Gophers' guard play can make life easier on the court

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2013 - 8:52 AM

The Gophers can make life easier for themselves if they can get consistent play from the trio of Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman.

hide

UCLA's Norman Powell, left, and Minnesota's Austin Hollins, right, reach for the ball during the first half of a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2013, in Austin, Texas.

Photo: Eric Gay, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– A three-pointer, three consecutive free throws and a jumper.

In the span of 96 seconds, Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins and Joe Coleman combined to ward off a second-half surge from UCLA.

When it works, it seems so natural that it’s hard to understand why it’s so rare.

Each guard has its role, and when each player executes it, the 11th-seeded Gophers can be a very formidable team indeed.

The key word here is when.

Friday, Andre Hollins aptly handled the role of the leader, Austin Hollins was the glue guy and the spot shooter and Coleman provided dynamic scoring. However, the number of times the three have synced up in such a way have been few and far between this season.

Finding that synergy once again in the NCAA tournament could help to turn the Gophers’ key to the Sweet 16.

–outside,” Trevor Mbakwe said Saturday of his teammates. “Joe’s a great slasher, and when he’s knocking down outside shots, it just opens up the game so much more because teams can’t sag off of him. It hasn’t been that often, I don’t think, that all three of them were on fire like they were yesterday. But it definitely makes us a better team, and when they’re playing that way, we could go pretty far.”

Heading into Sunday’s game against third-seeded Florida, the three guards had managed to score at least 12 points each in the same game only once since the nonconference schedule — and that was Friday, in the NCAA tournament-opening victory over UCLA. They did it twice before that, against Florida State and South Dakota State, but though Hollins, Hollins and Coleman are together averaging 11.7 points a game this year, they couldn’t manage to all go off at once at any point in the Big Ten schedule.

The potential for danger is there — but finding it all at once is a little tougher.

“When we’re knocking down shots … we’re hard to beat,” Andre Hollins said. “When we’re making shots, it makes up for mistakes.”

Mistakes were few for the Gophers on Friday — they had only 11 turnovers and outplayed UCLA in most respects.

But finding that dominance in the backcourt once again will be all the more critical against the Gators, whose quick, athletic guards and style of play will pose a challenge to the Gophers, even if they are clicking on all cylinders.

Two of Florida’s guards, Mike Rosario and the lightning-fast Kenny Boynton, are seniors, while the Gophers have no fourth-year players in those positions. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin has a reputation for his smothering on-ball pressure; he is the leader on a team that will likely try to press the Gophers plenty.

Still, the Gophers have a chance to take advantage of the backcourt of Florida, a team that thrives in the half-court set, shoots plenty of three-pointers and harasses opponents into turnovers on 21.8 percent of their possessions. But if the Gophers backcourt falls apart under the pressure, the frontcourt — which goes up against able big men Erik Murphy and Patric Young — could have its work cut out for it.

“He’s huge,” Mbakwe said of Young. “I’m looking forward to that challenge. Erik Murphy, the guys coming off the bench, they crash the boards pretty hard. It’s going to be a man’s game [Sunday].”

Against UCLA, when the Gophers had room for error, they executed pretty well across the board. Against Florida, however, Minnesota likely will need every bit of that efficiency, if not more.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close