Schonrock aims to be well-rounded leader for Gophers

by Dan Miller

In a small, restrained voice from an undersized 5-foot-6-inch frame, Minnesota sophomore guard Shannon Schonrock described how she became a leader of Minnesota’s 13th-ranked women’s basketball team.

“There isn’t a day that I don’t work hard,” Schonrock said. “I think you earn the respect of your teammates by being yourself, and I have done that.”

The opportunity arose last season when it became evident Corrin Von Wald – then a senior – needed to move into the role of guarding the top scorer from the opposing team. This opened a vacancy in Wald’s normal position of guarding the primary ball handler.

Enter Schonrock, a feisty freshman.

“(Coach Pam) Borton stresses the importance of pressuring the ball,” she said. “I stepped into that role of guarding the point guard.”

Showing solid defensive play and starting 10 of the last 11 games, Schonrock’s entrance to center stage helped the Gophers in more ways than one.

They could put their best defender on forward, for example, and still have a solid defender guarding the ball handler.

Leading scorer Lindsay Whalen was able to move to her more natural shooting guard position and not have to worry about running the team and scoring points.

By the time the Gophers’ NCAA tournament run came along, Schonrock was in control of the team.

“By the end of the season, I started to grasp what the coaches wanted out of me,” she said. “I felt comfortable running the team.”

Now Schonrock is running the team into its most anticipated season ever.

On the court, Schonrock’s role has stayed the same, but it has also evolved in some ways.

On defense, she has the same role that gave her a starting spot: intense on-ball defense that starts at the point.

“The ball pressure starts with me and that gets our defense going,” she said.

Because of losing Von Wald, the Gophers’ second-leading scorer a year ago, Schonrock will not only have to run the offense but will have to score on the offensive end.

“We are looking for Shannon to score a little more for us this year,” Borton said.

But the role Schonrock is most ready for is her increased leadership.

Her small stature isn’t indicative of her presence on and off the court.

“I’m very vocal and I bring a lot of energy,” Schonrock said. “I try and get the best out of everybody in practice and in games.”

Her vocal presence and leadership has indicated she could not only bring a scoring and defensive lift to the team, but also an emotional one.

And slowly but surely, beginning last season, Schonrock is sliding into the role of emotional leader.

It began at defense as she took the spot vacated by Von Wald and is now stepping into Von Wald’s shoes as the Gophers’ emotional lift.

“Shannon has that quality about her,” Whalen said. “I mean, everyone on the team looks up to her no matter what year you are or who you are.”