Minnesota opens its season with an exhibition today at Williams Arena

The Gophers will be without senior starting point guard April Calhoun.

Emily Wickstrom

While Minnesota’s women’s basketball team will likely not see heavy competition in their season opener, it will at least give them a chance to start working out the kinks.

The Gophers – ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press preseason poll – open up their new season today with an exhibition game against Wisconsin Amateur Athletic Union at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.

“You never want to walk into a game like this game’s going to be easy,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “It’s seeing where we are right now, working with some different combinations, getting some younger players some playing time.”

The biggest adjustment Minnesota will have to make for the short term is playing without senior starting point guard April Calhoun, who went out with a foot injury last week.

Senior Shannon Schonrock, who played the point for much of the past three seasons, will resume her previous duties and junior Kelly Roysland will start in Calhoun’s place, Borton said.

The rest of the Gophers’ backcourt is not as proven, with sophomore Brittney Davis, who was academically ineligible last season, and freshman Emily Fox backing up Schonrock and Roysland.

“With (Davis) and (Fox) coming off the bench as point guards, they need to get out there and get a little experience under their belt,” Borton said.

Schonrock, a four-year starter, said the deep Minnesota bench will be able to fill Calhoun’s shoes, at least for now.

“It’s obviously always difficult when you have someone of (Calhoun’s) caliber go down,” Schonrock said. “But I think we have a lot of people that are able to step up.

“Kelly Roysland’s been used to starting Ö Me playing with her is just as easy as playing with (Calhoun).”

One early question mark for the Gophers is how they will replace the 10.6 rebounds-per-game average that Janel McCarville put up.

Junior Liz Podominick, who will start in McCarville’s spot at center, said she is ready to pick up part of the load.

“I definitely like to rebound,” Podominick said. “I think I’ve gotten away from that defensively because I’m so used to (McCarville) getting every defensive rebound, so it’s definitely a different mindset.

“But it’s going to be a team effort, it won’t be just one person.”

Minnesota will have to figure things out quickly, as the team will start to see tougher competition next weekend as part of the Subway Classic.

“It’s coming fast,” Schonrock said. “I can’t believe (it’s) already our first exhibition game. We have two to prepare and then it’s the real thing and there’s no going back after that.”