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

Can Andre Hollins continue his trend of strong postseason play this weekend?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: March 12, 2014 - 11:47 AM

Perhaps it's because he looks at it as "put up or die," rather than "put up or be eliminated."

Perhaps it's because he loathes those rare moments when his smile washes away as much as those who watch the perpetually grinning guard do.

Perhaps the sudden urgency awakens a drive that isn't always stirred -- even if it should be.

But for whatever reason, Andre Hollins has made a habit of accelerating his game in the postseason.

"That's happened since high school -- I always take it up another level when it comes to the postseason," Hollins said. "Just the mentality, not wanting to go home early ... I just take that to heart and leave it all out there on the floor."

Last season, the guard had two of his highest-scoring games of the season in the NCAA tournament, notching 28 points against UCLA and 25 points against Florida. In his freshman campaign, Hollins exploded for career-highs of 25 and 21 points in the Big Ten tournament before continuing the surge in the NIT. In that postseason, he averaged 17.3 points a game after averaging 6.6 for the rest of the year.

This year, more than any, the Gophers could benefit from such a spark. 

Hollins, who received an All-Big Ten honorable mention this week from both coaches and the media, severely sprained his left ankle in Minnesota's win against Wisconsin at home. Though he came back three games later, he hasn't looked like the same player since. In the last three games, the guard has managed 37 combined points, but he's seemed hesitant at times and untrusting in his own ability when he tries to drive to the hoop.

After the Gophers' season-finale win over Penn State on Sunday, Hollins said his ankle was "100 percent" healed.

"I think with his injury, a lot of it's been mental," coach Richard Pitino said. "He'll make some moves sometimes where he thinks he's about to go by a guy, but maybe that ankle's not as great as it's been. But I think he's got better basketball in him. So I hope it's in the postseason."

If there truly is an extra gear, its hard to understand why Hollins can't access it all the time.

Since the start of the Big Ten slate, Hollins has averaged 13.3 points a game -- 1.3 points fewer than he averaged through 18 league games a year ago. He has had nice performances, but he hasn't really taken the next step than many thought he would, and he's rarely taken over games in vintage fashion. With the Gophers' roster holding more scoring options than it has in the past, there are times where he appears indifferent about getting involved. 

"I don't know if I had very, very high expectations," Pitino said of Hollins' season thus far. "I thought he was a good player and I think he is a good player. Then he got hurt and I think it slowed him down ... hopefully he's close because we need him."

New life from Hollins now would change the look of the team. With Austin Hollins coming out of his slump in the last three games, and point guard DeAndre Mathieu and center Mo Walker continuing to play at a high level, the Gophers offense seems to be peaking. But a fourth consistent scorer would give Minnesota even more options, and a larger safety net for "off-games" by others.

Hollins not without motivation. And maybe the confidence of a history packed full of postseason success will give him the extra nudge he needs.

"I love this time of year," he said. "It's put up or die ... The lights are on. It's win or go home. And I don't want to go home."

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Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56

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