Sophomore Andre Hollins has been the Gophers top story early this season.
We’re almost to that bleak, awful part of the year where students are on winter break and finals are starting, meaning college basketball basically gets put on hold. Seriously, after the NDSU game on Tuesday the Gophers only play once in 20 days. That’s a whole lot of nothing. Thankfully, it’s been pretty rosy around Dinkytown recently, so the gap of non-action should at least be a little more palatable. Plus the Meineke Car Care Bowl is mixed in there somewhere, so it’s not ALL bad.
Not a whole lot has happened since the Gophers took down Florida State on the road and concluded their tropical gauntlet, and that’s exactly the way I like it this time of year. The blowouts over North Florida and South Dakota State were just what the doctor ordered for a team that had been on the road for far too long. In fact, I was almost glad to see Nate Wolters sit the game out. Sure, he’s entertaining, but there’s only one good thing that can come out of non-conference games against bad teams – not losing. Well … not losing and not getting injured. Wolters on the bench meant less of a chance the Gophers could lose and I was perfectly content to sit through a 22-point snoozer. There will be plenty of yelling and high blood pressure over the next three months to last us all multiple years. Let’s enjoy a little down time.
Andre Hollins on fire – If you were able to maximize the size of your ESPN3 screen and catch the game against SDSU then you certainly were in for a nice treat, sponsored by #Hollinsanity. We’ve now seen it twice this season where Hollins starts realizing that he can’t miss and starts chucking up three pointers. And the beautiful thing is they keep falling. We saw it in the Memphis game where he was 5-5 from deep and caught the redux against the Jackrabbits where he made his first six attempts before attempting an off-balance leaner that fell short. It’s too bad the game was such a blowout early or else we might have seen something really special.
Not only are the performances fun, but it’s really nice to see Hollins go on these rampages, and it certainly bodes well for the rest of the season. There were only a couple instances last season where he was truly “on fire” and didn’t seem capable of missing. Now that we’ve seen it twice in only a few weeks, it’s exciting to think about what he’s capable of for the rest of the year. When he’s feeling it, watch out.
Andre Ingram is a serviceable backup – Don’t look now, but Mr. Ingram is actually proving to be a decent stopgap when the first stringers have to take a seat. Now, this isn’t a ringing endorsement for Ingram to increase his minutes or see the court in any extended capacity, but in his limited action so far this season he’s proven to be a capable, rugged guy down low who you can at least count on to be a pest defensively.
Last year you couldn’t pay me enough to see him take the court as it was always a collection of screw-ups and, frankly, poor play. His growth has shown this season though, even in limited action, and it was certainly evident against South Dakota State where he racked up six points in 13 minutes and even nabbed a couple steals. And something that won’t always show up in the box score is hustle points. Ingram works hard in his limited minutes and, for those paying close attention, has taken his fair share of charges. Offensive fouls are a unique spark in basketball and a sure momentum changer. The Gophers haven’t needed that game-changing spark too often in this young season, but with Ingram showing the ability to step in a take one for the team he’s looking like a decent option off the bench when the first line gets a bit winded.
Trevor Mbakwe still getting sporadic minutes – It’s hard to know exactly what has gone into determining Mbakwe’s playing time so far this season, but one thing is for sure – it hasn’t been the least bit consistent. Is this a worrisome thing? Maybe. It’s hard to be frustrated when we weren’t even sure eight months ago that he would be on the court at this point. But what is head-scratching is the fact that while he appears healthy he isn’t really playing meaningful minutes. He saw significant stretches of PT in the “important” games like Memphis, Stanford and Florida State, but in other games he’s seen less than 15 minutes of playing time. Given that he’s been playing since game one, it would be comforting to see him playing extended minutes by this point in the season.
Again, it’s hard to know what’s going on behind the scenes and it might just be a product of Tubby trying to build his confidence in a deliberate fashion. But if he’s capable of playing 27 minutes against Richmond, why is he only playing 11 against North Florida? Is Tubby resting him when he has the chance because he plans on using him en masse when the games really “count”? My guess is it’s a product of bringing him back slowly and also not wanting to overuse him, but at the same time I can’t help but be a little anxious that he’s not seeing 15-20 minutes per game consistently.
Lack of Gopher television coverage – Given how good this team has been this year, it’s been a real hassle to find the Gophers on television. Between the Battle 4 Atlantis being on AXS TV and BTN pretty much ignoring Minnesota’s existence, it’s been a whole of ESPN3 and All-Access, which is a problem in itself. With the Minnesota/USC game being televised by the PAC-12 Network on Saturday, that means only two of the first eleven games could be accessed by the regular cable audience (I don’t count AXS TV as being easily accessible). With a team ranked in the top 15 in the country, that is a huge problem. Now, I know the Gophers don’t control who the Atlantis folks sign a TV deal with, and the PAC-12 Network get rights in non-conference home games, but the BTN has really dropped the ball this year in terms of Gopher coverage. I won’t pretend to know what their decision-making process is or why they decide to show reruns of The Journey instead of live basketball, but I do know that as a fan who wants to see some game action, they certainly aren’t delivering.
Tag(s): Gopher Basketball