Gophers show off new-look roster ahead of regular season

The Gophers are entering the second season under head coach Lindsay Whalen.

Jasmine Brunson jumps to shoot the ball during the game against Northwestern on Sunday, Feb. 10 at Williams Arena.

Jasmin Kemp

Jasmine Brunson jumps to shoot the ball during the game against Northwestern on Sunday, Feb. 10 at Williams Arena.

Brendan O'Brien

The Gophers women’s basketball team prepared its revamped roster for the looming season with the Maroon and Gold Showcase on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Among the notable roster changes under second-year head coach Lindsay Whalen is senior guard Jasmine Brunson stepping in to fill the void left by former starting point guard Kenisha Bell. Brunson said she’s excited for the challenge. 

“It’s my last year,” Brunson said. “I have no choice but to be ready. As a senior and one of the leaders, I really have no choice and I’m comfortable in that role because my teammates support me and the coaches support me.”

Forwards Taiye Bello and Destiny Pitts started in the exhibition; both were regulars in the starting lineup last season as well. Sophomore guard Mercedes Staples also started in the scrimmage despite starting in only two games a season ago. 

One familiar face in the starting lineup on Sunday was redshirt junior guard Gadiva Hubbard, who was unable to play last season due to a right-foot injury. Pitts and Whalen said Hubbard’s presence on the court will be helpful for the team’s 3-point shooting.

“Last year we didn’t have that many shooters on the court,” Pitts said. “Having another shooter out there really helps a lot to space the floor.”

No official statistics were kept during the scrimmage, but the Gophers had a balanced offensive attack throughout most of the game. Brunson and freshman guard Jasmine Powell both had a few scores off the dribble while Pitts and Hubbard shot well from behind the 3-point line. Bello also added a handful of scores from the low post.

Throughout the game, Whalen used a smaller rotation with four guards on the court at once. Pitts said it will be challenging for opponents to defend the speed and shooting prowess of the Gophers’ guards.

Despite a few turnovers on offense and some difficulties with transition defense, the team had other positive takeaways from the scrimmage. Whalen was especially pleased with the performance from the starting five to open the game.

“It was really nice to get in here and have a little bit of an open scrimmage for everybody,” Whalen said. “It was good to get up and down and hopefully the players had some fun.” 

The Gophers will play their first six games of the season at home in Williams Arena. Minnesota officially begins the season on Tuesday, Nov. 5 when they host Missouri State.