Gophers play North Dakota in final exhibition

The Sioux should provide a more coherent offensive style than Wednesday’s exhibition opponent.

David McCoy

With one exhibition game under its belt, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team still has one more to go.

Before Minnesota’s regular season begins Nov. 14 in Seattle against Nevada-Las Vegas, the Gophers still have some work to do as they adjust to having three new starters.

Those starters – Liz Podominick, Jamie Broback and April Calhoun – played well in their first exhibition game Wednesday against the Wisconsin Vikings, all scoring in double digits.

But the Gophers will be taking on a much more organized team than the Vikings when Minnesota plays host to North Dakota on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Williams Arena.

“It will be definitely different,” Gophers point guard Shannon Schonrock said. “Their team is definitely going to be more structured. (The Vikings were) a team that probably never played together before. They were coming off a plane and hopping right on the court ready to play.”

Sunday’s matchup will feature one of the best Division I teams in the Gophers against one of the best Division II teams in the Sioux.

The Sioux are ranked seventh in the most recent Division II poll and coming off of their fourth-straight North Central Conference championship.

With their strength resting on the defensive side of the ball, the Gophers will have to do better than allowing 47 points to one player. That’s what the team did against the Vikings’ Anna DeForge, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

On the bright side for Minnesota, the Sioux do not have any WNBA players suiting up for them.

In contrast to the Vikings, which got most of their offense from DeForge, North Dakota will look to spread the ball around.

“They’re going to have five people who can put it in the basket,” Schonrock said. “They’ll probably be more balanced all-around, and it will be much more like a real game.”

With the team’s offensive centerpiece, Janel McCarville, still sitting out with a broken bone in her hand, the Gophers game plan is to have a balanced scoring attack with several players contributing.

“We’ve got several people that can fill the role,” McCarville said.

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

Against North Dakota, Minnesota’s focus will be on continuing to develop its chemistry as the team gets ready for what it hopes to be another successful season.

“We have sky-high expectations,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “With the last two years going to the Sweet 16 and Final Four, we want to be consistent. When people think of Minnesota, we want them to think of women’s basketball.”