Three women’s hoops players in line to fill Von Wald’s role

Dan Miller

Three-headed monsters aren’t seen every day. But one has been spotted at Williams Arena and can be seen quite frequently when Minnesota’s women’s basketball team takes the court.

This season, the 13th-ranked Gophers face the problem of filling the void left by do-anything-the-team-needs player Corrin Von Wald.

The Gophers have three capable players battling to occupy part of the void in the third guard spot in sophomore Shannon Bolden and freshmen Jamie Broback and Kelly Roysland.

With accomplished scorers returning at each of the other four positions for the Gophers, the three-player battle will center on defense.

“What we need in our lineup right now is a defensive stopper,” coach Pam Borton said.

And right now, that stopper is Bolden.

The 5-foot-11-inch Bolden is the best defensive player of the group at the moment and holds a definite experience advantage.

Last season, she gained that experience by guarding some of the best players in the Big Ten and in the nation.

“Guarding players like Kelly Mazzante (Penn State) and Shereka Wright (Purdue) last year will really help me this year in knowing what to expect,” Bolden said.

The question mark surrounding Bolden is her outside shooting. However, Bolden did hit a game-opening three-pointer in Minnesota’s first exhibition game Nov. 5.

At 6 feet 3 inches, Broback might be the most versatile player on the Gophers’ roster.

She played prominently at the post position in high school but has now converted to a guard and is able create mismatches on the perimeter.

The question about Broback is how she will adjust to quicker ball handlers and to a new defensive scheme.

“I always guarded posts in high school,” Broback said. “It is important for me to stay aggressive and have a quick first step.”

Throwing the 5-foot-9-inch Roysland into the equation makes things even more interesting.

Roysland will likely see her time at forward because Lindsay Whalen and Shannon Schonrock will play high minutes.

But it will be hard for Borton and the Gophers not to take advantage of the scoring ability Roysland brings.

Compiling the fifth most points in Minnesota high school history, Roysland averaged 25 points and almost 10 rebounds per game her senior season. She also led all Gophers freshmen in points in the exhibition game with her eight.

But Roysland just wants to contribute.

“I don’t have to worry about putting up big points on this team,” she said. “I just want to do whatever the team needs to do.”

Roysland said it was tough at first adjusting to the level of defense, but things are now coming more naturally.

“It is such a high intensity level,” she said. “I just have to be really focused.”

Focusing on the defensive end will be a key for all three players with a team that needs “a defensive stopper.”

Bolden will be that defensive stopper, at least for now, but the other two heads of the monster will likely make their presence known inside Williams Arena this year.