Minnesota women’s basketball opens the season today against New Hampshire. The Gophers have sold out Williams Arena for Lindsay Whalen’s first game as Head Coach. The last time that the Women’s basketball team had an attendance that high was back in Whalen’s senior season as a player.
It remains to be seen how the Gophers will play under Whalen, though if the team wants to look like her teams of old that will be welcomed. Minnesota will once again have a strong group of guards led by Kenisha Bell and Destiny Pitts. Bell and Pitts are both pre-season honorees and should be in contention for All Big Ten teams. Bell is on the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award given to the nation’s best point guard, while Pitts is on the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watchlist for best shooting guard.
The Gophers were picked to finish third in the Big Ten conference, and certainly have the talent to make the NCAA Tournament and potentially make a run in Whalen’s first season behind the bench. As mentioned, the team has strong guard play. Based on off-season interviews, the team will play an aggressive style of basketball fitting of their coach on both ends of the floor.
What is a major unknown is how good the frontcourt will be. Under Marlene Stollings, the front court was neglected and Minnesota struggled against teams will talented post players. Taiyo Bello has a chance to step into a starting role along with freshmen Barbora Tomancova and Delaynie Byrne. Whalen’s “best” recruit, Mercedes Staples, will see action at guard.
Tonight’s game will be on BTN Plus. If you’re looking for the game on the radio, the team has moved to 96.7FM. Corbu Stathes and Lynnette Sjoquist return as announcers.