Three-point review of Gophers men’s and women’s basketball




By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


A seven-game review of Minnesota women’s basketball at this point of the season yields the following three points:

First point: Billed before the season as the missing piece, Rachel Banham thus far seemingly has made a smoother transition as freshman starting point guard than her male counterpart Andre Hollins (more on him later). “I think she’s doing a great job getting a feel of things, and she’s playing a lot of minutes. She’s really pushing tempo and keeping our team playing fast,” surmises Coach Pam Borton.

Second point: Will junior Leah Cotton ever play “unplugged”? Yes, she makes mistakes (i.e., silly fouls), but often makes up for it with hustle and ball hawking on defense. The 5-8” guard is the team’s best at driving fearlessly to the basket, especially on transition.

  Leah Cotton              MSR file photo


However, the third-year player continues to be on a short leash — you almost can count the seconds before the horn sounds, and she’s back on the bench. The Gopher coaching staff should cut the cord and let Cotton play.

Third point: The Gopher pivot position collectively so far has shown they aren’t Allstate: bad hands and too many missed shots from inside the paint are their two main weaknesses.

“We are getting a little bit better each game,” notes Borton on her team’s overall play.

Furthermore, after seven games, here is our Gophers men squad’s three-point review as well:

First point: As senior Trevor Mbakwe goes — obviously offensively, but defensively as well — so goes the Gophers. He tore his ACL in Sunday’s game and will now be out for the rest of the year.

Second point: Freshman starting point guard Andre Hollins’ slow adjustment to the college game is slower than many expected and could be a growing concern. Is junior college transfer Julian Welch now ready to assume these duties? “Julian is still learning,” admits Coach Tubby Smith.

Third point: Don’t be surprised if sophomore Maverick Ahanmisi plays a bigger role than many originally thought because both Hollins and Welch are now struggling to run Smith’s offense.


Diversity watch

The four Big Ten Black female head coaches could be a record for most in a Division I conference. Indiana’s Felisha Legette-Jack (sixth year) continues to be the dean of the sister coaches, with both Jolette Law (Iowa) and Coquese Washington (Penn State) in their fifth season at their respective schools. Bobbie Kelsey begins her first year at Wisconsin this season.



Gopher Coach Pam Borton reached the 250-wins plateau last week. She becomes one of seven active Big Ten coaches with 250 or more victories in their careers. In her 10th season, Borton became the school’s all-time winningest coach last season, surpassing Ellen Mosher-Hanson (1977-87).

U-M senior Kiara Buford (St. Paul Central) could break into the school’s all-time scoring top 10 — she needs 260 points to do so. The guard currently is in 14th place.

Ohio State junior Tayler Hill (Minneapolis South) soon should surpass 800 career points this season.


National exposure

More than 90 percent of Big Ten’s women basketball home games are scheduled this season to be shown on national television. At least 65 contests will appear on BTN (formerly known as the Big Ten Network), CBS or ESPN2. This doesn’t include coverage of the league’s post-season tournament next March.

Additionally, approximately 100 games are scheduled to be streamed online on


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