For women, all eyes are on Fox and freshman

Basketball Media Day

Stephen Maturen

Basketball Media Day

With the Saturday Hoopla Fan Fest presented by the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team, the Gophers, once again, kicked off their season. After losing in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last season, a few things have changed with MinnesotaâÄôs personnel. Forward Leslie Knight, the teamâÄôs second-leading scorer and rebounder from last year has graduated, and forward Korinne Campbell, the teamâÄôs third-leading rebounder transferred, leaving holes to be filled by freshmen looking for a role on the team. But, while many of the GophersâÄô four true freshmen could see playing time this season, senior guard Emily Fox said that overall, Minnesota will be a veteran team this year. âÄúIn the past, weâÄôve always been a young team, but I think this year weâÄôve got a strong veteran presence,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôve got a lot of experience coming back, but then we have a nice balance with our newcomers, and they should bring a lot to the table, as well.âÄù Looking for scoring Last season, the Gophers could depend on both Fox and Knight to put up consistent offensive numbers each night, but struggled to find that third scorer. With Knight gone, Minnesota also loses her 13.6 points per game, and will have to look elsewhere to make that up. One possibility is freshman forward Jackie Voigt, whose versatility is already causing her to be compared to Knight. Junior center Zoe Harper said she wasnâÄôt looking at it as a problem as much as an opportunity. âÄúI think itâÄôll be a great chance for us to step up,âÄù Harper said. âÄúI donâÄôt know exactly where those points are going to come from, but as a team, weâÄôre confident weâÄôll find scoring opportunities.âÄù Strong backcourt With Fox and junior guard Brittany McCoy again heading up the GophersâÄô backcourt, it appears as if one of MinnesotaâÄôs strengths will, again, be its guards. McCoy and Fox are joined by senior defensive whiz Kay Sylva and junior three-point specialist Katie Ohm, all of whom saw plenty of time on the court last season. Freshman guard Kiara Buford could see time right away, as she comes in toted as a strong all-around player. âÄúWeâÄôre really deep in the guard position,âÄù McCoy said. âÄúWe have plenty of players that can hold their own out there any given night, and I think thatâÄôs going to help us a lot.âÄù Defense expected to shine Defense has traditionally been a key part of each of coach Pam BortonâÄôs teams, and this year should be no exception. The Gophers have depth in each position, and have already focused on improving on last yearâÄôs numbers. âÄúWe pride ourselves on being a good defensive team,âÄù McCoy said. âÄúWe could have played better defense last year, and itâÄôs already been a focus during our workouts this fall. We have a couple of freshmen on the perimeter who are great defenders, and that should just help both Kay and I on defense, giving us a little rest once in a while.âÄù