Gophers look to work the perimeter as Hawkeyes come to town

Coach Pam Borton is not pleased with the team’s recent reliance on its post players.

David McCoy

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team ranks at or near the top of the Big Ten in a number of three-point categories.

But don’t think a few statistics are enough to make coach Pam Borton content with the team’s perimeter game.

Led by one of the Big Ten’s premier long-range shooters in junior point guard Shannon Schonrock, the Gophers are shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc – good enough for second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally.

But that’s not good enough for Borton, she said.

“We’ve got to have our other guards step up,” Borton said. “For us to go deep into the postseason, we have got to have a guard who can score consistently on the perimeter besides Shannon Schonrock.”

The 14th-ranked Gophers (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) will have a chance to work on it today when they play host to the Hawkeyes (15-4, 4-4) at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.

At times, Minnesota has been miraculous from downtown.

Schonrock hit a career-high and Mackey Arena-record seven three-pointers in a 58-38 win at Purdue on Jan. 13 and is second in the Big Ten with 2.3 threes per game and fourth in three-point percentage.

In the latter category, Minnesota’s Shannon Bolden is leading the Big Ten with 48.6 percent accuracy.

Even 6-foot-3-inch post Jamie Broback has been known to lob in a triple from time to time. Broback actually has made just as many threes as Bolden and is second on the team in attempts.

Wooden Award candidate Janel McCarville, who rarely has any trouble scoring, even made the first three-pointer of her career Dec. 11 at Santa Clara.

But Borton still said she feels as if too much of Minnesota’s offense is coming from low-post players McCarville and Broback while the perimeter players are not making enough shots.

“We’ve got to have those players putting in shots,” Borton said. “We’re getting them good shots in games, and we’re not making them.”

This was evident in Sunday’s 81-68 loss at Penn State, when just seven of Minnesota’s 22 baskets were made by perimeter players, who were also 1-for-11 from three-point land.

But Borton said she is asking for more than just an inside/outside style of offense – particularly from Bolden.

“I think Shannon Bolden is leading the Big Ten for threes because she hasn’t taken a lot of them,” Borton said. “Ten of her 15 makes in the Big Ten are threes, and she’s got to be able to get a mid-range game going as well and not just be a three-point shooter.”

Minnesota’s inability to score from anywhere but the paint is not a recent problem.

Minnesota has had trouble getting production from outside the post for most of season, with patches of progress dotting the schedule, such as Schonrock’s team-high 25 points at Purdue and Kelly Roysland’s 19 against Illinois.

“Over different games, we’ve seen improvement,” Schonrock said. “But overall, it’s not been as consistent or steady as we’d want it to be. Every different night, usually one different guard steps up, but it would be great if we could get all of us on the same page.”

But for now, Borton said, it’s not good enough to beat the premier teams in the big games.

“We can get by some games,” Borton said. “But not when we’re playing on the road at Penn State or some of the top teams in the conference with our guards not scoring. That’s only going to take us so far.”

Past is back for Calhoun

Minnesota junior guard April Calhoun played for Iowa during her freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to Minnesota and redshirting last year. This will be her first game against her old team.

“I thought a lot about it, and I don’t really feel like, to be honest, it’s that big of a deal,” Calhoun said. “It’s kind of something that I put behind me, and at the end of the day, it’s just another game.”