High turnover rate due to point guard deficiency

Jan 9, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Andre Hollins (1) is guarded by Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) during the second half at Assembly Hall. Minnesota defeated Illinois 84-67. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota is averaging over 15 turnovers in its three losses this season.

The Gophers had 12 turnovers in a single half against Indiana, including four in a matter of 80 seconds.

The inability to control the basketball has been a key reason why Tubby Smith has three losses under his belt this season.

Minnesota already has an elite offense this year.  It still ranks within the top 10 in the nation.  If the Gophers eliminated many of the careless turnovers, the team would be in the top three.

Perhaps Minnesota does not have the ball handlers necessary to win a national championship or even push the Gophers to the top-echelon of basketball programs.

The effects of the point guard deficiency have been apparent this season.

The program has turned the ball over 22 percent of possessions.  That number ranks dead last in the Big Ten.

Speaking of turnover percentage, only one player on the roster (Austin Hollins) has a turnover percentage under 19 percent.  In contrast, the Wisconsin Badgers only have one player above 19 percent.

Smith has coached only one point guard who has had a successful NBA career: Rajon Rondo.  While Rondo has had a great career in the NBA, he was hindered by the coaching staff in Kentucky.  A McDonald’s All-American, Rondo lost value during his time as a Wildcat and was not drafted in the top 20 in 2006.

A mass of criticism surrounds Smith in his career about his lack of development at point guard.

Champions hone its championship status with the play of the point guard.  The point guard controls its offensive possessions for the majority of a game while maintaining the balance between offense and defense. The last time a NCAA Champion did not have stellar point guard play was 10 seasons ago with Syracuse.

The Gophers do not have that.

While the team lists Andre Hollins as the starting point guard every game, he is not a prototypical point guard.  In high school, Hollins played the majority of his minutes as a shooting guard.  He is a slasher because Hollins plays his best when he is driving to the basket without the ball.

Hollins has blasted through expectations this season.  The sophomore leads Minnesota in points and assists.  He ranks ninth in the Big Ten in assists.  Overall, he has been the most consistent player this season, and his play will force considerations for All-Big Ten at the end of the year.

Yet, he is not a point guard.

Dec 31, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Maverick Ahanmisi (13) against the Michigan State Spartans at Williams Arena. Minnesota defeated Michigan State 76-63. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The only true point guard in the rotation is Maverick Ahanmisi.  The junior serves as the first man to come off the bench for the Gophers.  Yet, in only 42 minutes played this season in conference games, Ahanmisi has turned over the ball eight times.  He turns the ball over 30 percent of the time.

Ahanmisi is far from the most talented player on the roster and having him as the only point guard is troubling.  The junior does a couple things well on the court including three-point shooting and free-throw shooting.  He was a late addition to the recruiting class in 2010.  Since the arrival of Ahanmisi, the coaching staff have not brought in another point guard, including the newest class.

Even if Tyus Jones commits to Minnesota, the Gophers will still battle with this problem for the next year and half.


Topics: Basketball, Gophers, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Tubby Smith

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