Column: Gophers should retire Zahui B.’s number when her Gopher career ends

Zahui B. doing “unprecedented” things

David Nelson

Amanda Zahui B. should be the last women’s basketball player to wear No. 32 at Minnesota.

Call it insane to say a redshirt sophomore’s number should be retired when her career ends, but in two years, the decision to retire her number won’t even be arguable.

The month of February produced some unbelievable moments for the Swedish export.

On Feb. 8 against Michigan State, Zahui B. became Minnesota’s all-time leader in blocks — a record number that will continue to grow with each passing swat.

Last Tuesday, she eclipsed 1,000 career points versus Iowa and set the Big Ten’s single-game record in rebounds with 29 to go along with her career-high 39 points.

Then on Saturday, she surpassed her own single-season record for blocks against Michigan while adding 27 points and 27 rebounds.

“Some of these things are just unprecedented,” head coach Marlene Stollings told reporters on Tuesday. “She’s a sophomore, and she’s doing things that are unheard of.”

With senior guard Rachel Banham out for the season, Zahui B. took the reins of the team.

The redshirt sophomore leads the Gophers in almost every statistical category when facing conference opponents.

Zahui B.’s efforts have propelled the Gophers to a 22-6 record — their first 22-victory season since 2004-05.

Not only that, but that number will probably get Minnesota back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years.

“I just [have] to keep working hard, help my team out and everything will go its own way,” Zahui B. said.

At this point, the sophomore center boasts 1,034 career points, 749 career rebounds and 214 blocks.

If she continues at this pace, Zahui B. would hold the Gophers’ all-time record in blocks and rebounds and be third on the list of total points scored by the end of her eligibility.

Her rebound and block totals would also put her top-eight in NCAA history in both categories.

Those sorts of gaudy statistics cannot go unnoticed or underappreciated.

So enjoy watching her while her eligibility lasts, Minnesota fans, because it’s not very often history unfolds before your eyes.

“We’ll look back at this and realize how historic it is as time goes by,” Stollings said on Saturday. “I really think Amanda has the opportunity to really become a global phenom by the time she’s a senior.”

Assuming everything goes like it should, Zahui B.’s performances shouldn’t be honored with some silly halftime ceremony or by having her walk on the field for a photo-op at a football game — though she would probably enjoy both.

Instead, plaster her name and photo on a banner and hang it up in the Williams Arena rafters.