Happy Monday, folks. How's everyone doing today? I'm glad to be back in Mpls after a long road trip.
Thanks for leaving all the Qs -- see I have a bunch waiting, so I'll jump right in.
I figured we'd have quite a few Qs on the Gophers senior today. I asked Pitino a little about that on today's Big Ten teleconference. Certainly, he acknowledges that Hollins needs to do more, but he doesn't seem to have the answers for why he isn't. Hollins went 2-for-8 and 1-for-5 in the last two games, so he probably needs to get a little more involved offensively for starters, but he's not taking bad shots necessarily. Might just be a slump.
A bad time for a slump, I might point out. Pitino also noted that he's not benching Hollins for Smith in case anyone is suggesting that. Hollins is still one of the best all-around players on the team. Smith has been getting plenty of minutes -- he had 31 against MSU -- but Pitino is still not ready to go to a four-guard lineup as the main lineup.
That's a good question ... I might say Thursday vs. Ohio State at home simply because a road game at Iowa will be very tough, I don't see the Gophers beating Wisconsin, and OSU has not been great vs. the zone. But it's not going to be easy in the least. The Buckeyes are extremely sound defensively, and after losing two straight, they are going to come in angry.
Of course the Gophers would love to get more rebounding, but it's not really on the roster. Minnesota is getting a notable presence on the boards from its guards -- 6.7 a game from Austin and 4.1 from Andre. It's hard to ask for more than that from the backcourt. Eliason is rebounding extremely well. The PF position is what it is.
That's obviously the weak point when it comes to rebounding on this team, but until the roster changes, that shortcoming isn't going to change. I don't see Osenieks or King suddenly becoming rebounding monsters.
Honestly, I don't know. He has been somewhat inconsistent in Big Ten play throughout his career. Hard to explain because he has such a strong work ethic and doesn't over-think bad games.
Mathieu is obviously going through a transition period from JUCO to the Big Ten, but he's done some really good things so far. He's been able to make adjustments in games where he isn't playing well, and he's doing a better job of kicking out to teammates when he gets in the lane rather than trying to challenge the bigger league opponents that have had no problem destroying him at the rim. He's really small, obviously, so he has some things to overcome, but it's hard not to see positives there. His quickness and spark has really made the Gophers a better team.
The backcourt has improved on paper, certainly -- it just needs to be more consistent. The team is downgraded in the frontcourt -- the Gophers don't really have a low post scoring option right now, and lack depth and impact at the PF spot (even though Eliason has been extremely efficient defensively, he's just one man, and still needs to improve in a lot of ways).
I do like Malik. I think he's filling a major hole for this team, which was a guy with the confidence and desire to take that big shot. He's got that swagger Minnesota badly needed. He hasn't made every shot, of course -- but if we went through every game and looked at the percentage of high-impact three attempts in meaningful situation, I think his stats look very good. He has been so huge for this Gophers team, and he's already shown he can play at this level.
That's a really broad question. Come back to me with something specific and maybe I'll answer it.
Always good to hear from you, Stu. Have you seen something you suspect is ACTUALLY a bigfoot, even though in its current form it resembles a house cat? If so, please tell me more.
That's good analysis, TK. The Gophers take very few shots that are outside the paint but inside the three-point line. I was just looking through the shot chard vs. MSU and Minnesota attempted like five the whole game. Maybe I should probe about that a little more.
Well I've only been in the great state of Minnesota for a few years, but certainly in my time, yes.
He needs to show Pitino something in practice before coach plays him in a game.
He will get every chance to. The Gophers are salivating for an aggressive power forward right now who will live on the boards and make an impact offensively. If Martin can do that at the next level, he's in (*pending who the Gophers sign in the late period).
From what I've put together, Goose started as a reference to Top Gun (since Minnesota also has a player named Maverick), although without context that still seems like a stretch to me.
I can't say I know what you mean since he's averaged 10 rebounds and 9 points over the last four games.
They usually leave the day before and fly back right after the game.
I thought he might too. Apparently he did also. McNeil actually asked Pitino if he could at the beginning of the season. But he's improved dramatically, and his confidence is much higher as a result. Pitino trusts him more and is inserting him in meaningful moments. I'm interested to see how he develops the rest of the season. These minutes can't be underestimated for his ultimate progress next year.
I bet we'll see a lot of it, yes.