With a 12-5 start and a 3-3 record, Ben Johnson’s Minnesota Golden Gophers have improved from Big Ten bottom-feeders who finished 2-17 in conference play last year, to a legitimate contender in the conference.
The biggest reason for the improvement is a massive jump in offensive efficiency, from 335 in the country at 0.928 last season to 57th at 1.094. Hawkins is the one at the steering wheel on that end of the floor, and the 5-foot-11 junior is leading the Big Ten averaging 7.8 assists per game.
The Howard transfer is not shooting the ball well from the field, but he’s putting his high-scoring front court of Dawson Garcia and Joshua Ola-Joseph in positions to succeed. Garcia is averaging 17.4 points on 45.9% from the field and Ola-Joseph is scoring 11.0 a game and is at 63.8% from the field.
The drawback of Hawkins, besides his size, is the turnovers. 2.6 per game is just too many especially when the Golden Gophers are only 191st in pace as measured by possessions per game.