Thursday, February 16, 2012

More on Gopher women and the 2013s and 2014s

Having speculated on the future of the Gopher women next year with Shayne Mullaney and Jackie Johnson arriving, it seems natural to go ahead and worry 2014 and 2015 a little bit.

2014 Rotation

Center--Riche 30 Dvorak 10
Power Forward--Kellogg 30 Johnson 10
Small Forward--Hirt 30 Noga 10
Point Guard--Mullaney 30 Banham 10
Shooting Guard--Banham 25 Bailey 15

The one thing I'm least committed to is Jackie Johnson playing 10 minutes as a sophomore. I see Jackie Johnson as somebody who is going to be an important member of this team, who will be a significant contributor, perhaps not as a freshman but by the 2nd year. I would think Johnson is getting a lot more than 10 minutes her 2nd year. But it's hard to see her leapfrogging Kellogg or Riche--I mean, I'm pretty bullish on those 2 as well--so I'm not sure what the optimal rotation the front court is. Maybe Hirt moves to a guard spot, but I doubt that. It's a good problem to have.

Then there's the fact that there's no freshman class in 2013-2104 as of yet. but there is likely to be one before all is said and done. Nia Coffey would seem to be target #1 and she will play at the small forward and the shooting guard as a freshman if she indeed comes aboard. My other hope is for Tyseanna Johnson who likewise is a 2 or a 3. (When you think about Tyseanna Johnson, think Kachine Alexander and you get the idea.) Depth problem solved with these 2 or Rebekah Dahlman or Phyllis Webb or Jessica January, though it's generally understood that Coffey and Dahlman are not friendly and are not going to end up part of the same program, whether at Minnesota or elsewhere.

Of course, Borton has already got a pair of point guards committed for 2014, so more guards in 2013 creates a glut and leaves the front-court a little bit underpopulated. Maybe 6-7 Savanna Trapp is a better fit in 2013 and/or maybe 6-5 Bryanna Fernstrom of Chisago Lakes is the next recruit from 2014. But it's hard for me to see the Gophers allowing talent like Coffey, in particular, but also Tyseanna Johnson, pass by without a fight.

So then maybe the 2014 rotation looks more like this.

Center--Riche 30 Dvorak 10
Power Forward--Kellogg 30 Johnson 10
Small Forward--Hirt 25 Coffey 15
Point Guard--Mullaney 30 Banham 10
Shooting Guard--Banham 25 Noga 15


Lots of speculation but what the hell.

C--Savanna Trapp (soph.) 30 Jackie Johnson (jr.) 10
PF--Johnson 20 Hirt (jr.) 20
SF--Hirt 15 Coffey (soph.) 10 Tyseanna Johnson (soph.) 15
PG--Mullaney (jr.) 30 Banham  (sr.) 10
SG--Banham 25 Coffey (soph.) 15

Kanesha Bell and Grace Coughlin do not project to play much as freshmen. I'm hearing that Carlie Wagner of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva is the best "1" in Minnesota's class of 2014. gPrep has Bell #1, Coughlin #6, Wagner #5. 

My personal opinion is 2014 is weak, I mean in terms of D1 potential. There are some terrific high school players. But the best of the front-court talent is small relative to the skill set. Cayla McMorris is the best forward and she's 5-10. Jordyn Alt and Bailey Norby are the top posts at 6-2 and 6-1, and neither projects out to the "3" or "4" very well. Fernstrom, again, is 6-5 but more reminiscent of Amber Dvorak than of Katie Loberg. Kylie Brown, 6-3 post at Simley, has recently made a splash and has the potential to move out to a forward spot, so maybe she's the one to keep an eye on. 

I mean, they're sophomores in high school. Of course we can't handicap them with confidence. Too bad you've (if you're a D1 program) got to commit to sophomores. It's a tough way to make a living. 

The Last Word

As noted above, this group--with Banham wearing the "program changer" tag but Mullaney, in my opinion, just as vital a player over the next 4 years.... Well, hell, they're all vital. There is no margin for error, as the past 3 years have shown. 

The point being: In my last post I said that it was up to this group to save Pam Borton's job. Because it needs saving. We're now into a 2nd generation roster lurking near the bottom of the Big 10. Fool me once, shame on you. If it doesn't happen--a re-awakening--with this group, then a coaching change is past due.

So, let's say for the sake of argument Banham is in fact that person. Is the supporting crew good enough? I think yes. But, then, I think Buford, Mastey and Voigt were good enough, even in hindsight. That is what is worrisome. 

But, yes. A program that has the following cycling through in 2013-14-15 is good enough, in my opinion.

Center--Loberg, Dvorak, Riche
Power Forward--Voigt, Kellogg, Johnson
Small Forward--Mastey, Hirt
Point Guard--Banham, Mullaney
Shooting Guard--Buford, Banham

Pam's recruiting could have been better, but it's not the chief problem. Getting her team focused and playing with concentration and confidence, and providing them with the proper guidance within the game would seem to have been the problem. A great coach would have them playing like the recent Ohio State and Nebraska games pretty much all the time, wouldn't she? These kids have that potential, they can do that. They coulda/shoulda/woulda won 33 to 50 percent more games than they did. They  just haven't played to their potential, most of the time.

I said in my last post that I was cautiously optimistic. This is what I mean. The talent is there. But can the coaching get better? Or, when we say Banham is a program-changer, do we mean that she can play through her coach's weaknesses? That's a lot to ask, but that's what we seem to be asking--begging, praying--for. Optimistically, I think she can do it. Cautiously, well, that's a lot to ask. But it's more likely that than Pam suddenly becoming the inspirational/transcendent type of leader that she has not yet been.

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