Column: Stollings should invigorate Gophers, ya feel me?

Samuel Gordon

Norwood Teague made a helluva splash with his first hire: head men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino.

He might have just made his second one.

Teague announced the hiring of Marlene Stollings from Virginia Commonwealth on Monday afternoon.

Teague caught lightning in a bottle with Pitino, who just completed a successful first season with the Gophers. And at first glance, it seems like Teague is trying to do the same with his new women’s head coach.

Stollings, like Pitino, is known to run an up-tempo offensive system that maximizes a team’s shooting and athleticism.

Stollings, like Pitino, is considered young for her profession.

Stollings, like Pitino, coached at the mid-major level before arriving at Minnesota.

And all comparisons aside, this looks like a good hire.

The Gophers’ roster was more than talented this season, but former head coach Pam Borton couldn’t get her team to the NCAA tournament.

Stollings should be able to corrects the team’s offensive woes.

That’s what the stats suggest, at least.

VCU’s offense ranked 36th in the country in points per game — 113 spots higher than Minnesota.

The Gophers’ offense was often slow-paced last season, featuring a bit too much Rachel Banham or bust.

VCU women’s basketball didn’t occupy the primetime spot on ESPN, but the team set school records for points per game and 3-pointers made.

She coaches for her team to get buckets and treys.

And that style of offense should reinvigorate Minnesota’s once-passionate fan base.

The Gophers used to be among the nation’s best in home attendance, but spectators have seemed to grow more and more apathetic with each consolation tournament appearance.

Teague fired Borton at the end of March after the Gophers failed to make the NCAA tournament for a fifth consecutive season.

Stollings will have even more pressure on her to do what Borton couldn’t do: earn a trip to the Big Dance.

She’ll also be looked upon to recruit more in-state talent.

Minnesota has become a hot-bed of sorts for women’s basketball, but the state’s elite players regularly pass on the Gophers in favor of other programs.

There have been a couple exceptions in Rachel Banham and incoming freshman Carlie Wagner — skilled, athletic guards who can shoot the long ball.

It sounds like the run-and-gun offense will be a perfect fit.

Ya feel me?