Andre Hollins seemed to be mentally ticking them off in his head.
After delivering the first double-double of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while eclipsing the 1,000 career points mark, the junior guard seemed to have another aspect of his game.
“One thousand free throws,” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got to shoot 1000. I’m missing too many.”
In all on Friday night, in the Gophers’ win over Nebraska Omaha, Hollins missed three, going 5-for-8 from the line.
But free-throw shooting is a point of pride for Hollins, who has always been very good from the charity stripe. On Friday, coach Richard Pitino called the misses rare, and relatively speaking, they have been. So far this season, Hollins is making 83.8 percent (57-for-68) of his free throw attempts, helping push the Gophers to the best free-throw percentage in the Big Ten (77.6 percent).
On the team, Hollins falls only behind Malik Smith (17-for-20 for 85 percent), who has far fewer attempts. A year ago, Hollins led the team, making 80.6 percent of his free throws and, his freshman season, completed a remarkable 90.4 percent.
Already, Pitino is used to the star guard doing what good players do – being unsatisfied. So the coach holds him to high standards as well. Against New Orleans, Pitino pulled Hollins – briefly – just nine seconds into the game when the player was caught off-guard by a pass.
“He said he can’t have those lapses from a captain,” Hollins said that night.
Then on Friday night against Omaha, after a night full of accolades, Pitino’s first words after the game were some loud ones about the traveling turnover Hollins committed with 3:28 to go.
“After the game, I yelled at him for traveling,” Pitino said with a grin. “He said ‘Well what about my rebounds, my ten rebounds?’ And I said ‘Alright fine, you made up for it.’
In the long run, Hollins – who has NBA potential as well as the ability to surpass Mychal Thompson as the top scoring player in Minnesota history – will benefit from that attitude, both from him and from his coach, that past achievements aren’t enough; that he can always do more.
This season, the junior has done a better job of driving to the basket and adding elements to his offensive game, with opponents game-planning for him, specifically, more than ever.
And he won’t rest until he breaks some kind of record for free throws, too.
Pitino wouldn’t expect anything less. He’s already planning to raise the bar on expectations for Hollins’ rebounding after the junior attacked the boards on a new level on Friday.
“That’s the worst thing you can ever do is show a coach you can do it,” Pitino said. “And now we’ll just annoy him about it. He’s a really competitive kid, he’s probably a much tougher kid than most people realize. One thousand points early in his junior year just says a lot about a great career. He’s a phenomenal kid, showed great toughness, showed great leadership [on Friday] as well.”