For those keeping track, put another feather in the cap of Andre Hollins, who has been gaining recognition for all sorts of things in his much-improved sophomore season.
Thursday was just the latest, and perhaps one of the most significant. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Hollins has been named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, an honor given annually to the top point guard in college basketball.
Hollins is one of 20 remaining candidates. The list will be whittled in half next month, and to five in early March. It will eventually be announced at the Final Four.
The sophomore went off for 22 points on Wednesday against Illinois (and also had a career-high eight rebounds), but that sort of performance has peppered his entire season. Hollins has had nine double-digit games this year and leads the team with 13.7 points a contest so far. But perhaps the biggest improvement from a year ago is knowing when to put emphasis on scoring and when to simply play the role of the point guard, getting the team into its offense. As I talked about on the 1500-am on Wednesday, with the way this team is built, it isn’t always necessary for Hollins to be the guy taking all the shots – sometimes he needs to simply create plays.
His ability to decide when to shoot and when to pass is one of the things that’s helped ease him to the next level.
One more note of interest:
Take a look again at the play on Wednesday that had everyone buzzing for two reasons:
A) Clearly it was just a vicious, posterizing dunk – Brandon Paul got some serious air on that one.
B) The fact that the official whistled for the charge on Trevor Mbakwe, who was the unfortunate victim of the highlight, but also allowed the bucket to count.
That last part almost caused my iPhone to shut down from all the panicked Twitter reaction directed at me, and everyone – including me – seemed genuinely mystified as to why the points were on the board after a charge call. Indeed, it was a pretty terrible call. But here’s the deal:
The only way both (points and foul) can be recorded in men’s basketball is if the player releases the ball before the foul occurs. Now, obviously that was not the case with Paul, which is very evident from watching the video – he stuffed the ball straight through the rim. But it’s the official’s call, and that’s what he saw, at least initially.
So there you go. Ultimately, it didn’t matter at the end, and the Gophers won comfortably. But the fact is, even if the Gophers had lost a close game with that call, it’s tough to call that the reason – Minnesota got some favorable calls of their own Wednesday, and there’s human error on both sides in every game. The bigger flaw in the case of a loss would be the Gophers making just 60 percent of their free throws.