Last night, many fans (and reporters) likely went into the Gophers game against South Dakota State thinking that Andre Hollins would hit the 1,000 points mark (he was 13 away before tipoff) and that Austin Hollins (17 away) had a chance.
Austin, of course, ended up stealing the show – going off for the performance of a career, scoring 20 points to go along with a stunning 14 rebounds, while Andre quietly had eight points, falling – as Austin said – a three-pointer and a layup short of achieving the milestone himself.
Undoubtedly, Andre is doing a lot of good things. His eight assists and two steals were big in a game where the Gophers had an impressive 21 assists to seven turnovers. He’s put up double-figure points in four of the last six games. He’s playing good defense, a Richard Pitino staple.
But it’s just as clear that with the Big Ten season a few weeks away, Andre Hollins is also not quite himself.
Against New Orleans, Hollins connected on five of nine field goals, the most makes he’s had in five games. He’s had no more than three field goals in the other four, going 11-for-42 from the field, or 26.1 percent, in those four.
Pitino has said repeatedly that he’s not bothered by Hollins not putting up massive scores every night, noting that he values the little things more. Reading between the lines, he probably gets that Hollins is in a bit of a shooting slump and knows that extra pressure doesn’t make baskets come any easier.
He also knows that in the meantime, Hollins can and does impact the game positively in other ways.
But what frustrated the coach about Tuesday night was that Hollins was trying to rely on a shot that wasn’t falling.
In the four games heading into Tuesday, the junior guard was still averaging 14.5 points a game despite his shooting woes because he’s been able to get to the line. In the previous four games, Hollins made 23 of 29 shots from the stripe. Then against SDSU, he was able to get there just once (making the shot). Hollins’ good size and speed makes him tough to guard – giving him a good chance of getting fouled on drives.
“Eight assists and three turnovers was great,” Pitino said. “The thing that I was disappointed in, he only got to the foul line one time. He was being a jumpshooter too much. He’s got the ability to get fouled and he’s got to do a great job of that. He can get 7, 8 points a game doing that. He’s got to do that more often.”
Slumps come and go for everyone, and this is a relatively good time for Hollins to have one if he’s going to – with a weak slate this time of year, the Gophers should have no trouble dispensing opponents even without his heroics. Anyone who knows Hollins shouldn’t be overly worried – the guard works hard at his craft and will bounce back.
But the correspondence of Hollins – the player most capable of exploding for big games – not quite being himself, and the team playing a bit sluggishly at times, is probably no coincidence.