There’s a chance Elliott Eliason will be in the Gophers’ starting lineup on Wednesday at Ohio State.
He would take the place of Rodney Williams, who coach Tubby Smith said on the weekly Big Ten teleconference Monday is “day-to-day” with a shoulder injury and could wind up sitting 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 just 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.
“In the game 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.
But Minnesota – which looked lifeless through a brutal second half – readily missed another scorer and presence in the post. Continuity among the starting group has been a significant problem for the Gophers throughout the season, but when they get it, they’ve actually been pretty successful. In conference games where all starters have recorded at least 28 minutes, the Gophers are 4-0. When they don’t, they’re 2-7.
Williams first missed time due to the injury in the Illinois game – the day after hurting his shoulder – in which he didn’t play at all. The forward played 36 minutes and scored 10 points in Minnesota’s 58-53 overtime victory over Wisconsin on Thursday, but was fouled hard in the second half, and had the shoulder wrapped with a large ice pack afterward.
Against Illinois, Eliason started in his place, finishing with four points and 10 rebounds. The center had just four points and four rebounds in 28 minutes on Sunday, but Smith said that Eliason is the Gophers’ best threat against a zone defense, which did Minnesota in against Iowa and could be a strategy for other opponents as they face the Gophers in the coming weeks.
“Elliott Eliason is our best player vs the zone because he’s willing to pass it, he’s willing to get in the gap,” Smith said.
Austin Hollins has been dealing with a callus on his right (shooting) hand, Smith said on Monday.
“He had torn (it) – 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.