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

Gophers pregame: Austin Hollins still critical down the stretch

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: February 19, 2014 - 5:36 PM

Tonight's game vs. Illinois tips at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on BTN and 1500-a.m.

In today's Star Tribune: Gophers' D is improving. But it still has a ways to go. Previewing both teams here. 

With just over three minutes to play at Northwestern, Wildcat center Alex Olah came down on Mo Walker's foot, turning his ankle as the Gophers were grabbing the rebound. As the play continued, Andre Hollins drove in and kicked the ball over to Austin Hollins, who was waiting on the wing.

Swish. The Gophers were up by five, a gap that would prove too much for Northwestern to over come. 

For a player who had only made one other shot all game -- and had been struggling offensively for the last three contests -- it was encouraging to see.

"There were a couple that I had missed earlier in the game that I thought were going in, so I just hadn't taken that many shots," Hollins said. "So when I had the open look, I was very confident shooting it and I knocked it down."

Coach Richard Pitino said he thinks part of the problem is that Hollins is trying to force shots he doesn't practice -- shots that are low-percentage at best -- such as the transition pull-up jumper.

"I said Austin, you're a good shooter," Pitino said. "It would be like if I go out and play golf, I don't hit my three-wood well, and I keep going to my three-wood. I said, 'Stop doing that!' That's a hard shot to take. And you saw later in the game and he hit a big shot. I think it's a hard shot to take, I think he needs to stop taking it.

"I've told him about it. I want him to play with great freedom. But just shoot shots that we work on. And that's a difficult one."

In general, with his jump shot not falling for much of the Big Ten slate, Hollins -- who is averaging 6.6 points in the last three games and 9 in the Big Ten overall -- has tried to do other things. He's corralled six rebounds in three of the last six games. Against Northwestern, he was huge in holding leading scorer Drew Crawford to a 1-for-15 night from the field.

Nonetheless, with the Gophers barreling toward the postseason, the Gophers will need his offense. Minnesota hasn't shown the ability to put teams away all year -- so every player will be key tonight vs. Illinois. Tonight's win will have big NCAA tournament implications, probably putting the Gophers on the edge of the bubble with a loss. And for  Hollins, he know he won't get many chances -- to play on this court, to go against Big Ten teams, to rise to the occasion.

"I've been thinking about that all season," Hollin said. "Not in a bad way, I just use that to motivate me. This is my last go-around. A lot of the places that we play, I'm not going to be back there another year. So I'm just trying to make the most of it while I can."

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
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: Which football team will have the best record in 2014?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT