Minnesota learning to beat opponents ‘by committee’

The absence of Janel McCarville has made scorers out of several different players.

David McCoy

If Minnesota’s women’s basketball team wants to fulfill its hopes of returning to the Final Four this year, it will need to do some adjusting.

Now that shooting guard Lindsay Whalen – Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer – has graduated and left the Gophers for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, Minnesota will face the challenge of retooling its offensive attack.

This year, the Gophers will be looking to make two major adjustments.

With the focus of the offense now revolving around center Janel McCarville instead of Whalen, Minnesota will be looking to shift its focus from the perimeter to the paint.

And now that the Gophers can no longer count on Whalen’s 20-plus points per game, Minnesota will need to have a more balanced scoring attack to pick up the slack and give the team a chance to win.

“We have several people who can fill the role,” McCarville said.

Through their first four games this season, the Gophers have done just that.

In both exhibition games, four different players scored at least 10 points for the Gophers.

In Sunday’s game against UNLV, three Gophers were in double digits and three more had eight points.

On Monday versus Washington, three Minnesota players scored in double figures.

And all that was done without McCarville, who should return Friday against Arkansas State after breaking a bone in her left hand in practice Oct. 28.

A 6-foot-2-inch center who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds last year, McCarville – a Preseason All-American and national player of the year candidate – is the centerpiece for Minnesota’s inside attack.

While McCarville has been on the sidelines, sophomore Liz Podominick – who was expected to start at power forward – filled in at post.

While Podominick has performed well, sophomore Jamie Broback has performed far above expectations at power forward, culminating in a 28-point effort against UNLV that earned her Big Ten player of the week honors Monday.

“I think we just needed to adjust to our new roles,” Broback said.

And although coach Pam Borton is already playing six players more than 20 minutes per game, it might be tough for Borton to keep Broback off the floor.

Add McCarville back into that mix, and Minnesota is very deep inside.

“We’re just trying to beat people by committee,” McCarville said.