Minnesota preps for Charlotte at home

The 6-foot-5-inch Amanda Zahui B. is slated to return against the 49ers.

Jack Satzinger

The Gophers were nearly outrebounded in a blowout win at Northern Iowa on Saturday without 6-foot-5-inch center Amanda Zahui B. in the lineup.

Zahui B. was serving a one-game suspension for an “inadvertent infraction” of an NCAA rule, according to a team spokesperson. She’s slated to come back Wednesday in Minnesota’s home opener against Charlotte.

And the Gophers are excited for her return.

“We’re looking forward to getting Amanda back on our team and trying to build that chemistry that we need heading into the rest of the season,” head coach Pam Borton said to GopherSports after the game.

In her first exhibition game with the Gophers, Zahui B. impressed with a game-high 28 points and 19 rebounds. She recorded another double-double in Minnesota’s 69-54 exhibition win over Minnesota State-Moorhead. Zahui B. tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Those early performances exemplify the massive potential the Gophers have seen in Zahui B. throughout the offseason.

“[She] has the potential to be one of the best centers in the Big Ten,” Borton said at Big Ten Basketball Media Day. “She’s extremely versatile. She’s got great size, is athletic and is also a great passer.”

That passing ability is something that could prove extremely useful for Minnesota this season. Senior guard Sari Noga said the Gophers expect Zahui B. to command a lot of double teams on the inside, which should leave guards with open shots on the perimeter.

“She can pass the ball easily above other people,” Micaëlla Riché said at Big Ten Media Day. “She’s good at finding little holes to hit Sari for a three or hit Rachel [Banham] for a three.”

Borton said Zahui B., who hails from Stockholm, is a prototypical European post player with a varied skill set. That shows when she runs the pick-and-roll with junior guard Banham.

Banham said Zahui B.’s size and skill make passing that much easier.

“She’s so big that she’s going to be a good release point,” Banham said. “If we ever need to, we’ll just throw it up to her. … It’s going to be such a big
difference.”