By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Elliott Eliason was forced to be patient as he prepared, grew into his body.

“I think it’s been a pretty slow process over the years,” Eliason said. “Now, finally, I’m getting more starting time out there.”

What has emerged is a new player, and the Gopher coaching staff says it started not with basketball concepts but with off-the-court concepts.

“What we had to fix was off the court: strength and conditioning, through diet, through practice,” said Gopher basketball coach Richard Pitino. “He’s done that, and now he’s reaping the rewards from it.”

Like most big men, it takes time to get up to speed, but when they do, they change or they leave. That’s just the Darwinism of the Big Ten.

“You look at the guys on our team who didn’t play a lot last year…and Elliott is a guy who was not [a focal point], he was a backup,” Pitino said. “Now, he’s playing 30-35 minutes a game.

So Eliason keeps buying in, keeps playing hard and keeps believing that he belongs.

“Every little game, if you have something go right for you, I think it builds your confidence,” Eliason said. “And it makes you believe you can do even more.”

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