Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Trick and Treat as Gopher Women Win Home Opener

The Gopher women treated the home fans to a win on Halloween, but they also had some tricks up their sleeve. The final was Minnesota 76 Concordia (St. Paul) 49, which is as it should be. But there were some surprises. Like, right off the bat, the starting lineup. It was:

C- Micaela Riche, no surprise there
PF- Kionna Kellogg, no surprise there
SF- Sari Noga, surprised me
PG- Rachel Banham, no surprise there other than the fact that she had been ill
SG- Mikayla Bailey. SURPRISE!

But then there was another surprise in that the 5 players who had the most minutes were Kellogg, Noga, Banham, Bailey and Kayla Hirt. Not Riche, who played just 15 minutes, while newcomers Bailey and Hirt led everybody with 26 and 25. The other newcomers, Shayne Mullaney and Jackie Johnson, combined for 25 minutes, and wo are obviously behind Bailey and Hirt. The Hirt-Johnson pecking order is as expected. The Bailey-Mullaney pecking order--nobody saw that coming.

 Jane Thompson played for 1 minute.

But then there also the rotations:

C- After Riche came Kellogg (surprise!), filling in in the post with Katie Loberg unavailable. Johnson played 12 minutes.

PF- Hirt played most of the minutes with Kellogg moving over to the post.

SF- Noga got most of the minutes (surprise!).

PG- Banham was spelled by Mullaney and senior Leah Cotton.

SG- Bailey also was spelled by Cotton but got the lion's share of the minutes (surprise!).

And finally there's the performance.

1. MVP was Banham with 22 points, 5 steals, 5 boards, 2 assists (but 4 turnovers) in 22 minutes.

2. Kellogg with 14 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals while filling in at an unfamiliar position.

3. Hirt with 10 points, 5 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals, but 3 turnovers.

4. Bailey with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting and 2-of-4 3s and 3 steals. That she started was a terrific shock but she showed why she is starting (and Cotton and Mullaney showed why they are not).

5. Riche with 9 points and 7 boards but 4 fouls in just 15 minutes.

6. Noga with 7 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals.

7 (tie). Johnson and Mullaney. Neither scored but they saw the floor and had 5 assists between 'em. They will be fine.

9. Cotton. Unfortunately she did not look like a senior with 3 points, 1 assist and 4 turnovers.

A good start! Up next, Mankato State on Sunday at 2 p.m. Not a better test than Concordia, I don't think. Similar, though Aubrey Davis at the point will give the Banham and Bailey circus more of a run for their money than Concordia could do.

But the 1st real test will be the following weekend with South Dakota State, Villanova and Washington State in town for the Best Buy Classic on Saturday and Sunday November 10-11. It will be s treat to see SDSU with a bevy of Minnesotans and a very very good team, perhaps even the favorite to win the Best Buy Classic.

Concordia (St. Paul)

Concordia, the only D2 school in the metro and therefore somebody you've probably got to see if you want to see D2 ball, will be a slightly better than middling D2 team. They have 2 kids who can really play in Annika Whiting and Rachel Hansen. We also know that Carissa Wolyniec and Jodi Batzel can play--just not against D1 opposition. Who a 5th consistently good ballplayer on this team might be is anybody's guess.

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