Gopher Women’s Basketball

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So now it’s the next day, Sunday.  We went to Williams Arena to see the Gopher women’s basketball team play Northwestern.  I have to be honest here – the Gophers are having an average year.  I went to see Rachel Banham play.  Rachel (1) is a 5’9″ sophomore guard from Lakeville and she leads the Big Ten in scoring.  All the years Lindsay Whelan was starring for the Gophers, we always said we were going to gone down to see her play.  We never did.  I did not want to miss the next Lindsay Whelan.

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[Of local interest, Kayla (20) is a 6’2″ sophomore (a freshman for eligibility purposes because she missed all of last season with an injury) from Bemidji, so we saw her play against our Cardinals.]

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[After Saturday’s hockey game, we spent the night with Cam and Karen in Mounds View and thought it a good omen when we saw a Cardinal on their bird feeder that morning.]

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[Probably taken somewhere on the Williams Arena concourse.]

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[The classic arena.]

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[The far left entry in the 2nd deck is where Uncle Dick sat lo those many years as a Gopher fan.  He sat at the top of the rail overlooking the entry – “best seat in the house” was his description.]

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[The famous raised floor.  I loved to play intra-mural basketball on it.]

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[Famous Gophers]

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[More famous Gophers]

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[Famous band]

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[Famous pink warm-ups for this game.]

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[The main focus of my attentions, the redoubtable Ms. Banham.]

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[Nice looking jumper.]

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[Another player of local interest.  Sari Noga (21), center, is a 5’10” junior from Parkers Prairie.  She has a sister on the current Parkers Prairie team who is attracting interest as a point guard.]

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[Sari and Rachel, top, in dribbling drills.]

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[Following Banham]

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[Head Coach Pam Borton]

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[I’m starting a fund drive to have Uncle Dick’s (“World’s Greatest Fan”) seat bronzed for posterity (or for my posterior, whichever occurs first.]

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[And introducing . . .]

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[Kionna Kellogg (5), 6’1″ junior from Ames, Iowa (how’d the Cyclones let her get away?)]

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[Sari]

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[Micaella Riche’ (15), 6’2″ junior from Ontarioi.]

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[Shayne Mullaney (3), 5’10” freshman from Eden Prairie.]

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[And Rachel]

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[LET’S PLAY BASKETBALL!]

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[Rachel sinks a free throw, as I recall the completion of a 3-point play.]

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[Sari to Micaella]

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[Maggie Lyon (25), 6’1″ freshman from Wilmette was a “player” for the Wildcats – nice lefty shooter who could get her own shots.]

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[I decided I couldn’t edit out the “fuzzy head” in the left foreground without losing the photo.  So here’s Rachel defending Lyon.]

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[The Parkers Prairie Panther hits a 3!]

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[In fact, Sari made three 3’s in the early going.  Then the Wildcats decided they better defend her better – she made one more three in the game.]

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[Rachel looking good on a jumper.]

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[And bringing the ball upcourt.]

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[Something I didn’t realize (or had forgotten) – Joe McKeown is the Wildcats coach.  When we lived in Arlington, we were basically just across the river from Foggy Bottom and George Washington University.  We “adopted” the Buff and Blue as our home team, and during that time Joe was the head coach of the Colonials and perennially had teams ranked in the Top 25.  Mike Jarvis also had some good men’s teams at the time so the Smith Center would often see the likes of Wolf Blitzer in the stands (every game) and Bill Clinton (once).]

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[Micaella]

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[So, where is post-game dining?]

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[Rachel walks it up.  I’m not sure if she’s considered the point guard or the shooting guard.  Probably whatever fits the occasion.  She is a terrific talent.]

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[Lauren Douglas (11), is a 6’2″ freshmen and reflects what became the telling point in the game.  The Wildcats were bigger at every position.  McKeown knows how to take advantage of that – the Wildcats pounded it inside all game for easy lay-ups.]

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[Kendall Hackney (4), senior, another 6’2″ for the Wildcats was also a player.]

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[Where the ‘Cats had an advantage.]

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[The Gophers go back on defense.]

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[The ball is in the air – but who shot it?]

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[All the Wildcats were 6’2″, the height of the Gophers’ center, or taller.]

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[Micaella could find her way to the line on occasion.]

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[Could you text that to me?]

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[Douglas shoots over Micaella.]

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[Somebody launched a long one?]

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[I’m not eating dorm food after the game!]

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[Rachel makes one . . .]

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[Then two.]

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[Then other athletes wrested the floor.]

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[Rachel tries a 3.  Some times her shot selection is forced.  I think she feels it’s on her when the game is close.]

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[Shayne at the line.]

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[The other athletes again.]

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[They seem to get more playing time as the game is winding down.]

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[With their stackability, I think they could dunk!]

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[But it’s a long way coming back down again.  😉 ]

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[Their baseline numbers are good.]

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[So, we’re agreed – not dorm food?]

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[Rachel hands off to Mikayla Bailey (24), 5’9″ freshman from Maple Grove.  How many different spellings are they for “Mikayla”?]

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[Another 3 attempt from Rachel.]

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[Please drop!]

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[Arrrghhhhhhh!]

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[You may have noticed we switched positions at the half.  We had a loud-mouthed Gopher fan behind us in the first half so we decided to seek asylum in the corner for the 2nd.  Minnesota may be the State of Hockey, but basketball is still the bigger draw.  I can’t understand how an average basketball team with one star player can attract more fans than the possibly best college hockey team of all-time with several Olympians to be on the team?]

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[The final was 70 – 63.]

The following article from the StarTribune was the object of much discussion around the state:

http://www.mngirlsbasketballhub.com/news_article/show/226036

How it was decided that a 6’9″ player would “not be a good fit at the ‘U'” struck all as a tad puzzling.  Are all the doors at the ‘U’ only 6’7″?  The Gophers biggest problem all year has been their interior defense because of their lack of height.  A  6’9″ player would have totally changed how the Northwestern game was played – most of their points came from lobs in to taller players underneath.  The player in question has a sister who is a 6’5″ high school sophomore.  I hope she’ll fit at the ‘U’?

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