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 2017-18 school and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players
This week: Gopher sophomore basketball players Kehinde and Taiye Bello.
Taiye Bello is averaging over 18 minutes a game for the Gophers thus far this season. Her sister Kehinde, however, is averaging just under four minutes a game and has only seen action in four contests thus far.
We talked to the Gophers’ first fraternal twins of color, who are from Southfield, Michigan, after the December 13 Cal Poly contest when Taiye started and had her second career double-double, while Kehinde logged eight minutes of action. Does it bother them that they aren’t playing together as much? Kehinde saw action in just five games last season, while Taiye started in 14 contests, including the final 10 games, and was named the team’s most improved player.
The Bello sisters always have been each other’s biggest supporter: “Every time Taiye comes out of the game, I am always encouraging her and telling her what she could do from my outside perspective on what she could work on,” Kehinde stressed.
“I would agree with Kehinde on that,” Taiye added.
Although both listed at 6’-2”, Kehinde said with a smile that they both love battling for the ball. “I play the ‘five’ and she plays the ‘four’,” explained Taiye. “It’s always fun to play with Kehinde.”
But off the court, the two aren’t Patty Duke-like “identical cousins.” For example, Taiye picked computer science as her major: “I got interested in it in high school. I found it very interesting,” she pointed out.
Kehinde, on the other hand, is still undecided on a major: “By the end of this [academic] year, I should know,” she said. “I am really interested in protecting the environment [or] business, probably one of those two.”
The same applies to their leisure-time pursuits. Once a huge Game of Thrones fan, Taiye is watching a Netflix original “horror thriller” series she called “really interesting.” Kehinde watches Insecure on another channel “about a Black female going through life. It’s really hilarious.”
After a year or so, the Bello sisters agree they have adjusted well to campus life. “It’s been a good experience,” Taiye announced. “It’s everything I’ve expected. From academics to social life to basketball, I feel it’s a really nice wrapped-up package.”
Kehinde quickly corrected her sister about their so-called social life: “When she says social life, we’re really with our team most of the time,” she clarified.
Backcourt speed gives Gophers edge
Minnesota Coach Marlene Stollings, after the team’s final non-conference contest Dec. 22, said that she believe her club is ready for conference action, which began Dec. 28.
“You look at our non-conference record (11-2), and we were three possessions away from being undefeated,” the coach noted on the five-point loss at North Carolina on Nov. 29 and a three-point defeat at San Diego Dec. 10.
Stollings told the MSR that her backcourt speed again will be the team’s strength: Three of the team’s top four scorers this season are backcourt sistahs. Kenisha Bell leads the Gophers with 20 points a game, with soph Gadiva Hubbard (nearly 13 points) and frosh Destiny Pitts (around 12 points) third and fourth, respectively. “We’re as quick as anybody in the Big Ten with our backcourt.”
“I think we’re pretty fast,” Hubbard added.
“I think we’ve got an advantage if you can come out and play fast,” surmised Bell. “A lot of teams struggle guarding us because of our speed.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.