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

Andre Hollins diagnosed with severe ankle sprain ... but the Gophers are now able to sustain such a loss.

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 23, 2014 - 3:57 PM

Andre Hollins update: Gophers coach Richard Pitino confirmed to the Star Tribune on Thursday that Hollins' X-rays on a left ankle injury came back negative. The junior guard has been diagnosed with a "severe ankle sprain," which was confirmed by an MRI. However, Pitino said the Hollins will be evaluated daily, and has not ruled out that he will play on Sunday at Nebraska. Hollins was injured 14 seconds into Wednesday's game vs. Wisconsin, when he landed on a defender's foot after coming down from a jump shot. The guard was fitted for a boot and getting around on crutches in the locker room after the game.

At the beginning of the season, if we had been told that Andre Hollins would go down with an ankle injury just a few seconds into a game against No. 9 Wisconsin, we all probably would have chalked that one up to a loss.

What could they do? Their best player and offensive leader was down.

But the Gophers are so much more than that now.

At this point in the season, Hollins might not even be the most damaging loss in a game like this. That's not to say that the junior guard isn't a major part of what Minnesota does -- he was leading the team with 16.2 points a game coming into last night, after all -- but simply that the Gophers no longer rely on him to run the point (imagine if DeAndre Mathieu went down? Yikes.) and that they've found so much offensive balance around him in the backcourt.

That kind of variance instills a new confidence in both the players and those watching them. 

When a guy like Hollins hits the floor, they can look around at each other and think "Hey, we're OK."

The Gophers have Austin Hollins, who when he's being aggressive -- and he certainly was at the end of the game -- can be a major spark. They have DeAndre Mathieu, who might be one of the most talented little guys in the game when it comes to scoring on the drive. They have Malik Smith, who looked as sharp as he has all year against Wisconsin, playing very complete offense -- taking the ball to the hoop as well as creating opportunities for his teammates. We've seen him grow a ton, already, since the beginning of the season -- a statement that I guess holds for all of those guys.

None of that is to mention the newly invigorated frontcourt, the surprise of the season, with Mo Walker stealing the show last night with his career 18-point, nine-rebound performance and incredible lift in the first half. That, of course, is the kind of offensive equilibrium Minnesota needs in order to give their guards the space to operate effectively.

No, the Gophers are not solely The Andre Hollins Team any longer.

Still, such a dominant offensive performance (58.9 percent shooting from the field; 81 points on 58 possessions) with the star guard contributing only a few seconds is extremely meaningful for Minnesota. While the Gophers don't rely on Hollins in the same way as they thought they might, he's had huge offensive games in nearly every big win Minnesota has had, with the exception of the Ohio State victory. Take a look:

at Richmond: 26 points
vs. Florida State: 21 points
vs. Purdue: 17 points
vs. Ohio State: 10 points

At Michigan State, when the Gophers brought the Spartans to overtime at Breslin Center, Hollins had 24. At Iowa, when the Gophers authored a double-digit lead in the second half, Hollins had 20.

Then the Gophers were without him for the new "biggest game of the season" to that point, and, well, they did just fine. They thrived, in fact. 

That wasn't the case a year ago, when the Gophers lost seven of the nine league games that Hollins scored 13 points or fewer (and the two that they won with him scoring fewer than 13 were against Penn State and Northwestern).

With Hollins' status going forward uncertain, the new trend is a positive sign for the Gophers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Is Paul Molitor the best choice to manage Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT