Hollins rises up over a defender
Except for Rodney Williams, no one added more value to the Gophers in 2011-12 than Julian Welch and Austin Hollins. Earlier this summer we looked at some of Julian's contributions and today we'll dig into some of Austin's past performance as well as a preview of what might be expected of him as a junior.
Hollins and Welch led Minnesota in three point field goals made last season, with Austin improving his 3FG% to 37.0% (51/138) from just 26.0% (13/50) as a freshman. Not only did Hollins shoot much better from beyond the arc, but his two-point shooting improved to 53.4% from 50.7%. The result was a significant improvement in his effective field goal percentage from 45.9% as a freshman to 54.4% as a sophomore and an increase of 4.7 points per game to a scoring average of 9.2.
After getting acclimated as a freshman, the wing from Memphis proved he's a valuable Big Ten player. In 2012-13 he again won't be one of the more heralded Gophers, but he's extremely important to the team and is a great fit for the program. As can be said for Welch, I think Tubby and his staff absolutely nailed it from a recruiting standpoint when they brought in Austin Hollins. Minnesota is a great fit for Austin and vice versa.
A look at some numbers from Hollins' two seasons as a Gopher (certain statistics per kenpom.com):
Austin Hollins - Selected Statistics
- A key to Hollins' improved offensive rating was simply shooting the ball much better last year. A significant offensive rating improvement in a player's second year is not uncommon, but you will not see a similar jump in 2012-13. If Austin can be around 110 again, the Gophers will take it. During Tubby's tenure at the U, the only players (minimum of 30% of team minutes played) to turn in an offensive rating mark of 110 or better are the following: Rodney Williams '12 (113.3), Trevor Mbakwe '11 (110.4), Blake Hoffarber '11 (113.8) / '10 (131.7) / '08 (120.6), Damian Johnson '10 (116.0) and Ralph Sampson '09 (111.4).
- Keep an eye on usage or "percent of possessions used". An offensive rating by itself measures personal offensive efficiency of a player when they use a possession, but if they are not often involved in their team's possessions, the value to the team is lessened. Hollins saw an uptick in his usage to 17.8% (think of 20%, or 100% divided by 5 players, as being "average"), but was a bit inconsistent and scored mostly with the help of a teammate's assist.
- I project his usage to remain under 20% this year, which is absolutely fine as long as guys like Trevor Mbakwe (27.4% in '12, 23.2% in '11), Andre Hollins (24.7%) and Julian Welch (22.4%) are out there. However, consistency and additional aggressiveness would be nice to see this season as Austin will likely need to take on a more prominent role as a senior.
- There's nothing wrong with shooting an effective field goal percentage of 54.4% (17th best in the Big Ten of those playing at least 60% of team minutes). Based on some of my evolving analysis (which is exciting for me, but from which I'll spare you the details of), I'd project Austin's 2-point field goal shooting to decline a bit this season. He's capable of reaching or exceeding last year's three-point accuracy and his sniping performance will be very important to Minnesota in 2012-13.
- Austin's length and athleticism helps stop the opposition and his defensive contributions are a large part of his contribution to this team. As a freshman, he posted an extremely high 4.4% steal percentage, but that figure dropped to 2.4% as a sophomore. Nonetheless, 2.4% is a solid figure and his activity in the passing lanes also lead to steals that are credited to teammates on the scoresheet.
- Austin's rebounding numbers have been poor. His 7.2% defensive rebounding percentage (DR%) was easily the lowest on the team even though it represented an increase from the paltry 5.6% DR% posted as a freshman. Late last season he started to show that he's capable of tracking down boards, which is especially important considering he's often the third Gopher guard out on the floor at any given time. In the first sixty games of his career at Minnesota, Austin had earned 6 rebounds in a game just once. In the final 9 games of the season, he reached 6 or more in 4 games.
- Hollins scores most of his points off passes from others. As a relatively low possession guy who doesn't create a lot and who does not draw much contact, his 20%+ turnover rate in each of his first two seasons needs to come down a bit as a junior.
- "It looked like he was just nervous and shaking like a leaf out there," coach Tubby Smith said about Austin after an early January loss to Iowa. The following game, one which resulted in the team's fourth loss in a row, Austin began the game on the bench for the first time all year. Next up, the Gophers traveled to Indiana who boasted a top 10 national ranking. Inserted back into the starting lineup, Hollins stepped up with a career-high 18 point game on 7/10 shooting and no turnovers to lead Minnesota to an upset victory. This young man is very coachable.
- After the Indiana game Austin said, "it was just a matter of us keeping our composure, aggressiveness and intensity." Those are the very ingredients he needs to bring consistently in 2012-13. If he does, look for a strong year from Hollins and the Gophers.
- Finally, with Rodney Williams flying through the air and Trevor Mbakwe regularly wrecking rims, some people forget that Austin Hollins can get jaws dropping as well. Remember the putback against Fairfield (video can be seen below)?