Hoffarber becoming more than 3-point man

Josh Katzenstein

If Minnesota menâÄôs basketball guard Blake Hoffarber wanted to prove heâÄôs honed his offensive skills other than the three-point shot, his performance in the Gophers first exhibition game wasnâÄôt the right way to do so. The senior captain scored 20 points in a dominant 109-59 win over Northeastern State last Tuesday, 18 of which came from behind the arc. The Gophers will surely need that kind of shooting performance from Hoffarber this year, but as the opposition improves, HoffarberâÄôs open looks will decrease. âÄúBlake is a player that has to learn to move better without the ball,âÄù head coach Tubby Smith said before last weekâÄôs game. âÄúHeâÄôs got to get to the rim, finish or find somebody open.âÄù MondayâÄôs home exhibition game against Winona State (Division II) at 7 p.m. provides a final opportunity for Hoffarber and the rest of the Gophers to polish their skills before the season begins. âÄúIâÄôve always been a player thatâÄôs done the little things as well, so I think people have realized that,âÄù Hoffarber said. Last season, Hoffarber made 85 three-point field goals, a school record, en route to shooting 46.7 percent from downtown. He led all returning players with 10.0 points per game and quietly added 3.6 rebounds per game as well, one of those little things he does well. In last weekâÄôs exhibition game, he started to show another side to his game that could help the Gophers this season, an ability to create for others. Hoffarber cannot be accused of being selfish because he has the green light to take open shots, but he had six assists on Wednesday due in part to improved ball handling. Hoffarber said he has a personal goal to improve each year, and as a captain, that drive could wear off on other people. But if thereâÄôs anything to take away from HoffarberâÄôs performance in the first exhibition game, itâÄôs that other players are confident in him. âÄúAny time your teammates are looking for you like that and expect you to shoot it, it definitely gives you confidence,âÄù Hoffarber said. As for the criticism that Hoffarber can only shoot, the senior takes the outside evaluation in stride. But if his shot is hitting like it was on Tuesday and for much of last season, why should he do anything else? âÄúThere will always be those critics that say, âÄòOh youâÄôre just a shooter, youâÄôre not good enough to play,âÄô âÄù Hoffarber said. âÄúYou just donâÄôt worry about what other people think and just go about your own business.âÄù