Moving Forwards

The Gophers have played five listed guards together on the court this year.

by Kaitlin Merkel

Seven games into the season, the Gophers are still experimenting with who will be playing in their frontcourt this year.
Two newcomers to the team, sophomore center Jessie Edwards and junior center Karley Barnes, have started four and two games for Minnesota, respectively.
Freshman center Annalese Lamke has also seen minutes in six games this season.
Minnesota has primarily used a four-guard lineup this year after losing both of its frontcourt starters last year, center Amanda Zahui B. and forward Shae Kelley, to the WNBA.
“We kind of do whatever the game demands. I’m not really set on a starting lineup. … It’s pretty much matchup based,” Stollings said.
Minnesota most recently used junior guard Joanna Hedstrom in the frontcourt for the majority of the game against Towson on Sunday.
“We use her almost everywhere on the court, and against smaller teams she’s able to go play the five position for us,” Stollings said. “We liked Joanna being out there to give us a three-point threat.”
Despite mainly using guards on the floor, the Gophers have outrebounded opponents 313-268 so far this season. 
Three of the Gophers regular starting guards, redshirt senior Rachel Banham, senior Shayne Mullaney and sophomore Carlie Wagner have all averaged more than six rebounds per game. 
The two true frontcourt players that have started games for the team have similar statistics so far.
Edwards, who transferred in from Curtin University in Australia, has averaged six points and 5.4 rebounds per game. She also recorded a double-double on Nov. 20 against
Maine with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Wagner said she has seen Edwards improve early in the season as she continues to adjust to the increased speed of the game in the United States.
“She’s not even the same player she was when she came in. She’s stronger. She’s smarter. She makes decisions that are right on spot. She’s seeing the game,” Wagner said. “I think the game is slowing down for her at this point.”
Barnes, who transferred from Tallahassee Community College and is coming off a knee injury from earlier this year, has averaged 6.8 points and five rebounds per game.
Barnes started her first game for the Gophers on Nov. 28 against Auburn and scored 19 points and six rebounds.
“She didn’t have the exhibition game reps, none of that. We just threw her out there,” Stollings said. “We are anxious to see how well she’s going to do here as she continues
to improve. But I think barring any setbacks with her knee, we’re going to see somebody that can really help us out at the five position.”