Blog: Andre Hollins, Gophers Ready for Cardinal in NIT title game

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Read full Stanford game preview | Recap: Gophers top Washington in OT to advance

NEW YORK - The Gopher basketball team is staying right in the middle of Times Square, but hasn't let the bright lights of New York City distract them from the task at hand: Winning Minnesota's third NIT title tonight against Stanford Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Go Gophers! Andre Hollins
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins is averaging 19.5 points per game in the postseason.
Go Gophers!
"We've shown a lot of heart, going on the road and winning three, then another on a neutral site," said Tubby Smith to the media Wednesday. "We've got our work cut out for us in a a very good Stanford team... I'm really proud of how [our guys] have stepped up."

If you'll be watching tonight's game (6 p.m. on ESPN with Mike Patrick, Bill Raftery and Fran Fraschilla on the call) one theme you'll undoubtedly hear will center around freshman guard Andre Hollins. The Memphis native was heavily recruited by both Stanford's Johnny Dawkins (as both the Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller and the Star Tribune's Amelia Rayno discuss today) and Minnesota.

The latter part of the season, the freshman has been Minnesota's most dynamic playmaker and "is probably our best shooter" according to Smith. He's averaging 19.5 points per game in six postseason contests, with his back-to-back 20-point efforts against Northwestern and Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament making him the first Gopher to accomplish the feat since Blake Hoffarber in December of '09 (Rodney Williams saw his streak of four straight 20-point efforts come to an end Tuesday).

"If we're now seeing the real Andre Hollins, the Gophers are going to be in fine shape at the point in 2012-13," writes ESPN 1500's Judd Zulgad. Tubby Smith agrees:

"I think he's becoming a true point guard," said Smith of Andre on Wednesday. "I think he's getting closer."

"If you get to this point you probably deserve this opportunity," continued Smith. "I think our guys have earned this opportunity to compete for a championship."

Be sure to watch the game on ESPN and follow us on Twitter at @MNGopherHoops for live updates throughout the day. Also, if you're looking for a place to watch with other Gopher fans tonight be sure to attend the official viewing party at Joe Senser's in Roseville.

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Love you Tubby - Great work with the Young men this season..Best of luck in the future - I hope that you get the facilities that will help us Gopher B-Ball fans see some upper-tier Big Ten finishes soon. Good luck tonight - would not miss it..And Scribes that claim the NIT is a waste, are fools...The men are playing the game they love and getting valuable playing experience..!!