Podominick joins program’s exodus

Liz Podominick is the fourth player in the past two weeks to leave the team.

Emily Wickstrom

The outlook for Minnesota’s women’s basketball team next season went from bad to worse Tuesday.

Junior forward Liz Podominick said she will leave the program to focus on track and field, in which she hopes to qualify with the U.S. Olympic Team in the shot put and discus for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I’ve had some experiences that I will never forget playing basketball for the Gophers,” Podominick said in a news release. “But, I have to consider my future and if I truly want to be an Olympian, I have to begin the proper training toward that goal.”

Podominick, who is a sophomore on the track and field team, was Big Ten champion in the outdoor shot put and discus in 2005. She started 21 of 29 games during the basketball season, averaging 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 21 minutes per game.

Podominick’s departure follows Monday’s news that leading scorer and rebounder Jamie Broback left the program for personal reasons.

Now four players in the Gophers’ playing rotation have left the program in a span of less than two weeks.

Sophomores Brittney Davis and Lauren Lacey announced March 24 they would transfer to other schools.

“I don’t think this was expected at all,” said Gophers coach Pam Borton. “Each individual player has their own individual issues on why they’re leaving.”

The athletics department also said the contract of assistant coach Dave Stromme will not be renewed next season.

Stromme came into the Gophers program the same year as Borton. Part of his responsibilities were to help develop Minnesota’s post players, including Broback, Lacey and Podominick.

Borton said his contract was not renewed so he can pursue head-coaching opportunities.

The Gophers will begin next season with just three players who saw significant minutes in 2005-2006 – junior guard Kelly Roysland, sophomore forward Natasha Williams and freshman guard Emily Fox – assuming they return.

Borton said Minnesota’s coaching staff is looking at bringing in players from junior colleges and overseas and a player might transfer into the Gophers program.

“We’re going to have a very manageable roster,” Borton said. “Obviously we won’t have kids complaining about playing time next year.”