Marcus Carr is one of 10 players on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, a testament to how impressive the first half of the season was for the Gophers junior.
Carr wasn't on the preseason list for the award, which goes to the top point guard in college men's basketball. But he is one of seven players on the list — which was revealed Monday and also includes Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy) and Colorado's McKinley Wright (Champlin Park) — leading their teams in scoring and assists.
Still, the No. 21 Gophers are dealing with a balancing act between relying heavily on Carr to be their go-to scorer and also needing him facilitate to make the offense flow.
"I'm not sure anybody but him was great from the offensive side of it," coach Richard Pitino said after the Gophers lost 63-49 to Maryland on Saturday. "We've got to look at what we're doing."
The Gophers (11-5, 4-5 Big Ten) next play Saturday at Purdue. They got 25 points from Carr on 8-for-14 shooting against Maryland, but the rest of the team finished 6-for-32. Carr's teammates had one of their worst shooting performances of the season, and he had zero assists for the first time in his two seasons with the Gophers.
Carr, who is averaging 20.9 points and 5.2 assists this season, became the only Division I player this season with at least 25 points, four turnovers and no assists while playing 40 minutes in a game.
Recently, Carr said figuring out when to take over offensively and when to get teammates involved was a work in progress.
"It's kind of just seeing how the other team is going to play us," Carr said earlier. "What the game plan is and how also other guys are feeling. I always do want to get other guys involved early."
In a Jan. 3 victory over Ohio State, Carr didn't take a shot until late in the first half, but the Gophers established center Liam Robbins, who led five players in double figures with 27 points.
The Gophers tried to go through the post and Robbins initially against Maryland. The ball was moving, but the offense just couldn't get into rhythm.
The Terrapins trapped Robbins and took away quality post touches. Carr wasn't looking to shoot much but finally hit a three-pointer more than eight minutes into the game. The Gophers already trailed 17-3.
Robbins finished with only six points in 22 minutes before fouling out. He took six shots, his fewest in a Big Ten game. It was also the first game this season no Gophers player besides Carr took more than six shots.
Carr's starting backcourt mates, Gabe Kalscheur and Both Gach, had their worst games of the season Saturday, combining for two points on 0-for-10 shooting, including 0-for-8 on three-pointers. The Gophers, the Big Ten's worst three-point shooting team, were 5-for-23 in the game.
"We settled for too many jump shots," said freshman Jamal Mashburn Jr., who had nine points. "We just have to do a better job of attacking and getting downhill. That's when we're at our best."
It wasn't on Carr that his teammates were not making shots. But the Gophers are at their best offensively when their point guard can be aggressive while also getting others going as well.
"It's going to be up to Carr," Big Ten Network analyst Len Elmore said during the Maryland game. "To push the ball to score, execute and get the ball into other guys' hands — and then ultimately create."
Conroy gets scholarship
Pitino awarded a scholarship to Gophers walk-on senior guard Hunt Conroy, he announced Tuesday. Conroy is the son of associate head coach Ed Conroy and center Liam Robbins' cousin.
Conroy, who is working on his master's degree in youth development leadership, has played in nine career games, including three this season.
"He's a great kid who wants to be a coach," Pitino said."He has been great academically and a great teammate."