You may have heard that Blake Hoffarber is clutch. Whether it is skill, luck, divine providence, or he made a deal with the devil, Blake Hoffarber is responsible for the two most difficult and important shots in recent Minnesota basketball history. While much has been made of him making these spectacular shots, more impressive is the fact that he was even had the opportunity.
In both game saving situations, Hoffarber’s ability to even have a chance to win the game has been overshadowed. Yes, he sent the state championship game to over time by making a shot from his backside, but what other player would have had the foresight to track down the rebound and the awareness to at the very least throw the ball in the general direction of the basket. Against Indiana, how did one of the shortest players on the court manage to catch a pass that was to someone else, and again, know where the basket was? Instincts.
What we like
Blake Hoffarber does more with less than any other Gophers. We all know about his prodigious three point shooting, which last season ranked first in school history for freshman and 4th best over all. But besides his shooting, what other above average physical skills does he have? He won’t dunk on you, he won’t out jump you, and unless you are very, very slow, he won’t out run you. Yet, time and time again, Hoffarber makes the big play. He was serviceable as a point guard after rarely running an offense in high school, had 10 more assists than turnovers, and more up for the turnovers he did commit with 18 steals. Perhaps most impressively, he averaged almost 3 rebounds per game, with a season of high of 6 (three times) despite averaging 20 minutes per game. No Gopher, last year, was able to predict where missed shots would go quite like Hoffarber. Court awareness of the variety Hoffarber possesses can often do more to win a game than athleticism.
What needs to improve
As last season went on, Blake Hoffarber’s offensive one-dimensionality became a liability. Teams learned that he was not going to drive, and even if he did, they did not have much to worry about. They knew about his shot and feared it, but Hoffarber could not take advantage of this. If he could create his own shot, he would be one of the more dangerous offensive players in the country. Instead, he is what every team has to some degree, a good spot up shooter.
What to expect
Blake Hoffarber is a smart guy, and he should have known exactly what to work on during the off-season. Don’t expect any Michael Jordan moves, but do expect Hoffarbers to be improved enough to keep the defense honest, and to give himself some room for his outside shots. A double digit scoring average is not out of the question.