Zahui B. adjusts to new life with the Tulsa Shock

Grant Donald

The Minnesota Lynx’s WNBA season opener Friday had many of the same elements of a Gophers women’s basketball game from last season.
 
Minnesota head coach Marlene Stollings greeted some fans in the stadium and redshirt senior Rachel Banham watched her former teammate Amanda Zahui B. warm up on the court.
 
The only thing missing was eye-popping numbers on behalf of Zahui B., which she put up for the Gophers during her 2014-15 All-American season. During her WNBA debut, Zahui B. saw the court for only five minutes of play.
 
“It definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Zahui B. said. “I need to be more aggressive and play like I did in college, with more confidence.”
 
Zahui B., who decided to leave Minnesota after her sophomore season to enter the 2015 WNBA draft, was drafted No. 2 overall by the Tulsa Shock. But she entered Friday’s game for the first time with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter. 
 
During the first half, Zahui B. tallied a foul and one shot attempt — an air ball. She added only one more minute of game time in the second half, recording no stats in the process.
 
“It’s going to take a little time for her to develop, probably four to five games before she’s acclimated with the WNBA system,” Tulsa head coach Fred Williams said after Friday’s game. “I thought she came in [tonight] and tried to battle on the boards and get physical inside, so at least she got a taste of the WNBA.”
 
Although Zahui B.’s first taste of WNBA action was a sour one, her second go around was a little sweeter.
 
Just one day after battling the Lynx, she dropped six points and six rebounds in the Shock’s win against the Chicago Sky. Zahui B. also recorded the most minutes out of anyone off the Shock’s bench.
 
“I definitely see her role increasing as the season progresses,” Williams said after Friday’s game. “She’s a player you just don’t want to rush out there, and she is a player that will learn a lot in this league — not just from our players but from who she is playing against.”
 
One of Zahui B.’s main mentors on the Shock will be veteran center Courtney Paris, who said she has been impressed by Zahui B.’s play throughout the preseason.
 
“She is a relentless rebounder who is not afraid to be physical in the paint,” Paris said after Friday’s game. “The scoring will come over time. I think she will have a long career in the WNBA.”
 
Zahui B.’s position for her professional career is undetermined. As a member of the Gophers, the Stockholm, Sweden, native manned the center position. But the
Shock currently has her playing more at power forward.
 
The uncertainty surrounding her position is just another adjustment the former Minnesota player is making in her transition to professional basketball.
 
“I’m not really used to playing [power forward],” Zahui B. said. “Also, the game in general is more physical. But in the end, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win games, which hopefully we will be doing a lot of.”