There’s no doubt that the Gophers basketball team cannot win if Andre Hollins — who might be suffering from a foot injury though no one will admit to it — can’t break out of his scoring slump, which included going 60 minutes between the Maryland game on Saturday and the first half of the Ohio State game on Tuesday with only two points scored.
In the nonconference schedule Hollins averaged 13.7 points, but in the Gophers’ three Big Ten losses he has averaged only 7.0 points per game and has shot 6-for-32 (18.8 percent) from the field, compared with his 42.3 percent season average.
Hollins looked much better in the second half of the Ohio State game, when he scored 11 points and went 3-for-6 from the field with three three-pointers, so maybe that will bode well for the Gophers’ next game Saturday against a struggling Michigan squad.
With Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu as the Gophers’ starting backcourt, the belief was the team’s guard play would be a major strength in the Big Ten, but so far that hasn’t panned out.
Last season Hollins missed two Big Ten games because of injury, and the Gophers lost both, which hurt their chances to earn an NCAA tournament bid.
The hope has to be that Hollins will get his offensive game turned around quickly so the Gophers don’t go into a much longer slide to start conference play. If they can find a way to beat Michigan, they then could get back to .500 with victories over Iowa and Rutgers at Williams Arena.
However, the 0-3 Big Ten start has not diminished the optimism of coach Richard Pitino, who believes this team still will win its share of games.
“We got beat by a very good team, but I’m proud of our guys’ effort,” said Pitino following Tuesday’s 74-72 overtime loss to Ohio State. “We’ve just got to stay positive now. Certainly 0-3 is difficult going on the road, but we’ve just got to stay positive.”
Recruits will be key
One good thing for the Gophers is that Pitino already has four commitments for the Class of 2015 and still has some scholarships with which to work. The Gophers will lose five seniors after this season in Hollins, Mathieu, Elliott Eliason, Mo Walker and Kendal Shell.
Pitino already has signed Kevin Dorsey, a four-star recruit out of Maryland who is ranked as the 86th-best player in the country by Rivals.com. Dorsey, along with Jarvis Johnson, Pitino’s first big Minnesota signee, could immediately help in the backcourt.
Dorsey, who plays for Clinton Christian School in Upper Marlboro, Md., is averaging 19.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.7 steals through 10 games this season.
Johnson, a 6-1 guard at DeLaSalle, is averaging 16.9 points through seven games.
Pitino’s third guard recruit is Dupree McBrayer, a 6-4 shooting guard out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., who Rivals has ranked 135th in the country.
The lone big man signed so far is 6-9 power forward Jonathan Nwankwo out of Victory Rock Prep in Bradenton, Fla., who also had offers from Boston College, Seton Hall and Tennessee.
No doubt the fact that the Gophers football team posted a 8-4 regular-season record and then advanced to the Citrus Bowl, where some 20,000 fans wearing Maroon and Gold were in attendance, has resulted in some large contributions to the fund that will help build a football facility, basketball facility, an academic building and other needed athletic buildings to help recruiting.
Land O’Lakes has provided most of the money to build the academic building, with groundbreaking expected on the site of the current outdoor track in August.
Now the word is that at least three good-sized contributions have been made to get fundraising for the football facility close to what it will take financially to build. Coach Jerry Kill has been hopeful that ground can be broken for the football facility some time this year. Maybe he will get his wish.
• The NFL Network reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have interviewed former Bears head coach Marc Trestman for their offensive coordinator position. Meanwhile, Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson will interview for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive coordinator job on Thursday. Wilson’s competition could be Trestman, whom ESPN reported is expected to interview with the Jaguars.
• It’s interesting that three coaches who were fired by the Timberwolves are coaching some of the best teams in the NBA — Dwane Casey with Toronto, Randy Wittman with Washington and Kevin McHale with Houston. McHale recently signed a three-year contract extension for some $12 million.
• Jashon Cornell, the Cretin-Derham Hall football player who is going to attend Ohio State, played in the Under Armour All-America Game that was played in Orlando a day after the Citrus Bowl. Cornell will enroll at Ohio State this month and will be eligible to take part in spring practice and bid for a position on the Buckeyes defensive line.
• Former Gophers football players Maxx Williams and David Cobb are in California working out to prepare for the NFL draft after signing with agents, while Cameron Botticelli is in Knoxville, Tenn., doing the same thing after hiring an agent. Incidentally, Cobb has been invited to the Senior Bowl.
• Gary Trent Jr., the outstanding Apple Valley basketball player, has been offered a scholarship by the Gophers.
• Former Gopher Nick Bjugstad is the leading scorer for the Florida Panthers with 15 goals and nine assists in 37 games. Bjug- stad has three goals and two assists in his past five games. … Blake Wheeler, another former Gopher, is third on the Winnipeg Jets in scoring with 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points. Jets teammate Dustin Byfuglien of Roseau, Minn., is fourth with nine goals and 13 assists in 40 games. … Former Gopher Gabe Guertler is the third-leading scorer for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League with 23 goals and 20 assists in 39 games. He had a hat trick Wednesday against Sudbury. … Former Gopher Tommy Vannelli is fifth for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League in scoring with 12 goals and 15 assists.
• Interesting to note that the backup quarterbacks in the Seahawks-Panthers NFC divisional playoff game this weekend are former Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson is the second-stringer behind Russell Wilson for Seattle while Joe Webb is backing up Cam Newton for Carolina.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com