Lewis is only constant for U hoops

Michael Dougherty

Gophers forward Quincy Lewis continues to play the part of Jimmy Chipwood from the movie “Hoosiers.”
Give him the shot. He won’t miss it.
The rest of his teammates, however, seem to take on the persona of the dim-witted Ollie whenever the team goes on the road.
The 19th-ranked Gophers are averaging 76 points a game at home, but only 59.4 on the road. And Lewis continues to be the only one who seems to bring his game face on the trip.
With his 28 points in Saturday’s 61-50 loss to No. 12 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., Lewis’ scoring average is up to 23.8 (25.4 in Big Ten games), and until Kevin Clark rediscovers his lost scoring touch, Lewis will probably be the only reliable option the team has on the offensive end.
“I’m the first option in Coach (Clem) Haskins’ offense, and everyone knows that,” Lewis said. “Once we start getting more comfortable, the rest of the offense will get better.”
Haskins said he doesn’t like the fact he has to rely on Lewis for so much offense, but there’s not much he can do about it.
“We’d like to get better balance, but I’m a coach who likes to milk a guy who is hot,” he said.
And right now Lewis is producing more milk than a prize-winning cow at the State Fair. His play has a lot of people mentioning him as a candidate for the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player award, and Haskins now begins every post-game press conference with a statement like the one he made after Saturday’s game.
“You had a chance to watch the MVP of the Big Ten, Quincy Lewis, perform today,” Haskins said. “If anybody thinks there is anyone playing better than him, they must be blind.”
However, it is the end of Haskins’ statement which has to worry Gophers fans.
“But Quincy was not enough to carry the Gophers to victory,” he said.
With Lewis’ production proving to not be enough, Haskins has to ask for more from several of his players.
Clark’s scoring average has dropped almost six points per game in Big Ten play, after his 4-for-15 performance at Wisconsin.
“I think it was one of the worst games he’s played this year,” Haskins said of Clark. “He doesn’t understand how to get open against pressure like this today.”
Przybilla is committing almost four fouls a game in Big Ten play, and was held scoreless after he fouled out of the Wisconsin game in just nine minutes.
“My big freshman played like a freshman — he was non-existent,” Haskins said of Przybilla. “He’s got to be smarter inside. Guys are doing a good job of holding him with their elbows.”
Lewis chalked up Przybilla’s poor play to inexperience.
“Check the tapes back when I was young,” he said, “I didn’t look that pretty either.”
What about Ohnstad? He scored a career-high 14 against Indiana Tuesday, but was held scoreless against the Badgers and had three of his four shots blocked.
“Mitch Ohnstad is a young guy we expect to get points from and he didn’t give us any,” Haskins said. “He played his worst game of the year today.”
Ohnstad stole a quote from Haskins when he described the team’s philosophy.
“What we need to do is milk the hot hand,” he said. “But at the same time we have to step up and make some plays ourselves.”
With all of this talk of milking Lewis’ hot hand, do Minnesota fans have to worry about the senior’s supply of milk going sour?
Fortunately for the Gophers, it doesn’t appear as if Lewis is showing any signs of running dry.
“Quincy Lewis is simply that good, and I haven’t seen anybody better,” Badgers coach Dick Bennett said when asked about Lewis. “I’m really going to enjoy watching him at the next level. I can’t say that I enjoy watching him right now, though. He didn’t get one easy basket today.”
Lewis, in his modest fashion, gave an aw-shucks response to Bennett’s compliments.
“I think I got a lot of good looks at the basket,” he said. “Then again, I’m not too particular.”
It’s a good thing that he’s not too particular for Haskins and the rest of the Gophers. Otherwise they might not be able to win at home, either.