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Gophers senior forward Rodney Williams

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

Injury could sideline Gophers' Williams again

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO
  • Star Tribune
  • February 19, 2013 - 6:47 AM

IOWA CITY - There's a chance Elliott Eliason will be in the Gophers' starting lineup Wednesday at Ohio State. He would take the place of Rodney Williams, who coach Tubby Smith said during Monday's Big Ten teleconference is day-to-day because of a shoulder injury and could wind up sitting out in Columbus.

"We're going to see today how he responds to treatment and just go from there," Smith said.

Williams, who originally injured his left shoulder in a Feb. 9 practice, played 10 minutes in Sunday's loss at Iowa. The forward didn't attempt a shot in the first half and sat out the entire second. He also sat out the Gophers' Feb. 10 loss to Illinois because of the injury.

The senior, averaging 11.4 points per game, played 36 minutes and scored 10 points in the Gophers' overtime victory over Wisconsin on Thursday, but he was fouled hard in the second half and had the shoulder wrapped with a large ice pack afterward.

"[Sunday] he really struggled," Smith said. "It looked like it was really bothering him, and it was, so we sat him down."

Williams wasn't made available after the 72-51 loss, but his teammates said they could tell he was struggling.

"A shoulder injury is not an easy one to fight, but he did the best he could, I thought, and it was just tough on him," Austin Hollins said.

In conference games where all five starters have played at least 28 minutes, the Gophers are 4-0. When they don't, they are 2-7, including the Iowa loss.

Eliason started in Williams' place against Illinois, finishing with four points and 10 rebounds. The center had only four points and four rebounds in 28 minutes Sunday, but Smith said that Eliason is the Gophers' best threat against zone defenses -- which have given the Gophers considerable trouble this season -- because he's "willing to pass it, he's willing to get in the gap."

Dealing with a callus

Austin Hollins has been dealing with a callus on his right (shooting) hand, Smith said Monday.

"It really was a nasty-looking [sore] on his hand," Smith said. "So it was one of those things where his ball-handling was a little shaky. I'm not making excuses for him, but I could see he kept pulling at his hand. We put some adhesive on it, but I don't know if it did much."

The callus shouldn't affect Hollins' playing time going forward, Smith said.

A tough stretch

When Andre Hollins picked up his second foul against Iowa and Smith took him out, the Gophers were leading 23-13 with 8:47 left in the first half.

By the time the point guard returned in the second half, the Gophers had fallen behind by five and were in panic mode. Hollins fell right in step, launching four consecutive bad jumpers, all of which missed. He finished 1-for-8 from the field. His defense suffered, too, Smith said.

"[Andre Hollins] is having trouble defending people off of the dribble," Smith said. "Aaron White was just going by us like we weren't there."

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