Courtesy of a writer to be named later (very soon, we promise).
Welcome back from a second week of the Gopher Report Card. Two games were played this week with the Gophers prevailing in both contests including an impressive victory over Richmond on the road this weekend. While all games are important, there was a definite need to get an early road victory to prove to the rest of the B1G that the Gophers plan to be in the NCAA Tournament hunt. Many prognosticators have picked the Gophers to struggle this season but it is my belief that this team has obvious talent that can compete on a national level. This weekend’s win should go a long way to gain some confidence headed into next week’s games, leading up to the true test in Maui.
Deandre Mathieu B- Last Week: B+ Season GPA: 3.0
After showing off impressive skills and outstanding athletic ability in the first two games, Dre Mathieu took a step back this week. That being said, these are a part of the expected ups and downs of riding this undersized playmaker. Dre showed a tendency to over dribble — especially in the full court where he tends to dribble too deep into the teeth of the defense and relies on his athleticism to make a play. That being said, while struggling through much of the Richmond game the offense played its best at the beginning and the end of the game where the ball was placed in Dre’s hands. The most impressive play of the week from anyone on the team was towards the end of the Richmond game where Dre drive the lane on the left side and dumped off the ball for an easy dunk when the offense desperately needed a bucket. We’ll be riding the Little Dre rollercoaster all season it seams.
Andre Hollins A Last Week: B Season GPA 3.50
Leading the B1G in scoring early on here, the new 2-guard in Pitino’s offense is looking more and more comfortable with each game. Big Dre took the reigns of the offense for much of the second half with Mathieu and Maverick struggling and he looked a lot like the player we saw at the end of last season, for better or worse at times. Dre is great at getting his own shot and this offense will allow him to do that, but on the whole, I don’t believe that the game plan going forward will call for Dre to be playing as much point as he played this week. That determination will be dependent on how the other guards on the roster play as Big Dre will need to serve as Little Dre’s back up. There were times during the Richmond game where I believe that he was pressing on offense, but that could be said for anyone on the roster during the middle of that game. Dre’s defense has always been a work in progress, but new this week was putting Dre on the ball during the press and allow him to run and jump for traps and play behind the ball to gamble for steals. He may not be the best fit on the team for this role, but given that he is one of the weaker individual defenders it may make sense to not make him have to cover up for the risks that the press presents.
Austin Hollins B+ Last Week: B Season GPA: 3.17
Despite struggling with his shot in the early going, Austin has played some good basketball this season. By simply looking at the box scores, you can tell that Austin’s rebounding has greatly improved and has helped mask some of the early frontcourt issues. Austin’s improved versatility has lead to some minutes at the 4 where he is still learning the nuances of screening and rolling but he is serviceable here in a pinch. The best part about the rebounding is that there is no need to outlet the ball to a guard as Austin is very capable of running the break. Fighting through foul trouble against Richmond, Austin hit a key 3 coming down the stretch and continued a solid start to his senior season.
Oto Osenieks B- Last Week: B+ Season GPA: 3.0
Foul trouble was the story of the Richmond game for the entire team and as we shift into the frontcourt play that was especially the case. Having to play multiple positions Oto continued his improved offensive play. If he can hit a 3-per game, Oto will space the floor to Pitino’s delight. Despite his previous struggles, Oto has always had an offense friendly game that was only held back by confidence issues and coaching misuse. In the early going this season the offensive production from the PF spot has been outstanding and that continued this week. On the flipside, rebounding and defense have clearly been lacking from our 4’s and Oto did nothing to remedy that concern. Playing against a physical frontline of Richmond, Oto didn’t hold his own on the glass or in forcing their linebacker sized PF off the block and allowed deep position all game long.
Elliott Eliason B+ Last Week: A Season GPA: 3.67
The defensive anchor of the Gopher’s D was in foul trouble for much of the Richmond game but so was everyone else. Elliott used his length to cause problems on the back end of the press; often covering up the mistake of the guards gambling for steals. In the Montana game, Elliott was able to amass five blocks while adding two steals to go along with impressive rebounding totals in both games. Elliott will need to improve decision making on offense in terms of knowing when to try and assert himself. With the only active Center on the roster, it would be nice to establish some low post presence this week before headed to Maui.
Joey King B+ Last Week: A- Season GPA: 3.5
Seemingly thriving in an off the bench role, Joey has been a great addition to the offense. Hitting the offensive boards this week, Joey found ways to get easy baskets on top of his diverse offensive game that can take defenders inside and out to the perimeter. Defensively he is still a work in progress, often foregoing actually getting in position and settling for Duke-esque charge taking attempts which have lead to fouls. Once he makes a commitment to improving on the defensive end you can expect King to continue to be a pleasant surprise for this Gophers team.
Malik Smith B Last Week: B- Season GPA: 2.83
Staying true to form, Malik took a total of 16 shots in 37 minutes this week. Anyone looking for this 5th year senior to diversify his game is going to be disappointed but for those accepting the ultimate heat check player, you can safely enjoys his 30-foot bombs. The best part about Malik is that Pitino is familiar with his streaks and will be able have a quick leash for when he is simply cold. To be fair, Malik did have a good baseline drive against Richmond that resulted in a floater to keep the D honest. Mixing in a nice drive here and there when he is feeling it is nice to see.
Maverick Ahanmisi D+ Last Week: B+ Season GPA: 2.33
Yuck. Mav was a turnover king against Richmond and didn’t do anything that stuck out against Montana. Having to play back-up point, it has become painfully obvious to Gopher fans that Mav is simply incapable of doing so. One positive note is that Mav had 3 rebounds in limited minutes against Montana and has always been an underrated rebounder. What needs to happen for Maverick to become successful is to take him off the ball and allow him to become a spot up shooter, which is a role that is currently being filled by Malik Smith. I believe these two will trade off frustrating Gopher fans until one establishes themselves as a legitimate off the bench shooter.
Wally Ellenson C+ Last Week: F Season GPA: 1.34
Looking more and more like a contribution in limited minutes, Wally continues to earn Pitino’s trust in short spurts. On the plus side, Wally looked very good this week rebounding the ball with 5 total rebounds in 15 minutes. His athleticism is outstanding and I love his weak side rebounding. If Wally did truly have a problem with his role leading into the season, he has made strides to contribute in any way possible. What he cannot seem to change is his shot selection, where he seemingly has no filter and no conscience when it comes to good and bad shots. Too many times Wally will throw up an early shot clock heave where there could be far better options later in the play.
Charles Buggs C Last Week: C- Season GPA: 1.835
Once again this week, Buggs looked tentative and there is a reason he didn’t receive any minutes against Richmond. Against Montana, Buggs was all over the court in a frustrating manner where he negatively impacted spacing. That being said, he did have a steal that almost lead to a highlight reel dunk had he not fumbled the pass and also banked in a deep 3. His confidence is bordering Oto from last year at the moment, but I still believe in his talent.
Daquein McNeil C Last Week: Inc Season GPA: 1.00
After thinking last week that we’d see the freshman guard Redshirt this season, Daquein played in the first half against Montana. In limited minutes Daquein really didn’t stand out on the court and looks every bit like a freshman. Just as last year with Wally, some fans may not agree with Daquien’s decision, but Redshirting is a matter of personal choice and hopefully Daquein can contribute depth at the guard position this season.