When discussing the Gophers, there is plenty to criticize.
Minnesota has lost its last three games and has shown a variety of troubles. Scoring deficits. Coaching deficits. Energy deficits. And a turnover deficit.
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.