Hass to miss only a week after surgery

by Aaron Kirscht

As if things could get any more difficult for the Gophers women’s basketball team, sophomore forward Linda Hass underwent an emergency appendectomy Wednesday — paring down the number of scholarship players to seven.
Minnesota guard Mindy Hansen, Hass’ roommate, said nobody saw it coming.
“It just happened, boom-boom-boom,” Hansen said. “Before practice (at 12:30 p.m.) she was saying it really hurt, and by 6:45 (p.m.) she was in surgery.”
It wasn’t too long ago that such a procedure would lay up a patient for several weeks. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Hass is expected back within a week.
An endoscopic device was used to remove Hass’ appendix, which required only a few small incisions. Coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said Hass could play in the Dial Classic next weekend, meaning she’ll miss only two games.
“The doctors say she’ll be ready to practice early next week,” Hill-MacDonald said. “I’m not going to argue with them.”
In the meantime, Hill-MacDonald hopes a pair of walk-on players will clear NCAA eligibility requirements soon. She hopes to see that completed in time for the Dial Classic, as well.
“I hope they’ll be able to come in and contribute in games,” Hill-MacDonald said, “but it’s hard to predict right now, since they’re still in the learning process.”
O’Hearn to hit the court
When the rash of injuries hit the Gophers in the off-season, Hill-MacDonald toyed with the idea of recruiting players from fall sports such as soccer and volleyball.
Now Hill-MacDonald says at least one soccer player has approached her with an interest in participating either as a practice-only or game player, though she wouldn’t release a name.
But soccer coach Sue Montagne would, confirming that senior goalkeeper Teresa O’Hearn should join the team no earlier than next week.
With the sure hands of a goalie — and as the tallest player on the soccer team at 5-foot-9 — O’Hearn seems like a good fit for the basketball team.
But Hill-MacDonald said she didn’t want to rush any fall athletes into another long season.
“They need a break,” Hill-MacDonald said. “Physically, they’ve been at it for a while. But they know what it takes to compete at this level, and it’ll be nice to get a couple of them out on the court.”
Western Illinois
The Gophers travel to Macomb, Ill., tonight for their second exhibition game, which is against Western Illinois.
Hill-MacDonald says the Westerwinds are an aggressive, physical team that uses a tight defense to create opportunities on offense.
“They like to run and they’re all over the ball,” she said. “And they like to wear you down. They’ve got quite a few people that they can run in and out of the lineup and come right at you. That’s probably their hallmark.”
This is the third straight year the teams have met. The series is tied 1-1, with the Gophers falling at home 65-55 in the last match-up in December.
“We gave that game away with all our turnovers,” Hill-MacDonald said. The Gophers averaged a dismal 22 turnovers per game last season.
“But I think we’re taking much better care of the ball this year, cutting down on the mistakes that lead to turnovers.”
Iowa State
The Gophers host their home opener Sunday against the Iowa State, which finished near the bottom of the Big Eight conference last year. But the Cyclones return their entire starting lineup, all players who scored in double figures last season.
Iowa State has a “very nice basketball team,” Hill-MacDonald said, and the Cyclones boast a prolific perimeter-shooting game.
“They’re very effective from the outside,” she said. “The key will be to get out there and shut them down. That’s going to be critical.”
Hill-MacDonald hopes for a good crowd at their first home game, but she said the fact that the game will be televised on MSC may keep some people at home.
Either way, this weekend is sure to provide a look into what can be expected of the Gophers this season. Will the team rebound from a talent depletion, or start off on a long, trying season? Hill-MacDonald seems anxious for the answer.
“This should be a very interesting weekend for us,” she said.