This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Shooting going to be key if the Gophers hope to finish on high note

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: March 15, 2013 - 2:13 PM

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.

I wrote about all that yesterday.

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.

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