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Gophers junior forward Rodney Williams

Nati Harnik, Associated Press

GOPHERS VS. NO. 6 OHIO STATE

8 tonight • Williams Arena • TV: ESPN (1500-AM)

Gophers need someone to step up

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO
  • Star Tribune
  • February 14, 2012 - 7:13 AM

The search for a hero has been the Gophers' most enduring story line ever since Trevor Mbakwe tore his right ACL in November and was lost for the season. Different players have stepped up, but with only six regular-season games remaining and the Gophers' NCAA tournament hopes teetering, Minnesota still is searching for one go-to guy. Ralph Sampson III, Julian Welch and Chip Armelin have carried the load at times. But these are the four candidates we've identified who could step up starting Tuesday night against Ohio State:

RODNEY WILLIAMS

Why he will step up: The junior forward has all the tools and credentials to be the team's leader. When Williams is playing well, the whole team looks better. His athleticism makes him a tough matchup. Why he won't: Williams still can't be relied on. There still are games in which he disappears or looks disinterested, and he has only eight rebounds in his past four games.

Andre Hollins

Why he will step up: In the Gophers' past two games, Hollins has shown he is capable of taking over. His role is increasing, and he is one of the team's best at creating his own shot. Why he won't: Hollins is a freshman, and the guard has gone through long stretches of inconsistency and minor production. He also needs to work on his defense to continue to get minutes.

JOE COLEMAN

Why he will step up: When the freshman entered the starting lineup a month ago, he had an immediate impact on the team's energy. He needs to adjust his game, but he could again be a serious factor as a starter or reserve. Why he won't: The guard has gone scoreless for three consecutive games. He needs to turn the trend around and thrive in any role he is given.

AUSTIN HOLLINS

Why he will step up: He's never been flashy, but when the Gophers play well, a good game from Hollins usually is a key. The Gophers need his outside shot in order to quickly rack up points. Why he won't: The sophomore guard has been inconsistent. Just when it looks as if he has reached a new level, he drops off again. When his outside shot isn't falling, he struggles to score in other ways.

Rodney Williams Why he will step up: The junior forward has all the tools and credentials to be the team's leader. When Williams is playing well, the whole team looks better. His athleticism makes him a tough matchup. Why he won't: Williams still can't be relied on. There are still games where he disappears or looks disinterested, and he only has eight rebounds in his past four games.

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