First an apology. We have not covered the Women’s team at all this season, and that’s an error on our part. We’d like to note that we do not get paid for this, but we are committing to do better going forward.
Minnesota is 10-7 this season. Their game today against Northwestern was postponed due to the tragic passing of Jordan Hankins. The Gophers are 1-3 in conference play, with a recent win over Wisconsin, and losses to Ohio State, Maryland, and Indiana. Both Maryland and Ohio State are top teams this year, so those losses are not surprising.
Minnesota is playing much better at home this year than the road. The Gophers are 8-2 at the Barn and just 2-5 on the road. Some of that is due to the unbalanced nature of the non conference schedule, but it is imperative to make the NCAA Tournament that Minnesota begins to pick up road wins.
The Gophers have been an average team on offense and a rather poor team on defense compared to the rest of the conference. On the season, they average .96 points per possession and give up .91 points per possession. The latter is the third worst in conference, ahead of only Nebraska and Wisconsin. As a team, they are a bad rebounding team, ranking second worst in the conference. That rebounding deficiency has provided opposing teams with extended possessions and remains a concern going forward. One bright spot so far is that Minnesota does not foul, and their opponents have had to earn their points.
The two names to know this year are Carlie Wagner and Kenisha Bell. Wagner and Bell lead the team in points per 40 minutes. Both players put up 22 points per forty minutes. Each of them also has a high usage rate, with Bell finishing almost a third of Minnesota possessions when she is on the floor and Wagner finishing almost thirty percent.
Wagner is a known quantity, and continues to be a top scorer and defender for the team. Bell, a Minneapolis native, transferred from Marquette after being named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. As mentioned, she has continued her scoring output at Minnesota and has provided an important second scorer for the team after losing Rachel Banham to graduation.
Currently, Minnesota is projected as one of the next four out to make the NCAA Tournament. Half of their games are at home, and the Gophers have the opportunity to get good wins against Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State. The first two are key games because Michigan and Iowa are also on the bubble. At this stage in the season the team still controls their own destiny, but needs some wins in a hurry. They also cannot afford any bad losses, in particular to Nebraska or Penn State in early February.