Point production has been hard to come by recently for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, as they have scored more than 62 points just once in their last five games, including three games scoring 50 or less in that span.
There is plenty of blame to go around for that recent futility, but one area that stands out is a lack off offense from the bench. The top five scorers for the Golden Gophers are all starters, led by guard Andre Hollins and his 14.0 points per game. In fact, no primary bench player for Minnesota is even averaging four points per game right now, with guard Maverick Ahanmisi’s 3.9 points per game leading the way. But is there someone else off the bench who can provide some offense?
Julian Welch has played in all 23 games this season, averaging 3.3 points per game in just over 13 minutes per contest. But he has not even played 10 minutes in three of the last four games, and seems to have fallen out of the rotation after playing a season-high 27 minutes in a loss to Northwestern on January 23. Certainly being the fourth or fifth guard on a team that starts three guards leads to inconsistent minutes, but there’s no reason for Welch not to play a bit more going forward.
Welch was fairly productive in predominantly a reserve role last season, averaging 9.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game over just under 25 minutes per game. His shooting percentages, both from the field (36.4 percent this season, 46.7 percent last season) and from the free-throw line (52.4 percent this season, 77.5 percent last season) have dropped off this season, but Welch is also playing far less this season for reasons that are not clear beyond those raw statistics.
If the Golden Gophers hope to turn around their recent fortunes, they need someone to provide some sort of offensive spark off the bench. Welch is as good a candidate as any right now, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him take some minutes way from both Ahanmisi and Joe Coleman over the next few games.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.