Spotlight on the Gophers 100
There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the 2013-14 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight these players.
This week: Freshman Gopher basketball guard Stabresa McDaniel
Stabresa McDaniel is used to getting “the most attention” as one of six siblings in her family. “I actually like being the youngest,” she admits. “My older siblings say I’m spoiled — I get away with a lot of things.”
Leaving both the Lone Star State and her family hasn’t been as hard as one might expect for the youngest McDaniel. “I really didn’t care about the distance, but [I do care about] being away from my family. My dad made it easier for me — he said, ‘Go, do what you really want to do for yourself,” she remembers. “I had a lot of [college] offers back home, but it wasn’t a good fit for me.”
Then her Minnesota visit seemed to clinch it for her. “What really convinced me [to come here] was the coaches and my [future] teammates,” says McDaniel. “At first, I was like, ‘Ah, do I want to be away this far from my family?’ But this is a good fit for me.”
The cold notwithstanding, McDaniel, who plans to major in either kinesiology or physical therapy, says she’s glad to be here: “I have adjusted well.”
For one night in November, McDaniel, the only Black freshman player on this year’s Gopher women’s basketball team, was again at the center of attention as she was featured on the cover of the game-day program.
The 5’-10” guard from Dallas, Texas is the first Texas player in school history to wear Minnesota colors since LaToyia Watkins (1994-95). After arriving on campus to stay this past summer, she recalls, “It was a lot to deal with, with classes and trying to learn the campus over the summer.”
Then it was getting adjusted to playing college hoops, especially on the famed raised Barn floor. “It was much faster,” admits McDaniel.
“I think the biggest thing she’s learned since she has been here is how to work hard, just giving that type of effort every day,” adds Gopher Coach Pam Borton.
With only 10 roster players this season, Borton says she’s looking for McDaniel to accelerate her first-year learning curve and be a key contributor during the conference season. The coach told the MSR after an early non-conference contest when McDaniel hit a career-high 14 points, “I think we’re seeing little bits and pieces of what ‘Bree’ can do for our team. She brings us a lot of energy, and a great spark off the bench.
“I think she’s a rebounding guard and she can bring a defensive presence for us,” surmises Borton. “I think the sky’s the limit for Bree. She is somebody we really need to develop so she can help us in the Big Ten.”
“I want to get better…to be a better on-ball defender,” concludes McDaniel.
Now a decade past…
It doesn’t seem so, but it has been 10 years since this MSR reporter followed and reported at every stop along the way the Gopher women’s first-ever Final Four run in 2004, beginning with two wins at Williams Arena, then two more in Norfolk, Va. before losing to eventual champion Connecticut in the national semifinals in New Orleans.
That team was honored during the second half of Sunday’s Minnesota-Northwestern game as part of Alumni Day festivities.
See next week’s “Sports Odds and Ends” when a couple of members from that 2004 squad talk to the MSR.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.