Tuesday night, with all of Minneapolis starving for a win -- in just about any sport -- University of Minnesota coach Richard Pitino trotted out a dramatically different look than the previous 17 games. 

Freshman Nate Mason instead of senior point guard DeAndre Mathieu. Redshirt sophomore Charles Buggs over JUCO transfer Carlos Morris. Backup center Elliott Eliason over Mo Walker, the heart of Minnesota's offense

The two starters the coach didn't sit? Andre Hollins and Joey King?

In regards to King, Pitino probably felt he didn't have an option. While he has expressed every desire to play international freshman big Gaston Diedhiou, the coach clearly believes the Senegal native is just too raw to trust in even spot minutes on the floor at this point.

What about Hollins? The struggles of the senior guard in Big Ten play have been well documented, and he only continued the disparaging trend in the first half by going 0-for-8 from the field.

The simple answer is that Pitino's expectations for the player who has been the face of Minnesota basketball for the last three years are far different than those of the vast public. 

During the last couple of weeks, Hollins has come under plenty of criticism for his play on both sides of the ball. He's been beaten on back doors. He's mired in the worst offensive slump of his career, shooting just 20.7 percent from the field in the last five games. 

But his coach, in trying to lift some of the immense -- and, he believes, unfair -- burdens on Hollins' shoulders, has had some blunt words about his so-called superstar recently.

On Monday's Big Ten conference call, one Iowa beat reporter asked whether Hollins was primed to reach the next level and pick up a struggling team. Pitino hedged.

"I don't think Andre is really that type of a player," he said. "Doesn't mean he's not a good player, he is. But I don't think the type of guy who can just put the team on his shoulders and carry us. He's never done that in the two years I've been here."

Later, in a press conference, the coach reiterated that idea.

"He's a good player and he works hard," Pitino said on Monday. "He's not an elite, elite player and I don't think he's ever going to be that. And that's not to say I don't like him on my team, I do. It's not turf toe. Everybody keeps talking about that. He's giving good effort."

In Pitino's mind, Hollins has simply been going through a shooting slump. The coach says he's happy with the guard's defensive presence overall. Hollins had the tough mismatch assignment of Jarrod Uthoff on Iowa's final possession, when the big wing hit a long go-ahead two-pointer.

The coach said while he would look at the shot again, he initially was satisfied that Hollins did everything he could in defending Uthoff.

"I think he made a tough shot," Pitino said.

Pitino also points to practice, noting that Hollins is as consistent as any player in his effort level. Monday, he named Hollins as one of three players he can always rely on in that regard.

The coach said he would like to see the senior drive more and force fewer jumpshots -- Tuesday, Hollins' shot selection was suspect at times as he tried to break out of the lasting shooting woes. But Hollins also has had a hard time getting past faster opponents if he tries taking the ball to the hoop.

Pitino suggested that Hollins, like many seniors, could be too concerned with his future and what next year holds -- or doesn't hold -- in store for him. Or perhaps his shot just isn't falling. 

Whatever the case, the coach has made it clear he's not benching Hollins and he's not disappointed in him. 

As far as his expectations go, the senior is doing just fine. 

"We don't have a star on this team," Pitino said on Monday. "But we hopefully we can get a collection of really good ones to make the team the star, the sum being better than the parts."

Tuesday he added: "Maybe he's putting too much pressure on himself, I'm not sure. But he gives us great effort every day, so I can't fault him."


--

WHAT IF?

After Uthoff hit that tough two-pointer in Iowa's last possession, the clock initially showed Minnesota had 6.1 seconds to respond. Pitino -- who failed to call a timeout in Minnesota's last home game vs. Ohio State when the Gophers got the ball with five seconds left in overtime -- motioned the official and a break was called.

During that time, officials reviewed the shot clock on the previous possession, discovering that an "inadvertent clock stoppage" originating from one of the official's belts had occurred and Minnesota in fact only had 3.5 seconds to make a play. DeAndre Mathieu's layup, of course, didn't quite fall in time.

What would have happened had Pitino not called a timeout and the Gophers had simply inbounded the ball? Could they have scored and won or sent the game to overtime before officials had the chance to notice the error?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Had Iowa coach Fran McCaffery failed to call his own timeout, it's hard to believe officials could retroactively take back a potential Minnesota score, not knowing what could have happened if they had been aware of the correct time.

Afterward, McCaffery said he knew right away that something was amiss, Uthoff having shot near the end of the shot clock, something was wrong."

"I knew that wasn't right," McCaffery said about the original time displayed. "I graduated from the Wharton School of Business [at University of Pennsylvania] and I can add. 6.1 was not the right number."

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