Category Archives: Gophers

Minnesota Gophers Basketball

Minnesota Returns One of the Best Shooters Among Big Ten Point Guards

After considering the statistics below, which player do you think had a better season – A or B?

2011-12 Player Comparison

Player A

Player B

Games started

21

21

Offensive Rating

106.1

99.2

2-pt FG%

48.9%

40.5%

3-pt FG%

43.8%

37.9%

REB / 40 min

4.0

3.9

AST / 40 min

4.7

3.4

TO / 40 min

3.7

4.0

STL / 40 min

1.7

1.6

Also, keep in mind the following:

  • Player A made more shots in fewer attempts than Player B when shooting 2-point field goals.
  • Player A also made more shots in fewer attempts than Player B when shooting 3-point field goals.
  • Each player turned the ball over and secured rebounds at approximately the same rates.

Andre Hollins had a fine freshman campaign and his progression over the course of the season could be seen.  He’ll be much improved as a sophomore and looks to be a key piece of Minnesota basketball for the next few years.

However, as a freshman his 2-point field goal percentage was the worst of all Gophers (excluding walk-ons), he had a turnover rate of about 26% and was prone to picking up bad fouls.  These are areas that often improve significantly between a player’s first and second years and Dre projects to be very good.

Although Hollins did average 15.0 ppg in the Gophers’ NIT run, his effective field goal percentage was only 47.4% and the young guard turned the ball over at an average of 5.0 per 40 minutes (25% higher than his average for the full season).  Also, it’s fair to note that in the NIT Minnesota didn’t face any teams in the top 50 for defensive efficiency until Stanford (19th).  To be sure, the confidence is there and things will come together for Andre, but in 2011-12 the Gophers’ best point guard was Julian Welch (Player A).

People will remember some late game missed free throws from Welch, but he was a fine 78% from the line overall.  If anything more than coincidence, misses in crunch time are mostly mental and fans should do what Julian needs to do whenever he’s at the line – forget about the past.  It’s just another free throw.

The junior guard from California proved to be capable of hitting key shots on many occasions.  Just a sample:

  • With 5:38 to play against Michigan in the Big Ten Tourney, his 3-pointer put Minnesota up 49-45.  25 seconds later, he buried another trey to make it 52-45 in favor of the Gophers.
  • In overtime against Northwestern, Julian connected from deep to break a 62-62 tie and the Gophers never gave the lead back.
  • With less than three minutes on the clock and down by 5, Welch’s 3-pointer made the score 55-53 Michigan in a regular season contest.  Less than a minute later, another long range basket cut the lead to 57-56.
  • At Illinois, his 3-point baskets late in the second half tied the game up at 54 and 57, respectively.
  • Down by 5 with 4:36 to play, Welch nailed a triple to reduce Indiana State’s lead to 2 points.  A minute later, his layup would give Minnesota a 63-62 lead and his 4/4 free throw shooting in the last 1:23 of the game sealed the victory for the Gophers.

Welch started and ended the season playing through injury, but even after his first three games as a Gopher in which he shot just 2/9 from the field, had 4 assists and 8 turnovers, he put together a solid 2011-12 campaign.  His 56.1 eFG% was so good that it will be difficult to duplicate (to compare, Andre Hollins had a 48.2 eFG% and in 2010-11 senior Blake Hoffarber shot 53.5%), but if he can cut down on turnovers and not take a huge step back shooting the ball, the 5th year senior will be a valuable part of the team once again.

The time is now for sophomore Andre Hollins, but there’s no reason why he and Julian Welch can’t play together.  No matter who carries the ball up the court, you’ve then got two ballhandlers that are threats from 3-point range.  While Julian adds in a nifty mid-range game, Andre has the ability to get all the way to the bucket.  Combine those two with Austin Hollins and the defense has to worry about three deep ball threats who can attack at multiple levels.  Not bad.  Add in an all-conference talent down low in Trevor Mbakwe along with an athletic Rodney Williams cutting toward the hoop and opponents are going to have their hands full.

Match ups and a number of other variables will dictate who plays with who, but don’t forget about Julian Welch as a potential difference maker for the 2012-13 Golden Gophers.  No matter where you see Welch fitting in with next year’s team, he deserves a lot of credit for a solid first year at Minnesota.

The table below is not meant to be an exhaustive list of everyone who played point guard in the Big Ten, but it does help to illustrate where the Gophers’ guards stacked up against their peers.

B1G Point Guards – Effective Field Goal Percentage in 2011-12

Player

Team

eFG%

Jordan Hulls

Indiana

63.0%

Julian Welch

Minnesota

56.1%

Aaron Craft

Ohio State

55.0%

Trey Burke

Michigan

50.2%

Dave Sobolewski

Northwestern

50.0%

Andre Hollins

Minnesota

48.2%

Jordan Taylor

Wisconsin

48.1%

Lewis Jackson

Purdue

47.1%

Keith Appling

Michigan State

46.6%

Tim Frazier

Penn State

44.6%

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