Springs fulfills role off the bench

The UW-Milwaukee transfer is averaging 7.3 points per game for Minnesota so far.

Jack White

Guard Akeem Springs had to adjust when he arrived at Minnesota this season.

Springs is averaging 19 minutes per game for Minnesota this year compared to his 31.9 minutes per game in his last season at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It definitely took some getting used to,” Springs said. “Just knowing my minutes, trying to make the most of the minutes that I have.”

Springs was second on UW-Milwaukee in scoring last season, averaging 13.2 points per game. Springs moved to a bench role for the Gophers this season and now averages 7.3 points per game.

Minnesota has two freshman playing more than 20 minutes per game in Amir Coffey and Eric Curry. Springs is the lone graduate student on the roster.

Head coach Richard Pitino said this is an extremely young team, but there’s a benefit to having someone like Springs on the roster.

“It’s to have a guy like [Springs] who’s been there before, been in big games, understands college basketball,” Pitino said.

Even though Springs has come off the bench, he has been a leading scorer at times for the Gophers.

Springs tied for a team best 11 points last game against Florida State. The Florida State game marked the fourth time he scored double-digit points off the bench this season.

Springs is first in scoring among players who have not started a single game. Yet, he is shooting 34.8 percent from the floor, the lowest total of any player on the team with at least 10 shots.

Pitino said he wants everybody to play freely.

“He’s got the ultimate green light when he’s open,” Pitino said.

Springs has provided for the team when it comes to 3-point shooting.

He leads the team in 3-point attempts with 35 and made 3-pointers with 12. He is shooting 34.3 percent from behind the arc.

Springs said it has been a different year for him.

“If you look at me statistically, I don’t think the ratio of threes to twos has ever been like this so it’s definitely different,” Springs said.

Springs has the most 3-point attempts, but he is third on the team in 3-point percentage.

“I’m not taking too many,” Spring said. “Especially when I’m hot.”

Center Reggie Lynch hosted Springs during his visit to Minnesota.

“He was little quiet, Lynch said. “Now that he knows guys and he’s been around us for a good six or seven months, he’s making his voice known, his presence felt.”

Springs has grabbed rebounds at the guard position. He has 25, tied for fourth on the team and tied for first among guards.

Pitino said Springs brings a lot to the table besides scoring.

“He’s one of our better off-ball defenders, really talks, communicates, absorbs scouting reports extremely well,” Pitino said. “He’s obviously got a Big Ten body.”

Springs is in his final year of collegiate eligibility, and Lynch said that Springs has played his heart out so far in his final year.

“You can see, every game, every second matters to him,” Lynch said. “You got to play for perfection with him.”