler for that last shot, gather the troops and stop the bleeding. But Williams has been inconsistent, and has dealt with some shoulder soreness that may or may not still be bothering him. Hollins’ role is changing more than ever, meaning that his impact may be in flux. Mbakwe has had two consecutive monster game and he’s (dramatically) the oldest. The yoke falls on his shoulders now, and there’s no more time for experimentation or unselfishness in that department – it’s time for Trevor to take the reins, once and for all.

Learn how to force their game: We all know where the Gophers make their meal ticket: on the boards and in transition. If they can play like the up-tempo, athletic team they are – and avoid the half-court setting as much as possible -- they can be very successful a la Indiana. But it doesn’t always come naturally. The Gophers need to learn to force their will and dictate the pace and style of game.

Get some outside shots falling: They can fall back on this when they do wind up in the half-court set. But while the Gophers have been a little more consistent from around the perimeter, their 3-point percentage has still been pretty lackluster (making nine of 37 attempts for 24 percent in the last two games). Austin Hollins, who has been in a bit of a shooting slump is a big part of that. The only thing they can do is keep putting them up there.

Other notes on tonight’s game:

  • Tonight is a homecoming for Elliott Eliason, who is originally from Chadron, Nebraska. He expects a lot of friends and family in attendance.
  • Eliason had a bit of a sore throat on Monday, but is expected to play. Smith has also been dealing with a sore throat, but should be fine.
  • Wednesday is senior night for Nebraska, and the last game the Huskers will play at the Bob Devaney Center with the brand new Pinnacle Bank Arena set to open next season. Nebraska will honor its three seniors: Andre Almeida, Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel.
  • Last time around, the Gophers walloped Nebraska to the tune of 84-65, with Williams having his best game of the season and notching a Big Ten scoring high with 23 points. But Ray Gallegos was a true bright spot for the Huskers, lighting the Gophers up for 30 points on six 3-pointers. You can bet Gallegos will be a focus for the Gophers tonight. The guard is coming off another big performance – leading all players with 23 points in Nebraska’s close loss to Illinois, and hitting, again, six 3-pointers. More notes on the matchup here.
  • The Huskers played a defensive zone against the Gophers for significant stretches the last time around. With Nebraska not quite as skilled in its zone as, say, Iowa, the Gophers were able to penetrate it. Have the Huskers improved in that regard? They will likely try to use that strategy once more to slow Minnesota down.

Extra points:

*Tonight’s game is on Big Ten Network
*Listen to tonight’s game live on 1500 a.m. I’ll be on at 6:30 with Tom Pelissero previewing the game.
*In today’s Star Tribune: simplifying the offense will help the Gophers
*Smith could be starting Julian Welch and Andre Ingram tonight.
*On the blog: Gophers probably safe for the NCAA tournament no matter what.
*This week’s aMAILia BAG.
*How would a Gophers tie in the Big Ten be solved?



Toronto 1 Top 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 1
Washington 0 Top 2nd Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 7 1st Qtr 3:09
Buffalo 0
Dallas 0 1st Qtr 0:45
St. Louis 7
Washington 7 1st Qtr 4:24
Philadelphia 7
Houston 0 1st Qtr 1:20
NY Giants 0
Minnesota 0 1st Qtr 4:50
New Orleans 13
Tennessee 0 1st Qtr 2:02
Cincinnati 3
Baltimore 3 1st Qtr 3:15
Cleveland 7
Green Bay 0 1st Qtr 4:45
Detroit 7
Indianapolis 10 1st Qtr 1:50
Jacksonville 0
Oakland 3 1st Qtr 4:37
New England 0
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Denver 3:25 PM
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Columbus 12:30 PM
Buffalo 4:00 PM
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
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
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(22) Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 0 7:30
Montreal 0
Ottawa 3:00 PM
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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.X24-7
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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