All-America candidate Fox will lead a more experienced Gophers

by Mark Heise

Gone is the Kelly Roysland era for the Minnesota women’s basketball team. This year will have a new name – the year of the Fox.

Coming off of helping Team USA to a gold medal in the Pan Am games, junior guard Emily Fox emerges as the new leader on a still-young squad.

“I’m willing to have that responsibility and willing to take on this challenge,” Fox said. “I’m working to have confidence in my teammates and hold them accountable. I want to be a leader on and off the floor.”

Fox should be a leader her team can get behind, as the offensive leader took charge late in the season, and should be a strong candidate for an All-American bid this season.

“I saw what type of player Emily Fox was going to be in high school,” coach Pam Borton said of her star. “She’s one of the top 24 players in the country, and I don’t think we’ve even seen what she can do on the court yet. I think she’s really going to blossom this year.”

Aside from Fox’s talent, the team also boasts nine returning players to move away from the inexperience that haunted them last season.

Sophomore guard Brittany McCoy started last season as a freshman for the Gophers, collecting 55 steals and dishing out 105 assists. McCoy will work alongside Fox to give Minnesota a strong backcourt tandem.

Senior forward Leslie Knight will be returning to her starting position as well, providing some leadership and stability from the post position.

“We’re expecting a lot of leadership and consistency out of her,” Borton said. “What I’m the most excited about is the fact that we’re not going to be the second-youngest team in the country this year. We’re a lot more focused and more mature, and we’re excited about the team we’re able to put on the floor.”

Sophomore center Ashley Ellis-Milan is in line to be the fourth returning starter, and could become a legitimate scoring threat down low, as she averaged 9.1 points per game last season.

Other players who saw extended time last season were sophomore forwards Zoe Harper and Korinne Campbell and sophomore guard Katie Ohm. Added into the mix are two newcomers expected to make an immediate impact for the team are freshman forward Kristen Dockery and junior college transfer Kay Sylva, filling in at the guard position.

“We’ve got a lot of energy going,” Ellis-Milan said. “We have two new people, but other than that we have the same team. We’re helping Kristen a lot, but she’s done a great job so far in practice. She’s really mature for a freshman.”

After missing out on the NCAA tournament last year, the Gophers look poised to return this season. But before they can do that, the regular season stands in the way.

Borton called it the toughest schedule since she’s been at Minnesota, as 21 of the 30 games are against teams that advanced to postseason play last season.

“To be the best you’ve got to play the best,” Borton said. “We’ve got to be ready to go November 9th, and I think we will be.”