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 excited to show fans first glimpse of Pitino ball

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players, Richard Pitino Updated: October 28, 2013 - 9:15 PM

It’s going to take some time for us to get a full picture of how quickly and adequately the team has picked up coach Richard Pitino’s new offensive system.

Can the Gophers turn perceived strengths – running and shooting, which are the pillars of a run-and-gun style – into actual strengths? Can they have enough balance to execute in the half court and under the boards as well as in transition? Can this system work immediately with this group of players?

Those are all questions that won’t be answered, at least in full, more a while.

Our first glimpses – against opponents that aren’t teammates – however, begin later this week.

Monday’s media day featured excitement across the board,  both from players, who are getting “sick” of playing against each other and Pitino, who says his squad is in tip-top shape and eager to improve as the Gophers barrel toward the exhibition opener against Cardinal Stritch on Friday.

Pitino hasn’t named a starting rotation yet – and may tinker long past Friday, saying that the first exhibition’s opening five might not be indicative of what he does the rest of the non-conference schedule, and the season.

“I may try to do something different just because we have an opportunity to kind of dabble with that a little bit,” the coach said. “It changes every week. Guys may have a good practice, somebody may not have a good practice. I think it’s probably not beneficial for our basketball team if I say this is the starting five because certain guys may get discouraged and they want to work their way into the starting lineup. So it changes week by week, opponent by opponent as well.”

But as far as where the team is as a whole at this point is encouraging, Pitino said.

“I love the new energy the coaching staff has brought here,” Andre Hollins said. “That just fits perfectly with our new style of play. Because you have to have energy to do it. We press all the time, we’re running up and down the floor. And that is going to make us difficult to play again, because we practice that way every day. I love this style. It’s a different philosophy; I had a hard time grasping it at first. But right now I’m liking it a lot.”

Florida International transfer Malik Smith, the only player who has experienced Pitino’s system live said that the Gophers are picking up the new style much quicker than his FIU bunch did a year ago, noting that traps – perfecting them and knowing when to execute them – are still posing the biggest challenge.

“We didn’t have the amount of talent that we have here,” Smith said. “Around this time last year at FIU, we were still putting things, putting new things in. We pretty much have all of our offense in right now and everybody’s picking it up just fine.”

Other quick notes from today:

  • All said and done, Mo Walker has lost 60 pounds. The physical transformation is striking. The big man said he often gets mistaken for redshirt freshman Charles Buggs at a distance now.
  • Buggs, on the other hand, has gained a total of about 20. He and Walker have been on campus since May, working out together, albeit doing very different things.
  • Walk-on Jasen Baranowski is officially on the Gophers roster. Said Pitino of the guard: “We really threw him into the fire, just said get in there and kind of saw what he could do. He’s been playing well, but then he hurt his shoulder, so he hasn’t been going as much. He’s a great kid, good addition to the program, understands what this is all about, loves playing the game, so he’ll help us.”
  • The most improved player of the offseason? That award goes to walk-on Kendall Shell. “By far,” Pitino said. “When I took the job, he was light years away from anything. He was bad. I tell him all the time, he was not a great player. And he’s lost 25-30 pounds. Everyone talks about Mo, but Kendall’s in probably the best shape of anyone on the team. He comes to work every day.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 3rd Prd 3:47
Edmonton 2
San Jose 4 3rd Prd
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 1st OT 0:04
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT