Column: Hollins steps up for Gophers, ya feel me?

Samuel Gordon

A flash card hangs inside senior guard Austin Hollins’ locker at Williams Arena.

A trio of goals is written in black marker.

1. I am making 50 percent of my FG and 40 percent of my 3PFG.

2. I am playing aggressive and rebounding on both ends of the floor.

3. I am playing smart and under control.

It was a tough Big Ten season for Hollins, but in the last three games, he’s stayed true to that flashcard.

It’s good timing on his part, because March Madness is right around the corner.

Hollins scored 11 points early in the first half of the Gophers’ 81-63 win over Penn State on Sunday afternoon. He helped set the tone in the blowout and finished with an efficient 14 points.

Hollins struggled to hit the 10-point mark for much of the Big Ten season, but he’s eclipsed it three times in the last three games — the best three-game stretch of his career.

“He works so hard every single day,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “He just needed to see the ball go in.”

Pitino has lauded Hollins’ consistency all year, and Gophers fans are finally seeing it come to fruition.

He scored a career-high 27 points in an upset win over Iowa, and he had 16 points on the road against Michigan.

Over the last three games, Hollins has looked to score more without compromising his intensity on the defensive end of the floor.

“I think being persistent and not giving up when things weren’t going well was really what helped me,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep working hard, and eventually, it’ll pay off. You just don’t know when.”

After the game, Pitino and his senior players addressed the fans as part of Senior Day festivities.

Pitino said Hollins will go down as one of the best players to ever play for the Gophers. That may be a bit of a stretch, but he was certainly an important player in the program.

Hollins helped ease the transition from Tubby Smith to Pitino and was the consummate professional on and off the court during his career.

He was a stabilizing force in a program that’s been anything but stable during his four years on campus.

On Sunday, fans stood and applauded him as he walked off the court in the game’s final minute — a cherry on top of an emotional Sunday evening.

Austin Hollins’ father, former NBA player and longtime NBA head coach Lionel Hollins, shared an embrace with his son near half court before the game.

The elder Hollins typically doesn’t care for the college game. But if he’s watched his son at all over the last few games, he might be forced to reconsider.

Ya feel me?