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

Osenieks improvement the results of new coach, new system, new confidence

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers coaches, Gophers players, Richard Pitino Updated: November 21, 2013 - 11:50 AM

Every player goes through their own process when a coach is fired, and a new coach goes in.

Andre Hollins, for one, described the coaching search, back in April, as his parents walking out, and a little while later, new parents walking in.

For Oto Osenieks, the change from former coach Tubby Smith to new coach Richard Pitino has meant a new start.

Through four games, Osenieks’ point average has jumped from 2.2 a game to nine points a game. Part of that comes from the 6-8 forward averaging 14-plus more minutes a game, but part of it is Osenieks simply looking the best (by far) that he has looked in maroon and gold.

He’s playing with confidence.

“I feel more free,” Osenieks said. “It’s the system, positive coaching. I just feel better as a player under coach Pitino … He’s just really positive. And coach Smith, they’re both really great coaches. But I can relate more to coach Pitino because, I guess, he’s younger.”

That comfortableness on the court is showing. With five three-pointers, Osenieks has already more than doubled his entire total from a year ago (two) and after just 7.7 percent of his attempts from behind the arc then – a stunning number – Osenieks has made 41.7 percent this season, the best of any Gophers player with at least 10 minutes.

It’s coming as the pressure for him to make threes is effectively gone. Pitino has made it clear that he wants players to shoot when they are open, and doesn’t worry about the outcome. What he is much more worried about is a players’ effort in the other things – rebounding, defense, taking charges, going after loose balls.

Those areas are where Pitino sees the real improvement, seeing aspects in him and fellow power forward Joey King that he wants his team to embody, as a whole.

“Those guys were fighting for every rebound possible, they were trying to defend,” Pitino said. “Regardless of if you come in off the bench, if you start, if we can get 8, 9, 10, 11 guys doing that, then I think we’re kind of where we want to be as a system.”

But tonight in the Gophers’ game vs. Wofford, that challenge only becomes greater.

With Joey King out due to a fractured jaw, Minnesota’s frontcourt is down to two bodies, essentially (Charles Buggs is also available, but he has only played a total of six minutes). Center Mo Walker still has two games remaining in his six-game suspension for violating university policy. Minnesota’s interior defense has been worrisome as it is, with the Gophers struggling to scramble out of their press once teams beat it, and to stop opponents at the rim.

Against Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, the Gophers had their worst defensive game of the season, allowing the Chanticleers to convert an effective field goal percentage of 60.2 (their previous high on the year had been 44.1).

Whether the Gophers are able to rebound from that performance will heavily involve the effectiveness of Osenieks. This year, he has the confidence to believe he can make that difference.

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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
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(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
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Louisiana Tech
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Georgia Tech
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(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
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(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
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(12) Baylor
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Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
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Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
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Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
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Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
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Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
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Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
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(25) UCLA
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Ohio U
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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 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 TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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