Knight putting up points, turning heads

The senior forward is averaging 16.4 points per game in Big Ten games this season.

Mark Heise

Junior guard Emily Fox is undoubtedly the offensive leader on the Minnesota women’s basketball team. But since the start of the Big Ten season, Fox hasn’t been the only one putting up big numbers for the Gophers.

The point production from senior forward Leslie Knight made a dramatic increase from where it was at during the non-conference season, jumping four points per game.

Knight’s 16.4 points per game against conference opponents now leads the team in scoring, eclipsing Fox’s 16.3 points, a total which has declined slightly since Big Ten play began. The forward also ranks second in the conference in scoring, largely thanks to her strong play at home, scoring 20 and 18 points in consecutive games.

And with coach Pam Borton’s continued philosophy that stresses the importance of winning at home, those numbers should bode well for the senior.

Close races

After seven games, the Big Ten standings for women’s basketball is starting to take on the same characteristics of this year’s Big Ten volleyball standings, with one team out in front, and six teams either tied for or within one game of second place.

Ohio State has grabbed a hold of first place in the standings as was expected, and are currently riding a six-game win streak, led by freshman forward Jantel Lavender’s 16.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest.

Following the Buckeyes is a pair of 5-2 teams in Indiana and Purdue. Tied for fourth with a record of 4-3 are Minnesota, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan

Underachievers

As strong as the competition has been in the Big Ten so far this year, there have been some major surprises, beginning with the teams picked to finish second and third in the conference this season, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Michigan State, despite being the only team in the conference to beat Ohio State, has not been the team that new coach Suzy Merchant said she expected earlier in the year. The Spartans have gone 3-5 in Big Ten play, earning them ninth place in the conference.

Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan is doing her part, averaging 15.4 points per game, but Michigan State is averaging fewer than 65 points as a team, leading to the poor record.

Wisconsin was the dark horse bid to win the conference, but with a 1-6 start, the Badgers are in big trouble so far this season.

Expecting to ride senior guard Jolene Anderson’s strong play, Wisconsin may have discovered that they may need more than that, as the favorite for the Big Ten player of the year award has averaged just fewer than 20 points per game, scoring about a third of her team’s points.

Ironically, Wisconsin’s only conference win came against Michigan State, one of the only games that Anderson was not the high scorer this year.