But there is at least one glimmer of optimism, one significant improvement that can’t be the only thing, but can certainly be an important part of a winning formula.
That’s shooting – Austin Hollins’ and Andre Hollins’ shooting, to be specific.
No, it’s not consistent yet. But it’s present.
In the past two games, Austin has gone 5-for-9 (55.5 percent) from 3-point range, and Andre, 9-for-20 (45 percent). The game before (at Nebraska), Andre went 3-for-8 from that distance.
It’s a small sample size, and it hasn’t been always consistent throughout games. Against Purdue, neither had made a 3-pointer before there was 2:34 left in the first half. Yesterday in the loss to Illinois, four of the six 3-pointers between the pair came in one seven-minute stretch in the second half.
But the fact is, if the Gophers are going have a chance to win a game in the NCAA tournament – in which they will still almost surely get a bid – they will need to be able to shoot, particularly considering …
a) their weak half-court offense
b) their inability to penetrate a zone defense
c) their overall struggles to feed the post
In the previous four games, the pair was shooting just 14.8 percent from 3-point range (with Andre Hollins contributing all but 1 of the 3-pointers from the duo in that span).
If they can keep up this new trend, it will certainly give them a better shot at a victory or two to close out a mostly disappointing season.
Marcus Fuller joined the Star Tribune in 2016 after 11 years covering Gophers sports – and just about every other team and league in town -- for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Before making the Twin Cities his home, Marcus spent two years in The Kansas City Star sports department. Marcus grew up in Hawaii and is a 2002 graduate of San Jose State. Follow Fuller on Twitter @Marcus_R_Fuller.
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