Newfound consistency for Broback gives Gophers a scoring boost in post

Jamie Broback has averaged 24 points a night through the past four games.

by Emily Wickstrom

For a team that was not supposed to have a go-to player, Minnesota’s women’s basketball player Jamie Broback has been exactly that as of late.

The 6-foot, 3-inch junior forward has been the Gophers’ most dominant player the past four games, averaging more than 24 points while also filling the box score with rebounds, steals and a high free-throw percentage.

Although it appears Broback is now on her way to being an all-Big Ten performer, she struggled with consistency earlier this season.

“(Coach Pam Borton) has always talked about it,” Broback said. “Don’t do it one day or the next day, but be consistent with it. That’s one of my main things ” just bring it every game.”

After an up-and-down first half of the season, marked by a leave of absence from the team for the first two games, Broback appeared to emerge as the Gophers best scorer.

In January games against Indiana and Purdue, she scored 26 and 21 points, respectively.

But in Minnesota’s next game, a Jan. 15 victory over Michigan State, Broback hit her lowest point.

She was held scoreless in just 11 minutes of play, as Borton replaced Broback and fellow frontcourt starter Liz Podominick with reserves Lauren Lacey and Natasha Williams.

“It was kind of surprising,” Broback said. “It was the first time the bench has really shown what they can do. That Michigan State game was kind of the turning point to make everyone realize how good our bench is going to be.

“Liz and I have known that (Lacey) and (Williams) are amazing players and know that our spots aren’t always going to be there for us.”

But the game against the Spartans may have been a wake-up call for Broback, as she has scored in double figures in every game since.

“Jamie, each and every game, is playing a lot smarter and playing a lot more efficient,” Borton said.

Even with Broback’s recent offensive performance, with periodic spurts where she has scored 12, 10 and nine straight points for Minnesota, Borton said the Gophers will never completely rely on Broback.

“That’s coming with the flow of our offense,” Borton said. “I don’t think there’s any time that five times down the floor we’ve got to get Jamie the ball.”

Senior guard Shannon Schonrock said Broback is a more all-around player this season than in the past, able to make a great pass or get a defensive stop just as easily as score.

“People noticed that she was a great scorer,” Schonrock said.

“But now this year, it’s great to see her stepping up in situations that are not necessarily just to make a basket.”

On a deep Gophers team with an 11-player rotation, Broback said she knows that scoring may not always be her role, but she will do it when necessary.

“If my team needs me to step up and be that go-to player, then I’m ready to do it,” Broback said. “Otherwise other people are ready to step up.”