Broback to return for Paradise Jam Tournament

The junior forward missed the season's first two games this weekend.

Emily Wickstrom

Although Minnesota’s women’s basketball team is playing in U.S. Virgin Islands, the players know they’re not on vacation.

The Gophers will face Nevada on Friday in the semifinal game of the St. Thomas division of the Paradise Jam Tournament.

Minnesota (2-0) will then play Alabama or Virginia on Saturday depending on results from the previous day.

“We’ve kind of developed a mindset for when we’re going on road trips that it’s not about fun and it’s about business,” senior guard April Calhoun said. “Our main goal is to come out with the tournament win.”

The Gophers, who moved up to No. 12 in the Associated Press rankings after defeating Stanford on Sunday, are the clear favorite to win the tournament, and even more so on Thursday.

Nevada is winless this season in games against Portland State and Oregon. Brandi Fitzgerald has generated most of its offense so far, averaging 12.5 points a game.

“They’ve got a lot of new players on the team,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. “They do a great job pressuring the ball. I think they want their offense to be created by their defense as well.”

The Wolfpack likely will be the most challenged by the rotation of Minnesota’s post players.

In the Gophers’ first two games, Natasha Williams, Lauren Lacey and Liz Podominick are all averaging double-digit scoring figures.

And starting Thursday, that forward rotation will likely go one spot deeper.

Junior forward Jamie Broback practiced with the team on Tuesday for the first time since taking a personal leave of absence from the team.

Borton said she expects Broback to get some minutes at the Paradise Jam Tournament, but said the preseason All-Big Ten honoree will have to work her way back into the regular lineup.

“Things aren’t just going to be given to her just because she’s Jamie Broback,” Borton said. “She’s got to earn what’s given to her.”

Williams has starred so far in replacing Broback in the starting lineup, averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

“When you get the opportunity you take advantage of it,” Williams said. “I’m just going to keep playing hard.”

Borton also said she will stick with the starting guard lineup of last weekend, although 2004-2005 starter Calhoun showed in her 23 minutes against Stanford that she is back from a foot injury.

For the time being at least, junior Kelly Roysland will join Shannon Schonrock at guard.

“Things are working now with what we have (in the starting lineup),” Borton said. “I know we’ll make the right decision when the time comes if we do need to make a change.

“I emphasize that we want to get better as a basketball team when we substitute. We go extremely deep.”