As the tough Big 10 season wears on, it’s apparent that the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers‘ offense sputters when they match up against a tough, vintage Big 10 defense. The Gophers, whom I touted at the beginning of the year as a ‘deep’ team have proven they are anything but.
Regardless of the Gophers’ offensive woes, their defense has shown to be amongst the toughest in the nation–which has been keeping them in games. If their anemic offense could find some sort of rhythm, they likely wouldn’t find themselves in sixth place in the Big Ten as five of their six losses has come by eight points or less.
Sophomore Andre Hollins has emerged as the only consistent scorer on the squad, averaging 14.1 points per game. And while Hollins has had a few huge games, he tends to be a little streaky. When he’s on, he’s really on, which was apparent in a win against Memphis where he went 12-16 from the field, including 5-5 from beyond the arc, for 41 points. However, he’s not a true point guard, and when he’s up against a tough defense, his scoring can suffer as a result. In a loss against Northwestern and their 1-3-1 zone, Hollins went 2-9 from the field and turned the ball over (7) more than he scored (6 points).
In games when Hollins scores his average of 14, the Gophers are 9-2. I’m not saying no one else on the squad can have a big game, but Hollins has emerged as the team’s most consistent scoring threat. And while it’s tough to tie your fate to a streaky sophomore, it looks like the Gophers have done just that. There’s a lot to like about this athletic team but they are certainly not as deep as originally perceived and until another starter can provide offense on a regular basis, it will be essential Hollins plays 35+ minutes/game.
As Tubby Smith looks to make his first substantial run in the NCAA Tourney at Minnesota, he will have to hope that ‘Dre‘ is on more often than not.