Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino said Saturday that Andre Hollins “definitely” will not play at Nebraska on Sunday, and the star guard is “very much questionable” for the Gophers’ next game, against Northwestern at home on Feb. 1.
“Severe, severe ankle injury — probably a lot worse than we thought it would be and it’s just too hard to predict when he’ll be back,” Pitino said of Hollins, who injured his left ankle when he landed on Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser making a jump shot in the opening seconds of Wednesday’s victory. “So we’re just taking it day-by-day. It’s not pretty right now, so we’re assuming that he’s not going to play for the next two games at least.”
With no timetable for his return, the Gophers lineup changes significantly. Not only are they short the 15.5 points Hollins averages per game, but their backcourt depth — one of their biggest strengths — takes a hit as well.
Malik Smith will take a bigger role as a starter, and Maverick Ahanmisi likely will see more playing time as well. Ahanmisi will have to function as backup point guard when DeAndre Mathieu is out, and Pitino will have to find another consistent backup shooting guard — potentially Daquein McNeil, who has shown promise but is a true freshman.
Pitino also pointed out that the Gophers will sorely miss Hollins’ ability to get to the line. The junior from Memphis has attempted a team-high 114 free throws this season; Mathieu is No. 2 on the team with 67.
“It’s going to be tough for us,” center Mo Walker said. “He’s our leading scorer so we’re going to have to have everybody step up, everybody is going to have to play a little bit bigger of a role, just to make up for that loss.”
Hollins has never sprained his left ankle before, which makes the injury tougher to rehabilitate from. However, Pitino said he was encouraged by Hollins’ spirit as the news he could be out for some time is hitting him.
On Friday, Hollins sat on the sideline getting treatment, but he was encouraging his teammates the way he usually does.
“Very positive, leading,” Pitino said. “A lot of guys will sit on the side and won’t say a word. You could hear him a lot during practice, which was nice to see. I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say he’ll be back sooner than later. But you’ve got to be smart with it. It was a really, really bad injury.”