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

aMAILiaBAG: Is Dre Hollins still hurting? What will it take for Michigan to lose? Plus, my thoughts on facial hair, banana runts and my alternative dream jobs

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 5, 2014 - 2:03 PM

To submit questions for a future mailbag, email me at amelia.rayno@startribune.com or tweet me @AmeliaRayno.

Thanks for your questions. I'll just jump right in.

@MNfan4ever: @AmeliaRayno What has happened to Dre's scoring since he's come back from injury? Seems to have lost his aggressiveness on offense.

I wondered if we would see a long, slow recovery from him. Remember when Hollins tweaked his other ankle back in his freshman year? It took him forever to "get right" again, and then it was like a switch flipped. 

This time around, I was a little surprised the Gophers' staff rushed him back as quickly as they did -- even with the consecutive losses at Nebraska and against Northwestern. At this point, I think it's mostly a mental issue -- Hollins not trusting his ankle as much as he probably should -- but it does seem to be affecting his aggressiveness somewhat. Perhaps the rest this week will help him, psychologically and physically.

@billfehlberg: @AmeliaRayno Beat Penn St. then Gophs need 2 tournament games, or help from other bubble teams. Right?

Two tournament games I'd say to feel very safe. But I think one will sneak them in with their RPI, strength of schedule and good wins.

@cfesler33: @AmeliaRayno What will it take for a team to beat Michigan in the B1G tourney?

After watching the Wolverines dismantle Illinois in ruthless fashion last night, I'm tempted to back off this a little, but really, I don't think any team is invincible in the tournament. With so many back-to-back games, and so many teams playing for their tournament lives, we could see some crazy things. Michigan's biggest challenge will be not to sit back on its heels after wrapping up the regular-season title and a strong seed in the Big Dance. From what Michigan writers are reporting, however, I don't see that happening. The Wolverines have big goals.

@rudek14: @AmeliaRayno thoughts on banana runts.

You know, I don't think I'd write a sonnet about them, but if one was in front of me right now, I would eat it.

@MNfan4ever: @AmeliaRayno Referencing your tweet from [yesterday], how many Strib writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Hey -- it's a really tricky bulb situation.

@LP_Minn: @AmeliaRayno Opinion on UVA winning ACC never playing top 1/2 of teams twice? parity or scheduling fluke? good record, but SOS not in top 25.

It was an interesting year in the ACC this year -- Duke and UNC both got off to a slow start and Syracuse, which was one of the last remaining undefeated teams, has just been in free fall during the last couple of weeks. But you can't hate Virginia for their good fortune with scheduling -- sometimes that happens, and the Cavaliers certainly made the best of it. They've been really good on both ends of the ball through a long season and have played incredibly consistently since the start of January -- not an easy thing to do even if you aren't hitting the top dogs as much as usual. It was the first outright regular-season championship in 33 years, too -- since Ralph Sampson was on the roster. That's a special thing.

@philosofootball: @AmeliaRayno How do you feel about facial hair? #aMAILiaBAG

I dig it. Especially when on a sasquatch.

@BPletscher: @AmeliaRayno not counting your currant job, what is your dream job?

Probably being a travel/food/whiskey writer or a political foreign correspondent. Or a spy. It would be really, really cool to be a spy. Or to be in a band.

So basically, I'm still a 10-year-old kid.

@JosephRDelgado: @AmeliaRayno  #aMAILiaBAG Can you explain Joey King? He's had moments, but in general looks out of control and seems like a liability.

Have you glanced at the roster lately? The power forward spot is what it is this season -- a rotating parade of undersized and unideal candidates. Yes, King has had his moments -- the fact that he can hit a clutch three, and simply in terms of his tenacity and willingness to sacrifice his body for loose balls or whatever  -- and I think in general we've seen him improve this season, but he's not a great ball handler, he doesn't have great size and he's not a natural rebounder. You have to be realistic about your expectations there.
 
@Mondragon_John: @AmeliaRayno I know it's early, but what's your guess at probability everyone on Gopher staff is here next year? #aMAILiaBAG

Everyone will be back. It's a young staff and I think they've got another year. Dan McHale will get some calls though.

@jrachiever71: @AmeliaRayno do you enjoy Absinthe?

I do, but I don't drink it often with the notable exception of an absinthe wash in my sazerac.

@ZMoore80: @AmeliaRayno #aMAILiaBAG Do we have a chance to play in Milwaukee and should I book my hotel now?

Maybe, if they go on a run in the Big Ten tournament and somehow get ahold of a 10-seed, but I don't really see that happening.

@donnelly612: @AmeliaRayno Kodaline? What do I need to know about them? I see they're Irish. That's a good start.

They're like if Head and the Heart and Coldplay had a baby and that band was headlined by a love child of Mark Foster, Kaleb Followill, Adam Levine (crazy night, I know) with maybe a country dude and someone-I-can't-come-up-with-right-now-even-though-I've-tried-for-13-minutes jumping in as well.

And Steve Garrigan has some pipes. And they're going to be huge (I give it 6 months) because they have a very relatable sound and their songs are extremely "sticky" and they are ridiculously good live and they have a cool T-shirt.

Good show, even if LP had to back out because of scheduling conflicts. (Second time backing out of a Minneapolis show? Weird.)

@mlconnors: @AmeliaRayno #aMAILiaBAG Is Intelligentsia the best coffee you've had? Or are their other spots nationwide that have really stood out?

The best coffee I ever had was at a little cart in downtown Seattle called Monorail espresso, and it was owned by a little, silver-haired french man who knew my name and what I wanted after Day 2, and made me wish I lived there. I have no idea what kind of beans he used, but they were ridiculous. Absolutely zero acidity.

But yeah, Intelligentsia is pretty great as well. 

@MKattman: @AmeliaRayno do u own a copy of "In Me Own Words: Autobiography of Bigfoot"?

I do not, but I have browsed it at a bookstore.

@talkgophbuckets: @AmeliaRayno for next year, are you struggling to decide if you should exclusively refer to Carlos Morris as: Carlos or Squirrel?

Oh there is no struggle. He's going to be Squirrel.

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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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