Feb 10, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Gophers guard Andre Hollins (1) looks to pass while guarded by Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) in the second half at Williams Arena. The Illini defeated the Gophers 57-53. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Hollins is key to Minnesota’s success in big situations


Andre Hollins has been Minnesota’s best player this season, and he is a big reason why the Gophers made it into the NCAA Tournament.

Without the starting point guard, Minnesota would be lost on offense.  With him, the Gophers have the chance to beat any team in the nation when the NCAA Tournament begins on Friday.

Hollins broke out last season in the month of March as Minnesota made its run into the NIT Finals against Stanford.  He notched double-digits in points in eight straight contests before being shut down by the Cardinals defense.

Feb 20, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Andre Hollins (1) drives to the basket as Ohio State Buckeyes forward Sam Thompson (12) pursues at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won the game 71-45. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Since then, it’s been fairly stable: when Hollins’ has a bad game, Minnesota does not win.

If the coaching staff has a shot of keeping their jobs in a month, Hollins has to show up big on Friday against the UCLA Bruins.

On the year, the sophomore starting points guard has averaged 13.9 points a game along with 3.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

Hollins has also become a consistent scoring, scoring more than 10 points in 23 games this season.

This season, the Gophers have beaten six NCAA Tournament teams.  In those six games, Hollins has averaged 24 points including a breakout 41 point performance in the Bahamas against Memphis.

Consequently, Hollins’s three worst performances in the Big Ten this season ended up with the Gophers losing the game.

His awareness as a point guard has improved late in the season.  Hollins has just 18 turnovers in 11 games since February.  During Minnesota’s big Valentine’s Day victory against Wisconsin, Hollins did not turn the ball over once.

Hollins is surprisingly efficient rebounding, as he is one of only two players on the roster that nabbed at least one rebound in each game this season.   He is tied for fourth in the team in rebounds per game.

While Hollins is the point guard, he performs better off the ball, but that strategy might have to change Friday night.

The biggest mismatch in favor of Minnesota on Friday is at the point guard position.  Larry Drew II, the former North Carolina Tar Heel, will be manning the points for the Bruins.

As a senior, Drew has been rather lackluster.  He is not a scoring threat, notching single digits in points over two-thirds of his games. He also does not add much on the defensive end.

Yet, Drew is the definition of a pure point guard.  He has the court vision that Hollins desperately lacks as a floor general.  Drew is able to dish out more than seven assists per game and has the ability to make the extra pass.

The senior’s vision at the point guard position is the attribute Hollins needs to learn during his remaining seasons at Minnesota.

There is no doubt that Smith will need multiple players to take their game to another level during Friday’s match up against Ben Howland’s UCLA squad, but Hollins is the only Gopher that has an extra gear to carry Minnesota to a victory.

Tags: Basketball Gophers Minnesota Minnesota Golden Gophers Tubby Smith