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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Mbakwe needs to be the leader if this team is to be successful ... and he knows it

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 13, 2013 - 3:10 PM



Trevor Mbakwe’s attitude after Gophers practice today was refreshing.

He took ownership. He accepted responsibility. He talked about playing harder, and better, starting with him.

He sounded like a leader.

“I have to play better,” he said. “It’s been inconsistent with me this year and these last couple weeks. I’ve been trying to be more aggressive. … We have to take it to a whole [new] level and it starts with me personally.”

It was refreshing because for most of the season, we’ve heard the Gophers talk about depth and balance. We’ve heard them say they don’t have a go-to guy – because it could be anyone – and that their plan is to feed whoever’s hot.

But the “Team of Equals” theme has left the Gophers as a struggling team with no one on the hook. Yes, they all need to produce and contribute. But they also need an inspiration, someone to call them out individually, someone to set a tone of dissatisfaction.

And in their moments of collapse, in their apparent panic, in their highs and lows -- both on the court and off -- leadership has been a big problem.

Heck, their inability to lead themselves has gotten their coach acting like he got stuck with the group of middle schoolers in a high school tournament.

Asked whether he wants to see the team find a leader, find the guy who will take responsibility and step up, Tubby Smith responded:

“We don’t have that one guy. We’ve been looking for him, but we don’t have that one guy. That’s why it has to be a total team effort. If we did, trust me, we’d be using that one guy. If I had a Carmelo Anthony or if I had somebody like Trey Burke, if we had somebody like that. We’ve tried in many different ways. Andre Hollins is probably the one that will give us the most versatility, but that’s about it.”

But whether Smith wants to say it, it does start with Mbakwe. He can’t be the only one, but he can be the intense, consistent, experienced presence.

The sixth-year senior seems to have hit a new stride in the last few weeks, contributing 49 points and 31 rebounds in the previous three games leading up to the finale at Purdue before getting six and 10, respectively, in that game.

“I didn’t play well at Purdue and we lost, and I have to play better if we want to win games,” Mbakwe said. “Everybody has to play at that level, but I hold myself accountable.”

That’s just the attitude the Gophers need heading into the postseason.

Other quick notes from today’s coach and player availability:

  • Asked whether Smith planned to switch up the lineup at all (perhaps starting Maverick Ahanmisi or Julian Welch at point with Joe Coleman off the bench, as the Gophers have used in in-game situations recently), Smith indicated he would stand pat. “We’ve tried a lot of different weapons. We’ve played everybody in every game just about, so they’ve had plenty of opportunties. We’ve just got to find the right button to push in the game. Starting, in my opinion, is not a big deal, the big deal is who’s performing at the clutch time, crunch time when we need them to perform.”
  • Regarding Rodney Williams, and what the key to unlocking the senior’s potential might be, Smith said: “I’ve been trying for four years. I think it’s just staying focused, just playing as hard as he can play, every minute and every second on the court. Not taking any time off, just every possession’s got to be all out. I think that’s it. We always tell guys, you can just play harder – that’s the key, just play as hard as you can play.”
  • Smith said he’s trying to keep any pressure off this team as they head into the Big Ten tournament, stating that the Gophers have “had trouble responding to pressure. … There are a lot of different ways to approach it, as far as what we say about ‘now or never.’ We try to say, Look, it’s another opportunity for us. It’s a chance for us to improve and get better and that’s about the way I approach it. “
  • When it comes to his two seniors (Mbakwe and Williams) that have been at Minnesota and in major roles the longest, Smith said the pair will need to overachieve if the team is to have success. “I’d like to see it,” he said. “I think they’re trying. I think they’re giving us their best effort. It is what it is. I don’t think they haven’t tried to play better. It’s just – we all have limitations. And at this point in time, you’ve got to overachieve. And if they’re willing to overachieve, we’ll have a good run.”


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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Gophers Football 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 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon




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