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Continued: Gophers centers push to make each other improve

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 4, 2014 - 11:57 PM

The Wolverines were without All-America center Mitch McGary (back) on Thursday, and Glenn Robinson III injured his left ankle early in the second half. But the tests get tougher with Hammons, who had 14 points and six rebounds in a Purdue victory over the Gophers last March.

Pitino said he thinks the competition, both on game nights and in practice, will pay off. Trying to demonstrate this point to his big men, he wrote the name “Casey Prather” on the white board before practice a couple of weeks ago. Prather is a starting senior forward for No. 12 Florida, but in the second year Pitino was a Gators assistant under Billy Donovan, Prather barely played.

“He had a long way to go, but he went against Chandler Parsons [now with the Houston Rockets] every single day, and Chandler made him better,” Pitino said. “Not as quickly as people would like, but he’s very good four years down the road.”

Now that competitive fire is doing the same for the Gophers centers. A few weeks back, after a particularly strong individual instruction for Walker, Pitino warned Eliason that his teammate could steal his starting spot.

“Elliott came right back and had a phenomenal practice,” Pitino said. “So it just showed, those two guys are making each other better.”

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